Pastor Jon's UK Trip Report
God's sovereign grace and power are clearly evident the world over in both creation and redemption. This is as true in the United Kingdom as it is anywhere. Today, as I begin the long trek back to the South Carolina low country, I would like to provide a brief report of my gospel labors from this past week.
I arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland last Wednesday morning. After getting a quick cat nap I went to Edinburgh Theological Seminary to deliver two lectures to the students and faculty. The first lecture was on pastoral piety and the importance of cultivating a strong personal walk with God before engaging in the public ministry of the Word. Ministers are sheep first, and then shepherds; disciples first, and then disciple-makers. We need to remember that! The second lecture was on the English Puritan John Owen and his theology of the Lord's Supper. The students asked many excellent questions, and it was encouraging to see their hunger to learn and their eagerness to plant and pastor churches in Scotland in the future.
I caught a train down to Newcastle, England not long after my second lecture. The following day the Reformation 500 Conference commenced. The Evangelical Presbyterian Church of England and Wales (EPCEW) invited six speakers (Joel Beeke, Geoffrey Thomas, Ian Hamilton, Bill Schweitzer, Kevin Bidwell, and myself) to present lectures related to the 500 year anniversary of Martin Luther's bold act of nailing 95 theses to the Castle Church door in the small university town of Wittenberg, Germany. I delivered two biographical lectures on Martin Luther and John Knox. It was a challenging and encouraging time of learning and fellowship constituted of believers from all over Europe.
On Saturday I traveled back to Edinburgh to preach God's Word at Holyrood Evangelical Church (formerly of the Church of Scotland) on the Lord's Day. It was a blessing to spend the entire day (morning and evening worship and fellowship in between) with these dear saints that Marla and I worshipped with while we lived in Edinburgh. I had the privilege of visiting a dear elderly and retired missionary in the hospital on Monday. Her name is Marion Conocker and she served in India for over 30 years. She was honored by the Queen for her work! She gave up everything to serve Christ.
On Tuesday I traveled to Northern Ireland for a quick day-and-a half visit with Rev. Andrew Gretzinger, a PCA missionary who is working with the Presbyterian Church of Ireland to plant churches. It was a joy to meet his family (wife and 5 kids all 10 and under!) and core group. I had the privilege of teaching God's Word at the Wednesday evening prayer meeting. In addition, I did some planning and strategizing for our summer mission trip in July 2018-- which I hope you will consider joining!
In the small margins of a very busy ministry schedule I enjoyed the breathtaking beauty of God's creation. Rev. Gretzinger took me to the famous Giant's Causeway, not far from their home. It is spectacular. I couldn't help but sing the doxology with great gusto as I gazed upon the majestic and dramatic scenery of the Northern Irish Coast.
Our God reigns, and His fingerprints are clearly seen in his work of creation and redemption! Christ, the creator of the universe, is building His Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
May we, Christ Church, live with an uncommon zeal for the glory of God and the advance of His kingdom in Charleston and throughout the world!
Can't wait to see you on Sunday!!