More and more we are reminded that the Convention time of our Federation of Protestant Reformed Young Peoples’ Societies is again at hand. In our mind’s eye we see loaded busses with happy and youthfully carefree Covenant youth turning their faces toward Hull, Iowa. From California, Washington, Montana, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan they come. With glad anticipation, as only youth can have, they come to the little city of Hull, Iowa, small when compared with the great metropolises of the world, yet great historically in the annals of our Protestant Reformed Church life!
We would indeed like to write down a few words of encouragement in the Standard Bearer for our Young People and their parents.
Strictly speaking what I am to write might be considered to be the business of the editor of Beacon Lights, our good friend Sid De Young. But certainly the Standard Bearer and the Beacon Lights can walk in happy “concordance”. Beacon Lights will not, I am certain, think it presumptuous on the part of the Standard Bearer that it too would break a lance in behalf of our Covenant youth.
Somehow it has become unnecessary in our circles to give further elucidation when speaking of the “Convention”. No one thinks of the Republicans or of the Democrats. All think of the “Convention” of our Protestant Reformed youth. It has become an “institution”. Somehow the “Convention” is already a tradition. Our calendar of yearly events is not complete without it. It somehow climaxes the events of the year. And it is with enthusiasm that I hear this Convention sing: “God Be With You Till We Meet Again”. Already at the end of the present Convention our youth look forward to the next one.
Convention time is an institution in our midst.
May it ever abide with us.
But we must add more.
May it always remain true to the ideals and the foundation as this was expressed in the days of the small beginning. Maybe it is a sign of age creeping upon me that my thoughts turn back, and that I like to reminisce just a bit of the past of the Federation of Protestant Reformed Young Peoples’ Society. Relatively speaking I am growing old among the young people it is true.
I write as one of the earlier generation, who too was one of the young people of our churches a quainter century ago.
My thoughts go back to the first Convention. Contrary to the thought of some this first Convention was not held in First Church at Grand Rapids, but it was held in our South Holland, Illinois Church. It was the summer of 1939. In those days there was already a Western League of Young People Societies, but there had not yet been a similar organization in the churches east of the Mississippi. But the eastern societies had visions and plans for a larger organization. They did not desire a League of Eastern Societies. They desired a Federation of all the Young People Societies of all our churches.
With that in mind the First meeting in South Holland, Illinois was called a “Convention”. And that it truly was with all the trimmings. Its basic pattern was followed in all the subsequent Conventions: Keynote address, executive sessions, a sight-seeing trip, and last and not least a banquet.
That was the Convention of “Small Beginnings”.
It should not, as all small beginnings which are good, be* despised for its littleness.
Decisions of far reaching importance were taken at this Convention.
In the first place some basic principles were tentatively laid down in written statement, which principles the next Convention adopted without basic changes, and which it incorporated in the “Constitution” of the Federation. Some of these basic principles were and we quote from the Minutes, Article 27, as follows:
“1. The basis of the Convention is the Word of God as expressed in the Three Forms of Unity.”
“2. The purpose: to unite all Protestant Reformed Young People Societies to work in close unity and in this manner secure a sense of solidarity and to seek the mutual edification and development of talents as becomes Christian young people.”
“3. Third resolution: that we strive to maintain with united front our specific Protestant Reformed character.”
“These resolutions are to be adopted temporarily and are to be submitted to the Constitution Committee.”
It can do no harm, that we all be reminded of these splendid resolutions of the first Convention. Our young people do well to write these resolutions upon the table of their hearts and to bind them about their necks. Write them upon the standard and lift it aloft in your Convention, dear conventioneers of 1952! Such is the prayer of the Standard Bearer.
On this Convention of small beginnings in South Holland, Illinois there was also the question of having some outlet for our Young People to express themselves, their views, their problems. There was no Beacon Lights as yet. The only outlet for our youth was that they received space in the erstwhile Church News. In this connection the Minutes of this Convention contain the interesting Article, No. 21. We quote:
“Art. 21. It was decided to investigate whether or not the Young Peoples’ Societies could secure a place in the Church News and eventually carry a uniform lesson system. This matter was tabled till after recess.” And in Article 26 we read the interesting notice: “We returned to the tabled motion that we obtain space in the Church News, and it was decided to have the South Holland Young People Society assume responsibility in regulating the contents to be placed in this column. There was a motion to pass on the following suggestions to the Committee in charge.
a. Someone (or more than one) be chosen to write a few Articles in connection with our Society life.
b. To see to it that each Society in the Federation contribute to the column.
c. To work out this matter also with the Western League and the present writer for our Young People.
d. To send a definite system of Bible lessons to the various Societies for their approval or ratification.”
In passing we may here relate that it was not till two years later that Beacon Lights saw the light of day. That was on the Convention here in 1941 at Oak Lawn, Illinois. From a trio of names, to wit, “The Witness For The Protestant Reformed Youth”, “Our Youth’s Guide” and “Beacon Lights” the last name was chosen by a majority vote.
We see, therefore, that the first Convention performed far reaching ground work.
What strikes this writer of these lines is that its progress was not all top heavy. The Societies are to be taken into consideration with every move of importance. As the name suggests it is a Federation of Societies. And no more powers were intended to be given to a “board” than strictly necessary. Delegated power is in the Delegate Board; the power to execute the wishes of the Delegate Board is the duty of the Executive Board. Such was, no doubt, the desire of the Convention of South Holland in 1939.
Interesting facts, indeed.
The “Minutes” of the various Conventions of the Delegate Board contain other valuable data, which the 1952 Convention would do well to consider before making other and different decisions!
Yes, our Young People will be Convention bound. There will be the happiness and carefreeness of youth.
But there will also be serious and earnest debate of the issues of the day. In this connection I am reminded of some of the thoughts spoken by the speaker of the first Convention. He spoke on “The Days Of Our Youth”. The speaker emphasized that the days of youth are the time of preparation for life. This relatively true. For our youth are not only in life’s preparation, they already stand in the midst of the battle. Yet battling they are prepared for greater struggles and victories. So we see also our youth at this Convention.
Our youth also live in the days of greatest activity. In these they are to rejoice, yet not to forget their Creator. And, therefore, our youth are in the greatest need of wise and good guidance.
The Standard Bearer has attempted to add just a bit to this guidance along the chartered path of the first Convention.
May our ministers, who shall address the Convention be filled with the Holy Spirit of wisdom and counsel. May they preach the Word so that our beloved youth may be clad in the full armor of God, and stand in “united front”, a phalanx strong!
Convention of 1952, we greet you.
May the occasion long live as a sacred, cherished memory in your life!