If your curiosity should ever prompt you to consult a map of the United States of America in order to locate Manhattan, Montana, you would very likely discover that to all appearances this certainly must be a very small place. For many maps do not even take the trouble to indicate the spot, and the rest are satisfied to identify it by a small dot and very small-sized letters. But, after you did discover the location of Manhattan you would also notice that we are surrounded by mountains, which would, I suppose, make you conclude that it must be a region inhabited by “hill-billies”. That seems to be an idea generally held by our people back east.
Well, it is true that Manhattan is a very small town. We are willing to admit that fact gladly, especially because in reality Manhattan is not the center of our “Holland Settlement” at all. The greater majority of the “Dutchmen” in our Gallatin Valley seldom come into Manhattan, but do most of their business in the nearby city of Bozeman. Two small communities called “Church Hill” and “Amsterdam” serve as the religious and business centers for our people. Manhattan is merely our mailing address.
As to the idea that we are all “hill-billies” we say: “Nix”. Even though we might be isolated geographically we are not in need of pity. The main line of the Northern Pacific Railway runs through our valley as well as Transcontinental Highway No. 10. Nor are we far distant from the Yellowstone National Park, which brings many people from the eastern part of our nation to our vicinity. We insist that we catch on to their peculiarities rapidly. In fact, since we are some four or five thousand feet higher than most places back east, we are apt to feel a bit exalted rather than anything else.
There are two churches on “Church Hill”, the Christian Reformed and our own Protestant Reformed. We were organized, as you will remember, just a few years ago with eleven families. At the present time, we number about seventeen families, while our Sunday services are very regularly augmented by other families. An increase in membership was also our experience in our Young People’s Society. Our first meetings were attended by about fourteen members, while at the present time our roll lists thirty members. Our church is also blessed in that there are many small children, all of which means that we have good prospects of future internal growth.
Our society is very active. We meet Sunday evenings in the Church auditorium. Our meetings are usually run off in the following order: the period before recess is devoted to discussion of the Bible lesson outlined by Rev. P. De Boer in “Beacon Lights”, after recess we have our business matters, and a program. The program differs from week to week, except that regularly one program each month we have what is called “Question Week”. On this occasion, our pastor, Rev. H. De Wolf, answers the questions found in our “Question Box”. Otherwise an essay, reading, impromptu speeches or a musical number fill up that time. Just recently we have introduced the idea of critics to our program. Two members are called upon to offer their criticisms after the program. This seems to be working out very successfully. I should add that we meet through-out the year, without a “vacation”. During the summer months, our Bible discussion is concerned with some book of the Bible. This past summer we covered a good portion of the book of Nehemiah.
Within the next few weeks we hope to render our annual Program. This is to take place in our church auditorium, and the general public is invited to attend. This among other miscellaneous numbers. During the summer months, we sponsored a series of four lectures by our pastor, which were enjoyed very much. Rev. H. Hoeksema also spoke for us when he was here last Spring. All of these things keep us quite busy, but we like it. “Semper Fidelis” is not only the name but also the ambition of our society.
This past summer we have also joined the PRYPF. This, in our opinion, has been one of the most worthwhile things we have done. Our delegation returned home from the Third Convention at Oaklawn, Illinois with such encouraging reports that we are determined more than ever to keep our place in the Federation. The true Christian fellowship which we felt there will not soon be forgotten. It has made us feel more keenly that we are one body in our Lord Jesus Christ. May God continue to bless our Federation together with its “Beacon Lights”. We find our magazine to be very inspiring, not only, but also very educational. Rev. De Boer’s Outlines are truly interesting.
Several of our young people have left us for the winter months, and are now working in various places. Perhaps you have met some of them. However, we hope to see them all back again in the Spring.
As we take a look backward, we can rejoice in the fact that the Lord has blessed us in many ways. It is our hope and prayer that He may continue to bless us, and will enable us to be in truth “Semper Fidelis”.