Our Next Meeting!
The next meeting will be in the lower level conference room of Philadelphia Baptist Church at 10 am on Monday, November 7, 2011.
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When Ed Wallen returned from his last mission trip to the Ukraine, the monthly fellowship among several godly men just never resumed. When Ed and Michael Gaydosh began speaking of getting together again, their conversation brought them to a desire, not merely to meet for fellowship, but to meet as leaders of the Christian community in the greater Birmingham area for the purpose of mutual encouragement and edification.
The book entitled, The Thought of the Evangelical Leaders, originally published by James Nisbet in 1856, reprinted by the Banner of Truth Trust in 1978 (ISBN 0851512704), and is currently out of print, seemed to be a catalyst for the birth of this group. The Thought of the Evangelical Leaders was a book containing the very copious notes of Josiah Pratt, a member of what was then known as THE ECLECTIC SOCIETY, which met in London. To understand what London’s Eclectic Society was all about, the following is an excerpt from the very first pages concerning the notes of the discussions that took place by the society.
NOTES OF DISCUSSIONS
AT THE MEETINGS OF
THE ECLECTIC SOCIETY
THE ECLECTIC SOCIETY was instituted early in the year 1783 by a few of the London Clergy, for mutual religious intercourse and improvement, and for the investigation of religious truth.
The first meeting was held at the Castle-and-Falcon Inn, Aldersgate Street, January 16, 1783, and consisted of the Rev. John Newton, the Rev. Henry Foster, the Rev. Richard Cecil, and Eli Bates, Esq. Its members were subsequently increase to twelve or fourteen, besides as many country members or occasional visitors. The meetings were afterwards held once a fortnight, at the Vestry-room of St John’s Chapel, Bedford Row; and the Society comprehended, according to the original design, two or three Laymen and Dissenting Ministers.
At the date at which our Notes commence, January 8, 1798, the Society consisted of the following members: —The Rev. John Newton, the Rev. H. Foster, the Rev. G. Pattrick, the Rev. Thos. Scott, the Rev. R. Cecil, the Rev. W.J. Abdy, the Rev. J. Venn, the Rev. Basil Woodd, the Rev. W. Goode, the Rev. John Davies, and the Rev. Josiah Pratt; besides the Rev. John Clayton, and the Rev. J. Goode, Dissenting Ministers, and John Bacon, Esq., senior, Layman. Among the country members were the Rev. Charles Simeon, and Charles Grant, Esq. These are now all numbered with the dead; but in respect to all of them it may be said that their memorial still abides amongs us. The Rev. John Newton, by his published Letters and his Olney Hymns; the Rev. Thomas Scott, by his invaluable practical Commentary on the Holy Bible; the Rev. Richard Cecil, by his “Remains,” and the Rev. Josiah Pratt, as Secretary of the Church Missionary Society— will long live in the memories and hearts of multitudes.
Although it much enhances the interest of these records that several of the members of a community so small should have risen, in various ways, to eminence, it must be borne in mind that there was a considerable disparity in their relative standing, when these Notes were taken; all of them had not arrived at that ripeness of knowledge and maturity of wisdom for which in subsequent years they were deservedly esteemed. At the date of the first of the records which we now publish, Mr Newton had attained the good old age of 73; while Mr Scott was only 51, and had yet 21 years to be added to his life; Mr Cecil was 50, and lived to 62; and Mr Pratt was at this time only 29, and survived to the age of 76.
The following notices by a friend recently deceased, who was personally known to the various parties, will serve as a clue to the characters of such of the members as have not been so generally known to the public. It is not transgressing the bounds of the decorum thus freely to write, as they have belonged to an age long gone by.
The Rev. H. Foster was a plain and deeply pious man; without any peculiar decoration of taste, style, or eloquence in his general preaching; his ministrations were much valued, chiefly on account of their heart-searching, and experimental character. On certain subjects, so great was his solemnity of manner, especially when discoursing upon death and eternity, that the late Mr Wilberforce used to say that he was on those occasions the most eloquent man he knew.
The Rev. G. Pattrick, a humble, pious, retiring man, but much esteemed by his people.
The Rev. W.J. Abdy was a mild, affectionate man, of a devout spirit rather than of a powerful mind. He was Curate, and afterwards Rector, of St John’s Horsely-down. When he first went to that parish, he suffered treatment in opposition to his efforts for the spiritual benefit of his flock amounting almost to persecution. He was advised by his best friends to act with more spirit; but his mild disposition interfered with his following this advice, and he gradually made way by patient continuance in well-doing.
The Rev. John Venn was the author of the published Sermons, and was Rector of Clapham; the son of the eminent Rev. Henry Venn, whose Memoir has been published, and the father of the present Honorary Secretary of the Church Missionary Society.
The Rev. Basil Woodd, a devout and excellent man; he called himself a Baxterian. He was minister of Bentinck Chapel, Paddington, belonging to the Established Church.
The Rev. W. Goode was at first Curate of the Rev. W. Romaine, and afterwards Rector of St Ann’s, Blackfriars, London; he was father of the present Rev. W. Goode, author of Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, and other works.
The Rev. John Clayton, and Rev. J. Goode (brother of the above), were both excellent Independent ministers, men of piety and judgment. “More like Watts and Doddridge,” says our informant, “than like Dissenters of the present day.” Mr Clayton died a few years ago, at the age of 89.
John Bacon, Esq., senior, was the elder of the two celebrated sculptors, father and son. He was a man of imagination; a quick discerner of the points of men’s characters. Genius was more conspicuous in his own than solidity of judgment.
Although we read from the excerpt above that many notable men of sincere ministry were part of London’s Eclectic Society, and that many of them went on to become recognized pillars in Christ’s church, The Eclectic Group of Birmingham, which had its official beginning at Philadelphia Baptist Church on Tuesday morning, February 9, 2010, is not a gathering of men that desire to make a name for themselves or garner personal or individual recognition. We have formed as a group, not only to edify and encourage, but also to discuss very real and important topics and issues that our ministries face today.
The men that gather on the second Tuesday of each month hold to the doctrinal truths of historic, Biblical, orthodox Christianity. We affirm the sovereignty of God in salvation, the responsibility of man in responding to the gospel proclaimed, and further believe in the doctrines rediscovered in the Reformation– that our faith is in Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), Sola Gratia (grace alone), Sola Fide (faith alone), Solus Christus (Christ alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be glory).
CLICK HERE to listen to our introductory meeting as Michael Gaydosh presents the idea behind our gatherings (31 minutes).