Student Assessment Preaching for the first year students at the Reformed Theological College (Belfast) was held at Dromara RPC on Tuesday 4th January.  It was a wintry night with snow or slush to negotiate at times for those who were travelling across a few county lines to get to the meeting.

Prof. Robert McCollum, Principal of the College, welcomed all who had made it to Dromara and also those who were watching and listening online via the Dromara RPC YouTube channel.  He expressed thankfulness that the event was able to go ahead as planned this year, as last year it had to be postponed and scaled down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  He then invited the first of the students – Mr. Jonny Fitzsimons of Woodstock RPC to lead the congregation in worship.

Jonny introduced Psalm 47 which was then sung in praise.  He read from part of Hebrews 2 and from his assigned passage for preaching – Psalm 24.  He spoke about this rousing anthem psalm under three headings:

  • 1.  The Sovereign King (v1-2)
  • 2.  The Holy King (v3-6)
  • 3.  The Triumphant King (v7-10)

In the sermon we were encouraged to realise how our innate lack of holiness prevents us from approaching God.  We were also shown our need to look to and trust in Christ who alone has clean hands and a pure heart and in whom we receive the righteousness that we need. After prayer, the psalm was then sung in praise to God.

Mr. Kenny Stephenson of Fairview RPC then took over in leading the congregation in worship.  He led in prayer and then read from part of Exodus 15 and also from his assigned preaching passage – Psalm 43. 

Kenny spoke of this psalm under the title “The Song of the Captive Covenanter” and did so under two headings:

  • 1.  Lament in the House of Bondage
  • 2.  Hope Towards the House of God.

In his sermon he described something of the trauma of exile that was being experienced by the writer – a feeling of dereliction and of being discarded.  Yet in the midst of this he looked to God and his hope was revived that he would be set free to worship the Lord again, even as the Lord had delivered His people from their long captivity in Egypt.  Kenny pointed us to Christ who in a unique way endured unimaginable grief and dereliction for the sake of His people. He was the light and the truth that God sent forth for us and we can be assured of the covenant loyalty of God towards us in Christ. After prayer, this psalm was then sung in praise to God.

Prof. Robert McCollum thanked the men for their ministry and brought the meeting to a close in prayer.  The college oversight committee met afterwards and commented on the work of the students.  These comments were noted by Prof. McCollum who then met with the students later in the week to talk with them about their preaching. 

I have heard appreciative comments since the meeting from several people who were listening online.  They were encouraged that as first year students, the men spoke so well and were excited about the clear potential that these men have.  Please remember them in your prayers as they continue in their studies and pray for the men who teach them.

Rev. David Fallows, Convenor of the College Committee

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