There are no less than four calls being considered at the time of the writing of the news for this issue. It’s been quite some time, I dare say, since this column carried that many at one time. Not only are there three churches currently vacant (Edgerton, Kalamazoo, and Prospect Park), but also, in accordance with a decision of the 1974 Synod, Hudsonville has called a second missionary (whose initial field of labor will be in the state of Maine).
Edgerton extended a call to Candidate Slopsema. The trio from Edgerton, in case you’re interested, included also Candidate den Hartog and Rev. Heys. Prospect Park’s trio, likewise, included the two candidates, along with Rev. Kuiper. The call from there went to Candidate den Hartog. From a duo consisting of Rev. Moore and Candidate Slopsema, the Kalamazoo congregation elected to call the latter. The trio for missionary consisted of the Revs. Heys, Kuiper, and Miersma. Rev. Kuiper was elected.
Have you been keeping up with the work being carried on in Maine? Perhaps the best informed, are those congregations whose pastors have been released to labor there for several weeks. Interesting and informative letters, at any rate, have been appearing in those church bulletins. Much of it is, I think, of general interest, so I’ll lift a few excerpts for use in the news column.
Rev. Bekkering, who was in Skowhegan during the month of June, reported having “conducted services in a rental hall.” He noted that “the group is small (3 families, each with 3 members) but they are very lively and interested. They have a mid-week meeting on Wed. evenings. The people are interested in learning more about the Canons of Dort, so last Wed. I gave an introductory lecture on the Canons, and next Wed. will have a lecture on the Sovereignty of God.”
Rev. Van Overloop, in turn, spent most of July in Maine. Activities during the first ten days of his stay consisted of “four sermons, one catechism class, interviews by three different newspapers (this is free advertising for the group and worship services), and nine different personal calls.” He reported having met with the three families who requested our aid, and having “learned to love them in their struggle here.” Further plans included a lecture, to be held “in the VFW Hall, where the services are held,” and plans “to look into some radio stations.” His first service in Skowhegan, incidentally, was held in a living room (the Hall having been reserved for a wedding reception). “That,” wrote the preacher, “was different.”
Skowhegan, according to Rev. Van Overloop, “is not a Reformed community. There are Catholic, Baptist, Methodist and Federated congregations here, but they are thoroughly Arminian, very liberal, and in most cases are better known for their soup suppers and rummage sales, than for their worship services.” Contacts made thus far have, apparently, brought little in the way of discernible positive results. But, Rev. Van Overloop adds, we know that “God’s Word never returns void and always meets with success.”
Rev. Van Overloop returned to Grand Rapids at the end of July, and work in Maine was picked up shortly thereafter by Rev. Lubbers, who will be there, with his wife, through the month of September. Rev. Lubbers, you recall, has been granted temporary emeritation, and has been declared eligible for a call in our churches.
In news of a different kind, we learn that, at a meeting held on June 20, the Doon congregation approved a plan for a new church building. By the beginning of August, the basement hole was dug and the footings were poured. “This week,” according to the enthusiastic report of Rev. Moore at that time, “the basement will be blocked up!” We look forward, of course, to hearing of further progress in their construction of “a new house in which to worship and glorify God.”
A few weeks back, there was in First Church’s bulletin a paragraph entitled, “From the Standard Bearer Mailbag.” An interested reader from Alberta, Canada, had submitted paid trial subscriptions for no less thanthirty individuals. His letter, quoted in First’s bulletin, began as follows: “Hereby we send names of 30 people we think should read the Standard Bearer. Maybe in this way the truth can be explained to many. We personally enjoy the paper more and more. We pray that God will bless your work which you are doing so faithfully and we trust in His promises.”
From Australia comes an equally gratifying letter, this one passed on to us by Mr. Vander Wal. We quote the first paragraph: “It has been suggested by our lecturer in Theology at the John Knox Theological College, Sydney, Australia (training college of the Presbyterian Reformed Church), that the students should subscribe to the “Standard Bearer” because of your informative material. As a student there, I have been responsible for collecting the subscriptions. I have also contacted a number of elders before writing to you, and in all 18 people have indicated they will subscribe, and have passed their money on to me.”
Our thanks be to God for such evidence that theStandard Bearer is being read with interest and profit, by those of like precious faith, not only beyond the boundaries of our own country, but in lands on the other side of the globe.