As is well known in the circles of the Protestant Reformed Churches, there is a small struggling church in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Recently events of joy have transpired in her midst and it is of these that we would write at this time.
On October 12, 1948, we received the sad news from Rev. M. Gritters that he believed it was the will of God that he should leave us and take up his labors in Pella, Iowa. Although this saddened us, our efforts were at once put forth to procure another under-shepherd. This, however, proved to be a difficult thing for we sent out a call to nine different ministers and always received the answer that they did not feel free to come to Oak Lawn to labor as under shepherd in our midst. But thanks to our covenant God that in response to our tenth call we received the glad tidings from Rev. G. VandenBerg that he believed that it was the Lord’s will that he should come over unto us and help us. This news we received with gladness on December 24, 1949. We were informed that due to family circumstances it would be some time in February before he would be able to come unto us. This was a period of expectation that did not seem too long for now we had something definite toward which to look forward. On the fifteenth of February the Rev. VandenBerg and family arrived in our midst and on the seventeenth of February we came together to see the Rev. VandenBerg installed. Our moderator, the Rev. M. Schipper, preached for us on this occasion and chose for his text II Timothy 4:1, 2. He pointed out that not only had we received a new under shepherd from the Lord but that required also that we as church of Jesus Christ must never desire anything else from him than the pure revelation of the Word of God, for if the congregation sought anything else it would be in error. He also charged our minister that his constant work must be that of preaching the Word in season and out of season. Thereafter, our moderator read the form for installation and installed our pastor in his office. Our new minister then pronounced the benediction.
On Sunday, February 19, Rev. VandenBerg preached his inaugural sermons. In the morning service we were privileged to hear him preach the Word from Colossians 4:17, “Take heed to thy ministry which thou hast received in the Lord that thou fulfill it”. He took as his theme: “The Minister’s Charge”. He pointed out to us the calling that was his and again it was shown to us that not only the minister must bring the Word but the congregation must also be receptive to that Word. In the afternoon service, Rev. VandenBerg brought out attention to Philippians 2:14-16 and spoke on the theme: “The Wonderful Calling of the Faithful Church”. Attention was called to the responsibility of the congregation to hold forth the Word of life and we were also reminded of the seriousness and greatness of the calling we have in the midst of this sinful world. In order to fulfill this we must see that we have nothing proclaimed from our pulpit at any time other than the full counsel of God. Then only will it be possible for pastor and congregation to go on and walk in the ways of Jehovah.
Thus Oak Lawn is again, after fifteen months of vacancy, privileged to have her own minister. May God richly bless us both.
On February 23, the congregation came together again to formally welcome her new pastor and family. A very enjoyable evening was spent in the house of God with various members and societies of the congregation favoring us with speech and song. At the close of the meeting Rev. VandenBerg responded and led us in closing prayer.
We also wish to state here that it is our prayer that the Lord may keep our pastor’s former charge and in His own time may bring unto Grand Haven a new under shepherd. We, likewise, would extend a word of thanks to our moderator, the Rev. M. Schipper, who so willingly and ably always stood ready to serve and help us during our vacancy. We also gratefully express our thanks to the congregations who frequently loaned their ministers to us, and, finally, we are grateful to all the brethren who came to us to break the bread of life for us. We like to say yet, that there is besides the emptiness which a congregation feels during a vacancy a joy of heart as she receives proof of the love of the denomination and as we are one in Christ, so we may understand and carry each other’s burdens. Oak Lawn was privileged to have almost uninterrupted pulpit supply from either the classis or the school and in this way we have had a very rich fifteen months having a wide variety of talent come to us to bring us the glad tidings of God’s Word for which we thank our covenant God.
Consistory of the Oak Lawn Prot. Ref. Church
John Buiter, Clerk