Diary of a Traveling Pastor: London Calling

This summer, my consistory decided to send me to Europe in order to support our URC missionaries. What began as a short trip to Romania, turned into a four-country European tour. My first two stops: England and Scotland.

This was my first visit to my former home in six years. I lived in Oxford and London from 2011–2016 and grew to love the land of steak and ale pies and Pimm’s. The dreary spring we have had in Southern California prepared me well for the UK weather.

My first stop on my return visit was Oxford Evangelical Presbyterian Church, a congregation of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of England and Wales (EPCEW). Pastor Andy Young planted the church in 2018. They recently moved into a fantastic new space in Oxford city centre. The idea for this church plant began in my Oxford living room in 2012, when some other American graduate students and I met with the EPCEW’s church planting committee, including Andy Young. One of those graduate students in my living room that day was Nicholas Reid, Professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. Nick happened to be doing a research fellowship in Oxford, so on the first Sunday in June we worshipped together for the first time at Oxford Evangelical Presbyterian Church. For Nick and me, who prayed for a church plant in Oxford for years, it was pure joy to see God answer our prayers.

Next, I traveled from Oxford to Edinburgh to visit Zachary Purvis, Professor of Church History at Edinburgh Theological Seminary (ETS), and to attend the Edinburgh Dogmatics Conference. The conference was excellent, with many stimulating papers. Good things are happening at ETS and in the Free Church of Scotland. Three graduates of Westminster Seminary California teach at the seminary: Daniel Sladek, Ben Castaneda, and Zack. A curriculum revision will be implemented in the 2024–25 academic year, with greater emphasis on ecclesiology. The only downside to my time in Edinburgh was the weather. Fifty degrees with a thirty mph wind had me California dreaming. The coldest winter I have experienced in the past five years was summer in Scotland.

Zack and I took the train to London to attend the Catalyst Conference at the International Presbyterian Church (IPC) in Ealing, West London. Zack represented ETS and had many conversations with prospective students. I was pleased to reconnect with Paul Levy, my pastor when I lived in London. These are exciting days for the IPC, with many new ministers and new church plants.

The new Reformation in the UK will not be covered by the BBC or transform the entire culture from its downward slide, but church history is happening in this moment. Many are coming to faith from unbelief; others are coming to the Reformed faith from Anglicanism and Evangelicalism. Reformed churches are being planted in areas with no previous Reformed presence. God still rules Britannia.

Stay tuned for a recap of my travels to Romania and Italy.

Photo: The Grave of John Knox at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, United Kingdom.


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3 comments

  1. Great to hear a wee bit about your recent visit to the UK. When we were in Edinburgh last year, we saw the same beginnings! Especially through ETS and the Free Church of Scotland, the Lord is growing (again) His church there and it was a privilege to be a part of and witness to His work. To God be the glory as we labor in the fields ripe for harvest.

  2. Are these churches the best examples of faithful Reformed preaching or worship in the UK? The Ealing church is especially suspect, with many of its supplementary offerings having a bourgeois Anglican feel the them.

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