Rev. Kortering has declined the calls extended to him from Kalamazoo and Pella.
The ordination of now Pastor Arie den Hartog took place during the evening worship service on October 6, in Prospect Park, New Jersey. On hand for the occasion was our former church, news editor. Mr. Faber, who has hardly lost his touch for reporting news of this sort, kindly sent us a copy of Prospect Park’s bulletin for that day, along with a few observations concerning the day’s events. I suspect that his little note was prepared rather hurriedly, and that it was not written with a view to its being used, verbatim, as an account of the ordination. But I could do worse, I’m sure, than pass along a report from the past writer of this column. So, from the pen of our “See you in church, J.M.F.,” the following:
“We were very fortunate to be able to worship with this congregation on this joyous occasion. Prof. Hanko preached two wonderful sermons! There were about 35 people in attendance this evening, among which were 5 from 1st church in Grand Rapids! Us! The people of the congregation were very happy and gave us a royal welcome. One family provided the noon dinner (at their house, of course) and we met everyone after the service when they served a light lunch at the get-together to welcome their new minister. The ordination service was very impressive, bringing tears to many eyes!”
Mr. Faber mentioned that he also “stopped at the Skowhegan parsonage when Rev. and Mrs. Kuiper were straightening out the boxes of household goods two days after arriving there.” Those two days, and, for that matter, the two weeks around the beginning of October, must have been extremely busy ones for our missionary and his family in Maine. Some of the things which occupied his attention during that eventful period, were recounted for us by Rev. Kuiper himself. He mentioned, first of all, the installation service in Hudsonville on September 25. The service, the capacity audience, the coffee hour—all these, he writes, were “very encouraging to me as missionary.” Friday morning of that week, found Rev. Kuiper at Hope School, where he spoke for the chapel exercise. On Sunday, September 29, he preached in Hudsonville. His sermon topic was “Praying for the Missionary of the Gospel”—based on Ephesians 6:18-19. The following day he left for Maine, arriving in Skowhegan late Tuesday night, after 1100 miles of travel. The people there, he writes, “had cleaned and painted a rented house that proves very adequate.” The remainder of the week was spent in unpacking, enrolling his children in a Christian school of Baptist background in nearby Canaan, Maine, and in preparing to preach on the coming Sunday. On Monday he commenced “the labor of the missionary, in calling on various individuals.”
Our missionary’s address, by the way, is: 346 Water Street, Skowhegan, Maine 04976.
We also have a little news from and concerning our missionary on the other side of the United States. Our first source is a newsletter addressed by the council to the congregation of Hope Church (the calling and sending church, as far as Rev. Harbach is concerned). The letter contained the essence of the first of Rev. Harbach’s bi-monthly reports to the Mission Committee and to Hope’s council.
According to the letter, Rev. Harbach has made “many personal calls both to interested people not yet regular attendees at the services and to those people who are and have been associated with the group for some time.” Other labors include mid-week classes dealing with Reformed confessions other than the Heidelberg Catechism, which is preached regularly every Sunday. Rev. Harbach “realizes the need for instruction in the Reformed faith and its practical consequences. And, this is the instruction that he is giving.”
In light of the fact that he does all of this “in addition to all the normal work of a minister,” it’s apparent that Rev. Harbach “is a very busy man and bears much responsibility.” But, it is apparent, too, that “the work is enjoyable to our missionary. He experiences daily the joys of those who are being newly founded in the Reformed faith and is encouraged when the truths of God’s Word find ready entrance into the hearts of the people there. But the work is not without its heartaches. Interested people suddenly become disinterested and much effort and time often appear to be wasted. But, no matter the outcome, Rev. Harbach knows and expresses the truth that the work in Houston is the Lord’s work and that the Lord gathers and the Lord hardens.”
In describing his own work, in a letter to the Hope congregation, Rev. Harbach mentioned the Sunday preaching of the Word and the mid-week class, and, in addition, three catechism classes, a Sunday School class, hospital visits, a funeral, calling and visiting wherever he can to present the cause of Reformed ‘truth, having guests into his apartment for long talks about that truth, distributing literature material, talking with other ministers about Protestant Reformed doctrine, and advertising our meeting place and services in two local newspapers and in one of the two giant Houston papers.
Rev. Harbach closed that letter with a request to the congregation of Hope—a request which could as well be received by all of us, and which surely has application to both of our missionaries. Here it is: “Your prayers on our behalf are greatly appreciated for at least two reasons, (1) because spiritually we need the Lord’s strength and mighty grace, and (2) because we live in a bad place—we live in this world, which is fraught with terrible dangers, physical, intellectual and spiritual!
“May the Lord bless us all, you there, and us here, in faithful labors unto the triune God.”