[Pics: Andrew King; Keith Hoare; Graham John talking with Keith Hoare adn Jeremy Walker with Ani Ekpo from Nigeria]
So the Banner was a great time as ever with that excellent balance of Calvinistic methodism or experiential Calvinism that is its strength. Perhaps it was more weighted to the experimental this time but we are celebrating Calvin next year and may be that will be more the other way. Gwynn Williams kicked us off with a carefully crafted and very methodist reminder of the need for the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. Gwynn later introduced John Aaron's long evening paper introducing the massive 2 volume 1600 page Tadau Methodistiaid which he has now translated and that Banner will be publishing this summer. Two things struck me about this. Firstly, I am familiar with the phrase 'Wales the land of revivals' but I had not really appreciated this as a simple fact of history (1735-1850) rather than anything else. Secondly, a sketch of this history explained how Dr Lloyd-Jones could be so disappointed with what he knew in his day. From a high point of 53% of the population attending evangelical churches in 1851 to the present point where only 2% attend any church at all is a roller coaster story of gain and loss. For any believer this is of interest. For a Welshman it is particularly poignant.
The main speakers at the conference were Joel Beeke (on preaching Christ), Stuart Olyott and Ian Hamilton (Cambridge). All had useful things to say. I like Stuart Olyott's clear cut, no nonsense style in particular. He spoke about pastoral ministry and on training up young men and gave the closing sermon on 'the message we always need to hear' about forgiveness (1 John 1). Joel and Ian use a more difficult style but had good things to say.
We also had brief sessions of Spurgeon (from Jonathan Watson) and the matter of unction (from Andrew King). There was also a news session and a question and answer time, always quite stimulating, as are the late night chats with various groups of twos and threes and more. It's great to see old friends like Bernard Lewis, Alan Davey and Keith Hoare, fellow bloggers like Guy Davies and Martin Downes, my father-in-law, the other Welshmen, etc, etc.