Rev. Van Overloop declined the call from Kalamazoo. A new trio has subsequently been made—this one consisting of the Revs. W. Bekkering, C. Hanko, and J. Kortering.
At a June 19 congregational meeting in Hudsonville, a decision was made to “actively pursue the sale of our church building with a view to moving in the future.” Their intent, I understand, is to erect a new building if and when they accomplish the sale of the old. Meanwhile, they’ll continue to meet in an auditorium which has become manifestly inadequate for their needs. As it is now, approximately fifteen families are obliged to meet in the basement for the Sunday church services. There’s not a scramble for available seats in the auditorium, however, for, in order that everything be done as fairly and orderly as possible, families are assigned to the basement on a weekly, rotating, alphabetical-order basis. And, too, those in the basement are able to see the minister, thanks to the closed-circuit TV which has been installed.
But, in spite of the fact that they’ve obviously made the best of their situation, the people of Hudsonville Church must surely look forward to the time when they’ll once again be able to worship together, in one auditorium. For a couple of church services in August, by the way, they did exactly that—though not in their own church building. The consistory hit upon a rather novel means of investigating the advantages of various kinds of church buildings—they made, arrangements to conduct services in them (including, I understand, a hexagonally shaped building). When it comes time to make decisions regarding the type of structure to put up, therefore, Hudsonville’s people will have experiential knowledge of the subject.
Other of our churches are also thinking of building some day. Southwest, for example, has purchased land on Ivanrest, near the Seminary building. And our two newest congregations are likewise looking to the future. Faith Church in Jenison has established a “Sanctuary Fund” which will hopefully be built up on “a free-will basis.” And our Prospect Park congregation, while acknowledging its present smallness, has established a building fund, for which a collection is taken on the fourth Sunday of every month. We wish these congregations well, of course. Perhaps we could also remember them with gifts.
Other news from New Jersey concerns the church extension efforts of our little congregation in Prospect Park. They’ve begun a mailing program which I could probably best describe by quoting from a May bulletin. The paragraph reads as follows:
“We are planning a mailing program as another small way in which we can give witness to the Word of God in our community. Plans are to write short messages on important doctrines of the Scriptures and send these out by mass mailing. The purpose will be to finally establish a permanent list of people who would like to continue to receive our messages. We plan to mail in groups of 500 and, after mailing several messages, to ask for response. All of this will take a lot of work, and volunteers will be asked to help with various aspects of the project.”
Volunteer help would be needed for such things as running the newly-purchased mimeograph machine, typing address labels, and folding and stamping the study sheets. According to another May bulletin, work on the project was done after the Midweek Meeting—at which, incidentally, there is discussion of “Christian Living in the Home.” In addition, members of the congregation come out on other nights for the sole purpose of working on the mailing project. According to Rev. den Hartog, “all of the congregation, as well as some of our regular visitors, help prepare the mailers.”
The people of our Prospect Park Church got together on June 7 for a spring picnic, which had been postponed from May 31 because of weather conditions.
Postponement or cancellation of picnics on account of rainy weather, has probably happened, at one time or other, to all of us. But how about the following from Isabel? The June 29 bulletin announced that “the annual Fourth of July picnic with our sister congregation at Forbes will be held this Friday at Hiddenwood Lake State Park near Selby. A potluck dinner will be served, followed by a short program with your pastor giving a short address.” Handwritten in the margin of the bulletin sent to me by Rev. Miersema was this note: “Cancelled due to pressing haying needs.” Now there’s something that we city slickers only read about!
This past summer I had occasion to pick up a bulletin personally from our Lynden Church. It was really a two-month bulletin, covering the events of June 8 through July 27, during which time Rev. Woudenberg was in Grand Rapids. On June 8 and 15, tape recordings were used in both the morning and evening services. Prof. Decker arrived during the week of the 15th, and he and his family stayed in the parsonage till July 21.
Included in the bulletin was a radio schedule which listed three separate weekly programs. One of them was the Sunday afternoon airing of the Reformed Witness Hour over KLYN. Another was the Sunday morning broadcast of the previous Sunday’s morning worship service. That was also over station KLYN. And then, on KARL there was a program entitled “Christian Dialogue”—a live broadcast of discussion via the telephone. For the past several years Rev. Woudenberg has been fielding questions concerning Christian life and doctrine, from those who call in during broadcast time from 9:30 to 10:30 on Saturday evenings. It is, we’re told, a rather popular program in the Lynden area.
It’s probably this, along with the mailing of study sheets and cassette tapes of Bible discussions, which has contributed to Lynden’s growth in the past years. Ten years ago the congregation consisted of about four families, and filled the first few rows of the auditorium. Today the church; which seats about 100 people, is filled to capacity. The pews are full. In fact, I had the distinct impression that if all the people in the pew ahead of mine were to inhale simultaneously, they would be in deep trouble. One member relieved the situation somewhat by leaning intently, and prudently, forward during the entire service. That row was an exception, of course. Where I sat, there was room and to spare. But the fact is that the number of people present that evening made it necessary to set up about 15 folding chairs. Visitors attend services, it seems, on a regular basis.
From the looks of the bulletins, most of our congregations had opportunity this summer to hear a number of visiting preachers. To mention only a few, a service in Southeast was conducted by Rev. Kamps, in First by Rev. Woudenberg, in Redlands by Rev. Schipper, in Hull by Rev. Joostens, in Hudsonville by Rev. Slopsema, in Doon by Rev. Miersema, in Hope by Rev. Engelsma, in Faith by Rev. Van Overloop, in Edgerton by Rev. Moore, in First by Rev. M. Hoeksema. In Hope there was a scheduled morning reading service; and in Kalamazoo there was an unscheduled tape service, in consequence of Rev. Schipper’s car failure enroute to the evening service there.
Tapes of Rev. Engelsma were used for services in Houston on August 3—not, however, because Rev. Harbach was out of town. From July 7 through 27 he was on vacation, halfway through which he caught a cold, accompanied, he said, by “what seemed to be laryngitis, affecting my voice.” Sometimes it seemed that he was on the way to recovery, but that would last only till he tried to talk for any length of time. “SO,” he wrote, “I’m a little under the weather (which is very hot and very humid).” He added that this was “not the way I had planned to come off my vacation, but the Lord is always good, even in His afflictive ways, as we always learn.”
The ministers were, apparently, not the only ones who did the traveling this summer. From Redlands I received a bulletin, with additional notes, from none other than our old friend Mr. John M. Faber. I’m happy to be able to include, in the last of my columns, a few lines from the pen of J.M.F. He wrote that four Michigan families and one from Illinois attended the services in Redlands on July 13. Then he went on to tell a little about the school, which is probably the most exciting single item of interest in Redlands these days. He writes:
“We went to see their new school. The roof is on and the air conditioning and wiring are being installed. They have a large property for church, parsonage, and school. Rev. Kamps laid almost all of the cement block walls and fencing—his old trade (like Paul’s tent-making). They expect about 40 pupils in grades kindergarten through 9th.”
And he closed his short note, “C U in church.”