Belfast Telegraph

Thought for the weekend

By Allen Sleith: Hillsborough Presbyterian Church

The Apostles' Creed is one of the best shorthand summaries of the Christian faith. Its concise narrative form presents the main contours and essential features of God's good news with a central emphasis on Jesus Christ.

One aspect that I particularly treasure is the reference to "the communion" of saints, in the third article under the heading "I believe in the Holy Spirit", for it is their presence that often persuades others to accept the Gospel or persevere in the faith.

Sam Wells, the vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London is one such exemplar. As an Anglican priest in several parishes, he has proven he can cut it at the coalface. As Dean of ministry at Duke University Chapel in the US, he led worship with imaginative creativity. As visiting professor of Christian ethics at King's College London, he is among the leading academic scholars in that field.

The author of over 30 books and counting, he excels in biblical interpretation, theological discernment, rhetorical feel, pastoral sensitivity and prophetic, ethical engagement, having the rare ability to bring these distinct disciplines into a splendid synthesis. Many people recognise him as one of the world's outstanding contemporary Christian communicators.

If you'd like to hear Sam, you can do so on October 10, when he will be the guest speaker at the Being An Open Church conference. The morning session in PCI's Assembly Buildings in Belfast runs from 10am to 2pm. The cost is £20, payable on the day. It includes coffee, worship, discussion, lunch and a bookstall. The evening session is at First Lisburn Presbyterian Church at 7.30pm, when Sam will address the same subject.

The morning session will have a denominational emphasis; the evening more of a focus on developing the theme in a congregational setting.

The conference has been organised by a group of Presbyterians called Being Presbyterian, part of whose mission statement reads: "The aim of Being Presbyterian is to encourage the wellbeing of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland by: creating space for biblical, theological and ethical reflection; practising a unity in Christ which is open, self-critical, and mutually supportive; ensuring minority voices will continue to be heard and respected; engaging with all levels of church structures."

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