Public transport seems really easy in London now, helped, of course, by the fact that EMA runs from 10:30 to 4:30, so allows you to avoid all the mad dash on the trains and underground. From Cricklewood there's a train that takes you almost to the Barbican, where the conference was to be held, and that first day my host guided me flawlessly from Farringdon station, past Smithfield Market to the huge concrete brutalist garden.
Singing for the conference was led by a pianist and two guitarists. The two guitarists were miked to sing, too. We currently believe that it is very difficult for any congregation of any size to sing without a miked up lead singer. I don't know why we developed this strong conviction or where it came from. Not long ago we managed pretty well without. Anyway, I digress.
The talks at EMA were divided into four strands:
Strand 1 : Morning Exposition, from Andy Gemmill.
These were "working out" sessions where Mr Gemmill examined Ephesians trying to establish from the text, as well as from Acts and Corinthians the purpose and details of parts of the letter.
Strand 2 : Varied talks
On day 1 we had a really helpful session from Garry Williams entitled "A Pen Portrait of Martin Luther". No pen was in evidence, instead Mr Williams spoke about Luther's theology of the cross in a very helpful, fresh and challenging way.
Days 2 and 3 saw Kevin DeYoung speak on the Mission of the Church, especially in his first message on the nature of sin. I was glad of this as it's one of the several bees in my bonnet, too. The second day saw him home in on Jesus' ministry in Mark, a kind of overview of Mark's gospel. RevKev is funny, self-effacing, charming, humble and very helpful. His approach to ministry is essentially confessional, rather than expositional, it seems to me, but that is fine and wholesome.
Strand 3 : Seminar groups
I attended days 1 and 2 of the "Rethinking Mission" stream. Not to mince my words, I felt that these were poor. We didn't really rethink anything, though we did hear from some clergypersons from a variety of different places how they are trying to reach immigrants. I skipped the third session.
Strand 4 : Closing exposition
The first came from a minister from Singapore who has a thriving ministry and a smiling wife. He preached on John 3:16. The second was a fine message from Graham Beynon on 1 Peter chapter 2, challenging our individualism. The third came from Vaughan Roberts on Revelation 11, aiming to bring strength in suffering.
Lunch with Gethin Jones, recently returned from Westminster Seminary and settled for a year in Ealing International Presbyterian Church before coming to Paris.
Lunch with Myriam, renaissance woman currently working as an analyst in London but who is also a successful sports photographer and was a piano teacher in Bordeaux.
Brief chats with Fiona, with Spencer, with Graham, with my old second-best-man, Gary Brady and with the pastor of an excellent old friend who lives somewhere in Kent.
A cheeky breakfast in Paul, a French patisserie etc. just by Smithfield Market. It was OK, not really like in Bordeaux.