I must say I was really taken by surprise when I received a letter asking me to reminisce about the conventions I have attended. Reminisce? Has it been that long ago that I attended a convention as a member of the Young People’s society? Alas! I’ve been forced to realize that my last convention was at First Church in 1968, almost 7 years ago.
I guess it doesn’t seem that long ago because being a minister’s wife I have attended several conventions since then. Also, I have to admit the older one gets the faster time seems to go.
To reminisce means to recall to mind past events and experiences which have impressed me. Thus in this article I am not going to give the complete agenda of each convention I attended, for these can be found in past issues of the “Beacon Lights”. I will only try to give some highlights and comparisons which were impressed upon my mind.
My first convention was held in Edgerton in 1963. It’s theme, “More than Conquerors”, is the theme I best remember. Here I was privileged to hear Rev. H. Hoeksema speak at what would be the last convention he would address.
I can remember how scared and nervous I was, especially of the “get-acquainted-hour”, which was and is commonly held after the mass meeting. It consists of playing a game designed to mix thoroughly the group and separate close friends. This proves to be a very trying experience for someone who is attending their first convention and has a hard time meeting strangers.
I also attended the Southeast convention at which the first delegation from Redlands was present. Only two years later I participated, as a member of the Federation Board, in making the seemingly impossible plans for the first convention ever to be held in Redlands. This Southeast convention was also the first convention to be held over a weekend. That made it possible for out-of-towners to attend the worship services at one of the churches in Grand Rapids. This also made it possible for people in the area to attend more of the convention activities without taking off more time at work. This practice of having weekend conventions has since been revised.
Recalling the convention which I attended in South Holland, the thing I best remember is the terrible storm we had the night of the banquet. I believe that there were tornado warnings, too. The group I was with were happy to arrive safely at our place of lodging after driving in hail, high winds, flooded street, and seeing trees which had been uprooted as well as many lights going out around us.
I have attended conventions by car, bus and train, but never by plane. The plane ride to the Redlands convention, which my husband-to-be worked so hard to see happen, I never took because somebody decided that that week would be a good one for a wedding.
I say my husband, who was President of the Federation Board, worked hard for that convention. There are some things which you would like to forget about but somebody likes to keep reminding you of them. For it was really my fault that the Federation Board had to work so hard. The previous convention, held at First Church, most particularly the outing which was held at Jack and Jill ranch, left the Federation in debt. I happened to have been chairman of that outing committee.
This particular outing closed with the group singing Psalms, led by Rev. Lubbers who, many will well-remember, did so at other conventions, too. He seems to know almost all the Psalter numbers by memory and he thoroughly enjoys singing them. He is almost a necessity at a singspiration which is held without the aid of piano or organ.
At this convention, our souvenir booklet had a symbol on the cover, for which, I believe, there was a contest to see if anybody could figure out what it meant. I’m still trying to figure it out. If anybody recalls it, please let me know!
I would like, at this point, to say something about our attitude toward conventions. Our attitude toward what we do or what occurs greatly determines the effect it will have on us. If we go to conventions strictly to have fun we are going to miss the spiritual benefits. If we go only to find a boyfriend or girlfriend we may be disappointed and have the convention spoiled for us.
It seems it’s only when we are through a period of our life that we see how we should have behaved in it. I should have gone to conventions seeking to be edified by the speeches and discussions, to work hard at having Christian fellowship, and to be more conscious of God’s glory and honor and not my own. “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into Judgment.” Ecc. 11:9 “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth…” Ecc. 12:1a
Many conventions have come and gone. In them we see God’s covenant faithfulness towards us also in this aspect of our denominational life. Other young people’s groups seem to need popular rock groups, worldly movies and secular discussion topics to have a “good convention”. In our conventions, we see discussions pertinent to our Christian walk, Psalms sung, ministers asked to speak and a principle desire to be antithetical in this life. This covenantal faithfulness of God toward us can also be seen in the themes which our young people have chosen: “Be Ye Holy”, “How Great Thou Art”, “Faith”, “Preserving our Heritage”, and “Soli Deo Gloria”.