395 and $140,000.

What do these numbers represent and why are they important?

They are the number of young people that registered for the 2008 convention hosted by Byron Center PRC and the approximate total cost of this past year’s convention. This is important because while the attendance has almost doubled the past 15 years, the size of the host church has basically stayed the same. Now, multiply the total number of attendees by the registration fee (400 x $125) and the host society received $50,000 toward the cost of the convention. Obviously, the host church still needed to raise $90,000. While some of these amounts are estimates and/or assumptions, they are reasonably accurate to prove the point. So, where does this money come from?

The money comes from two places: 1) The Executive Board (Board) and 2) Fundraiser, Fundraiser, Fundraiser.

Also, by way of introduction, telephone calls were placed to Reformed Youth Services (RYS) (mainly supported by the United Reformed Churches in North America) and Youth Unlimited (YU) (mainly supported by the Christian Reformed Church in North America) to determine the registration fees of their respective young peoples’ convention. The 2008 convention registration fee for RYS was $320 and YU was $385, respectively.

As is evident, this is the looming issue facing the host society and steering committee each and every year. How do we raise enough money to be able to meet the expenses of the annual young peoples’ convention? This concern is a real difficulty and is the reason behind the writing of this article on behalf of the Board of the Federation of Protestant Reformed Young Peoples’.

Since young peoples’ conventions have been held (1939 was the first according to prior Beacon Lights, with a two year break for World War II), the Board requested, in ‘loose’ rotation, that various churches of the denomination organize and host an annual young peoples’ convention. When the conventions were relatively small, raising enough money to cover the expenses was relatively simple. In fact, until approximately 20 years ago, the young people stayed in the homes of the members of the church. But, with the amount of conventioneers steadily increasing every year, this became impossible. Steering committees made the decision to have the young people lodge together at one facility; which significantly increased the costs.

And therein lays the problem.

The funding of young people’s conventions is done through various means. 1) The host churches charges a registration fee to the attendees in the range of $100 – $150. 2) A significant portion of the funding is through the host church raising money by fundraisers throughout the year preceding the convention. 3) The Board distributes monies to the appropriate host church per their request.

The question is how is the Board able to distribute money? The Board receives monies from dues collected from the societies that are members of the Federation. Approximately $10 per member goes towards helping fund the conventions. Additionally, each society is requested to hold two fundraisers each year with the proceeds forwarded to the Board. Through these means the Board is able (and willing) to help fund the convention and reduce the costs for the conventioneers.

Several years ago, the Board followed the normal procedure and asked the church that was next in the ‘loose’ rotation if they would be willing to host the next convention (once every 10 years approx.). Several months went by and eventually the request was declined. The Board then asked a second church whether they would be interested and again the request was declined. The Board was now getting a little nervous since the 2009 convention was only a year and a half away, but no host church. (Often, camps and/or universities need at least a two year notice to be able to reserve the facility.) There was a real possibility there would be no convention held in 2009. The main reason for the decline was the amount of money that needed to be raised through fundraising. That ‘looming mountain’ was simply too large to overcome.

The Board was in a real quandary as to how to proceed. The Board understood the rationale behind their reasons for declining to host the convention, yet the reality looked pretty bleak. So, the decision was finally made to send our request to another church.

After several months of deliberations, a steering committee from that church (Trinity PRC) sent a letter to the Board with a proposal explaining a different process for funding conventions. The Steering Committee requested a meeting with us, as the Board. So, early in 2008, several members from Trinity PRC met with the Board and presented their proposal.

Their proposal was pretty straightforward. Instead of putting the heavy burden on one steering committee each year to hold fundraisers to cover the majority of the expenses of a convention, the proposal was to put the burden on each attending conventioneer and, essentially, on each church. Basically, the proposed policy amounted to taking the cost of the convention and charging those who actually attended the convention with covering the entire cost of the convention. The conventioneers would then have the opportunity (and duty) to raise their own funding within their own churches, and each congregation would have the responsibility of helping defray the expenses of its own conventioneers. A by-product of this new proposal would also mean that the smaller congregations would have an opportunity to host conventions, giving a much appreciated break to the larger congregations.

Having considered the proposal carefully, the Board decided to adopt this as the new fundraising policy. The new policy means that instead of raising money to send to the Board, as was done in the past by two required fundraisers, the money each young people’s society now raises will instead be used directly to lower each of their own conventioneer’s registration fees.

The Board realizes this newly adopted method of raising money to fund the conventions is quite dramatic, putting an increased financial burden on each conventioneer. The registration fee each conventioneer will need to come up with will approximately double ($300 – $350) compared to the registration fees of the past number of years. However, this increased registration fee will be off-set in two ways. First, the Board has funds available to help the host society reduce these expenses and thus lower the registration fee. And second, the Board is convinced that by means of the fundraisers each society holds in its own congregation for its own conventioneers, the increased registration fee each conventioneer will have to come up with out of his/her own pocket in many instances will turn out to be only a moderate one, and in some instances, perhaps none at all.

The Board requests your understanding and patience during this change. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us in writing:

The Federation of YP Societies
P.O. Box 256
Jenison, MI 49429-0256

In Christ,
Justin Koole
Executive Board member
Retiring Youth Coordinator

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