News, updates and thoughts about standing for the Gospel.

STAND 2011 conference report (Joe Fleener)


We at Howick Baptist Church had the great privilege and honour to host our second annual Stand for the Gospel Conference.

Our keynote speaker this year was Geoff Thomas.

Geoff Thomas is the pastor of Alfred Place Baptist Church in Aberystwyth, Wales for over 45 years. Geoff was born in Merthyr Tydfil and became a Christian in Tabernacle Baptist Church in Hengoed. He went to Cardiff University to study Biblical Studies, as did his wife Iola one year behind him. Geoff then went to Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. In 1965 he was called to pastor the Baptist Church in Alfred Place, Aberystwyth where he has been ever since. Just two months ago, Geoff received his Doctor of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary where he gave their 82nd commencement address. Geoff and Iola have three daughters, eight grandsons and one granddaughter. He will be celebrating his 47th wedding anniversary during his preaching ministry in Australia and New Zealand.

Geoff’s books include Daniel, Servant of God under Four Kings (Bryntirion), The Life of Ernest Reisinger (Banner of Truth), Philip and the Great Revival in Samaria (Banner of Truth), Reading the Bible (Banner of Truth), Preaching: the Man, the Method and the Message (Reformed Academic Press), The Sure Word of God (Bryntirion), and The Holy Spirit (Reformation Heritage Books). The full text of 800 of Geoff’s sermons has been published on the Alfred Place website. He is also active in maintaining the Banner of Truth website.

The conference registrations opened 6:30pm Friday (22 July) with Geoff’s first session beginning at 7:30pm. This year’s conference theme was “The Person and Work of Jesus Christ.”

Geoff took us to 1 Corinthians 2:2 (“The Altogether Lovely One”), the great Christocentric statement by Paul, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” In this message Geoff passionately recounted the life of Christ including His crucifixion. As a result we were brought face-to-face with our Lord and Savior while at the same time seeing a model of what it meant to “preach Christ and Him crucified.”

We all gathered back on Saturday morning at 9:30am for Geoff’s second session: Luke 10:21, “The One Full of Joy.” In this message we saw a Christ who was full of joy and who has the power to give that joy to those whom He chooses. Geoff skillfully presented a Christ who is fully sovereign over all, full of Joy, and graciously giving His love to those whom He chooses.

After morning tea we spread out around the church building (and down the road to the Howick Salvation Army) for our four workshops.

Workshop A – Jay Behan – Applying the Gospel to Sexuality

Workshop B – Paul Davison – Ministry for Everyone: Reading the Bible One on One

Workshop C – Rob Morton – The Gospel and the Christian Husband

Workshop D – Richard Cutforth – Applying the Gospel to Suffering

These four men helpfully lead us in understanding how to more effectively apply the gospel to our daily lives in everything from our understanding of sex, the role of a husband, discipleship, and suffering. The attendees were encouraged and challenged to live all of their life to the glory of God while enjoying Him through His grace.

Lunch followed with attendees spreading out in the village of Howick enjoying fellowship over food and coffee. New friendships were forged, old ones renewed, and all were blessed.

After lunch we had the second session of workshops. The same four workshops were repeated, allowing those attending the conference to sit in on two of the four.

Following afternoon tea we were able to enjoy a Q&A with Geoff in the main auditorium. Admittedly it wasn’t your normal Q&A. Rather than taking questions from the floor or even questions handed in from the conference attendees, Geoff was given a small number of open/leading questions and then just allowed to talk and share about his life and ministry. It was a unique opportunity to learn from a man who has walked with and served the Lord so faithfully for so many years. We were all very blessed.

We then enjoyed a wonderful dinner put on by the folks of Howick Baptist Church. So many faithfully and joyfully prepared and served a feast! We were well fed and once again enjoyed great fellowship.

Saturday evening was capped off with Geoff’s third message – Hebrews 1:3, “The One Who Accomplished Redemption.” Geoff powerfully and passionately preached Christ – The Magnificent, Glorious, Powerful, Redeeming Christ!

On Sunday morning many of those from the Auckland area attended their own churches or other churches where they had friends/family. At Howick Baptist, senior pastor Peter Somervell stuck with the STAND conference theme and preached Hebrews 7:25, “He is Able.” A pointed and practical reminder of the totality of our redemption in Christ. He is able to save to the uttermost!

The final session for the conference was Sunday afternoon at 2:30pm. Geoff concluded the conference preaching Mark 5:21-43, “The One Who Conquered Death.” Geoff gracefully and pastorally preached the hope we have in Christ. This hope is rooted in the Perfect, Son of God and is therefore a real hope, a hope which cannot be taken away, not even in death!

Throughout the conference we were served by the music teams of Howick Baptist Church (with a few guests). Together they carefully and thoughtfully choose songs that reflected the person and work of Christ and led us to praise and savour our Lord.

The conference was attended by approximately 240 folks from all over the North Island of New Zealand with a few from the South Island, Australia, & Fiji.

Over the weekend, I found so many people commenting on how refreshing Geoff’s preaching style was, and how he so tenderly presented Jesus, whom he loved and wanted others to love.

I believe that would sum up the weekend – “Jesus is so worthy of our love!”


This report was originally posted at:

For more resources from STAND 2011, visit the conference page.


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