It is already some three or four years ago since the last time an article appeared in our Standard Bearer under this heading. This may have caused some of you to wonder whether we still have churches in the West. Well, we surely do. Of course, they are not yet “quite” as large as our Fuller Ave. congregation, but nevertheless, I am glad to be able to say that, in general, they are still very much alive. Of this life and of some of the activities in our Western Churches, I have been asked to inform the readers of our Standard Bearer. In doing so, in this article we will confine ourselves to our churches in Northwest Iowa and Minnesota, while in a future article we hope to contribute some news pertaining to our other churches in the West.

By the time these lines appear in print Rev. B. Kok, our Home Missionary in the past, will undoubtedly already have been installed in our congregation at Hudsonville, Michigan. Rev. Kok and his family left this vicinity on February 3. It is with deep regret that our people here see Rev. Kok leave the mission-field. The reason for this, however, is that he was well qualified for the task, and not that in this vicinity he was laboring in a field white with harvest, so that a few new Protestant Reformed congregations might soon have been organized had he yet remained for some time. Fact is, services were conducted by Rev. Kok at several different places, but without much positive fruit as far as can be seen at present.

A combined service of all our surrounding congregations was held in our Hull Church on the evening of the last Sunday Rev. Kok was with us. On this occasion Rev. Kok preached a farewell sermon. All our congregations were well represented so that the spacious Hull Church was filled to capacity, every available chair having been carried into the church. Just before the close of the service Rev. Verhil, in name of the various congregations, spoke a fitting word to Rev. Kok, after which the audience rose and sang Psalm 121:4. Truly an edifying evening. Not only was the Word of God proclaimed to us, but as small churches worshipping together we were also strengthened in the tie that binds. Before their departure Rev. and Mrs. Kok were also given a farewell by the ministers and their families. These farewells are customary here when one of our ministers leaves this vicinity.

Also here, it will soon be possible for one to listen to a Protestant Reformed Radio Hour. It will be sponsored by the Western League of Protestant Reformed Young People’s Societies, over KSOO, the 5000 watt station at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Sixteen young people selected from the various societies will provide for the music and local ministers will do the speaking. The broadcasts will be given from 4:15-4:45 on Sunday afternoons throughout the months of April and May. They will be given by transcription since this proves to be more economical. All the programs can be recorded at home at less cost than the travelling expenses would be if all those participating in the program were to travel to Sioux Falls for each broadcast. And this also makes it possible for the minister that takes part in a broadcast to preach for his congregation that same afternoon, which otherwise could not possibly be done.

Our Young People’s Societies have decided to cancel their annual convention usually held the latter ‘part of February. These meetings, consisting of afternoon and evening sessions and a banquet, proved to be very instructive in the past, as well as occasions for Christian joy and fellowship. But at present already seven of our young men are serving under the colors of our country and before long several others will be called upon to do so. With this in mind, and considering the times in which we live, most of the societies felt that we can hardly look forward to a convention this year which would afford the joys and pleasure of the past years. Hence it was decided to have only an evening session, consisting of a speech by one of our ministers and miscellaneous numbers by the various societies.

So much for news pertaining to the churches in general. Now let us make a speedy imaginary tour of the various congregations and inquire as to the welfare of each at the home of its pastors.

We start out from Rock Valley. Our first stop is in Boon, seven miles to the northeast, at the home of Rev. Vander Breggen. We find the Rev. at home with the house to himself. Mrs. Vander Breggen being in Grand Rapids where she is to undergo an operation for goiter. Upon our investigation we find that, though the congregation consists of only 10 families, yet there are also several others on the sick-list. Mrs. Henry Kuiper Sr. is troubled with gallstones. Elder J. Blankespoor, though so far improved as to be able to walk a little again and also to attend church when the weather is nice, has not yet fully recovered from his serious illness of last fall. And thirteen year old Harold Aardema is still suffering from infantile paralysis. May the Lord grant complete recovery. Otherwise grace to bear the cross. Though small, the congregation has a Ladies Aid, which is studying the Parables. Also a Young People’s Society which discusses the Epistle to the Galatians and the Confessions.

Leaving Boon again we travel northeast. This time 55 miles, which brings us to the home of Rev. Verhil at Edgerton, Minnesota, Upon our arrival there we find that, besides the beautiful parsonage built a few years ago, a newly erected church edifice finished last fall, now also adorns the church property. And Rev. Verhil informs us that besides paying the regular budget the congregation has already paid $5,000.00 towards the payment of the building expenses of the new church. The congregation is flourishing and now consists of 29 families totaling 155 souls. Peace reigns in the congregation and a spirit of joy in the truth prevails. This is also evident in the various societies. The Men’s Society numbers 25 members, the Ladies Aid 21, and the Young People’s Society numbers 20 . The congregation also has a heart for Christian Education, as Christian School attendance is nearly 100 percent. However, the goal is to have a School of their own.. To this end a society has been organized ” which has 27 members. None of their young men have as yet been called upon for military service.

Now we return to Iowa. We wend our way to the home of Rev. Cammenga in Hull, nine miles east of Rock Valley from where we started. Here again we come in contact with a flourishing congregation which at present numbers 48 families and has a total of 254 souls. And the congregation is still growing. Last year 13 members left the congregation, but 33 others joined. Hull also has many children and young people. This becomes plain in the Catechism room where 119 receive instruction. Of these, 62 are young people who attend the evening class. Four of their young men are serving under the colors, three in the navy and one in the army. The consistory soon will call a meeting of the parents of the congregation with a view to the problem of Christian Instruction. At this meeting ground work will be begun to the forming of their own Society for Christian Education. Also here the Lord’s blessing is being experienced and love and unity reign in the congregation.

And now we go 16 miles southeast to Orange City, for a brief visit with Rev. Blankespoor, who, much to his convenience, now lives across the street from the church. Here we are told that the congregation is still small, only 11 families. Also, these families are not large as appears from the fact that they total only 46 souls. And to this must yet be added that many of the members have already attained to the evening of their lives. Due to this the congregation is known in that community as the “Old People’s Church.” But even so, also here we are again reminded of the fact that in Christ’s Church it is not a question of numbers. For the congregation has joy and peace, stands strong in faith and has hope for the future. And Christian School attendance is 100 percent. Also, they have a very lively Ladies Aid which meets every week, as well as a Young People’s Society. The congregation was gladdened recently by the announcement that Rev. Blankespoor had declined the call from our Grand Haven congregation. This they also showed during the week by giving him a surprise.

Next we journey 11 miles northwest. This brings us in Sioux Center at the home Rev. Gritters. Just glancing over the schedule for weekly activities we notice that our congregation here is well organized into societies. The congregation has a Men’s Society, Ladies’ Aid, Girls’ Society, Young People’s Society and Sunday School. Recently a drive was staged to decrease the church debt. The drive netted the sizeable sum of almost $500. A few of the societies also called their funds into action some time ago and presented the church with some 120 chairs. Through a little contact the consistory established with people in the Ireton vicinity, it became possible to have Rev. Kok appear twice in the Ireton Town Hall. Not so many were in attendance, but at least some 25 people, who had little or no acquaintance with our views, went home with the conviction that the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church was right when it said that we are “reformed.” Two of their young men are in the service of our country, both from the Franklin family. One is with the Top. Division in California, and the other “somewhere” in the navy.

Now we return to Rock Valley, 14 miles northwest of Sioux Center, where the undersigned is pastor. Our congregation here has many large families, due to which we have many children and young people. The congregation has a total of 121 souls. We have a Men’s Society and a Ladies’ Aid, as also a very active Young Peoples’ Society. The Young People’s Society, however, has lost several members of late, a few having gone to find work in the cities, while another, Lawrence Kooima, has left us to prepare for the field of battle. The latter receives a letter from one of the society members every week. He also receives the Standard Bearer, Church News, and Beacon Lights. The consistory is planning a drive to decrease the church debt, which is done every year about this time. Christian School attendance is only about 50 percent, but this is largely due to the distance many of our people live from the School.

Well, we have completed our first tour. But I notice the sun is setting. And the space allowed me for this article is taken. So we will wait with the other tour till later.