Mr. VanUffelen is a member of Faith PRC in Jenison, Michigan.
Asaph contemplates the goodness of God to Israel by retracing the history of the early church and God’s ever-present hand of protection and grace in Psalm 78. In verses 4-7 he rightly begins with the command:
We will not hide them from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works which he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.
85 years ago the Reformed Free Publishing Association was formed for the distinct purpose of publishing the Standard Bearer, a literary pile of stones by the riverside used to call to remembrance and contemplation the wonderful works and doctrines of the Lord. In 1966 the RFPA created a book publication division to add to the pile of Reformed literature found on the coffee tables and bookshelves of Reformed homes. Tonight we give praise to God that He continues to use our organization as a token in the hands of His people, and as frontlets between our collective eyes (Ex. 13:16).
The current RFPA Board consists of 12 members who are assigned to one or another of the three standing committees: Membership and Marketing, Finance and Operations, and Book and Standard Bearer Publications. Having no full-time editor for the majority of this year forced some reevaluation of our intended work and a reshuffling of projects to continue to meet the demands of our Book Club members without sacrificing our commitment to quality Reformed literature. Our end work was the publication of three new books: Calvin’s Calvinism; Always Reforming; and The Reformed Faith of John Calvin.
The Membership and Marketing committee has been busy in implementing the decision of last year’s association meeting to utilize fully electronic media. Better to facilitate us in this endeavor, work has begun to update our website, making it easier to use and better suited for the regular use of interested parties who consistently search the Standard Bearers, and who order books online. Soon our members will be able to access our sermon library and download various study guides, pamphlets, and shorter works in PDF format.
This committee has also been proactive in dispensing the Reformed truth through monthly specials and aggressive advertising campaigns. The intent of our “Buy One, Get One Free” campaign of this past summer was to give our Book Club members a financial incentive to purchase Reformed literature as gifts, or to increase their own libraries. The result was an additional 445 books being sold. Knowing the current economic situation that many of our members are in, some have given generous, specific donations to enable the board to offer reduced prices on books for current book club members; to facilitate the dispensing of books to those who can’t afford them; and for the Membership and Marketing committee to organize an extensive advertising campaign for The Reformed Faith of John Calvin in 10 major publications. Understanding that the heart and soul of our organization rests with Book Club membership, donated funds were used to cover the cost of free books for new subscribers who joined during the Calvin Conference in September. The result was 20 new memberships, and 74 additional books purchased. Through these lean financial times the Finance and Operations committee has needed willing donors and supportive members to keep our organization afloat. Once again, with thanksgiving to God, we rejoice in our financial stability as the Lord continues to supply all of our needs. Understanding our financial landscape and that of our supporting churches, this committee sent a letter to the churches thanking them for the past support we have received and informing them that they could reduce the number of regular collections for the RFPA. Such a request has been possible because of the generous individual donations and ample church collections we have received to date. With the addition of copyeditors and proofreaders in the near future, the Lord willing, the committee is well aware of the increase in our future financial needs.
Steps have also been taken to track accurately and account for all of our restricted funds. Two such funds worthy of continued note are the fund established to help primarily evangelism societies and mission committees supply RFPA material for those who can’t afford them, and the fund currently being used to reduce the cost of RFPA books for the Book Club members an additional 5%.
In response to the 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth, the Book and Standard Bearer Publications committee focused itself on the editing and printing of two books, recently distributed, to coincide with the Protestant Reformed Theological School’s John Calvin Conference. With many manuscripts currently being evaluated and ready for editing, this committee is anxious to see new editors and proofreaders hired. In this regard, we are pleased to note that we have paid for six people to take an extensive correspondence course through the University of Wisconsin to qualify them to be proficient editors and proofreaders. As of date, five members have successfully completed the course and will be interviewed shortly to determine their exact role within the editing and publishing process. Significant work has also been undertaken in consideration of a redesign of the Standard Bearer to better utilize our typesetting software, to make the magazine more easily readable, and to maintain its appeal in the homes and on the mission fields in our ever-changing society.
Sadly, this committee has noticed that our Standard Bearer subscriptions have fallen slightly, even as the numbers in our churches have steadily grown. Our hope is that this literary pile of stones that calls us to remembrance and contemplation continues to be valued by our members and used from one generation to the next. In this regard we remind our churches and our young people that free subscriptions to this magazine are available for those attending college and for newly married couples. See your clerk, or call the RFPA office, for more information.
The Board covets your prayers as we forge into the changes and uncertainties that next year holds. Our confidence is that the Lord of the harvest will continue to use us, even as weak means in the sight of the world, to declare the wondrous works of the Lord and make them known to our children. He will continue to give us the opportunities, the laborers, and the means to continue our work, heartily unto Him. We remain encouraged by the financial support we receive and by the news and comments we hear about our publishing work. Some recent examples are:
* From an SB reader in Canada—You have been faithful in sending me the SB and it has been a blessing…causing me to lift my heart to our heavenly Father in praise to Him for raising up faithful servants such as you are.
* From a Book Club member in Florida—Sincerely, I am at a loss to find words to express my deepest thanks for the VERY MOST SPIRITUAL, DEVOTIONAL and DOCTRINAL training I have received through the study of your materials through the years. I hope to continue my studies as long as the Lord keeps me here. Strangely to say I received my copy of this book (Calvin’s Calvinism) TODAY…July 10, 2009 (John Calvin’s birthday). That is not superstition but a sense of humility!
* From an SB reader in Bowling Green—I just wanted to tell you again how much I appreciate and enjoy the Standard Bearer. It is the only periodical I subscribe to, and I look forward to it coming in the mail every two weeks.
* From a minister in Canada—Thank you so much for offering the book The Covenant of God and the Children of Believers as a gift. I am thoroughly enjoying its contents and appreciate the keen insights the author presents.
Reflecting upon Colossians 3:23, and understanding the place the Lord has given us in this world as a publishing association, we end with the words of John Calvin: “Let us not cease to do the utmost that we may incessantly go forward in the way of the Lord; and let us not despair of the smallness of our accomplishments.”
Scott Van Uffelen