Church Extension and Evangelism (2)

In the recent special issue of the Standard Bearer we began a survey of what each of the Protestant Reformed Churches is doing in its locale in church extension and evangelism. With this article we conclude that survey. 


South Holland, through its Evangelism Committee, is very active in this work. Tapes are made of every sermon preached and lecture delivered. Efforts are currently underway to expand this aspect of the work and distribute these tapes as widely as possible. For the past ten years South Holland has been broadcasting one of the Sunday sermons over a local. FM station. In this connection Edward Stouwie, secretary of the committee, writes: “Speaking of radio broadcasting, at the time of this writing (Sept. 26), we have just been the recipients of a most unusual largesse. A lover of the Reformed faith in an Eastern state has offered to sponsor Rev. Engelsma’s series of thirteen 15 minute radio messages on The Fundamentals of the Reformed Faith over a powerful A M station in his area. With anticipation we look forward to this hoping that the station has the time segments and a suitable day available to us.” 

South Holland gratefully reports that they receive requests for their literature from all over North America and even overseas. Many of their publications are distributed through the R.F.P.A. (Henry VanderWal). Over the past ten years or so South Holland has published some eight pamphlets. The first and most popular one is the series of brief meditations written by the late Herman Hoeksema entitled: “God Is Our Refuge And Strength.” This pamphlet proved to be the beginning of South Holland’s publishing efforts. Over ten thousand copies of this have been printed. The newest pamphlet is “Remembering The Lord’s Day,” by Rev. Engelsma. This and all the pamphlets are free upon request. Other pamphlets are in the planning stage. 

As is the case with several other of the churches, South Holland sponsors a Reformation Day lecture annually. 

In all this work, the secretary writes, the committee has the “loyal, spiritual,’ and financial support” of the congregation.


Covenant is limited in its work because of small size. Nevertheless the little congregation and its pastor do what they can. Two lectures (spring and fall) are sponsored every year. Pastor Hanko is privileged to preach on the average of once per month in the People’s Park Reformed Church (RCA) of Paterson. There are a few families in Vermont to whom sermon tapes and literature are sent. These people have been active in distributing our literature and books in the communities in which they live. 


In addition to sponsoring lectures, Holland distributes cassette recordings of the sermons upon request.Standard Bearers are also mailed to interested people outside of our churches. The Worship services and sermon titles are placed in the Saturday newspaper along with a brief declaration of the Reformed Truth. Holland’s committee is presently investigating the possibility of airing a fifteen-minute radio program to be presented by its pastor. 


In addition to cooperating with the other Michigan churches in lectures and radio broadcasting, Faith mails “Studies In Bible Doctrine” (written by Rev. B. Woudenberg) to 1200 addresses. These are mailed for six months and then a response is sought. Those who respond are placed on a permanent mailing list. The study sheets are then mailed to another group of 1200. Faith intends to do this until every home in Jenison has been reached. Faith also distributes literature from the R.F.P.A. in restaurants, doctors’ offices, etc. The newest project is placing an ad, “In Love Of The Truth,” in the local shopping guide. Faith’s pastor, Rev. W. Bruinsma, will be writing brief articles in this ad explaining various truths of Scripture over against prevalent errors and misconceptions.


Hudsonville, now our largest congregation, mails about three hundred bulletins to addresses mainly in the Hudsonville area. This attractive bulletin has a picture of the church, together with Pastor Van Baren’s name, address, and phone number on the front cover. The back cover contains a brief statement of the history and doctrine of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America (we shall have to change this to NorthAmerica now that there is a congregation in Canada). Inside, the bulletin contains an essay on some aspect of the Reformed faith. The sample sent to me carries an essay by Rev. Woudenberg on the subject, “The Bond Of Marriage.” 

Hudsonville underwrites the cost of the Reformed Witness Hour over WJBL, a Holland radio station. Sermon tapes are sent to Family Radio, a network of nine non-profit religious stations. Nine of the sermons have been broadcast this year. Those who respond to the radio sermons are sent, at their request, cassette copies. These people are placed on the mailing list for the bulletin mentioned above. In addition, they are sent sample copies of the Standard Bearer, as well as other literature. An ad is placed in the local “shopper” expressing a point of our faith and listing the time and place of the worship services. The consistory has scheduled, a biweekly “catechism” class in the Byron Center Library (a small town south; of Hudsonville where there once was a Protestant Reformed Church) where Prof. Hoeksema teaches the Canons of Dordt. A number of Hudsonville families committed themselves to attend these meetings regularly to form a “core” group. Others are invited to attend through personal contact an: through advertising. 


With the Rev. Bernard Woudenberg as its pastor it comes as no surprise that Kalamazoo (with First, Grand Rapids and Hope, Walker one of the “mother churches” of the denomination) is active in evangelism. The pastor’s letter to me is of such a nature that it is probably best to quote it in its entirety: 

“We publish our regular study sheet, ‘Studies in Bible Doctrine,’ every two or three weeks. These are sent through the mail to anyone desiring them (several hundred at the moment, R.D.D.). At present we are starting a series on the growth of the Church.

“These sheets are followed a week later by a study tape enlarging on the subject. These are sent out on a loan basis and without charge to be listened to and returned for reuse.

“For a while now we have been using, the Reformed Witness Hour radio time to experiment with different approaches to broadcasting. At present we are holding an open line type of broadcast with questions and comments taken from the listeners by telephone. It is proving quite interesting. 

“We are presently publishing several small tracts which can be used for handout distribution. 

“We regularly conduct a number of Bible study classes to which outsiders can be invited. 

We hope to hold a number of lectures through the course of the coming year in our new church building.” 


Hope Church does its church extension work mainly through its “Reformed Witness Committee.” Cassette tapes of the Reformed Witness Hour and of the Sunday Worship services of Hope are mailed to about sixty addresses on a permanent mailing list. The recipients are from the states as well as from Korea, South Africa, Tanzania, Malaysia, and the Republic of China. Many of these write periodically, informing Hope of their deep appreciation for these tapes and requesting other reading materials. ,’ Prof. Hanko’s pamphlet series, “Covenant Witness,” is being reprinted for distribution. Recently Hope printed a pamphlet, “Christ’s Predetermined Death,” authored by Rev. R.C. Harbach. 


As many of our readers know, standing in the heart of what once was the Dutch ghetto but now is the Black ghetto of Grand Rapids is First Church. As is true of her sisters in the denomination, so from First too goes forth the command of the gospel to repent and believe. We quote the letter received from the church extension committee: 

“The Reformed Witness Hour originated in the Young Men’s Society of First Church, and soon came to function under the sponsorship of the Consistory of this church. For many years the late Rev. Herman Hoeksema, pastor of First Protestant Reformed Church, was the radio speaker for the program. Over the years many other of our clergy have recorded radio sermons, many new stations have been added, and many other churches have become involved in the financial support of the radio broadcast. But the Radio Committee remains responsible to the Consistory of First Church and remains dependent on it for the largest single contribution to the cost of maintaining the broadcast. 

“First Church has a library of tapes which are used in its ‘Recording Ministry.’ Sermon tapes are made available on a loan-free basis, both to shut-ins. . . and to others at their request. The cassette library includes a number of titles of lectures. The Church Extension Committee is currently frying to establish a working relationship with a Christian Bookstore chain in order to provide for a wider distribution of our tapes.” 

In addition First is the calling Church for Jamaica. “Progress is sometimes disappointingly slow, but the Consistory’s Jamaican committee continues to work long and hard in this very complex aspect of our mission endeavor.” 

First, with the help of Southeast Church and with some Synodical Funding, supervises the work being done in Bradenton, Florida. 

Finally, many of the pamphlets advertised in the brochure of the R.F.P.A. originated with the Sunday School of First Church. The Sunday School, with supplementary funding from the congregation, continues to publish new pamphlets and reprint older ones as the need arises.

Thus it is that from twenty-one little churches who bear the name Protestant Reformed, scattered from Wyckoff, New Jersey in the shadows of New York City to Redlands, California and Lynden Washington on the shores of the Pacific and from Houston, Texas to Edmonton, Alberta there goes forth the pure and sweet sound of the gospel of the sovereign grace of God in Jesus Christ. All this in addition to the work of the churches in common in East Lansing, Michigan; Birmingham, Alabama; and Singapore and Jamaica. How thankful we must be for the work God has given us to do and for the grace to do it. Let us be zealous in our efforts and labor while it is day, ere the night comes in which no man can labor. The fields are white with harvest. Looking at it all we say: “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to Whom.” (Romans 11:36).