“Praise the Lord!” The cry we often associate with an over-exuberance in certain religious circles. But we can not help but express ourselves in this way, too, concerning the drive for funds for a new seminary building.
We frankly confess that we were of little faith as this project began. The Theological School Committee has believed for a long time that a Seminary Building was essential. Not only are present quarters inadequate and hardly attractive; not only was the Seminary and its faithful professors worthy of far better facilities than we had been giving them; but also present quarters do not meet the requirements and regulations of the state for a school building. Yet when the project of a new building was first proposed, there was expressed doubt, questions, and even serious objections. With much trepidation, and considerable doubts ourselves about its success, we initiated a drive for funds (in harmony with the decision of the Synod of 1968). Frankly, some of us would have been surprised but pleased if only half of the needed funds were raised. And our early fears seemed only too well-founded when funds began only to trickle in—so that after a year we had less than $7,000.
But God put to shame our own lack of faith. After the recent concerted drive for funds, and although all of our churches have not yet reported, we can inform you that God has so moved the hearts of our people that they gave with such generosity, and obviously often sacrificially, that our goal will be almost attained. It is still difficult for us to believe—but the figures speak for themselves.
The projected cost of our Seminary building (including land and furnishings), a figure approved by our 1972 Synod, is about $105,000. Synod also decided that when 65% of the total needed was raised in cash and pledges, the Theological School Committee could begin building (about $68,250). In order to raise the total sum, we asked an average contribution of $150.00 per family—if necessary, to be paid over a period of five years ($30.00 per year). We suggested that our unmarried working young people also help in this worthy endeavor—since they have a vital interest in the future of the ministry of the Word in our Churches. And frankly, the response so far is overwhelming. We’ll give you the figures. Half of our churches have sent in the reports on their last drives (including reports from most of our larger churches.) To date, we have in cash and pledges: $64,278. Of this total, $10,412 was contributed before the most recent personal-contact drive. The last drive, therefore, has raised a total so far of $53,866—with eight or nine more of our churches to report. Of the nine reporting churches, the following was given:
Grand Rapids: First: $12,640
We would also note the following:
1. That many of our families in all of our churches contributed in the first letter drive we conducted. These contributions are not reflected in the church drives listed above. The above represents only the amount raised in the most recent drive.
2. That Pella, as we earlier reported, was the first of our churches to meet the original goal in the first drive of $100.00 per family.
3. That the above figures in at least one instance represents even more than a $150.00 per family contribution.
4. When the remaining churches report, we ought to be rather close to the total amount needed—and far above the—65% Synod required before we could begin construction.
Is it any wonder that our hearts are overwhelmed—and we cry, “Praise the Lord!”? We will attempt to report later the grand totals of the fund drive—and we will try to keep you informed on the progress of the new Seminary building. The Theological School Committee has appointed a special committee of four Grand Rapids’ area businessmen and contractors to recommend a new site for the Seminary building and to give recommendations on the final plans for the building.
We would also urge those who have not yet contributed to this cause, to help us now that our goal may be fully met. Some, we know, can not assist financially. Those who can, whose heart the Lord moves, are asked to give soon—either through their consistorial treasurer, or directly to our Seminary Building Fund treasurer: Mr. R. Teitsma; 1659 Shangrai-La Drive, S.E.; Grand Rapids, Michigan 49508. We thank God that our Seminary building shall, in harmony with His will, soon be a reality. But we do earnestly desire that each of our families has a part in making this building a reality.
One final word of appreciation and thanks to our hard-working secretary of the Theological School Committee and treasurer of the Seminary Building Fund: Mr. R. Teitsma. He has been doing more than his share of work for our Seminary, and we do greatly appreciate his labors.
For the Theological School Committee,
Rev. G. VanBaren, president