Present Activity. . . .
Undoubtedly, most of our readers know that at present our Missionaries, the Rev. W. Hofman and E. Knott, are laboring in Byron Center and vicinity. Although the work there is of a different nature than in an entirely new field, there were compelling reasons why this field was chosen for the beginning. For the same reason it is not expected that their stay in this neighborhood will be as extensive as it would were this an entirely new opening. However, there were several considerations which caused the Mission Committee in conjunction with the calling Consistory to send our Missionaries to Byron Center.
In the first place, it had often been expressed to the Mission Committee, by members of our churches, either those living in the vicinity of Byron Center or to others, that there was some desire amongst our people to attempt to re-organize there. Upon the basis of these expressions the Mission Committee had made a preliminary investigation and found that it might be possible to re-establish in Byron Center. In the second place, it was a fact that there were several families who are at present scattered amongst various churches in Grand Rapids, and vicinity, who might form a nucleus for a congregation. All of these families travel great distances at present and a church in Byron Center would be much closer to them. It was also rumored that in this area there were others interested in our cause who had never been with us; this has also proven to be the case. Finally, since there was no other obvious field the Mission Committee and Consistory of Fuller Ave. decided to send our missionaries to investigate. We might also add, that from the point of view of all the arrangements necessary to the resumption of our mission labors, as also for the new missionaries, beginning here would give us an opportunity “to get our feet on the ground”, so to speak.
Since their induction in the work, the missionaries have labored rather extensively in this field. Many preliminary contacts were made both amongst our own families and others. From these it was determined that there was a definite possibility for a Protestant Reformed Church in Byron Center. A general meeting was called for the evening of November 21, to which all those interested were invited. After discussing various matters, such as organizations and location, it was decided to hold preaching services once each Sunday in Byron Center. Through the generosity of the Methodist Congregation of Byron Center we were able to secure their building both for this initial meeting and for services each Sunday afternoon. The first Sunday meeting was held on November 30. An audience of 80-85 individuals, representing about 20 families, was present. Needless to say, both the individuals present and the missionaries were greatly encouraged by this large attendance. The following week a somewhat smaller group was present, due in part to the fact many from Hudsonville attended their own service there to hear the Rev. B. Kok preach his farewell sermon at that time.
It is planned to continue these services and contacts for a time. Shortly after the first of the year, it is expected that another meeting will be called at which the question of organization will be discussed and decided upon. In the meantime, we herewith extend a cordial invitation to any of our people in the vicinity of Grand Rapids, Hudsonville, etc., to meet with us occasionally. Our meetings are held at 2:30 P.M. each Sunday in the Methodist Church, which is one block south of the main street of Byron. We feel that your attendance will not only increase your interest in our labors but will also encourage this new group. Let’s see you there sometime!
Canada. . . .
As is well known, the Province of Ontario, Canada, has received several hundred Dutch immigrants and more are expected to arrive next spring. Naturally we are greatly interested in these friends from the old Fatherland. Having been informed of this immigration, both of our Classes, at their last meetings, discussed the possibility of contacting these people. Since there were many problems and questions as to procedure both Classes referred the matter to the Mission Committee.
Recently, the Mission Committee reviewed these overtures and took action. The consistories of our Creston and Hudsonville churches were asked to release their pastors that they might investigate the situation. During the weeks of November 14 and 21 the Revs. J. De Jong and B. Kok journeyed to Canada to gain preliminary and first-hand information; while their charges at home were filled by our missionaries.
It is difficult to make anything like a comprehensive and authoritative report of their findings since both their time and contacts were necessarily limited. They did, however, meet several of these families and enjoyed visiting with them; being well received. Generally we may say that the situation in Canada is unsettled. Most of the immigrants are of limited means, in every respect. They have little material wealth, are practically without transportation facilities and few possess any means of communication, such as radio, etc. They are also usually separated from one another by great distances, and nowhere is there a great concentration of them in any one center. They are unacquainted with our Churches and our specific doctrine and preaching, and are quite generally satisfied with the status quo. The Christian Reformed Church, having both the means and facilities at hand in Canada, has done a splendid job of receiving them and aiding them to get settled in Canada. These churches, there present, are doing all they can to provide the immigrants with worship services and transport them great distances to these services.
The whole situation is still fluctuating. Many are or will be, moving from their present places. Many more newcomers are expected in the future. Since we have no churches in Canada nor anywhere near these people, and since they cannot possibly be quickly molded into a separate group, nor even, perhaps, with a great deal of labor, it seems that for the present at least, Canada does not offer a promising field of activity. This is especially true during the winter months that are upon us, since many of these families are settled in farm areas off the main highways on poor roads. At the same time we can assure our people that the Mission Committee plans to continue its investigation and will do all it can in Canada. In the meantime, we would suggest that if anyone of our readers have any acquaintances or relatives settling there they would greatly appreciate gifts of clothing and household articles, since these are lacking to them.
Immigration to the U. S. . . .
In connection with the above the Mission Committee has also received several letters from individuals and families in the Netherlands who desire to come either to this country or Canada. Many of these letters were referred to us by the Rev. H. Hoeksema and the Consistory of Fuller Ave., the original recipients. These letters and the entire matter of investigating and acquiring information regarding entrance into the U. S. was given into the hands of our missionaries. They are, at present, also busy corresponding with these brethren in the Netherlands, as well as with the proper officials in both countries, to gain the necessary information to aid these prospective immigrants. It is expected that in the near future, some definite plan can be worked out for a committee to handle this matter.
Where Next ? ? ? ?
That, of course, is always an interesting question for speculation and discussion. There are many rumored possibilities of interest. In order that the Mission Committee and calling Church may be better able to decide this question, we have written to all of our ministers and consistories requesting suggestions and information regarding fields. We are happy that several of our Churches have shown their interest in this work by a prompt reply. May we hear from the rest soon? We would also be pleased to hear from any individuals having suggestions. Address your letters to the Revs. W. Hofman and E. Knott, 1210 Logan St., S. E., Grand Rapids 6, Mich. Above all we request your prayers for us in this our mutual work of the Lord.