The 1966 convention—a memory now, but for the Young People’s Society of Southeast Church, as hosts, it meant months of planning, frustrations, and triumphs. The final preparations were made, and last minute ideas were approved of or scrapped; all that remained was to welcome the guests as they arrived.
Thursday night was registration night for all conventioneers and lodging assignment night for the out-of-towners. Badges, booklets, and tickets were handed out, and many old acquaintances were renewed.
Friday morning everyone tried to get to the business meeting on time. There were a few latecomers, and a lot of yawns and sleepy eyes were in evidence. After final registration had been completed, everyone trooped upstairs for the official opening of the 1966 convention. The convention theme song was sung, the text was read, and prayer was offered. Our president then introduced the delegation from Redlands and the visitor from Lynden. This was the first time that either of these churches had been represented, and everyone was happy to have them share in the enjoyment of the convention.
After dealing with most of the business, the delegates and visitors were ready to “break the monotony of the business meeting” by listening to a speech by Prof. H. Hanko. Because Rev. Veldman was ill, the professor took care of both topics, “Faith of Our Fathers in the Old Testament,” and “Faith of Our New Testament and Early Church Fathers.” He showed us that despite the persecutions and hardships the church has continually faced, it has always remained faithful to the truth.
After the speech, a film was shown on the church from the time of Christ through the Reformation period.
Lunch having been eaten, we resumed the business meeting. A speech was given by Rev. G. Lubbers on “Faith of the Reformation Fathers until Today.” He charged us to diligently study God’s Word, because only then can we keep the faith. A special number was then rendered by Shirley Bouwkamp on the clarinet.
Friday evening was the night for the Inspirational Mass Meeting. Despite the fact that the photographer was late for the taking of the convention picture, everyone still smiled for him.
Rev. G. Lanting was the speaker for the Mass Meeting on the topic “The Seeds of Faith.” He showed us that the implanting of the seeds of faith within the believers’ hearts was the work of the Holy Spirit. An organ and piano duet was played by Mary and Ellen Kregel, and Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Jonker sang “Perfect Peace,” a song written by the late James Jonker.
Refreshments were served and impromptu performances were given by the various groups. These were very well done, and they included rhythm bands, book reviews, and short stories. (Who can forget Duane Gunnink’s performance on the cymbals, or Pat Kamps’ book review of “Little Red Riding Hood”?)
Saturday morning dawned bright and clear—a perfect day for an outing. After first assembling at Southeast Church for last-minute instructions, we left in rather packed cars.
We arrived at Jack and Jill Ranch where we registered and received our ranch badges. There was a variety of activities, so everyone scattered in whatever direction he wanted to. Horseback riding was the choice of many young people, while others went swimming, paddle-boating, or row-boating. Tennis seemed to be the favorite sport of a few ministers, as they were seen wielding rackets.
A delicious lunch of chicken was served in the mess hall, after which Rev. D. Engelsma gave the second main speech on “The Growth of Faith.” He showed us the prevalent errors of our times, especially the error of indifference to the teachings of the Word of God. He also told us that we can combat these errors only by studying and learning, thereby increasing our own faith.
The ranch hands set up archery and target shooting in the afternoon, and many tried their hands at them. Supper, which was served on the beach, was followed by a songfest led by Rev. Lubbers. After prayer, we all left for Grand Rapids.
Sunday morning was an opportunity for the out-of-towners to visit in one of the Grand Rapids churches. That afternoon, discussion groups met in Adams St. School. These were very well attended and were enjoyed by everyone present. The topics were under two headings, “Faith in Our Walk,” and “Education.” After discussing their topics for forty-five minutes, the groups met as a whole and summarized their discussions. This was the first year that discussions like this were really organized, and all the young people felt spiritually enriched by them.
After church services Sunday night, the conventioneers gathered in First Church for the singspiration. Chuck Westra, who led the singing during that inspiring hour, began by saying that he was glad that he could stand up all night instead of sitting down as we had to, since we had gone horseback riding the day before. Special numbers were a vocal solo by DaVonna Miersma and a piano solo by Shirley Gritters.
The Monday morning rain didn’t dampen the spirits of all those who turned out for the pancake breakfast at Douglas-Walker Park. After eating the delicious pancakes, everyone returned to Southeast Church for the completion of the business meeting. The delegates elected officers, and then it was time for lunch. The afternoon began with the annual softball game between the East and the West. Both teams displayed some fine talent, but the game ended in a tie.
A debate was then held on the topic “Resolved: That young people should take more active part in mission work.” It was an excellent debate, and the victory went to the negative. The five Westra girls sang for us while the judges made their decision.
Although time between the debate and the banquet was short, everyone managed to get to the Mayfield gym on time for the banquet. A good ham dinner was served and eaten. Rev. J. Kortering then spoke on “The Fruits of Faith.” In this very practical speech, he told us that we should show our faith by how we act, and in everything we do.
After the speech, Karl Van Oostenbrugge showed beautiful slides on “The Four Seasons.” The new officers were presented, “God Be With You” was sung, and another convention was a memory.
This convention was unique in that it was held over a weekend, which made it possible for many more young people to attend. Southeast’s young people did an excellent job of planning a convention which would suit the tastes of young adults; this was evidenced in the way that all the conventioneers eagerly participated in all planned activities. The young people also gained much spiritual enlightenment from the convention. The good attendance at the speeches and the thoughtful exchange of ideas at the discussions showed this very clearly. We can truly say as Protestant Reformed young people, “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.”
The song “Perfect Peace,” written by the late James Jonker (from First Church) has come from the press at last. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of this sheet music, please contact Mrs. H.C. Hoeksema, 1842 Plymouth Terrace, S.E., Grand Rapids. The price is fifty cents and the family has stipulated that the proceeds will go to the Prot. Ref. Scholarship Fund. If you wish to have this music mailed to your address, please enclose ten cents for postage and handling.