FC(C) USA Family Conference 2014
The beautiful Highland Retreat in the county of Rockingham, Virginia, welcomed many visitors who gathered together for the annual Free Church (Cont.) Family Conference. The conference was held on Monday, August 4th through Friday, the 8th, 2014. This year's guest speakers were our own Rev. William Macleod from the Knightswood congregation in Glasgow, and Rev. Raymond Kemp from Kilmuir and Stenscholl on the Isle of Skye. Rev. Warren Gardner and Rev. Jonathan Mattull also gave addresses to those who attended this conference. The company of more than 177 attendees, a sizeable increase from last year, included representatives from not only the FCC but also from other denominations, such as the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA), the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), and the Presbyterian Reformed Church (PRC). Families and individuals traveled from California, Missouri, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Indiana, and other states, some traveling whole days and through the night to be present at the Conference. The Highland Retreat grounds include the “Mountain View Hotel” and “Red Oak Lodge”, which were ready to accommodate the weary travellers. Also located on the premises is a fully functioning camp ground where many were able to set up tents and park camping vehicles. Delicious meals were provided by the Mebane Preaching Station, which were prepared by scheduled meal teams everyday in the kitchen.
Throughout the week, three messages were preached each day, with the exception of one message on Monday and one on Friday before everyone departed. After hearing the Word proclaimed first thing in the morning, there was a short break before the next message was to begin. This time was often devoted to taking a quick look at the books on the two book tables that were set up, just outside the meeting room doors. On one table, the people had access to a myriad of old and new books which were provided by Sarah Broberg (David Lachman’s sister), while the other table displayed exclusively Banner of Truth titles.
Rev. William Macleod spoke on the doctrine of Sanctification while dwelling on texts from Romans 6 and 7, Ephesians 6, and 1 Peter 1. His first message focused on “The Necessity of Holiness”, which was expounded from the text of 1 Peter 1. The minister gave 14 reasons why the Christian ought to be holy; some of these reasons are because God is holy, because the Christian has been redeemed, and because God is Judge. After Rev. Macleod’s message, a memory game was held that night for the young people, which included the test to see if they could name all 14 reasons, from memory. One team was able to get 13 out of 14 correct! The next three days, Rev. Macleod spoke on “Definitive Sanctification”, “Progressive Sanctification” and finished with “The Christian Warfare”, which brought forth the message of Christ’s unstoppable victory over sin, even in the face of the enemy’s arrogant battle cries, and the position that the Christian ought to constantly persevere for the cause of Christ.
Rev. Kemp occupied the attention of eager listeners each morning, with texts from the book of 1 John. His topic, “The People of God”, allowed the hearers to consider how those who are adopted into the family of the Heavenly Father are, in fact, part of “The Royal Family”. The children of God enjoy “The Centered Fellowship”, which can only be found in and through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Though there is joy and security in Christ, there is also the presence of usurpers that would distract from the truth of God’s word. Rev. Kemp made clear the very present danger of false doctrines that are being preached and propagated behind the pulpit in this day and age. He exhorted the congregation to be aware of this spirit of anti-Christ in his message entitled “The Unmasked Foes”, and encouraged all who were present to be diligent hearers of the word of God, so that they may not be deceived by lying lips from high places.
The second morning address on Tuesday was given by Rev. Mattull, who spoke on “A Struggle Worth Remembering: John Knox and the Reformation”. This address transported the hearers to places like England, Scotland, Germany and Geneva, where they followed the great reformer, John Knox, through his contending for the purity of worship against the monstrous beast of Roman Catholicism! Rev. Mattull asked the question if we were ready for reformation. We want reformation and pray for it, but are we willing to undergo the sufferings that must occur to obtain that blessing? Such questions occupied many a conversation after the message during the lunch hour, while people gathered around tables in the eating hall. The next time that Rev. Mattull addressed the congregation was on Thursday evening, with an evangelistic message on 2 Corinthians 5:19-21. He spoke of the urgency of being reconciled to God, whom we have sinned against, but who has come with kind words of friendship, through Christ.
The second message on Wednesday morning was delivered by Rev. Gardner, which was especially directed towards the youth. The minister encouraged the young people to be “Laying Hold on God’s Covenant Promises”. One way a person may lay hold on God’s covenant promises is by seeing the fruit of the Spirit exhibited in your life. Those who are regenerated are taught by the Holy Spirit to love, and do not desire to return evil for evil because love thinks no evil (1 Cor 13:5). An illustration that Rev. Gardner gave of this principle was that of shooting those who are in opposition to you with a bazooka of love.
In addition to benefiting from rich preaching, and sitting down to delicious meals, many activities were enjoyed by the people. The grounds include a swimming pool, a volleyball court, and several hiking trails, which were all well frequented during the afternoons between messages. The young people particularly enjoyed playing many rounds of volleyball. On Thursday, they had a volleyball tournament and a ping pong tournament where one team after another played. All ages participated in these events, and all seemed to have a grand time. A tea party was scheduled for ladies of all ages to attend, during the Presbytery meeting on Thursday. Later that evening, the last night of the Conference, a discussion panel was held where the ministers answered questions from the young people. An example was, How can I practically keep the Sabbath day holy? This was a time of great instruction, and a highlight of the week for many. Another delight of the evening was a time of impromptu Psalm singing, which was held on the front porch of the Red Oak Lodge. Those who participated enjoyed singing Psalm 63, 98, 86, and others, in the refreshing cool of the evening. The last message of the Conference was given Friday morning by Rev. Kemp, on “The Conquering Faith” in Christ, which extinguishes the power of worldliness and bondage under Satan. The minister encouraged the hearers to go forth in confidence with Christ, for if God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
We are so thankful to all of the ministers who labored for us over the course of this Conference, especially Rev. Macleod and Rev. Kemp, and greatly desire that the fruits of their labors might be exhibited in the souls of many who attended this year. The reading and preaching of God’s word, the singing of Psalms and fellowship of the saints at such conferences is always to be prized and pictured as a little foretaste of the company which will be enjoyed in Heaven. To God be all the glory.
(Our thanks to Caroline Broyles for providing this comprehensive report).