The editor of Beacon Lights requested me to write an account of the troublous situation which has arisen because of and against our labors here in the Tripp-Menno area.
The term “boycott” means: to combine against by refusing to deal with or associate with. It is the refusal of all dealings with a person or persons. The term seems to be connected with the person of Captain Boycott of Ireland, who in 1880-1881 was thus treated. Hence all action in which there is concerted effort not to deal with one, or not to associate with one is designated with the term: to boycott!
That term pretty well describes the situation here in Menno-Tripp, especially in the former place. Attempts were made in Tripp but up till now this has failed. Under the reported instigation and leadership of the Rev. E. Kaempehen the American Legion Post, the ministry have determined, at all costs, to keep the undersigned from lecturing in Menno. The only suitable building for our purpose seems to be the American Legion Hall. This hall has been refused us at the present time. On October 19, 1961 we received a letter from Mr. Aisenbrey to the effect, that, although the custodian had rented us the Legion Hall, and although the meetings were announced in the Hutchinson Herald, we could not use the building on October 26 and Nov. 9 as announced, nor at any other time. The grounds were not given, except that the Post had taken a decision on a “regular meeting” on the 21st of March, 1961 that the Hall would not be “rented to outside Religious Organizations for meetings or lectures.”
When the undersigned pressed the matter a few days later with two officers of the Post he was shown the minute in question; he read it from the Minute Book. It read: “It is unanimously agreed upon not to rent the hall to outside religious organizations for meetings or lectures.” The undersigned was most solemnly assured that this decision was not directed at or occasioned by his labors here in these parts, or by that of the three ministers, Woudenberg, Van Baren, and Kortering. That this decision was taken at that time was purely coincidence. It was alleged (not stated in the Minute) that the real reason for this “agreement” was that in a certain town in Northeast South Dakota a certain Post had experienced difficulty in their town by renting their hall to an “outside religious organization” and this they would prevent to happen in Menno. And this momentous (?) decision was “agreed upon” in Menno at the very time:
1. When the undersigned was renting the American Legion Hall in Tripp and the City Hall in Tripp, and was maintaining the best of human relationships as it becomes a citizen of this land, and a confessing Christian, professing godliness.
2. When the undersigned and his colleagues were speaking and preaching to goodly audiences in Tripp in the Legion Hall and in the City Hall, among which were also members of the United Church of Christ, both of Tripp, Menno, and of Delmont.
3. When the Rev. Kaempehen wrote three identical letters to the Revs. Woudenberg, Van Baren and Kortering, who spoke in Tripp on the following respective dates: March 7, 22, and 29. This letter of Rev. Kaempchen, dated March 24, 1961, was written under a letter-head of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, and signed in the capacity of “president” of the Synod, who is at once also the “president” of the Synodical Executive Committee under the E. and R. Constitution. See By-Laws, 70, a. In this letter he, as the spokesman for the ministry complained that the evident interest in the Heidelberg Catechism on the part of the ministers, Woudenberg, Van Baren and Kortering, insinuated that the Catechism was not preached, or adequately preached in the E. and R. Church. (Tacitly this letter was silent about the changed official stand of the E. and R. Church as a comparison of Section I, 4 will show when compared with Article 189 of the Church Order of the Reformed Church in U.S.A., and with the subsequent Constitution of the United Church of Christ, recently adopted and ratified.)
4. When a concerted attempt was being made here in Tripp to have the City Council refuse the undersigned the use of the City Hall, and when those who would deprive us of the building failed to succeed in having the amount raised from the present rate to a higher rate. Those who would protect the undersigned moved and succeeded to have the decision made that we pay a month in advance.
5, When constant reports reached the undersigned here in Tripp that the American Legion Post in Menno had barred me from Tripp, by refusing to rent the hall to me.
In the light of the above we ask: boycotted?
And now at this very time when we had rented the building in Menno, a special meeting is called of the Executive Committee of the Ramus-Bender Post 152, and the “agreement” of the meeting of March 21, 1961 must be enforced. The letter reads like an ultimatum: “That you cannot use the building on the dates of Oct. 26 or Nov. 9 or at any other time.” The thumb-screws really had to be turned down. There was danger in delay. The Romans said, “periculum in mora”! However, when the undersigned investigated there was reason to believe that there may be members of the “executive Meeting” who were not informed; they were not aware such a meeting had been held. They were members of the Executive Board of the Post. Mirabile dictu! (marvelous to relate!)
On the Sunday following this special meeting of the Executive Committee of the Post, the Rev. Kaempchen made not little ado against the undersigned, who could, of course, not defend himself, not being present. It is reported that he railed against the undersigned, held up the eight inch ad of the local paper, the Hutchinson Herald, (it contained a photo-print of the undersigned) and calumniated the teaching of the Protestant Reformed Church, insinuating in the sermon that we teach, “if one is elected he can live the way he wants to, he will go to heaven.” (The old lie of Satan, and the vile calumny of the enemies of the truth.) In fact, he had the audacity to tell his audience that the meetings and lectures would not be held, and that he had asked the local ministry to cooperate in this “announcement”! At least one minister is reported to have had the sense to tell his congregation that he had been requested to make such an announcement, but since it was none of this business he was not going to do it.
We ask again: boycotted?
Meanwhile we go on in faith, and commit the cause of our Lord Jesus Christ to Him. It is His cause. He often takes the crafty in their own craftiness, and lays the mighty low and exalts the man of low degree. Possibly (for with the Lord all things are possible) He will open the door, and lead us to another building.
This is our prayer!
With the good assistance of Rev. G. Van Baren we have prepared a document, are having it printed in a thousand copies, and will flood Menno, Tripp and Delmont with the facts. For it is reported people are asking: Why were those “lectures cancelled?”
The hearts of men and kings are in the hand of the Lord. Let us pray that the Lord of harvest prosper our work, and cause also this “evil” to turn to the advantage of the truth in Jesus, and to the furtherance of the gospel in all this region.
“And now Lord look upon their threatening: and grant unto thy servants to speak thy word with boldness.” Thus prayed the apostles.
It is not strength but weakness when those, who profess to be ministers, must resort to boycott; from the hand of such the sword of the spirit has fallen, and they seek their strength in chariots and horses.
But we will remember the Name of the LORD, and in His Name lift up our banners!
* The undersigned wrote a document this summer, in sixty-two questions and answers, in which he shows the untenableness of those who claim to be Reformed and yet live under the Constitution of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, and the subsequent merger as United Church of Christ. He sent a copy to Rev. Kaempchen. The Post Office at Menno returned it “refused.” I have the envelope as souvenir; the document I sent to a worthy brother!