Mr. Hanko was secretary of the RFPA at the time this report was presented to the Association last September.
The RFPA has had its booth set up at several recent conventions of distributors of Christian books. There are hundreds of distributors who set up their displays of books, pamphlets, and CDs, as well as pictures, gadgets, and trinkets, all designed to promote the work of churches. A man who had observed many of these displays came finally to the little RFPA booth. After examining some of the RFPA materials, he said to those who staffed the booth, “Your material is unique. There is no other like it in all these displays.” Although the truth that we proclaim is as old as the Scriptures and was carefully defined hundreds of years ago in the Reformation, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find in the publishing world today. The RFPA has the privilege and the responsibility to spread the truth as far as possible, to every part of the earth.
We have made much effort in the past year to carry out that responsibility as well as we are able. As you will see in this report, there is much evidence that God is blessing our efforts, and we are thankful to Him for what has been accomplished.
The Board and the Staff
The Board makes a continuing effort to make the RFPA work as smoothly and efficiently as possible. For that purpose the standing committees have been given new names that reflect more accurately their specific responsibilities. The duties of each committee have been carefully defined. Each of these committees reports to the Board at its monthly meeting.
The work of carrying out the decisions of the Board and its committees is done by our excellent office staff.
Tim Pipe has helped us a great deal by managing the promotion of our materials as well as many other activities that keep things running smoothly.
Tim has been able to relieve Evelyn Langerak of some of her former duties, and she is now able to concentrate on sales and inventory as well as doing some of the editing of new books.
Natalie Jefferson continues her work of editing and of writing the semiannual Update and preparing it for publication.
Work on editing manuscripts is also done by Mindy Bergman.
Paula Kamps has proved valuable in general office work as well as the placing of Standard Bearer archives on the Internet.
We appreciate the dedicated work of these people as well as the work of the other editors, typesetters, proofreaders, and graphic designers, all of whom are essential to the work.
All of these, however, are dependent upon the most important people of all: the writers. We are especially thankful to God, who has provided us with men who love the truth and are blessed with the talents to write for our publications.
The Standard Bearer
Perhaps our most important publication over the years has been the Standard Bearer. The contents of the magazine are determined by the Editorial Committee and produced by the Editorial Staff. Don and Judi Doezema capably perform all the work connected with the gathering, typesetting, and layout of the material for each issue. They take care of countless other details connected with the magazine.
The purchase of new software for addressing and mailing the Standard Bearer has made that considerable work much easier and more efficient as well as saving us a good deal of money. There are still several faithful volunteers who come in every two weeks to help prepare the magazines for mailing. Our thanks to Don and Judi and to these willing volunteers.
We promote the Standard Bearer through advertising in World magazine, on our website, and at the conventions that our representatives attend. The number of paid subscriptions is about 2,500 at this time, but we send out at least 100 more free to various libraries and as a part of our promotions. We are concerned about the fact that there are slightly fewer paid subscribers than there were last year. We are trying several ways of increasing that number. About one-third of Protestant Reformed households do not subscribe to the Standard Bearer. Perhaps you can help by encouraging others to become subscribers. In the past year all those who had previously purchased the Standard Bearer on CD were sent new, updated (through volume 80) CDs without charge. The new CDs are easier to use and work better than the old ones. For those who did not previously own the CDs, they are available at a modest charge from our office. We expect that the demand for these CDs will diminish with the availability of the Standard Bearer on the Internet.
E-mail in large type: Dear friends of Christ, I received the 3 CDs of the Standard Bearer, vols. 1-80. What a fantastic treasure of Reformed exposition! Thank you so very much! I am typing in large type because I have macular degeneration and I can scarcely see the keyboard. I do have a reading machine which I use most of the day. It is a God-send. I am most thankful to our Lord for the manifold ministry of the Protestant Reformed Churches. You have set a wonderful Biblical model for Reformed Churches! God bless the Standard Bearer.
E-mail feedback for online SB: What a delight to find the Standard Bearer archives on the net, with the updated CDs and the ability to search the SB files, my hard copy files for the past 12 years can be eliminated.
Inventory of publications
We have about 50 different titles available at this time, besides workbooks for the Bible study series. The number of publications offered continues to grow by at least three books each year besides minor publications. Our Publications Committee continually searches for additional material to be published, as well as for material that may fill a special need.
An example of a publication that will fill a special niche in our inventory is Behold the Beauty, art curriculum written and illustrated by Connie Meyer, a series of seven levels of art lessons for elementary age children. Another special publication is Praise His Majesty, simplifiedPsalter arrangements for beginning pianists by Marilyn DeVries.
One of the most important books published in the past year was Reformed Dogmatics, the revision and reprint in two volumes of the original book by Rev. Herman Hoeksema. There was a huge amount of work and considerable expense invested in this work. For that reason the Board was especially gratified by the enthusiastic reception of the book. More than 900 of each volume have already been sold, even though it was not a required purchase for Book Club members.
The books for next year are in various stages of the publication process. A revised reprint ofCalvin’s Calvinism, which will include two valuable historical introductions by Professor R. Dykstra, will be completed in 2006. TheUnfolding Covenant History series will be extended with the publication of volume 6, David and Solomon. Knowing God and Man, a book compiled of the first two series of radio sermons by Rev. Herman Hoeksema, will be distributed during the coming year. The Rightly Dividing Series will be continued with books compiled from the Standard Bearer Reformation articles of the last decade. This is just a sample of the good things planned for the coming year.
E-mail with regard to Reformed Dogmatics: I can read and understand just fine, but not German and Latin. Herman Hoeksema and his unashamed love for the solid truth have become even more valuable thru this transliterated edition. I could go on and on about how much I love Hoeksema, and not only him but all your writers! Not only are the contents of the work you produce supreme, but the books themselves are very appealing outside and in. May the Sovereign God grant this work to the student, teacher, and layman, and when they read it they will turn and bless the one who blessed them with Herman Hoeksema.
Further testifying to the unique character of our publications is the fact that we continue to receive requests for permission to translate them into other languages. The RFPA generally gives permission to translate to those who request it, provided that we are sent a copy of the translation so that we may be assured of its accuracy and completeness.
The Voice of Our Fathers, by Prof. Homer Hoeksema, and Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel, by Prof. Engelsma, are currently being translated into Russian. Prof. Engelsma’s book Better to Marry has been translated into Dutch and is arousing considerable interest in the Netherlands. We have also granted a request to translate Reformed Dogmatics into German. We are thankful for these opportunities to spread the truth of the word of God throughout the earth.
E-mail request to translate: I’m a member of a small Reformed congregation in Giessen, Germany. Its name is Bekennende Evangelisch Reformierte Gemeinde (Confessing Evangelical Reformed Church). In our church various members have a lively interest in the publications of the RFPA. The church situation in our country is very dreadful, and in all spheres of theology and church life we experience a growing lack of knowledge in the Biblical truth. However, besides the few churches which still faithfully proclaim the gospel, some organizations and individuals try to serve the kingdom’s sake by writing pamphlets and books and by translating existing works of good reputation. For example Herman Bavinck’s Dogmatiek is currently being translated from Dutch into German. This project is mainly sponsored by friends in the Netherlands.
Now a sister from our church, who is a professional translator from English and French, has offered to translate the Reformed Dogmatics by Herman Hoeksema into German. She has already made a proof translation of some pages…. We are very hopeful that such a work, even though it would take a lot of time, would be fruitful and of good use in the kingdom of God in Germany and Central Europe.
The Book Club
The Book Club is without doubt our most important means of marketing our books. They are the base by which we can estimate how many of a particular book we can expect to sell. The books sold to Book Club members provide the monies to pay for further publications. This makes the entire financial structure of the organization more stable and makes planning for future publications more reliable.
We have tried hard during the past year to increase the number of Book Club members. We have encouraged our agents to find new members in their own churches and we have made special offers to first-time members. The results of these efforts have been encouraging: We now have about 1,100 Book Club members.
Tim Pipe, Evelyn Langerak, and their spouses traveled to Denver this past summer and set up and attended the RFPA booth at the Christian Booksellers Association convention. This is the second year that we have been represented at the CBA convention. By our attendance at this convention we hope not only to sell books directly to distributors but also to establish relations with distributors that will encourage them to carry our books on their stock and to make the name of the RFPA familiar as a source of sound Reformed literature.
Through contacts made at the last convention the RFPA has sold more than 500 books, and several important contacts were made with distributors in foreign countries as well as our own country. The recent catalog of the Christian Book Distributors featured the Reformed Dogmatics of Rev. Hoeksema in the “Pastor’s Resources” section.
RFPA on the Internet
The Internet is becoming more and more important in the lives of people, both as a source of information and as a place to buy the things they want or need. The RFPA is trying to supply both of these interests.
Our website promotes the sale of subscriptions to the SB by offering special rates.
Foreign subscribers complained that it takes a very long time to get their copies by mail. In response the RFPA offers the current issue of the SB online to them at no cost. This is an experimental program to make this benefit available to foreign subscribers and to test whether they will continue getting their copies by mail when they are also available on the Internet.
By putting the previous editions of Standard Bearer online, we are making all of its tremendous resources available to anyone who has an Internet connection. Our goal is to make available to anyone all of the Standard Bearersthat were published from the beginning until now. Paula Kamps has the responsibility of putting the past SBs on the web. She has been working from the present backward. So far she has placed all the SBs published after 1987. All of these magazines are fully searchable on the website. This is an enormous opportunity to spread the truth to every part of the earth.
For several years the RFPA has been selling books through our rfpa.org website. Every year our sales through this site have been increasing. We also sell some of our books through the amazon.com website. Altogether, sales on the Internet will soon exceed those sold in all other ways.
For several years we have reported a need to move to different quarters. The seminary has been most kind to allow us to use the downstairs of their building, but now they are planning other uses for the area and there is no more room. Like the camel that puts his nose under the tent and continues to encroach until he occupies the entire tent, so the RFPA began their use of the seminary downstairs, using only a fraction of the available space. However, every time we add another publication to our inventory we need more space. Now we take up most of the downstairs area, and we see no end to our need for more space. As we add more people to the staff, we also need more space for them to do their work.
Now at last, after years of study of our needs and an extensive search for available buildings or property, we can at last see an RFPA building being built. The building that is now being built in the Jenison Village Square is planned to serve our needs for thirty or more years. If future expansion becomes necessary, we have room on the lot to more than double the size of the building.
We are extremely grateful for the support of the association in approving the building location and plan, and in doing volunteer work to reduce the cost as much as possible.
We’re thankful for the many generous contributions that have been made already for the building cost. We hope that contributions keep on coming, so that any mortgage we may need for the completion will be as low as possible.
We are thankful to God for the unique place he has given us in the cause of His kingdom: that of the publication of the truth throughout the world. May He continue to bless our efforts.