Trinity RPC in Newtownabbey was the venue for the closing meeting of the 2021/22 session of the Reformed Theological College, held on Thursday 21st April.  Rev. John Watterson opened the meeting, welcoming all who had gathered and any who were listening at home.  After praise and prayer he read from 1 Tim 4:1-16.

Rev. David Fallows was called upon to bring the Convener’s Report. In his report he noted thanksgiving that the two students, Mr. Jonny Fitzsimons and Mr. Kenny Stephenson had made a good start to their course, and had successfully passed their recent exams, obtaining very similar overall average marks.  They will now soon commence their summer placements, with both men serving close to home for family reasons.  On the staffing front it was a transition year in the Old Testament Department.  Prof. Andrew Kerr had done the teaching in the first term, prior to relocating to Ridgefield Park , New Jersey, and then in the second term, Prof. Stephen Neilly had commenced his teaching role.

Mr. Jonny Fitzsimons was invited to speak about his experiences in his first year as a student.  He reflected on how much he had learned about farming over the course of the year through getting to know his fellow student and dairy farmer, Mr. Kenny Stephenson!  He spoke of how both men had really enjoyed their studies and their fellowship and mentioned a few highlights from the various subjects they had been studying this year.  He also expressed thanks for the prayers and generosity of people across the denomination.  Both students were then awarded their bursaries and an offering was uplifted for the Education Fund.

The guest speaker for the night was, as is customary, the Moderator of Synod.  Rev. Philip Moffett spoke on the topic : “Follow the pattern of the sound words: a lecture on the usefulness of preaching the Catechisms”.  His four reasons given for why catechetical preaching can be a valuable approach to use at times were as follows:

  • 1.  It Follows Historical Practice – in Scripture (2 Tim 1:13), the church fathers and the Reformation era particularly.
  • 2.  It Helps Strengthen Our Faith – Thomas Watson spoke about how it helps us avoid being “feathery Christians”.
  • 3.  It’s Honourable For The Preacher – referring in particular to 1 Tim 4:6.
  • 4.  It Stirs Up The Heart For Worship – giving examples from the Heidelberg Catechism and the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Philip then introduced the closing psalm and concluded with prayer and the benediction. 

After the meeting there was opportunity for further informal fellowship.  Thanks are due to the Trinity congregation for hosting the event and to Rev. John Coulter for serving as precentor.

David Fallows, Convenor of the College Committee

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