Honouring Aberystwyth's Finest Raconteur

One of the greatest delights I have received in recent years was an invitation to contribute to Geoff Thomas's Festschrift.   Geoff has variously referred to me over the years as 'a complete idiot,' 'that utter disaster' and 'a typically arrogant Englishman.'   Coming from Geoff, such brickbats are badges of honour.  Geoff epitomises faithful Christian ministry: five decades in the same church in Aberystwyth.  Not a large or glamorous church; but a church and a ministry which, I believe, has seen at least one person go into the ministry or on to the mission field for each year of Geoff's pastorate.  And then there are the countless people, including homeless and prisoners, who have been the recipients of Geoff's personal kindness and encouragement.   Indeed, at several points in my own life, I have been cheered by a sudden, random email from the great man, full of personal abuse and laugh-out-loud stories from his childhood or his travels.  I would wager there is no greater or funnier raconteur in the evangelical world.  And to hear Geoff preach is to hear the voice of one who truly loves his Saviour.

Anyway, the Festschrift, The Holy Spirit and Reformed Spirituality (Reformation Heritage) is near publication (October 15) and, to whet your appetites, here are some photographs from the gathering where the great man heard the news of the book:

Gary Brady.jpgHere is Gary Brady, Geoff's son-in-law and a former student of mine, opening the evening with a 75 minute exposition of Lev. 13:40, a verse on which he is a particular expert.  You can see from Geoff's body language (second from left) that his opinion of Gary's outstanding pulpit oratory has not changed over the years.

Here is the moment when Geoff hears that he is not only being honoured with a FestschriftGeoff Weeps.jpg but that baptists turned Presbyterians, Derek Thomas and myself, have contributed to it.  Those are tears of real joy.  At least, I think they are.

Geoff sings.jpgAnd the evening was rounded off in classic style by Geoff doing his trademark party piece -- a rendition of Kurt Weill's "Mack the Knife," confirming that even after all these years he is still worthy of his nickname, The Aberystwyth Bobby Darin.

Seriously, the book looks to be an appropriate honour for a man who perhaps represents a dying breed: the low key pastor who stays in the one charge for decades and thereby has an incalculable impact around the world.  Thanks for everything, Geoff.  We who contributed to your FS are honoured to be numbered among your friends.

Geoff book.png