Note: It was my pleasure to provide an Orientation and Introduction to the 2022 Keach Conference last Saturday (September 24) at the start of our meeting at Grace Baptist Chapel in Hampton, Virginia. Here are my notes:
the matchless name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am Jeff Riddle, pastor of CRBC
of Louisa. On behalf of the steering committee of the Reformed Baptist
Fellowship of Virginia, I want to welcome you to this 2022 Keach Conference, a
theology and ministry conference for confessional Reformed Baptist churches in
members of this committee include Steve Clevenger, of Covenant RBC, Warrenton;
Van Loomis, of Redeeming Grace BC, Matthews; and Ryan Davidson, of our host
Grace Baptist Chapel, Hampton.
or not, this is the 21st consecutive fall in which a gathering of
this sort has taken place. By God’s grace, I have been able to attend each one
of those meetings. I was 36 years old at the first meeting (you can do the math
to figure out how old I am). I’m guessing Ryan might have been in Freshman high school Algebra class that year!
beginning, this meeting was quite different. It was a small gathering of Calvinistic
Baptist pastors who wanted to see reform and renewal in their (mostly SBC) churches,
and it was then called the Evangelical Forum.
meeting was held in 2002 at the First Baptist Church of Virginia Beach, with
then Pastor Jay Smith as our host. Our first speaker was Calvin Frett, a PCA
minister and former missionary to Japan, who led (and still leads) a ministry
to pastors called “Pastor-in-Residence.” That choice reflected the struggles
many were having at that time in efforts to reform their churches.
beginning most of those who gathered, me included, were largely unaware of the
handful of faithful 1689 churches that already existed in Virginia. As time
went on and we learned more, this meeting began to move beyond soteriological
Calvinism to a more robust confessionalism.
In 2007 at
our sixth consecutive annual meeting, we began a series through the Second
London Baptist Confession of Faith (1677, 1689), devoting each annual gathering
to a consecutive consideration of one of its 32 chapters. That plan continues
we began that pilgrimage 16 years ago, one may wonder why we are only on
chapter 15, “Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation.”
It is not
because we skipped a year due to the covid pandemic. We held our 2020 meeting
as usual at CRBC, Louisa.
we are on chapter 15, you’ll recall, is that in 2017 we skipped ahead and
devoted that year’s meeting to chapter 26, “Of the Church,” given the interest
and expertise of our guest speaker, Pastor Poh Boon Sing of the Damansara RBC,
Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.
In 2010, in
our ninth consecutive meeting, reflecting our further development as
self-identified confessional Reformed Baptists and having made firm connections
with other already established Reformed Baptists in Virginia, we officially changed
the name of this gathering to the Keach Conference, in honor of Benjamin Keach
(1640-1704), an early English Particular Baptist pastor and an original signer
of our confession. We have met under that banner since then (except for that
year 2017 [an odd year indeed] in which we unofficially dubbed it the “Hanserd
Knollys” conference, since our speaker had more admiration for Knollys than he
did for what he called the “prickly” personality of Keach).
years, we have been blessed to be ministered unto through the preaching and
teaching of the Word by many of the Lord’s choice servants.
Here is just
a sample: In 2009, Dr. Derek Thomas, then of the Reformed Theological Seminary
of Jackson, Mississippi, spoke to us on chapter 3 (“Of God’s Decrees”); in 2014
Pastor Jim Savastio of the RBC of Louisville, spoke to us on chapter 8 (“Of
Christ the Mediator”); and last year in 2021 Dr. James Renihan of the IRBS
spoke to us on chapter 14 (“Of Saving Faith”). BTW, we are thankful to have Dr.
Renihan back as a guest again this year, this time in his role as an ambassador
This year we
are blessed to have no less than four gifted ministers from across the state
come to us and break open the bread of life.
We hope and
trust that this meeting will not only stir our minds, as we consider the
precious doctrines exposited in our confession, but also kindle a warm spirit
of fellowship or “communion” among like-minded believers from confessional RB
churches across our Commonwealth.
our thanks to Pastor Ryan Davidson and to the members of Grace Baptist Chapel
for offering welcome and hospitality to us today. With nearly 200 people
registered for this meeting it is one of our largest ever (if not the largest
in our history).
May the Lord
bless this meeting, as he has been so pleased to do in the past, for the
furtherance of his glory and for the blessing of his people.