The opening meeting of the 2020/2021 Session of the Reformed Theological College (Belfast) was held this year in Trinity RPC on Wednesday 7th October. The chairman, Prof. Warren Peel, welcomed all present and also those who were listening via Trinity’s YouTube channel. A recording of the evening can still be found on You Tube if you would like to watch along.

After opening devotions Prof Robert McCollum reported on the work of the College during the 2019-2020 college year. He reported that the full course of lectures had been completed in March, just prior to the commencement of the corona virus ‘lock-down’. Different arrangements had been made for the end of year examinations which all students had passed satisfactorily. The three students, John Coulter, Paul Flynn and Paul Wallace were therefore enrolled by the Committee to enter their third and final year.

Bursaries were awarded to the students in recognition of their hard work and commitment to their studies and annual grants were distributed online by the treasurer Dr David McKelvey.

The student placements, due to take place in May and June, had been cancelled due to the pandemic. The students, however, were kept busy at home with assigned reading and research papers. They were able to help with preaching supplies when restrictions lifted in July.

A member of the teaching staff, Prof Andrew Kerr, has received a Call to Ridgefield Park RPC in New Jersey. This congregation is located across the Hudson River from New York city. Everyone was asked to remember Andrew and his family as they prayerfully considered this Call.

Addressing the need for more students for the ministry Mr McCollum pointed out that men trained at RTC in the past were now serving Christ in 10 different countries. As well as serving Christ in Ireland (North and South), former students were serving Christ in: Scotland (Peter Loughridge and Stephen Steele); England (Simon Sweeney); France (Andrew Lytle); Spain (Isaac Berrocal); Canada (Andrew Quigley); USA (Philip McCollum); Australia (George Ball and Andrew Stewart) and Japan (Katsunori Endo). We are thankful that these men had trained at RTC and are now making an impact for the Kingdom of God as they serve Christ in their respective locations.

There is currently a great need for ministers and missionaries in Ireland. This time next year a new intake of students is anticipated. Our church is praying that the Lord will call many men to serve him in the harvest field of ministry and mission. We are delighted that the application of two
men from the Southern Presbytery, Alan Keenan (Newry) and Kenny Stevenson (Fairview) is already being processed by the Southern Presbytery. Pray that there will be many more men, young and not so young, who will hear the call of Christ to serve him in this glorious calling and make application to their Presbyteries to train for gospel ministry.

Dr David McKay, Professor of Systematic Theology, Apologetics and Ethics preached on the subject “Firm Foundations” from 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. In this passage he pointed out that the Corinthians were being reminded, as well as God’s people in all generations, of foundational truths
essential to the gospel of Christ.

  • The Revelation v 3a The gospel was not something Paul or any of the other apostles had devised – it was something Paul had “received” by Divine revelation. (Gal. 1:12)
  • The Crucifixion v 3b The good news (gospel) which Paul had preached to the Corinthians
    was that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures”. Dr McKay developed the glorious truth of ‘substitutionary atonement’.
  • The Resurrection vs 4-8 Fundamental to the gospel is the fact that Christ “was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures”. Many witnesses gave testimony to the fact of the Resurrection and by the Resurrection Christ demonstrated that he had triumphed over ‘sin’ and ‘death’ and ‘Satan’. Through faith in Christ all believers will share in that victory and live with the Saviour in glory.
  • The Grace vs 9-11 What had transformed Paul from being a persecutor of the church into a preacher of the gospel? “the grace of God” (v 10a). What had enabled Paul to work harder than any other apostle? “the grace of God” (v10b). In application Dr McKay reminded the students, and everyone present, that grace is essential, not only in salvation but also in service.

The meeting was then concluded with praise and prayer. Afterwards many lingered outside the building (social distancing) to enjoy a further time of fellowship.

Rev Prof Robert McCollum

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