Mr. Kalsbeek is a member of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Walker, Michigan and retired secretary of the RFPA.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
We have chosen “Abounding in the Work of the Lord” as our theme for this year’s report to our esteemed association members and friends. This theme expresses what your Board views as critical to the fulfillment of our stated purpose of “witnessing to the Reformed truth.” Without the faithful labor of love of so many we simply would not be doing this work of the Lord to the extent that we currently are.
In recognition of this faithful labor, the Board decided to demonstrate its appreciation to all those who labored on behalf of the RFPA this year, by inviting them and their spouses to a dinner. Those invited included employees, the Editorial Committee of the Standard Bearer, writers of books and SB articles, volunteer workers, RFPA agents in the churches, and members of the Board. The dinner, to which 136 couples were invited (about half of whom were able to attend), was held just prior to our meeting tonight. Thanks to the generosity of three PRC business owners, no expense was incurred by the Association.
Due to the tremendous financial support for the SB by means of collections taken in the Protestant Reformed churches and gifts from countless subscribers, we have an abundance of cash on hand for the work of publishing and promoting our magazine. At times your Board has wondered, “How does the Lord desire that we should use this money?” While we are committed to exercising good stewardship with respect to these monies, their existence has made it possible for the Board to do some promotional things that could not have been considered ten or fifteen years ago. Following are three ways we have promoted the SB during this past year:
1.All regular subscribers were given opportunity to give vouchers worth a six-month subscription to the SB to the person or persons of their choice. This promotion resulted in 162 subscriptions given and 15 renewals.
2.Consistories of the PRC continue to enroll newly wedded couples and new members from outside the PRC in our free one-year subscription program. This past year we have sent out exactly 22 SB subscriptions as a result.
3.Just recently our offer of a free six-month subscription to the SB has been aired by the Reformed Witness Hour. It is too early to report on the results of this promotion.
Your board reports a total of 2713 Standard Bearer subscribers at present, which is an increase of 85 since one year ago.
The Board is also working on a few other projects which we believe will advance the cause of the SB. Our SB booklet project will soon publish its first fruits. The idea is to publish in booklet form some of the series articles that have been published in our Standard Bearer and make these available for distribution by our subscribers and the Evangelism Committees of the PRC. Also our Special Introductory Issue of the SB is nearing completion. This issue is designed to present in one special issue some of the key biblical distinctives which we hold dear. Our hope is that this issue will be a helpful means to promote the SB to those interested in the Reformed faith.
The success of these promotions of the Standard Bearer, however, is dependent largely on you, our trusted subscribers. A recent evaluation by our Business Manager, Mr. Don Doezema, shows clearly that we gain most of our new subscribers because “old” subscribers promote our magazine. We encourage you to continue to abound in this aspect of the spread of the truth.
This past year has been another busy and productive one on the book-side of the RFPA’s witness. Especially in connection with this work we find our volunteers invaluable. We have proofreaders, those who process book orders, others who do mass mailings of the “Update” and catalogs, as well as agents who help promote and distribute our publications in the individual congregations.
Since our last annual meeting, these volunteers have assisted in the work involved in two new books, namely Unfolding Covenant History, volume 2, by Prof. Homer Hoeksema and edited by Mr. Mark Hoeksema, and Righteous by Faith Alone, by Rev. Herman Hoeksema and edited by Prof. David Engelsma. Also, Voice of Our Fathers, A commentary on the Canons of Dordt by Prof. Homer Hoeksema; Leaving Father and Mother, by Rev. C. Hanko; and Saved by Grace, by Revs. R. Cammenga and R. Hanko have been processed as reprints.
Your Board has advertised some of these and other of our books during this past year in World, Christian Observer, the Grand Rapids Press, and Christian Renewal. Also, we can report that our books have been reviewed in numerous other periodicals.
Last year we reported that the RFPA had joined the Christian Bookseller’s Association. This year we have been working hard to get our books on the shelves of the member stores; and that with some success. This year we have distributed books to a total of 62 wholesale distributors, about ten of which are new customers. Approximately 2,800 books have been sold to these distributors this year. Much of this has resulted from the mailing of 3000 catalogs to CBA member outlets.
That’s the upside! The downside is that, for us to be serious about promoting RFPA materials in this market, it is necessary to do what the rest of the industry does, namely, send out updated catalogs of our publications on a regular basis. Consequently your Board has decided to update and distribute our catalog once a year. This is expensive! Nevertheless the Board believes it will pay future dividends in a wider distribution of the Reformed truth by means of our publications.
Speaking of dividends, the Internet is increasingly providing them as more and more individuals are coming into contact with our web site and purchasing our publications by means of it. This year we have sold about 1200 volumes by means of our web site. Incidentally, nearly 300 new SB and book customers have ordered our materials in this manner. Also, 26 of our titles are now available onAmazon.com. Although we have just recently begun this program, we have already sold 111 volumes through Amazon.
Much more could be said, but we will save it for the next “Update,” which we plan to distribute this coming November.
Finally, we inform the Association of one additional valued volunteer, Mr. Jonathan Engelsma. Let us explain. Last spring, board member Mr. Robert Vermeer informed the Board that he would need to resign due to the fact that he was moving to Illinois to teach at the Heritage Christian High School. Since the constitution gives the board the authority to fill vacancies of this sort, Jon was asked to serve, and graciously consented, even though he had retired from the Board less than a year before. As an expression of our gratitude, we promptly appointed him chairman of the Book and Publications Committee.
It is our prayer that the Lord will continue to use our feeble efforts to promote His noble cause. We have been privileged, indeed, to serve the Association and our Lord in this work for another year.
For the Board of the RFPA
Cal Kalsbeek, Secy.