Some of our final year students enjoy the privilege of attending the Pastors’ Conference. Here Alex Stephenson shares his reflection on it:
Growing up in an Irish Baptist Church I thought that I was familiar with many of the pastors and missionaries in the Association. My perspective, however, was quickly adjusted on 2nd March as some of the third-year students walked into a welcome over tea and coffee. This marked the beginning of the annual Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland Pastors’ Conference held in Carlingford, Co. Louth. There was a diverse group of approximately 110 pastors, missionaries, College lecturers, retirees and ABCI staff in attendance. Whether from Larne or Letterkenny, Newtownbreda or Nenagh, if there is an ABCI presence there, there was probably a worker present at the conference.
The format of the conference was a good balance of solid biblical teaching mixed with invigorating fellowship. Dr Owen Strachan from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary was the conference speaker and his subject was ‘The Pastor as Theologian’. His sessions were encouraging and thought-provoking as he maintained that “Pastoral ministry is theology gone local: the pastor ministers the truth of God to his people because he has nothing else to give them.”
Following on from each session there were plenty of opportunities to have fellowship with one another. Across the two days we had small groups, meals, and organised activities together. These times were invaluable for all who attended and I think I can speak on behalf of everyone when I say with the Psalmist, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity” (Psalm 133:1).
As a third-year student of the Irish Baptist College I enjoyed the privilege of attending this conference. Needless to say, it was a welcome change to an intense Monday and Tuesday at college; however, it was much more than that. Our attendance at the conference was a time of developing relationships with fellow workers and brothers in Christ Jesus. It was a time spent hearing about God’s work in various settings and a time learning from the experience of others (whether they have been in ministry two years or twenty). It was a time of encouraging one another to persevere as local theologians. Overall, it was a fruitful and irreplaceable time for which we are extremely thankful. I am already looking forward to the next conference to strengthen these relationships and developing more.
As final year students we value your ongoing prayers for us. Please pray that God would grant us discernment to know His will for future ministry. Moreover, we would ask that you unite to pray with purpose and expectation for the continued work of ABCI.