BRF Family Conference in England

From the secretary of the British Reformed Fellowship (BRF), I have received the following announcement concerning the fourth BRF Family Conference. The announcement is at the same time an invitation to members of the Protestant Reformed Churches (PRC), indeed to all readers of the Standard Bearer, to attend the conference this summer.

The British Reformed Fellowship is holding its fourth FAMILY HOLIDAY CONFERENCE from 27 July — 3 August 1996 at Ashburnham Place, Battle, East Sussex, England (60 miles SE of London).

The theme of the Conference is to be "The Doctrine of the Church" and the speakers will be Professors D. Engelsma and H. Hanko. The doctrine will be expounded under the headings:

1)The Church: Elected in Christ — by the decree of eternal election.

2)The Church: Gathered by the Gospel — the sovereign work of the Son of God contrasted with modern methods of evangelism [Heidelberg Catechism, Q & A 54].

3)The Church: Its Nature — a spiritual organism as distinct from an external organization.

4)The Church: Its Institutional Form — autonomous locally but each congregation part of a broader federation.

5)The Church: Its Marks — by which the true church is distinguished from the false [Belgic Confession, Articles 28, 29].

6)The Church: Its Sacraments — baptism and the Lord's Supper, with particular emphasis on the value and necessity of baptism for the children of believing parents.

Ashburnham Place is set in 220 acres of landscaped grounds in the heart of beautiful Sussex countryside, yet only 6 miles from the south coast of England. For many years the house was an ancestral home but has now been remodeled and extended to form a comfortable and welcoming Christian Conference Centre. It is an ideal location in which to enjoy relaxation, rest, and spiritual fellowship. The Centre affords a variety of accommodation to suit families, couples, friends, individuals, and groups, with washbasins in each room and bathroom facilities in close proximity to most bedrooms.

Two full-day coach tours have been arranged, one around the beautiful Sussex countryside and the other to the city of London. In addition, within easy reach of the Centre are the seaside towns of Hastings and Eastbourne as well as several historic castles, stately homes, and other places of interest.

London is served by both Heathrow and Gatwick airports, and frequent rail services connect the city to Battle (or nearby Bexhill). The Protestant Reformed Churches (PRC) have been represented at all the previous conferences organized by the British Reformed Fellowship, and we anticipate good representation again next year. The presence of members of the PRC at the Conference gives great encouragement to their British brethren who are often struggling to maintain a witness to the Reformed faith in their homeland. The Conference will also be a great time of fellowship and a trip to the UK is a wonderful experience. Why not think about it?

Brochures providing further information and booking forms are available from Mr. Tony Horne, "Bromstone," Netherley Road, Stonehaven, Kincard-ineshire AB3 2QB, Scotland or from Mr. Bill Oomkes, 6299 Wing Avenue S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49512, USA (tel. 616-698-6697).

The BRF is not to be confused with the Covenant Reformed Fellowship (CRF), although some members of the CRF are also members of the BRF. The CRF is the mission group of the PRC in Northern Ireland. The BRF is a broader organization of men and women from Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales.The BRF was organized in 1990 by Presbyterians concerned for the defense and propagation of the historic Reformed Faith in the British Isles. The doctrinal basis of the Fellowship is:

1) The inspired, infallible, and inerrant Holy Scriptures.

2) The doctrines set forth in the Canons of Dordt, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, and the Westminster Standards.

The objectives of the BRF are:

1) To promote a knowledge of the Reformed Faith in the British Isles, as defined in the doctrinal basis.

2) To organize meetings, conferences, preaching services, and other activities in order to further the Reformed Faith and to give practical expression to the unity enjoyed by Christians of Reformed persuasion.

3) To encourage the formation of groups in different areas of the country who will seek to promote the Reformed Faith on a local level.

The desire of many is the establishment throughout the British Isles of sound, creedal Reformed churches.

One of the instruments of the BRF is the British Reformed Journal, a quarterly publication edited by Mr. Hugh L. Williams. The June 1995 issue contains, among other solid, instructive articles, an article on "The Westminster Standards and the Gospel Offer," an article on "Baptism: Its Mode," and an editorial on "The Fight for the Reformed Faith: The Forgotten Kennedy." To subscribe, write Mr. Hugh L. Williams, "Fairhaven," 9 Chapel Lane, Walton-by-Kimcote, Lutterworth, Leicestershire LE17 5RL, England, UK.

Another important activity of the BRF is a family conference every two years. The conference scheduled for this summer will be the fourth. The first was held in Wales, the second, in Northern Ireland, and the third, in Scotland. The site — and a lovely site it is — of this year's conference is the south of England.

These conferences enable the far-flung members of the BRF to come together for instruction in the Word and good fellowship. Another purpose is the exposure of others to the Reformed Faith as taught by the conference speakers. The conferences are means of witness and, thus, of the spread of the Reformed Faith in the British Isles. Attendance has steadily increased. From 50 at the first conference (on biblical marriage), the number at the conference in Scotland in 1994 (on the doctrines of grace) grew to some 150. People attended the conference from other countries in Europe.

The PRC have helped the BRF with the conference by providing the speakers. Also, members of the PRC have attended in increasing numbers, contributing by their testimony and in other ways. The BRF is mightily encouraged by this support.

The invitation to members of the PRC, therefore, is heartfelt.

But readers of the SB everywhere in the world are warmly invited to attend the conference, perhaps arranging vacation (holiday) plans to coincide with the July 27-August 3 dates.

The site is beautiful; the theme of the biblical speeches is solid and timely; the accommodations are commodious; the fellowship will be good.

Those who are interested should write either Mr. Tony Horne in Scotland or Mr. Bill Oomkes in the States for an informative brochure.

Mr. and Mrs. Bill Oomkes are working on the possibility of arranging a short tour in the British Isles before the conference for those who attend the conference from North America. The tour would have the group in Ballymena, Northern Ireland with the Protestant Reformed mission over the weekend preceding the conference. Any who may want to join in such a tour should let Mr. and Mrs. Oomkes know soon.

Ours is a time of abandonment of the Reformed Faith on a huge scale worldwide. Men and women are offended at the doctrines of sovereign grace. Supposed friends of Calvinism are embarrassed by its distinctive particularism. They reprint Arthur Pink's The Sovereignty of God with the chapter on reprobation elided. They advertise the Reformed gospel as the teaching of a universal love of God in Christ for sinners and of a desire of God to save every human without exception. Even worldly scholars recognize this as false advertising. By this time, the Calvinism of the Synod of Dordt and of the Westminster Assembly has clearly and forcefully identified itself to all as particular. This is its offense, its scandal. 

Thus is Calvinism wounded in the house of its friends. For not only is it corrupted by the fundamental tenets of universal grace of its mortal foe, Arminianism, but also the ancient charge against it by its enemies is implicitly sustained: on the basis of its own distinctive particularism — predestination, limited atonement, and irresistible, particular grace in the preaching of the gospel — Calvinism is unable to carry out evangelism and missions!

In an age of unprecedented universalism and free-willism — the gospel of man — these same friends of Calvinism direct their criticism mainly, and incessantly, against the "hyper-Calvinists." And what is the grievous sin against the gospel of these wretched folk, the "hyper-Calvinists"? Only that they consistently preach the love of God in Christ for elect believers and their true children. Some sin!

In the midst of this apostasy, opposition, and dubious friendship, there are still those determined to contend for the gospel of God.

We may help. 

— DJE