Mr. Charles Terpstra, member of Faith Protestant Reformed Church in Jenison, Michigan and full-time librarian/registrar/archivist at the Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary
Trivia question (a double one!):
How many resources does the PRC Seminary library have as of this writing? And how many boxes of archived materials were added to the PRC archives in the last year? (This information will be in the 2022 PRC Synod agenda, specifically, in the Theological School Committee report, but you get the answer sooner.)
PRC news (denominational)
Rev. D. Kleyn, currently missionary to the Philippines, was recently given calls from Hudsonville PRC and Doon PRC. On April 10 he declined both calls, believing that it was the Lord’s will that he and his wife Sharon remain on the mission field at this time. We are thankful for the Lord’s leading and for their shared commitment to this labor. May He continue to use them for great good in that place.
Rev. E. Guichelaar has also been led by the Lord to continue his ministry at his current charge, Randolph PRC, having recently declined calls to First PRC-Edmonton (March 27) and Peace PRC-Dyer, IN (April 3).
On April 10, Grace PRC voted to extend a call to Prof. B. Gritters (PRC Seminary).
From the Consistory’s new trio of Revs. S. Regnerus (Lynden, WA), R. Smit (Philippines), and A. Stewart (Covenant PRC, Ballymena, N. Ireland), the congregation of First PRC-Edmonton called Rev. Regnerus on April 17.
Peace PRC’s Council formed a new trio of Revs. M. DeBoer (Edgerton, MN), J. Marcus, and J. Smidstra (First PRC-Holland). The congregation voted on April 27 at a special congregational meeting.
On April 24, Doon PRC called Rev. J. Smidstra from a trio that included Revs. J. Holstege and N. Decker.
As of this SB issue, the seminary has concluded its semester with exams on May 13. But that does not mean there is no news to report.
On Friday April 29, the high school students from Heritage Christian HS (Dyer, IN) paid a visit, sitting in on classes, receiving a tour of the building, and enjoying a pizza lunch. Coming up on Friday, May 20, the junior church history students from Covenant Christian HS have made plans to visit the seminary, including lunch (pizza!) and presentations on the history and work of the seminary and on the archives. We are always appreciative of these visits and hope that some of the young men who come will begin to consider the ministry. Yes, the need is great.
Prof. B. Huizinga submitted his thesis to Calvin Theological Seminary on April 20 and is scheduled to sit for its defense in mid-May. Prof. D. Kuiper plans to teach a summer evening course on early PRC history in July and August at the seminary. Watch for details on that in church bulletins.
Senior Marcus Wee (Singapore) and special three-year student Isaac Peters (Australia) have completed their seminary training and will graduate, D.V. on June 16 in a program to be held at Zion PRC, during the PRC’s week of synod. We will greatly miss the presence and fellowship of those men, their wives, and their children! And Matt Koerner, an upcoming senior, will begin his internship on July 1 at Randolph PRC under Rev. E. Guichelaar. May the Lord use this for his continued preparation for the ministry.
From an April Georgetown PRC bulletin comes this update on the labors of Pastor Paul Raj in southern India (Vellore):
Both the English (VCC) and Tamil (PRCV) congregations held special services during the Lenten season. Pastor Paul Raj was invited to preach in different CSI churches, including his hometown of Periyakulam. A combined service of the PRCV and VCC was held on Good Friday on the Eden Campus. The India Committee has sent... RFPA books to the PRCV for use by the officebearers and children of the GFH. Construction continues on the first floor of their new church building…. The Indian government has extended the right of the GFH to receive foreign funds for another three months (end of June). Pray for the Lord’s blessing on these labors in His kingdom.
First PRC-Holland: On Sunday evening May 4, the Evangelism Committee planned a workshop on evangelism for her members. Rev. J. Smidstra gave a speech on personal evangelism, and afterward the EC gave an informational presentation on its plans to begin an outreach Bible study in the Zeeland area.
PRC news (congregational)
The Dutch—among other folks—are known for their cleanliness, and spring cleaning is always a large item on the agenda when the weather turns warmer—at least in these northern parts. So, it is not surprising that churches too hold some spring cleaning and clean-up bees—inside and out! Crete recently asked members to sign up for her annual church cleaning. First PRC-Holland held a clean-up on Saturday May 7, focusing on “freshening up” her landscape. Faith PRC held two, on April 26 and May 4, focusing on the inside of the building, including the cleaning of Bibles and Psalters. Can you smell the freshness and cleanliness?!
Byron Center PRC (MI): The Children’s Activities Derby Race was held at the church from 10 a.m. until noon on Saturday, April 23. The congregation was invited to attend and to enjoy ice cream afterwards. Saturdays this spring in West Michigan have not been great, weather-wise, but I believe this one was a beautiful day for the event—and perfect for ice cream (upper 70s)!
Crete PRC (IL) hosted the combined Adult Bible Study for the area churches on April 26. They studied the topic of forgiveness as found in Psalm 32. A special invitation was extended to the Crete Junior Adult Bible Study, and of course, refreshments and fellowship followed. A wonderful way to close out the Bible study season.
Edgerton (MN) PRC’s Adult Bible Study had a special program for their last meeting of the year at the end of April. They gathered to watch the speech that Rev. R. Hanko gave at the March Classis West Office- Bearers’ Conference, entitled, “A Proper View of the Church—Mother or Whore?”
On Sunday evening April 24, Faith PRC (Jenison, MI) welcomed Professor Boris Giesbrecht (a Swiss Reformed Christian) to their fellowship. After the evening service, Prof. Giesbrecht gave a presentation of his work on behalf of the Academy of Reformed Theology (ART) in Giessen, Germany. Faith PRC also invited the members of Zion PRC to attend the presentation and to stay afterwards for refreshments and fellowship. You may remember that Faith PRC has been assisting and visiting the BERG congregation in Giessen and Dr. J. Klautke of the ART for several years. And the PRC Committee for Contact with Other Churches has also been involved in sending delegations to and receiving delegations from the BERG.
Grace PRC: Don’t lose track of this event coming up this Fall! “The Grace Church Senior Retreat Committee is getting excited for our retreat in Shipshewana, and we hope you are looking forward to it also. We look forward to seeing you September 20-23. Please look for the registration forms in your churches starting May 1. Please consider registering as soon as possible.”
Grandville PRC’s women’s fellowship group (post high school and up) held a unique activity on May 10. They enjoyed a canvas painting night taught by Kathi Holstege. All paint supplies and the canvas were included in the small fee. Appetizers and dessert were served afterward. We hope someday to witness the fruits of this class in some creative paintings!
Kalamazoo PRC’s Activities Committee planned a trip to the local Binder Park Zoo on May 7. That included all ages of the congregation. The only variable was rain, for then the event was to be canceled. We sure hope that Saturday turned out to be a nice day.
Randolph PRC’s Evangelism Committee hosted a Spring Presentation on Friday night, April 29. They invited Dr. Brendan Looyenga to speak on “Fleeing from Cultural Conformity and Seeking Biblical Transformation.” While the presentation was for all ages, they especially encouraged high school students, college students, and the parents of school-aged children to attend. We trust they had a good crowd and heard a profitable speech.
Finally, in an April Southwest PRC bulletin was a note about the completion of another catechism season, and it is fitting for all of us to hear, with humble gratitude: “With the conclusion of another season of catechism instruction, we give our thanks to our God for the word of His promise which is to us and our children. Thank you also to both students and parents for the diligent preparation that was evident throughout the year.”
Young people/ young adult activities
The young people of Loveland PRC (CO) sponsored an Easter singspiration on April 17, with a collection taken to help them with the costs to attend this year’s PRYP’s Convention in Kentucky.
And the young people of Lynden PRC (WA) did the same, holding a singspiration for the congregation on Easter evening. They also served refreshments afterwards.
Pittsburgh PRC’s young people also hosted a singspiration on April 17 to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The collection taken at that event was to help cover costs for a trip this summer to the Creation Museum. We hope they’re coming to the YP’s Convention too!
For the first time since 2019, an Easter Mass Meeting was held for the PR young people. It was held at Zion PRC (Jenison, MI) on Sunday afternoon, April 24, with Rev. J. Smidstra (First PRC-Holland) speaking.
And in the evening of that same Sunday, the Young Calvinists hosted another workshop on personal evangelism for young people and young adults at Trinity PRC, which involved a question-and-answer panel. We understand that the interest and participation in these workshops has been high—a good sign that our PR YP and YA want to “show and tell” their faith in Jesus Christ.
Registration for this year’s PRYP’s Convention (Faith PRC) at Camp Cedarmore in Kentucky (August 1-5) ran until the end of April. As of this date (April 20) over 350 young people had registered! We hope the young people are as excited as Faith PRC is for this big event!
PR Christian school activities
“A 330-voice choir!” That’s the way the announcement began in the Siouxland area bulletins. And those 330 voices were those of covenant young people from six Protestant Reformed Christian high schools, whose choirs—individually and unitedly—gave a beautiful concert of sacred music on Thursday, April 21 at Centerpoint Church of Sioux Center. The six high school choirs were from Covenant (MI), Faith (WI), Heritage (IN), Hope (CA), Loveland (CO), and Trinity (IA), and I have no doubt that it was a “God-glorifying evening of psalms and hymns.”
The PRC Seminary library now has over 24,300 resources and over 50 boxes of material were added to the PRC archives in the last year. Keep the books and PRC history items coming!
Special minister feature—Rev. M. McGeown
Last year we asked Rev. McGeown if he would be willing to tell his story of finally arriving in the U.S. and taking on his duties at Providence PRC in Hudsonville, MI after a long pandemic-driven delay. The following is that story in his own words.
For approximately eleven years I served as the missionary- pastor of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF) in the Republic of Ireland, a mission work of our sister church, the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church (CPRC) of Ballymena, N. Ireland. On March 22, 2020, shortly after the CPRC announced that the LRF would disband due to its unviability as a mission field, Providence PRC in Hudsonville, Michigan called me to be her next pastor, a call which I joyfully accepted on April 4, 2020.
Providence had to wait, however, for I could not come to the USA until August 19, 2021, just over 500 days, or sixteen and a half months later, because of delays in U.S. immigration. During that time, I ministered to a handful of souls in Limerick under COVID-19 restrictions. One of Providence’s elders described it as an “unusual vacancy,” for I had accepted Providence’s call, but I could not be with the congregation.
The congregation of Providence was enormously supportive while my wife Larisa and I waited in Ireland. They prayed for us, we enjoyed video chats with members, they shared pictures and videos of congregational gatherings, and they sent us a poster with photos of all the members so that we could get to know them from afar. We also watched their services on YouTube every Sunday so that by the time we arrived we “knew” the people.
In addition, from September 2020 to March 2021 I taught the two youngest catechism classes on Monday afternoons via videolink (finishing at 10 p.m. Irish time), which gave me a wonderful opportunity to get to know at least some of the children. I also wrote a book while I waited—The Savior’s Farewell: Comfort from the Upper Room—which should be available this summer, D.V.
On August 19, 2021, a few days after my visa finally arrived, and we had given our farewells in both Northern Ireland and Limerick, Larisa and I flew to the USA. Some members of Providence PRC met us at the airport and others came to the parsonage in Hudsonville, where the words of Psalm 126:3 were chalked on the driveway and a poster “Welcome to the USA” greeted us. A few days later, after we had recovered somewhat from jetlag, we had a welcome at the church building.
On September 5, 2021, I was installed as the pastor of Providence PRC with Prof. B. Gritters officiating the service. He preached on “The Service of the Lord’s Servant” (II Tim. 2:24-26) and the children and young people gave a beautiful program afterwards. That evening I preached my inaugural sermon on “Pastors: Gifts of the Ascended Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12).
Providence PRC is small by West Michigan standards (20 families and just over 100 souls), but much larger than the Limerick Reformed Fellowship had been. My ministry among them is very enjoyable and rewarding and, since Providence is a close-knit, unified congregation, my wife and I have felt at home from day one.
Since I arrived, we have had the joyous occasion of two baptisms and two young people making public confession of faith. We are also a very active congregation. The members enjoy being together, so we organize a lot of activities for young and old: Bible studies, discussion groups, fellowship dinners, youth outings, ladies’ book club, games nights, and more are regular items on our calendar.
Many people tell me, since our church building is located on a main road (1569 44th St., Hudsonville, MI), “We often pass your church and we think about you.” To them I say, “Visit us some time—you will enjoy our fellowship, and, I trust, be edified by the preaching.”