Maurice Roberts' Report on 2007 Conference
The Free Church Conference in North America 2007, the third of its kind, was again held at Bergton, Virginia, in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. The attendance this year was 148 persons, of whom more than a third were children and young people. It was again a pleasure to welcome a number who came to the conference for the first time, including ministers of various American denominations. Accommodation is in a peaceful, rural, woodland setting, on a private campus well provided for, with comfortable apartments and a convenient conference hall.
The speakers were the Rev. Robert McCurley (Greenville), the Rev. Sherman Isbell (Washington, D.C.), and the Rev. Maurice Roberts as guest speaker from Inverness, Scotland. Each of the above gave four addresses. The theme of Mr. McCurley's address was "The Church in the Life of the Christian." In the course of these four challenging sermons we were reminded that the doctrines of the church and of public worship are central to both the New Testament and the theology of the Reformation. We are to 'love the Lamb and the Bride' ("Rabbi" Duncan). Individualism must not lead us to despise the church. Our duty is to gather regularly in God's house and with His people. It is a sin to 'forsake the assembling of ourselves together.' One lady commented to this writer after the first address, 'You have no idea how relevant that was!'
Mr. Isbell's sermons were on the glorious Person of Christ. They were entitled 'Christ the Son of God,' 'The Word Made Flesh,' 'The Man of Sorrows,' and 'The Second Adam.' No theme can equal that of Christ's person and work. Mr. Isbell led us to the heights, depths and sublimities associated with our blessed Redeemer, whose mission as the God-Man was, and is, to save all His believing people to the uttermost. These addresses demanded careful thought and repaid devout consideration.
Mr. Roberts spoke on 'Our Need of Revival at this Time,' "The Conversion of the Jews' (based on Romans 11), and 'Sweet Fellowship in Times of Declension' (Malachi 3:16). His Wednesday night sermon was on 'The Prodigal Son,' an evangelistic message aimed especially to urge the young to seek God's pardon and grace early in life.
Afternoons gave opportunity for members of the conference to go on guided tours to Lexington, and outings to other places in the area. These tours to places of spiritual importance afforded poignant reminders of how godly men in American history had laboured in their day to glorify God and so to set an example to us all of eminent usefulness in God's service. As these good men in their own day laboured to be faithful to gospel truth as revealed in the New Testament, so must we seek to be in our day.
As the visiting preacher on the occasion, I am delighted to report that this was one of the happiest conferences I have attended anywhere in my years as a minister of the gospel. A spirit of love and mutual respect, together with edifying conversations, marked these days together. The excellent behaviour of the young spoke volumes for the way parents are bringing up their families for Christ. I thank God for the privilege of having been there, and I wish to place on record that I was impressed with the smooth running of the organisation and the warmth of the fellowship. May God prosper the conference more and more in coming days.