Rev. DeVries is pastor of First Protestant Reformed Church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Scattered, much needed, rain showers could not dampen the spirits of those who participated in the Edmonton Family Conference on July 4-6, 2003 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Sponsored by the Evangelism Committee of the First Protestant Reformed Church of Edmonton, a congregation numbering twenty-six families, the Conference was the fruit of more than one year of planning. Fourteen subcommittees shared the work and responsibilities in planning for the Conference, and most of the congregation was involved in helping, in one way or another, at the time of the Conference. The Conference was held at Parkland Immanuel Christian School, located on the western outskirts of Edmonton.
The Conference was well attended, with more than three hundred registered and a number of visitors as well. Participants included older folks, families of every age and size, including a goodly number of young adults and young people, and many children. They came from the states of Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Washington, as well as the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. Members of eleven PR congregations and the Spokane, WA Mission were present, and there were a number of participants from other denominations. Five PR ministers were in attendance, as well as nine PR Christian school teachers. A large number of participants were camped in close proximity in the nearby Devon Lions Park. Others found lodging in nearby hotels or with families of the Edmonton congregation. Wonderful fellowship was enjoyed around the campground campfires as well as in various homes.
The Conference began on Friday evening with registration, at which time name tags, information, souvenir Canadian flags and pins, and coffee mugs with our Conference logo were distributed. Rev. Steven Key, pastor of the Hull, Iowa PRC, set the tone for the Conference with the Friday evening speech on the topic, “Maintaining Marriage in an Age of Adultery.” Following the speech, refreshments were served, and “meet and greet” time was enjoyed by all.
On Saturday morning a delicious pancake breakfast was provided at the school prior to the speech by Rev. Allen Brummel, pastor of the South Holland, Illinois PRC. Rev. Brummel, present with his wife and seven young children, spoke on the theme “Bringing Forth Children in an Age of Selfishness.” Following a lunch of sloppy joes and hotdogs, Rev. Michael DeVries, pastor of the Edmonton PRC, delivered the final conference speech on the topic “Promoting Obedience in an Age of Rebellion.” Those in attendance found the conference speeches to be edifying, practical, and solidly biblical. During the Saturday speeches, activities were provided for children under age ten, which included Bible lessons, based upon the historical narratives in the book of Daniel, and crafts. A group photograph was taken after the final lecture. None of us will forget that, just when the photo was to be taken, the electricity went out in the gym. We sat patiently in the dark singing Psalter Number 1, and after 10 minutes or so the lights finally came on, and the photo was finally taken. Outdoor games scheduled for late Saturday afternoon had to be cancelled due to rain, but a large group of older children, young people, and young adults participated in five-pin bowling on Saturday evening.
A wonderful Lord’s Day wasexperienced by everyone in attendance. Due to the sizable number of worshipers, worship services were also held at the school. The sermons delivered were in beautiful harmony with the Conference theme. Rev. A. Brummel led the morning worship, preaching on I Samuel 2:11-36 under the theme “Eli’s House Cut Off.” The conference catering committee outdid themselves in serving a delicious baked ham and mashed potatoes noon meal. The 3:00 p.m. afternoon worship service was led by Rev. S. Key, who beautifully concluded our Conference weekend preaching on Psalm 127:1a under the theme, “Building a Home.”
Following a light supper of ham/cheese buns we lifted our voices in praise and thanksgiving in the evening singspiration. A highlight of the singspiration was listening to the young children sing a Psalter number they had learned during the children’s activities on Saturday. Groups congregated at the campground as well as at a couple of nearby homes for visiting on Sunday evening. Most of those who attended from afar traveled to see the church buildings and parsonages in both Edmonton and Lacombe. Many were also able to tour the beautiful Canadian Rockies either before or after the Conference. There were reports afterwards of people meeting up with fellow saints in places like Lake Louise, Banff, or the Columbia Icefields. Few could visit Edmonton without at least taking a peek at West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping mall in the world.
According to all reports the whole Conference was well organized and ran very smoothly. We are thankful that so many had the opportunity to visit our congregations here in Alberta. Our Edmonton congregation was richly blessed and encouraged as we renewed friendships and made many new ones. We are convinced that, by the grace of God, our Family Conference served to strengthen and promote “The Covenant Home” and to glorify our covenant God.