Image: Jeff Riddle, Rob Stovall, and Steve Clevenger at the 2013 Keach Conference
Note: It has become a custom for me to offer an "Orientation to the Keach Conference" on the opening evening of our meeting. Below is the "Orientation" for this year's meeting. You can also read the orientation to the 2009 meeting (the last one under the name "Evangelical Forum") and the 2012 meeting.
I extend to you greetings and welcome in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, on behalf of our host church which I serve as Pastor, and on behalf of the Reformed Baptist Fellowship of Virginia.
It has become a custom for me to present some orientation to this annual meeting. This is the twelfth consecutive year that such a conference has been hosted in the Commonwealth of Virginia for the purpose of stimulating fellowship, encouragement, reformation, and learning.
We have met under different names, as the “Evangelical Forum” from 2002-2009 and as “The Keach Conference” from 2010 to present.
We have met at different times, though always in the fall of the year.
We have met in different places, from large church meeting houses to smaller non-traditional venues.
We have met in different formats, but since 2007 we have met in a two-day format (Friday evening and Saturday morning) and since 2008 our meeting has been scheduled to start on the last Friday of September (BTW, mark your calendars now for Friday-Saturday, September 26-27, 2014).
We have addressed different topics, though in 2007 we commenced an extended journey through the historic Puritan Baptist Second London Confession of Faith (1689) taking each chapter consecutively as our annual theme. This year our theme is chapter seven, “Of God’s Covenant.” At this rate, as the Lord wills and if Christ tarries, we will complete the journey in 2038. This year as I perused the confession, I noted that in my 72nd year the topic would be “Chapter 31: The State of Man after Death and the Resurrection” and in my 73rd year we would complete the journey with “Chapter 32: The Last Judgment”! Some of us may need to read ahead. We shall see what the Lord has in store.
We have had different speakers, but one constant has been the high quality of the men who have spoken to us and the messages they have delivered. This year will be no exception as we welcome Dr. Richard Barcellos, a respected Reformed Baptist pastor and theologian and veteran Pastor Ron Young, Sr.. Ron has been preaching the Doctrines of Grace in Virginia for over 60 years! I can say of Ron as I said of Lloyd Sprinkle last year—paraphrasing the country song—he was a Calvinist when Calvinism wasn’t cool. These men are among my heroes. One new wrinkle in our program this year is that for the first time we are asking our keynote speaker to devote four messages to our central theme in hopes of developing a more concentrated and sustained meditation on the topic.
We have met as different people. Each year the participants have been different. One constant, however, has been the fellowship we have enjoyed.
At the close of the “Enchanted Ground” scene in Bunyan’s classic Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian who has been in “conference” with Hopeful along the way, sings this song:
When saints do sleepy grow, let them come hither,
And hear how these two pilgrims talk together;
Yea, let them learn of them, in any wise,
Thus to keep ope their drowsy slumb’ring eyes.
Saints’ fellowship, if it be managed well,
Keeps them awake, and that in spite of hell.
Indeed, may the “Saints’ fellowship” we share in this 2013 Keach Conference be part of the means God has provided to keep us awake and alert as we make the pilgrimage through this life.
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