First, the people: The first thing I observed as people started showing up was "I don't know any of these people!" That was actually very encouraging! It reminded me that there are many Reformed churches in the Orange County area and many more saints who hold the Doctrines of Grace dear than those who meet together every Lord's Day at Communion Presbyterian Church.
Second, the speakers. Both main session speakers and breakout session speakers were excellent! On Friday, Kent Moorlach kicked us off with an early breakout session on the topic of Justification. He compared the sermons we find in the Book of Acts to what the Reformed Churches and the Roman Catholic Church teaches, demonstrating that it is the Reformed Church which follows the apostolic teaching found in Scripture.
Next, during our first main session, Christopher Neiswonger gave an excellent overview of the history of the Christian Church, with a special emphasis on the Reformed churches. This was followed by our first regular breakout session. One of our speakers had to cancel at the last minute, so I was asked to substitute and talk on the subject of Grace in the Westminster Standards. I got a lot of nice feedback from the folks who came to my session.
While I was presenting on that topic, Lindsay Brooks was presenting on the subject of music in worship, and Sam Welbaum was talking about the Doctrine of Sin. I only heard good things about both these talks, so I look forward to hearing them, once they are made available. Finally on Friday, we heard fromPastor Paul Viggiano on the Apologetics of the Reformation. Having studied at Biola, where presuppositionalism is not taught, it was refreshing to hear a consistently presuppositional apologetic put forth. Friday evening ended with a group of folks from the conference fellowshipping over pizza and Newcastle at a pizzeria around the corner (for more on that, see my "Third" point below).
Saturday's sessions were equally as encouraging. The day got started off byRev. Kent Moorlach speaking on the subject of the New Speak of Liberal Christianity. He challenged us all to maintain confessional fidelity, especially when it comes to admitting men to our presbyteries.
Following that, Rev. Danny Hyde spoke on Welcome to a Reformed Church, which chronicled some of his own journey from conversion to the Reformed Church, as well as expounding the things that make us different from the rest of the evangelical world. After Rev. Hyde spoke, there was another breakout session two different talks (our third speaker for this breakout session was providentially hindered from being there): Rev. Hyde spoke on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Reformed Tradition while Rev. David Stark spoke on the preservation of Scripture. I attended Rev. Stark's talk, and must say his defense of the traditional Greek text of the New Testament sparked a lot of post-talk conversations.
After a break for lunch, the conference resumed with Rev. Philip DeCourseyspeaking on the importance of the Word of God in the Protestant Churches. The Conference concluded with a final breakout session. Rev. Jonathan Moerschspoke on the difference between infusion and imputation. Rev. David Starkspoke on the importance of the Lord's Day Sabbath for the Christian Church.Rev. John Sawtelle spoke about Ulrich Zwingli and his example being appropriate for 21st century reformed pastors.
Third, the fellowship. Friday evening, after the conference concluded, a number of the speakers and attendees went out for dinner to a local pizzeria. This was a great time of fellowship where I was able to meet many pastors and members of churches in my area. But, the fellowship wasn't limited to after the conference. Just about everyone who walked through the door was friendly, and there were a lot of introductions being made the whole time. The fellowship of the saints was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the conference!
Sunday evening, conference attendees were invited to participate in a Reformation Sunday Service at the Crystal Cathedral of Garden Grove. Rev. Kent Moorlach was invited to preach at that evening service on the topic of Soli Deo Gloria. There were so many people in attendance, that the ushers had to make extra copies of the order of worship! Apparently, the attendance was double what they were expecting. Praise God that the Gospel was preached in that building! (video of the message preached can be found here: http://vimeo.com/31612257)
There were a few bumps in the road, but having been through it once, we are better prepared for next year. And, based on how many people are already expressing interests in another conference, Lord willing, there will be a next year!
One final, closing note. I would be remiss in my account of the conference, if I didn't mention the many tireless volunteers from Communion Presbyterian Church who gave their time and energy to make sure everything behind the scenes ran smoothly. From the registration table, to the snacks, to our own church's table and everything else: the people who make Communion Presbyterian a wonderful church also made this Conference a wonderful event!
I look forward to seeing you all at next year's Reformation OC Conference!
Seth Stark serves as a Ruling Elder at Communion Presbyterian Church of Irvine, CA (http://www.communionpres.org), a church plant of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He has a Master's Degree in Science and Religion from Biola University and blogs at TheRulingElder.com (http://www.therulingelder.com).