On September 18-21, 2012 the Seniors Retreat was held in the Holiday Inn and Conference Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where Heritage PRC then held their Sunday worship services. 108 seniors from age 51 to 87 were kept busy from morning until night, enjoying the spiritual instruction as well as the fellowship and fun of new and renewed acquaintances.
Following registration on Tuesday morning we toured the beautiful city of Sioux Falls. One of our stops on the tour was at the church building that the Heritage congregation hoped to purchase as a permanent home for their church. After we returned from the tour, Rev. Allen Brummel, pastor of Heritage PRC, introduced us to the Heritage congregation, recounting for us its history of organization and showing slides of the members and families of the church.
After dinner Rev. Kenneth Koole, pastor of Grandville PRC, spoke to us on the theme, “A Goodly Heritage: Our Heritage of Faith.” Rev. Koole reminded us that through the centuries we have received the legacy of the Reformation that has formed our identity and character and distinguished us from other Reformed and Presbyterian churches. He began by reminding us that we must, as did the Reformers, start with the supreme authority and infallibility of the Scriptures. Second, Rev. Koole pointed out the importance of our heritage of the doctrine of grace, that salvation is all of God and none of self. Third, he spoke of the cluster of doctrines restored by the Reformers that have to do with the nature of the church and membership in it, namely Scripture-based Ecclesiology. He pointed us to the great blessing we have of belonging to a federation of churches of like mind, and especially for the esteem we have in our churches for decisions of our Classes and Synods, making us one in doctrine and confession. His last two points spoke to our legacy of Psalmody and the emphasis on living the antithesis in our Christian life. Thanks be to God for that heritage! Following the speech we were given an opportunity to meet in groups to discuss it.
Wednesday morning Rev. Audred Spriensma, pastor of Byron Center PRC, spoke to us on “A Goodly Heritage: Our Heritage of Family and Friends.” He began by reading, which teaches that we receive our heritage from the Lord, and , which tells us that our heritage from God is the gift of marriage and children and family. In addition, and perhaps more importantly as we get older, our heritage also consists of our grandchildren and our communion with all the members of our church family. He showed from Scripture how God, by sovereign election, largely in the line of continued generations, and through His providence and grace, has formed our churches. Rev. Spriensma then brought in the joy of raising our children and the special joy of being a grandparent, with emphasis on how we can as parents and grandparents pass on this legacy by words, love, and example to those who follow us. He pointed out that we often neglect not only our families, but also the precious heritage of our church families.
After dinner on Wednesday evening we were treated to a World War II slide presentation by Glenn Kooima, of Calvary PRC in Hull. This program was made in memory of his uncle, Lawrence Kooima, a member of Rock Valley PRC, who died in 1943 during a B-17 bomber raid in Germany. Glenn had many artifacts, including letters to Lawrence from his pastor and letters about him from his fellow officers that testified of his good witness and walk of life. It was good to be reminded in such a personal way of our goodly heritage. God in His providence has placed us in a land of freedom. As Christians we must show ourselves to be His children in all circumstances of life.
On Thursday morning Professor Russell Dykstra, from our Protestant Reformed Seminary, gave the third speech, “A Goodly Heritage: Our Heritage and the Future .” He began by talking about the future—the end times and the signs that precede Christ’s coming—and about the end times of our lives when we face troubles and sorrows. He beautifully pointed out that in times of trouble, with God’s covenant of grace, we are never alone, and that because of God’s sovereignty we are never defeated. Therefore we have the assurance that God is good! He loves His church. We are guided by God’s counsel, and His grace is sufficient. Knowing this we are not pessimistic, fearful, or doubting! Christ is victorious, and we trust in Him. In His strength we must contend for the faith, standing against the lie and being faithful witnesses to all those in our family, our church, and those about us, by teaching and living our heritage.
After we discussed the speeches of Rev. Spriensma and Prof. Dykstra, an opportunity was given for many of us to take a bus tour to see the churches and schools in nearby Hull and Doon, Iowa. We took brief tours of Trinity Christian High School in Hull and the new Calvary PRC sanctuary, also in Hull. What a reminder of God’s covenant faithfulness in providing facilities and church families here. Many of us did not realize that there are five churches in this area within about 50 miles of each other. We did not get to Edgerton, Minnesota because of time constraints and therefore missed seeing the Free Christian School, the oldest PR school in this area.
After an evening meeting of fellowship and games we met for our last breakfast together on Friday morning and watched slides taken during the Retreat. As we mingled once more to say our Mizpahs and wish one another well before we returned to our homes, we experienced a feeling of immense satisfaction—that we as people of God with one faith, one hope, one love, and one church could meet together in God’s love. We learned from the Word, from each other, and from our experiences, that we are not alone. We have a goodly heritage. As we learn from, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” We must guard that heritage through teaching, guiding, and loving those who come behind us. May God help us in that task!