Beginning on Sunday, December 30, and continuing for fourteen weeks, the Consistory of our First Church in Grand Rapids, working through its Church Extension Committee, has attempted to extend our witness to the Bradenton, Florida area. A report of these labors was given to the congregation of First Church on May 13. What follows was excerpted from that report.
Under the sponsorship of First Church, a number of our ministers visited the area and conducted church services. Prof. Decker, Rev. den Hartog, Rev. Koole, Rev. Joostens, and Prof. Hoeksema preached, conducted Bible classes, made personal contacts, and advertised the work in the local newspaper. The committee judged the results to be highly encouraging. Thirty to fifty-five people were at each of the services. Bible classes were also well attended. Five couples or families which reside in the area have expressed a strong desire that a church be established there. The field has been repeatedly characterized as “one of the most promising fields that our churches are currently laboring in.”
The report continues, “Needless to say, however, the work is not without its difficulties. The greatest of those, perhaps, is the matter of obtaining ministers to spend some time in Bradenton. We have no one in Florida at present; and that’s due primarily to the unavailability of ministers. Our denomination has, as you know, other fields to fill. Congregations are understandably reluctant to send their ministers away for an extended period of time. And that, by the way, is what we need — someone who is able to make a more extended stay in the field.
“The original intent of the consistory was that our work in Florida continue without interruption. But because of the shortage of man-power, and because the nature of intensified efforts requires some more preparatory work, we have decided that we ought not to attempt a resumption of the work till fall. Meanwhile we will begin at once to look for a more desirable meeting place. We will investigate the possibility of a lecture series in the Bradenton area, in order to make for greater exposure and in order to generate more interest. And, most difficult of all, we will arrange for a preaching schedule, to begin as early as possible and practical in the fall.”