Some time ago we were asked to organize a society of those who would be willing to underwrite the expenses of ministers who came to us from the Reformed Episcopal Church in response to our radio broadcasting, and who are planning to study in our Seminary.
Letters and pledge cards were sent to the ministers or clerks of our Churches with the request that they distribute them among their constituency. Several of our people it appears have wholly or in part misunderstood the idea and purpose of this project. Hence, we are publishing this brief explanation.
In February, 1948, in response to a broadcast on the Reformed Truth Hour sponsored by the Protestant Reformed Churches of Oaklawn and South Holland, a minister by the name of Rev. James A. McCollam, rector in the St. Andrews Reformed Episcopal Church of Chicago, corresponded with the undersigned relative to the truth heard on our program. We answered him by sending much of our literature, which he read and which persuaded him to inquire more perfectly concerning the truth. He became so interested that we soon came into personal contact with him, and since then have had regular weekly meetings in which he was instructed in our Protestant Reformed truth. He also became instrumental in spreading abroad our doctrines to others of his fellow ministers in his Church. With the result that shortly after the Revs. Emanuel of Chicago and Robert C. Harbach of Somerville, New Jersey, also became vitally interested. These men became so convinced that they have decided to leave their Churches, and have sought entrance into our school with the Theological School Committee. The Committee has accepted them. They hope to begin their studies next September, D. V. The truth has made such an impact that they no longer can stay in their own Churches. They feel themselves called of God to minister in our Churches should the Lord be pleased to use them. All three of these ministers are young married men, and two of them have families.
Naturally this raises a problem for us as Protestant Reformed people. None of the three have any material resources enabling them to study for three years with no source of income. And our Churches have a ruling that no married student may receive help from the E. B. P. (Student) Fund. So the Theological School Committee asked us to organize a society composed of all our people who are willing to help these men through the three years required for study in our School. Some of you will remember that a similar procedure wag followed to help the late Rev. W. Yerhil through our School. So we have precedent to follow in this case.
Those of our people who have met these men or have heard them speak have been greatly elated ever the fact that the Lord has given us the evidences of blessing in them. For years we have been in contact with ministers of the Christian Reformed Churches, but with no response. Now unexpectedly the Lord opened the door to these men who are willing to make great sacrifices, leave their Churches and every source of income to become ministers of our Protestant Reformed heritage. The Lord has shown to us that His truth is not only the possession of those of Dutch descent, but He has His children also among other nationalities and other denominations.
We believe there is room in our Churches for all those who will subscribe to our doctrines no matter what their nationality may be. These brethren have told me that they would desire to preach these doctrines, but if the Lord does not open the way to the pulpit in our Churches, they are still convinced that they cannot remain in their Churches. They would rather die for the truth’s sake.
So there we have it, my brethren! The Lord is giving us not only to see the fruit on our labors, but He is laying on us the responsibility of providing for those in need. At the beginning of this movement we were told that these men would be required to spend all their time in study. Naturally, therefore, we figured that $8,000.00 a year would be necessary for their upkeep. They will have to rent homes, pay moving expenses to Grand Rapids, pay Christian School tuition and their own tuition to our School, buy books, and consider the normal expenses of any family. Now, however, we learn that opportunity will be given them to work a little in spare time. This ought to cut down somewhat the proposed $8,000.00 we set as our goal. We are asking therefore that our people who are willing and able, send us their contribution before the first of September so that these brethren will have no worldly avocations to weary them while they devote their time to study.
Here follows some of the questions which arose in the minds of some of our people not acquainted with this project. Perhaps you have other questions which we shall be happy to answer if we can. Have these men left their respective Churches, or are they waiting to see whether our people will support them? They are in the process of leaving their Churches. You must not forget that they are in a different position than ordinary members who can just ask for their papers. They are ministers who are leaving the Churches they served. This takes more time since it would be unethical to leave without a strong testimony and they must abide by the rules of order to which they subscribed when they became ministers in their Churches, also the rules for leaving. By the middle of August they all will have severed completely their connections. They are determined to come to us regardless whether we support them or not. Of course, their training in our School will be impossible unless they receive aid.
What is the nationality of these brethren? One is Irish, another is Greek, and the third is part Dutch and Scotch. However, when you talk with them it does not take you long to discover that they are sincere children of God who love the same truth we love.
Will these men be able to work with our Dutch people? If the fellowship that our two Churches in Illinois have had with them is an indication, we have no fear that they will not fit in with any of our Churches and our people. All who have met them of our Churches have been greatly attracted to them.
Are their wives in perfect agreement with the stand of these ministers? Their wives are not only in perfect agreement, but they urge their husbands to make these great sacrifices for the truth’s sake.
Are these men leaving their Churches because they see they can better themselves financially or obtain larger congregations in our Churches? They are well aware that they can expect no rosy future in our Churches from a material point of view. They have no material interests at all in joining our Churches. We have painted the picture as black as we could to test them.
What will happen to these brethren after they finish their study, and they should receive no call from our Churches? This is a question we cannot answer because we do not know what the Lord has in store for them. We do believe though that should there be no call they will then serve our Churches in another capacity. On the other hand, we believe that the Lord first calls His servants to prepare by giving them the talents etc., and the final call is also from Him through His Church. We can safely leave this matter in His hand to dispose of it as He wishes.
Do these brethren intend to return to their Churches after they finish their schooling with us? No! They have no such intention. Should our Churches be inclined to use them in a missionary sense elsewhere, that is something to be considered later.
And now, brethren, let us get back of this thing and do our best to make it possible for these brethren to study in our School. If you have not the ready cash to contribute, may we at least have your pledge so that we may have some assurance you will help them? We have received cash gifts and pledges ranging from $5.00 to $500.00 so far. Approximately $1200.00 in cash and pledges has been received already, and there are several of our Churches which as yet have made no contribution.
Please send your pledges and contributions to the undersigned:
Rev. M. Schipper
South Holland, Illinois