Several months ago I was asked to put some ideas concerning Young Peoples Society attendance in writing for the Beacon Lights. The following article shares some of my ideas which should applied to our present ’78-’79 society season and any future society season.

One question came up about the age of those attending. For some eight years, I taught the oldest group of Sunday School students of Southwest Church. I tried in that class to treat those young people as belonging to a society, and to encourage discussion in the group as is done in Young People’s Society. I was not always successful because many of them never studied or even looked at the lesson material prior to the meeting. Many also attended because that’s what the parents required. This, nonetheless, was the stepping stone to Young People’s Society.

Because I’ve never led the Junior Young People’s, I cannot speak from experience about those coming into society. But thinking of those beginning Senior Society. But thinking of those beginning Senior Society, I see varying degrees of interest and ability. Some seem to think society is to have fun and never contribute anything to the discussion. Others give evidence of some study or at least attention and contribute to our discussions. The PURPOSE is the discussion of God’s Word and not only getting something out of it yourself-growth in the knowledge and faith of God-but, more importantly, contribution for the spiritual benefit of the others in the society.

I know many feel the society is a “drag”, others a way of getting away from the folks, and whatever the reason the discussion of God’s Word is farthest from anyone’s mind. “Fooling around” is the thing to do. And lack of preparation is evidenced by lack of discussion. The younger the individual, the more timid they are and consequently discussion is limited. The leader usually has to pry the discussion from the members.

I don’t believe that raising the age for entrance into society would help. To be involved for a year or two in society meetings and discussions is the only way to overcome that fear of talking and maybe making a mistake, or to take the devil’s advocate side of a discussion for the purpose of bringing the truth to light. I also love to have those who have attained the ripe old age of 21-23 still attend the meetings for the purpose of discussion. Again bear in mind that they can give far more than they receive.

I’m also convinced that the leader can be deterrent to good society discussion. If he knows his material as he should, there is no need for him to do all the talking; in fact, after a few introductory remarks, the young people should carry the discussion. There’s no reason why the leader should ask and answer all the questions. In Southwest Senior Society I have difficulty sometimes maintaining control of the discussion because too many want to talk at once.

Study is one of the most important aspects of the Young People’s meetings. But leading the discussion, and pointing to various aspects of God’s Word such as using everyday examples to make a point are absolutely necessary to a good discussion and profitable meetings. From that respect, there’s no reason to leave Young People’s Society until one gets married-and then only because they should attend Mr. and Mrs. Society or something similar in our churches out West.

In conclusion, we should have a good reason for attending a Young People’s Society, and if we don’t, we’d better examine our lives. Sin lies every doorstep, and it’s so easy to go along with the people who like to fool around. But if each realizes that we get out of the discussion what we put into it, and work toward the spiritual promotion of the fellow member, we’ll all have better Young People’s Societies and discussions.

What an experience! And what a way to close the term with a Young People’s Convention (35th), in which we helped celebrate the 50th Anniversary of our churches! What a group of young people bent on pushing instructors, leaders, and chaperones to the limit, only to see them sit down with you and discuss things pertaining to God’s Word and our mutual spiritual lives.

When asked to write about my experiences as Youth Coordinator, I can’t limit this article to our last convention only. My term spanned two years, most of which was spent doing things and working on projects apart from the conventions. And although I have been connected with young people apart from being Youth Coordinator (Young People’s Society leader at South West Church), working with the Federation Board to plan activities for all our young people has been something special. The Youth Coordinator not only is involved with the planning but also the activities themselves. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the carwash (and impromptu showers) and the pancake breakfast during my term.

But there is much more than that kind of activity experiences in being Youth Coordinator. There is the planning and thinking of activities which are fun but above all spiritually beneficial for our Young People. The Fed. Board tires to have activities which can enrich the spiritual lives of our youth. The special occasion “Mass Meetings” which are peculiar to the Grand Rapids area are only one of the ways in which the Fed. Board tries to have spiritual activities for the young people. Outings as well, with time set aside for Scriptural discussions, are planned by the Fed. Board with the Youth Coordinator involved in these plans.

But as everyone knows, kids will be kids. Fun comes first and at the expense often of the spiritual. This causes much concern to any spiritually minded adult. However, in spite of our concern, and the apparent unconcern of the young people, God uses even these feeble means to fulfill His Purpose according to election.

For that reason, and the fact that our children when they chum together usually stay together in church too, I would like to encourage our parents both from the East and the West to instruct our young people to attend our Young people’s activities. This means no only the conventions, but any activities put on by our Young People, such as parties, but especially programs and outings where spiritual instruction is given. I don’t believe our people in general encourage their children enough to attend these things. In fact, I hear some parents say to their children, “If you want to go there, O.K. but if you don’t that’s O.K. too”. In our family, we talk these activities up with our children. And if this means we have to bring them here and there, and maybe pick them up again, we do it gladly, knowing they are with some of our young people of like faith, covenant seed. I’m convinced, that with the right kind of talking and encouragement, our young people activities would be attended much better.

The Youth Coordinator is intricately involved with our young people. This requires thim and effort. This means taking time off from work, sometimes evenings when the activities are held, and in general attending everything with our young people.

To many an adult, I’m sure this sounds either boring or like kid’s stuff. And in a certain sense it is. But I’m convinced our young people need adult leadership even in their fun and games. To me it’s like enjoying a good time with one’s own family. The Youth Coordinator and his wife are an important part of such a big family relationship.

Our young people are our church of tomorrow. They need every bit of encouragement and direction we can give them. They need to know there is a bond of unity and a communion of saints in togetherness. And the Youth Coordinator is an aid to that end. The Fed. Board generally knows the right and proper way to go and the Youth Coordinator and Spiritual Advisor (Rev. Van Overloop at this time) helps to work out these decisions. It’s been our mutual desires to see our Young People walk in the right way.

To conclude, the experience has been rewarding in many ways. I think I’m a better parent for the experience. Also in dealing with the seed of the Covenant, I’ve learned to appreciate them much more. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the work and feel if ever our young people need help, in anything and I’m able and available, I’d be glad to help. Thanks for the opportunity to serve.

When asked to write an article for Beacon Lights, I was glad, because it gives an opportunity to say something to our Young People. But the subject of our Young People and an evaluation of them scares me. What does one say about them? Where do you find reference material for such a subject? If you are critical, the Young People resent it. If you have nothing but praise—they know better. This article will, I hope, help to give our Young People and parents of Young People some warnings, but especially some encouragement and direction for the times in which we live.

I’m convinced that our Young People, and by that I mean P.R. Young People, are the single most important objects our churches have. I don’t mean as opposing the Truth or doctrines we hold dear, but in distinction from the work and people of our churches. We, who are the fathers and mothers and all older people in our churches, must take a back seat in import­ance to our young people. And also the direction of our churches’ work must be with that in mind. This is said with a view to the preaching, teaching, and our mission work.

The previous statements were made from the point of view that our Young People are the future Prot. Ref. Church. The things we learn as Young People will give the basis for the direction of our churches, not only politically but most importantly, doctrinally in the future. The importance of catechism, and our own schools cannot be overestimated.

But there is more. And this is not only to be read and applied by our Young People, but by parents and ministers as well. I believe the sermons preached should be directed to our Young People. Not the entire sermon, but specific points made and emphasis laid on the admoni­tions of Scripture. And where the minister leads the catechism classes or Young People Societies that application is made for our walk as Young People.

And to our parents—How do you help our young people in a Christian walk? I’ve heard parents talk. What can we do for our Young People? What can they do 5 or 6 nights a week? If they go bowling one night in a week and spend another just wandering around the various shopping malls or plazas or maybe another at some circus or local fair, what can they do with the remainder of their time? Some parents are probably even encouraged to see their own Young People stay home and watch T.V. instead of running around like their friends’ children in the local bars or other night spots.

All this is negative thinking. And to come with something positive with respect to our Young People is next to impossible. However, in this respect, I think much improvement could be made. I’m convinced that all our parents could be much more diligent in encouraging our Young People to attend local young people activities. I know that writing this in the Grand Rapids area is different than in many of our western churches. But I be­lieve this encouragement can also be ap­plied there. And I’m not only thinking of the conventions and local mass meetings for the spiritual benefit of our Young People but all the things our young people do as Young People—whether this be swimming parties, hay rides, basketball games, or any and all Young People spon­sored activities. The value does not always lie in what spiritual value does it have, but in the communion and fellowship of our own Young People. I know too that every­thing the kids do is not good or healthy for them, but the importance lies in being together. For after all, that sets the pattern as to where their friends and associates are looked for.

Now to you Young People. As Youth Coordinator of the Federation Board, I’m again experiencing firsthand the exuber­ance and endless source of energy of you Young People. I’ve heard it said that this past convention had less sleep time than any previous one. Having been there, I agree. I couldn’t help but think, if only this energy were directed in the right way.

Having been young once myself, I know that one thought comes to mind—FUN!! How can I have a good time? Not what can benefit me spiritually but where can I go to have a Blast. And if you are restricted in your movements to a designated place such as the previous convention, then you are resourceful enough to make your own fun—card games, basketball, etc. And I’m glad that as young people you can do that.

However, if instead you would get seated around a fireplace or lounge at the convention or in the living room of our various homes and sit and talk over spiritual situations and problems which are unique to young people, you might be surprised how much FUN this would be. We could all benefit from studies of various Scriptural passages. I know,—I can hear it already. “Do you think we are a bunch of square old fogies?” Let me ask you this. Have you ever tried it? I mean, instead of looking for fun times apart from God’s Word and our Confessions, to sit and go over some of these things. Not an in depth study to begin with, but as you become acquainted with what you are studying, the Scriptures and/or Confes­sions will begin to open new avenues and ideas for discussions and personal bless­ing. As I stated near the beginning of the article, you Young People are the future P.R. Church. And as we near the end of time this becomes increasingly more important. I wish there were some way to make all of our young people more aware of this.

Let’s not see how close to the world and worldliness we can walk, but instead how close to God and His Word we can walk. This begins at home with personal devotions. Very little time is spent by us in prayer and Scripture reading alone. And this is true not only of you Young People but also our parents. The more time we spend benefiting our spiritual lives the more we want to spend. In that way also we will be equipped to fight in the battle of life as the good soldier of the Cross, putting on the whole armour of salvation, which is the Word of God.

In conclusion, let’s remember this in the new society season. Let’s prepare our­selves in the study of God’s Word. Let’s be determined anew to equip ourselves to fight in God’s army and be ready to take our places in the Church so that God’s Word may continue to the end.

That means also in our education and training. When thinking of occupations in the future, we think of the ministry and teaching professions. Maybe this isn’t what we like or desire to do, but maybe God has called us to these vocations. Study and prayer will determine many of these things. Always remember this Scriptural admonition in II Tim. 2:15—“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Coming from Holland, Mich., one evening this winter, the roads were very slippery. A friend and I noticed a lady who had very nicely manipulated her Ford into the ditch. At first, I laughed a little and was ready to continue on my merry way home. My buddy said, instead, “Let’s help her out Jim.”

Immediately I pulled the car off the road and then backed up to the car in the ditch. Soon, when people spotted my stopped car, we had sufficient help to push the lady’s car back on to the road.

Is your charity aggressive or do you wait until you are called upon to show your charity? Would you have driven on like I would have, or, would you be the first to suggest giving aid to a person in distress.

If your neighbor was sick, (let’s say you had a neighbor of another nationality; maybe one who is not quite as clean a housekeeper as you are) would you volunteer your help, first of all to make the sick person comfortable and then to help clean the house? Maybe your neighbor is not the nicest person to get along with — using foul language or having an evil temper. There could be many reasons for not getting along very well with your neighbor, but would you offer your help? Or would you wait until you were asked. Would you purposely stay out of their way, so they can’t ask you for any help?

I ask again: is your charity aggressive or do you wait until you are called on to give help?

Charity brings to mind the story of the Good Samaritan. Putting the story in a modern situation, wouldn’t this he the idea of the parable?

A man and his wife were riding along in their car when suddenly a tire blew out, throwing the car out of control and into a large tree — at approximately 45 miles per hour. The crash injured both very seriously. The first car at the scene of the crash contained some very rich people, riding in an expensive car and dressed in their best clothes. Seeing the accident, they stopped and looked at it from the car and quickly drove on. Immediately another car pulled up, which contained a lawyer and his wife. They too stayed right in the car, because they did not want to become involved in any questions. After all, they had a dinner engagement with the judge of the circuit court of that district, and they certainly could not detain themselves long enough to help some poor stranger who got hurt in an accident.

Just as quickly another car pulled up. This happened to be a Negro couple with their children. As soon as the car is stopped, the door swung open, and the man ran over to the smashed car. He took one look and ripped open the smashed door on the driver’s side. Very carefully he lifted the man out from behind the bent steering wheel. His wife quickly unfolded a blanket and wrapped the injured man in it.

Quickly the colored man returned to the wreck and painlessly removed the unconscious lady lying in a heap on the floor of the smashed car.

As soon as the injured couple was taken care of properly, the colored man ran back to his car and immediately raced away to contact medical authorities. Quite naturally other cars and people had stopped, some directing traffic, others just standing around and talking about the accident. The first two cars had left some minutes before, saying and doing nothing.

Minutes later the negro returned, having called an ambulance, and having spent his last bit of money to buy bandages for the injured. His wife quickly bandaged the wounds to stop the flow of blood and to keep infection from setting in.

Soon the ambulance arrived to aid the injured people. The police too had arrived and began directing traffic and moving the people on.

Quietly the colored family entered their car and drove away, receiving no compliment nor expecting any.

Would you have given unselfishly of yourself to help those people, or would you have stood around and waited till you were called on to help? “Sure,” you say, “I would help.” I ask, “Even if you had god clothes on, or it meant that you would be late for a date or basketball game?” Wouldn’t it be much easier to say, “Come on or we will be late?”

Another thing! Where were we as Protestant Reformed Churches when the tornado struck Hudsonville and the surrounding area of Grand Rapids? Did we have first aid service and canteens in the stricken area? Did we have clothing centers and places where the stricken people could live when their own houses were demolished?

Instead, we find that the Salvation Army and a little known religious group from as far away as Indiana came and stayed, till long after they were needed, to give help.

What is the idea of charity?

First of all it is God’s love to man. This is perfect charity. Secondly it’s man’s love to God and his neighbor. With this charity we deal in this article. Charity means more than giving alms, it also means giving service. It means more than merely setting up services for the poor or for those involved in accidents or storms.

Charity is in itself a testimony. Not just a testimony of our compassion, but of our faith and love of God. We don’t show charity by our compassion, but by owing that the new life of Christ exists in us. It is giving service instead of just funds.

This is not only true after someone is in trouble, but we should seek to be charitable to our neighbor before he is in trouble. Show the person what his actions or deeds lead to and point the way that he should go. Then you show true charity. Then you show the person the way of peace and truth and do more than if you should try and help after the person is in trouble.

Take heed! Is your charity aggressive or do you wait till you are called on? Do you seek to give a testimony to your neighbors, and associates? If you don’t, you do not show true charity. Do you listen to evil tales and rumors about others? If you do, you are guilty of backbiting and do not show true charity. From now on let us show that we not only have the truth as far as doctrine is concerned, but also show it in our lives with true charity.

As soon as you, our “Beacon Lights” readers, see the title of this article, immediately the thought will come to your mind, “Oh, here’s another sermon on the do’s and don’ts of Sunday driving.” But hold on a little. Read a little further before you decide to close “Beacon Lights” and put it away.

There is no one who can say you may drive here and not there. We cannot draw definite lines as to Sunday driving. However, there is something we as Christians can and must say about Sunday driving.

Do you read the “Standard Bearer”? If you don’t, you should. When you pick up the “Standard Bearer” next time, look for the rubric “In His Fear,” and even go back to where the Rev. Heys begins his articles on “The Sabbath in His Fear.” I don’t think we could improve on his articles which deal with keeping the Sabbath Day holy. In the course of the articles, Rev. Heys mentions Sunday driving or travel. In the Feb. 1 issue of “Standard Bearer,” Rev. Heys writes to the effect that there is much legitimate travel on the Sabbath. Even the apostle Paul must have spent much of his time in travel on the Sabbath and that too on ship. If there had been cars at that time Paul undoubtedly would have traveled by car.

Immediately you see that some Sunday driving is necessary and therefore justifiable. Such driving would include traveling some miles to attend church or society or maybe seeking communion and fellowship with friends after church. There were times, you know, when driving to church was considered almost as bad as you would consider one taking a motorcycle to church nowadays. Today it is expected that many drive to church as is seen by the parking lots built around the church.

Besides necessary driving on Sunday, I think there is also some unnecessary driving that COULD be justifiable. I am thinking of a ride in the country on a quiet, peaceful Sunday afternoon, maybe in the summer or fall.

Let’s take a ride once on such a Sunday afternoon.

As we get into the car, we first of all realize that our life is not our own. It belongs entirely to God who has created and now preserves that life. As we begin our drive, we also realize that the car we are riding in is not something of man’s intelligence and ingenuity but that each part has its own significance and was designed by God. The metal, though processed by man, is a product in nature which God put there. The rubber parts and tires, cloth, etc., were all from God.

Now we come to the country. Immediately our eyes come to rest on some beautiful flowers in a farmyard. As we ride by, we see God’s handiwork as He forms each and every petal of the flowers. He forms the leaves and stem and roots of the plant, making them beautiful beyond description.

As we continue our ride, in an open field we see a lone dead tree. As we fix our eyes on it, we think not of just the dead wood but what that dead tree represents. It shows us that sin is ever present in the world. We are living in a world of corruption and death.

Next, we look at the colors. Green would be the first color our eyes behold. Green, which represents the budding and expression of hope, is seen especially in the spring when all things blossom forth in fresh, hopeful beauty. We also see blue, white, red and yellow, all having their own significance. I could go on and mention the sky, which contains the heavenly bodies, the sun and a small fingernail of a moon. We could think of the air and the water, and even the road we are riding on.

What could be a more blessed afternoon than that. No, we mustn’t identify God with creation as the Pantheist, but we must realize and believe that God created all these things with a purpose, His glory.

In connection with this ride, however, we must say more. How many of us would go for a Sunday drive with only those thoughts in mind? I would venture to say none of us would. Instead, what we are more inclined to do, is to get together with other young people and waste the entire afternoon! We race down the road like fools, not thinking for one moment of the evil of desecrating the Lord’s Day. Or maybe just ride aimlessly to get from under the rule of the folks who are pressing us to read our church papers. This pertains not only to the fellows but also to the girls.

What do you do with your Sunday nights? Are you engrossed in discussion with yourself and others on the sermons heard that day? You fellows, do you take a Psalter along with you when you go on your date and sing some of the numbers, or if you can’t sing, take a Bible along and discuss a portion of Scripture? In some circles this is a very common practice and we might do well to adopt this practice. Have you read the “Standard Bearer” and our own “Beacon Lights”? When do you prepare for catechism and Young People’s Society? Surely if all you can do with your Sunday is drive around in your cars, then certainly you can’t possibly find time during the week either, because you will be too busy flying around as much during the week as on Sunday.

In conclusion, let me say that cars are an invention that God put in the minds of men with a purpose: the glory of His Name. We cannot use them for our own pleasure. They were not made to abase God’s Name; instead, we must remember, they are an invention to God’s glory.

The car has its place, even on Sunday. We may not say, you may do this and may not do that, but must ask what is our attitude to God with our car. Is it to God’s glory and His alone? If not, then think twice. REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY TO KEEP IT HOLY.

This month Beacon Lights celebrates an anniversary, its first anniversary. It was one year ago, in the month of February, that our young people’s paper was first published, after a period of dormancy of about six months.

Why wasn’t our paper published? You all realize the trouble in our Protestant Reformed Churches. Beacon Lights, too, was affected by this split. For quite some time we had no editor and capable advisor for our paper. It wasn’t until February of ’54 that Mr. A. Heemstra and some young people published the first Beacon Lights in more than six months.

From this point on, the staff of our paper has matured enough, so that Mr. Heemstra felt that his services were no longer needed and we could well take over the publishing of Beacon Lights, under the editorship of Rev. James McCollam.

This we have attempted to do, though we admit, with many shortcomings and failures. However, we hope that in the future, with God’s grace, we shall be able to publish a paper that will be inspiring and edifying to all our young people, in everything that is put in our paper.

Now that we stand, shall we say, before a new year as far as Beacon Lights is concerned, let us look back over the past year, a year which has been one of toil and labor, as far as the Christian is concerned, and also one of trouble and some heart-ache, as far as our churches are concerned.

During this past year, we have seen much wrangling amongst our people. We have witnessed many churches splitting, one group keeping the church building while others have had to seek other places of worship. We have seen a split classis. A court case, whose decision we now know, was held just this past year of 1954.

Such important happenings in our denomination which was so small to begin with. Just think of it, people say; a split in the Protestant Reformed Churches, when they were so small. Now they’re made even smaller. And think of this too. Some of them have to meet in other church auditoriums, or school auditoriums, or even in store buildings. Isn’t that a shame!

Also, they add to these remarks, “And to think they can’t settle their little difficulties among themselves.” Also, “And to think they will split over such trivial matters.”

People who talk this way never realize the pains we took to settle this difficulty among ourselves. If only they knew the weeks on end that were spent in our church political gatherings, they wouldn’t say that we could have settled these arguments peaceably.

As to the other statement about these “trivial matters,” the people who say these things are usually the ones who know nothing about the truth and also who want nothing of that truth. They do not realize there is this much difference, that one presentation is the truth, while the other is the lie. It is a matter of light over against darkness. It is either seeing God as the author and finisher of salvation, God from beginning to end, or man doing something for his salvation and thus saving himself. Really it comes down to this, “Is God, really God?” Or is man some kind of god, so that he is not dependent upon God for his salvation. “Who is God?” – that is the question.

What could be a more controversial and heretic question? To raise man up and say he must do something to save himself, is the farthest from the truth of Scripture that God is “only” and “complete” Savior.

This is really what the question is. No one can deny it. That is why we have the split in our churches. Those who have strayed, want that doctrine that exalts man. It is only human to cling to an idea that builds up our ego. I say again, this doctrine is not Scriptural.

For these reasons, 1954 has been a year of crisis and trial for the Protestant Reformed Churches. It has meant constant struggle. The future did not look very bright at times. In fact, even in the light of the present court decisions, our future looks rather hopeless. You know, it is not easy to lose half, or nearly so, of the church members in one denomination. You could probably compare it to losing one of your arms or legs. Of course, we realize that when a member of our body becomes infected with a malignant growth, we cut that part of our body off. But nevertheless, it is not easy to lose that member.

So it is with our churches. It is not easy to lose those people, and they are continually in our prayers that they might repent and see the error of their way and come back to us. But, they had to be cut off for the good of the rest of the body. And such members will continually be cut off so long as we are able, by God’s grace, to detect the malignant growth of heresy.

But what about our history over the past year? What about all history, we might add?

Isn’t history the unraveling of God’s eternal counsel? Were not these occurrences the performing of God’s will in all its fulness?

Yes, my Christian young friends, the God who governs all things and has governed them throughout the year of 1954, shall still govern all things, especially with regard to His church. He shall preserve His beloved remnant, no matter how few they be, and shall cause them to grow, not necessarily in numbers, for numbers is a sure sign of weakness, but He shall make us grow spiritually, which is far more blessed and necessary.

Then we as heirs of His covenant will praise God and realize that He doeth all things well to them that love God, that are called according to His purpose.

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The group of churches that John writes to in this trio of epistles had recently experienced a split because of doctrinal controversy. We do not know the exact content of the error that these false teachers were spreading, but it is apparent from John’s writing that their teaching somehow denied the truth of the incarnation—that […]

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Jael: An Example of Christian Warfare

This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. Jael lived during the era of the judges. Deborah the prophetess was the judge who served Israel at the time of Jael. During this time, the Canaanites under the rule of king Jabin […]

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Indiana Mini Convention Review 2021

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

At the point that this edition of Beacon Lights arrives in the homes of our subscribers, most young people in the Protestant Reformed Churches will have been sitting under the catechism instruction of their pastor or elders for more than a month. If our readers are honest, that observation probably comes with a (quiet) sigh […]

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Tennessee Young People’s Retreat 2021

The 2021 Tennessee young people’s retreat was held August 9 to 13 by Providence, Hudsonville, Unity, and First (Holland) Protestant Reformed Churches. The retreat took place at Eagle Rock Retreat Center in the city of Tallassee. It was about an eleven-hour drive, give or take a bit due to stops for food and restrooms. Though […]

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