“My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:1-5
Each of God’s children, desiring to know and serve our heavenly Father, receives His Word and commandments. Yet it does not stop there; our ears are inclined to wisdom. When it comes to knowledge and understanding, we cry out after them and we even shout for them! Still, there is more in the believer’s experience: we seek after knowledge and understanding. This is the reason for the Reformed Free Publishing Association’s (RFPA) existence. This is why we are gathered here at this annual association meeting: we are shouting out for and searching for knowledge and understanding. What follows then, in this report, is an explanation of our shouting and searching in the past year.
We will begin with our book publications. We are thankful to have several newer and younger authors who have heard our shouts for knowledge and understanding. These men have written several new and upcoming books. The I Corinthians commentary by Rev. Nathan Langerak, Walking in the Way of Love (volume one), was published this year, and we plan to release the second volume in this coming year. Additionally, Rev. Langerak’s Bible story book, God’s Mighty Acts—the first volume in the series Tell His Wonders—will be published in the coming year, the Lord willing. Rev. Martyn McGeown has been writing prolifically as well. Grace and Assurance: The Message of the Canons of Dordt was very recently published in connection with our celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dordt. We are also anticipating the release of Micah: Proclaiming the Incomparable God, Rev. McGeown’s commentary on the prophecy of Micah. To pique your interest in this publication, I provide you with the title of the first chapter: “Mountain-Melting Judgment,” and of the last: “Jehovah: The Incomparable, Sin-Pardoning God.”
The RFPA was also privileged to publish an expanded version of the speeches delivered at the Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary’s 2017 Reformation 500 conference. The title of this publication is Here We Stand, and it features six different writers on various Reformation topics, including the crucial issues of justification by faith alone, the authority of Scripture, and proper worship.
Professor David Engelsma continues to provide the RFPA with excellent and profitable material for publication. This past year we published volume one of The Belgic Confession commentary. We plan to publish volume 2 of this comprehensive work in the coming year. Professor Engelsma also has several other writing projects in the pipeline. Our prayer is that God will continue to grant Professor Engelsma the ability and desire to write for the RFPA. On this note, the RFPA, and we association members in particular, shout out for and seek after understanding by encouraging more writers to take up the pen and to write doctrinally sound, spiritually edifying materials.
In our children’s book division, we published T is for Tree: A Bible ABC by Connie Meyer. This book with its beautiful artwork and covenantal theme is an excellent beginning for us. There are still some copies available, and they make great gifts for our youngest readers. We have several other book projects for younger readers—both children and young people—which we are planning to publish within the next two years. The next release will be His Mercy Endureth Forever, a picture book for young children on Psalm 136. The illustrations are done by Kathleen DeJong, a member of Peace Protestant Reformed Church.
We are also pleased to announce that the RFPA has a team of people working on Professor Herman Hanko’s monumental writing, Christ’s Church through the Ages, a comprehensive study of church history for personal and academic study. The extent of this work includes general editing and consists of the acquisition of additional images, charts, and diagrams; captioning these visual details; adding sidebars; and inserting text boxes. Although the fruits of this project will not be realized for some time, we are excited to be making good progress on it.
There are also several translations in progress at the RFPA. Dr. H. David Schuringa continues to translate The Lord’s Supper Form commentary by Baastian Wielinga. This is a long-term project, and at last report the translator is about one-third of the way done. Another translation that you heard about in last year’s report is the Tagalog translation of Gertrude Hoeksema’s Bible story book, Come, Ye Children. Last year, interested and able individuals were encouraged to donate to this project. As this project nears completion—with the majority of the cost still being carried by our brothers and sisters in the Philippines—please consider donating to the Philippines Book Fund to help cover the publishing costs of this worthy cause.
The RFPA continues to publish our magazine, the Standard Bearer. We are thankful for the continued work of the Standard Bearer’s editorial committee, writers, and staff. Alex Kalsbeek continues the Standard Bearer advertising campaign and, as a result, we have grown by a net of 50 subscriptions since this time last year. We are also pleased to report that no subscription cost increase is necessary for this coming year. In our opinion, the updated appearance and increased readability of the Standard Bearer is well worth last year’s cost increase!
The book and Standard Bearer committee continues to shout out for knowledge and to search for understanding on behalf of the association. This committee is almost constantly reviewing manuscripts and interacting with authors, both old and new. This committee also has been breaking new ground with the children’s book division. Similar to the situation our committee faced two decades ago when the RFPA began consistently to publish Reformed books for its readers, we continually encounter unique questions to be asked and answered about the scope and daily processes of publishing children’s books.
The membership and marketing committee serves to promote our publications through advertising, book reviews, and blog posts. If you are not a subscriber to the RFPA blog, you ought to consider it. Many timely subjects are addressed through the blog posts, some newly written, some from our own history and before. Some popular posts from the last six months include Mike Feenstra’s series on the connection between Christian education and the Reformed Baptism Form, Rev. McGeown’s series on the Bible and Israel, and Rev. Joshua Engelsma’s series on the duties of active church membership. This committee is busy working closely with Alex to explore new markets for RFPA publications.
The finance and operation committee’s main task is to oversee the monies and other assets of the RFPA. [Andy Bylsma gave the annual report on finances at this meeting.] This committee also oversees the maintenance of the RFPA building and grounds. A new server was installed recently and is working well. Some new LED lighting was installed earlier this year and all other building maintenance is also up to date.
The 2017–2018 fiscal year has been a busy time of settling in for the RFPA Board and staff. As you might recall, in 2017 we hired Miriam Koerner to be our children’s book coordinator and Alex Kalsbeek as our new business manager. After a little over two years on the job for Miriam, and one year for Alex, we report that they are settled in and doing fantastic work! Paula Kamps has taken up the work of book coordinator along with her work as office administrator; she does a fantastic job as well. Alex manages the warehouse and the business aspects of the RFPA, including a lot of work on promotions, marketing, and sales. The Board has observed that Alex, Miriam, and Paula all work quite well together.
Even with the settling in and changes that have recently taken place, the RFPA Board and staff continue to shout out on behalf of the association. We continue to search for the understanding and the knowledge that has its source in God’s Word alone. We do this by publishing Protestant Reformed writings and good material written in the Reformed tradition. We ask you, the association, to pray for us in our work, to encourage our professors, ministers, and educators to write, and that you pick up and read what is written.