PRC Seminary – New Building! 1973-74

Besides assisting me in the PRC Seminary library, Kevin Rau also helps with some archival projects, which, being a lover of history – especially church history! – he always enjoys.

The last few weeks he has been taking some time to sort through some old issues (donated loose ones) of the Standard Bearer, with his eyes alert especially to items related to PRC history – seminary news, church organizations/anniversaries, minister ordinations, mission news, memoriams, etc.

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Yesterday, while going through some early 1970s issues, he found some news reports on and pictures of the construction of the new seminary building at it current location (4949 Ivanrest Ave., Wyoming, MI) when our theological school moved from the basement of First PRC in Grand Rapids, where it had been stationed for nearly 50 years.

Sem-new-building-1973-74_0002Since we did a feature on the 1993-94 addition to that building yesterday, today we will go back another 20 years to the construction of the original structure. And yes, you will note how free and clear the property was at that time of its current surroundings – not only tall trees, but also malls, stores, houses, and churches.

Sem-new-building-1973-74_0003In fact, I heard a cute story from our secretary yesterday (when I showed her the SB pics) that when they first moved into the area, she and her husband (the former registrar, whose name will go unmentioned to protect the guilty!) used to go on the roof of seminary on 4th of July evening – from which perch they could view fireworks in all directions! Can you see it? What a hoot, as a friend of mine would say. 🙂

Sem-new-building-1973-74_0004Happy Friday to you all! Have a safe and blessed weekend.

Published in: on November 10, 2017 at 3:49 PM  Leave a Comment  

PRC Seminary Expansion! 1994-95

Recently, while looking for some paperwork in my office file cabinet, I discovered some old pictures of my predecessor (Mr. Don Doezema) on the major expansion project at the PRC Seminary in 1994-95. This was the addition that housed the new professor offices, the new library, the PRC archives, and the RFPA (the latter two in the lower level). Today we make these our PRC archives feature for this week.

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Removing trees and breaking ground on the new seminary addition

Plans and preparations for this addition originated with the PRC Synods in 1991 and 1992, when these broader assemblies instructed the Theological School Committee (TSC) to hire an architect to draw up plans for expansion, approved those plans, and “authorized the TSC to proceed with producing construction drawings when 50% of the estimated cost of the addition has been collected in gifts, and to award a construction contract when 75% of the estimated cost is collected” (from a special brochure published by the TSC in August of 1993).

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Footings set and walls poured

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In that August 1993 brochure a final appeal was made to the churches to contribute to this project, with hopes of breaking ground in 1994. That appeal was effective and in the Fall of 1994 the project commenced, with completion coming in 1995.

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Wood and steel framing goes up

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Progress on the exterior during the winter months

Next time we will include some interior pictures and then the open house that was held when the addition was done.

Published in: on November 9, 2017 at 8:57 AM  Leave a Comment  

Rev. G. Vos 25th Anniversary Album: The First Hudsonville PRC Years, 1929-32

In the last few months we have made a couple of initial posts concerning the recent gift of a treasure for the PRC archives – a beautiful leather volume commemorating the 25-year ministry anniversary of Rev. G. Vos (1894-1968).

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The book (which must date from 1952 and probably at least a year before that) is filled with pictures and congratulatory notes from the four PRC congregations Rev. Vos had served up to that point – Sioux Center, IA, 1927-29; Hudsonville, 1929-1932; Hope, Redlands CA, 1932-1943; Edgerton, MN, 1943-1948; and then Hudsonville again, 1948-1966, which is where he was when his 25th anniversary in the ministry was celebrated.

In our previous post we featured those years of Vos’ first charge, in Sioux Center, IA. Today let’s examine the pages that focus on his first charge in Hudsonville PRC, from 1929 to 1932. We are able to post all the pages, because there were only five (5) of them. Enjoy!

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Published in: on November 2, 2017 at 10:57 AM  Leave a Comment  

The Women Who Rode Miles on Horseback to Deliver Library Books – Atlas Obscura

This fascinating story appeared on the August 31, 2017 email highlights of the Atlas Obscura website. It was headed by the simple title, “Librarians are amazing.” Being one and , therefore, being somewhat prejudiced, it would be easy to agree. But I will let this story from the Great Depression years inform your own mind.

Below are a few excerpts; find the rest of it at the link below. O, and be sure to look at the amazing archived pictures, especially at the end – a fine collection on the Kentucky pack horse librarians!

They were known as the “book women.” They would saddle up, usually at dawn, to pick their way along snowy hillsides and through muddy creeks with a simple goal: to deliver reading material to Kentucky’s isolated mountain communities.

The Pack Horse Library initiative was part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA), created to help lift America out of the Great Depression, during which, by 1933, unemployment had risen to 40 percent in Appalachia. Roving horseback libraries weren’t entirely new to Kentucky, but this initiative was an opportunity to boost both employment and literacy at the same time.

…By the end of 1938, there were 274 librarians riding out across 29 counties. In total, the program employed nearly 1,000 riding librarians. Funding ended in 1943, the same year the WPA was dissolved as unemployment plummeted during wartime. It wasn’t until the following decade that mobile book services in the area resumed, in the form of the bookmobile, which had been steadily increasing in popularity across the country.

 

Source: The Women Who Rode Miles on Horseback to Deliver Library Books – Atlas Obscura

Published in: on September 29, 2017 at 7:30 AM  Leave a Comment  

Rev. Gerrit Vos’ 25th Anniversary Book – Sioux Center, IA (1927-29)

GVosLast Friday we made an initial post announcing the gift of a treasure for the PRC archives – a beautiful leather volume commemorating the 25-year ministry anniversary of Rev. G. Vos (1894-1968).

The book (which must date from 1952 and probably at least a year before that) is filled with pictures and congratulatory notes from the four PRC congregations he had served up to that point – Sioux Center, IA, 1927-29; Hudsonville, 1929-1932; Hope, Redlands CA, 1932-1943; Edgerton, MN, 1943-1948; and then Hudsonville again, 1948-1966, which is where he was when his 25th anniversary in the ministry was celebrated.

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I gave you a sample of some pages last week; this week let’s focus on that first charge of his in Sioux Center, IA PRC.

By the way, this first charge of Rev. Vos brings up an interesting bit of PRC and PRC Seminary history. That is that Rev. Vos was called and ordained prior to his finishing his seminary training. While he had completed some of his ministerial training in those years prior to 1927, so needy were the PRC for ministers in the early years of her existence that she called and ordained Vos (William Verhil also, by Hull, IA PRC) before he finished seminary. Both of these men did return to school and graduated in 1932 (while he served as Hudsonville PRC’s minister!).

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Now, on to Sioux Center PRC, where Vos served from 1927-29. These are some pages from the book. I post them without further comment at this time, except that I wonder if the church and parsonage are still there. Perhaps some Iowa contacts can let us know.

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A New Treasure for the PRC Archives – Rev. G. Vos’ 25th Anniversary Volume

This past Tuesday (Sept.5, 2017), after a visit to the mailbox, Mrs. Judi Doezema set a package on my library desk at the PRC Seminary.

Nothing unusual about that. Book orders come in regularly, so I am accustomed to seeing boxes and bubble packages of varying sizes on my desk. But this box was unusual – in size and in contents. Besides, I didn’t think I had any outstanding book orders. Nevertheless, I excitedly opened the box.

What I found inside left me short of breath and long of thrills. A special leather-bound book with the words “To the Reverend Gerrit Vos in Commemoration of Twenty Five Years in the Ministry of the Word, 1927-1952” on the cover.

And between the leather covers was a treasure-trove of PRC history under the ministry of Rev. G. Vos (1894-1968). Pictures and congratulatory notes from the four PRC congregations he had served up to that point – Sioux Center, IA, 1927-29; Hudsonville, 1929-1932; Hope, Redlands CA, 1932-1943; Edgerton, MN, 1943-1948; and then Hudsonville again, 1948-1966, which is where he was when his 25th anniversary in the ministry was celebrated.

Every page I turned was a gem. Wonderful pictures of Rev. Vos and his wife and family (cf. above), of the church buildings and parsonages, of congregational picnics and societies, of Consistories and Councils, of Vos and colleagues, of Vos and Schilder – and on the list goes. Pages filled with signatures of church members; with tributes to the gracious pastor who had brought them the gospel and ministered to their needs; with letters from Herman Hoeksema and George Ophoff, his seminary professors and fellow-servants in the gospel in those early years of the fledgling denomination (cf. below); with the full program held in Hudsonville PRC marking his 25th written out in beautiful script – speeches and all! – again, and on the list goes.

What a wonderful gift to the seminary and to the PRC archives! Invaluable! Unspeakable!

And from whom did this precious gift come? From his grandson, Dr. Ben Zandstra (son of Vos’ daughter Marilyn and son-in-law, Dr. Ben Zandstra). In the box was a wonderful letter from Dr. Zandstra, in which he expressed his difficulty in parting with such a treasure (a gift he had received from his mother on the 25th anniversary of his own ordination in the CRC), but also stating, “But I know in my heart that this volume belongs at the school of the Protestant Reformed Churches, the denomination that my grandfather served for so many years. So, I pass it on in his memory & Soli Deo Gloria.”

I have sent Dr. Zandstra a personal letter of thanks for this PRC treasure. But I also take this space to say, “From the bottom of our denomination’s heart, Thank you for this precious gift!”

I plan to scan this book as it is to preserve it in its original form. I have an idea the PRC congregations he served that are still in existence (Hope, Redlands, Edgerton, and Hudsonville) will want a digital copy for their own histories. And I plan to feature some pages from it in the months ahead. I have an idea you will be as excited as I was to see what’s inside this amazing volume. 🙂

Lost Latin Commentary on the Gospels Rediscovered after 1,500 years

This special story was posted at The Conversation last week (August 23, 2017, by Hugh Houghton) and caught my attention. Though it may not be exciting to many, it is to me, since anything from the realm of books is of interest – especially rare, lost treasures such as this Latin commentary from the fourth century.

And yes, you may find scanned images of this rare book online as well as an English translation of it now available (see links in the story below).

Below you will find the beginning of the story; read the rest and visit the links at the link at the end.

The earliest Latin commentary on the Gospels, lost for more than 1,500 years, has been rediscovered and made available in English for the first time. The extraordinary find, a work written by a bishop in northern Italy, Fortunatianus of Aquileia, dates back to the middle of the fourth century.

The biblical text of the manuscript is of particular significance, as it predates the standard Latin version known as the Vulgate and provides new evidence about the earliest form of the Gospels in Latin.

Despite references to this commentary in other ancient works, no copy was known to survive until Dr Lukas Dorfbauer, a researcher from the University of Salzburg, identified Fortunatianus’ text in an anonymous manuscript copied around the year 800 and held in Cologne Cathedral Library. The manuscripts of Cologne Cathedral Library were made available online in 2002.

Source: Lost Latin commentary on the Gospels rediscovered after 1,500 years thanks to digital technology

PRC Archives: 1948 Young People’s Convention – Holland, MI

This year, the 77th annual PRC Young People’s Convention will be held. The First PRC of Holland, MI will again be hosting it.

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The first time this congregation hosted it was in 1948, with events held at the church, at Holland Christian High School, Kollen Park, and Tunnel Park – all familiar spots in the Holland area, though buildings and grounds may have changed.

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Today for our PRC archives feature, we post these pages from that 8th annual PR Young People’s Convention Booklet, held August 18-19, 1948. Enjoy!

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1948-YPs-Conv-Holland_0005And a parting note from the world’s largest furnace installer!

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Published in: on May 18, 2017 at 3:57 PM  Comments (4)  

Photocopy of Rare Sir Isaac Newton Letter in T. Letis Collection

Today Kevin Rau and I stumbled on a rare find while browsing in the Dr. Ted Letis collection at the PRC Seminary.

We were on a mission to find some possible correspondence between Gordon Clark and Letis for a contact who will be publishing the letters of Clark in his next book (cf. Doug Douma’s The Presbyterian Philosopher: The Authorized Biography of Gordon H. Clark; Eugene, OR, Wipf & Stock, 2016).

GodfreyKneller-IsaacNewton-1689While we did not find any new correspondence between Letis and Clark in the boxes of containing much of the personal research of Letis, we did find an amazing photocopy of a letter of Sir Isaac Newton (1642 – 1726)- yes, that Newton, the famed mathematician and scientist.

Newton was also a professing Christian, and in 1690 he wrote a letter to a friend expressing his views on biblical-textual matters, which is why the late Dr. Letis was interested in what he had to say. In that letter, Newton wrote to John Locke about two disputed texts in the Bible – I John 5:7 (on the Trinity – “For there are three that bear record in heaven”) and I Timothy 3:16 (about Christ being “God …manifest in the flesh.”).

The letter was published posthumously first in 1754 (in English) and came to be called (from the title Newton himself gave at the top of the letter – cf. below) An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Sacred Scripture, in a Letter to a Friend, from which title you can judge what Newton’s views were. Although Newton was accused of holding anti-trinitarian views because of this, and even claimed by the Arians, the charge does not hold according to this section found on the Internet:

Even though a number of authors have claimed that the work might have been an indication that Newton disputed the belief in Trinity, others assure that Newton did question the passage but never denied Trinity as such. His biographer, scientist Sir David Brewster, who compiled his manuscripts for over 20 years, wrote about the controversy in well-known book Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton, where he explains that Newton questioned the veracity of those passages, but he never denied the doctrine of Trinity as such. Brewster states that Newton was never known as an Arian during his lifetime, it was first William Whiston (an Arian) who argued that “Sir Isaac Newton was so hearty for the Baptists, as well as for the Eusebians or Arians, that he sometimes suspected these two were the two witnesses in the Revelations,” while other like Hopton Haynes (a Mint employee and Humanitarian), “mentioned to Richard Baron, that Newton held the same doctrine as himself”.[67]

The letter went through several published editions, the title page of one of which Letis also had in the sleave with the copy of Newton’s letter. Both of these items I scanned and show you here.

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The photocopied first page of these letters is what Letis had, and he got it from the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford (England), which holds the original letters and their copyright (evident from the stamp on back of photocopy). Below is that copy.INewton-letter-1690-2

For more on the fascinating history and contents of this letter of Newton, visit this page.

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As an added note (now that I have checked the Letis collection again), the library of Letis contained at least five (5) biographies on Isaac Newton, including this one. So, Letis’ interest in Newton was not a passing one.

Spring-Break News from Seminary

It was a quieter than normal week around the Seminary as we enjoyed Spring break 2017. But that does not mean there was not work and activity going on.

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Professors were present for meetings, study, and other office work. Some students came each day for study and special synod 2017 preparation (some of the seniors!). Staff was there to continue the daily office tasks (including work on the April Seminary Journal and the special evangelism/missions issue of the Standard Bearer coming up May 1!).

And I was able to get some library/archives/registrar work done too. Extra library and archives work, in fact, because I didn’t have all the normal interruptions that come with a regular school day.

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Kevin Rau (my able library assistant) and I even had time to take part of a rainy Tuesday for a “booking outing,” as we went to the historic downtown Grand Rapids Public Museum (cf. picture above) to browse their used sale book shelves (bought ten good books for the library for $10!) and take in their beautiful periodical room (see picture below).

After that we traveled to the Eerdmans Publishing building, where they also have a bookstore, including special 60-70-% off shelves. Those were our focus, as we scoured those volumes and picked up about 20 new (slightly blemished) ones for the library. And those I was able to catalog this week and prep for Kevin’s work in the library next Tuesday.

On Wednesday Bob Drnek came in for his usual archives help and we sorted through about 20 boxes of items that had been shipped to us from a family in Loveland, CO PRC. That is always a delight, and we were able to find some new treasures for the PRC archives (including more cassette tapes!) as well as some good used books for the students (which they always seem able to sniff out rather quickly!). We thank those who donate such items to the Seminary and the PRC archives. Don’t forget, we are always looking for items relating to our history!

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In addition to inside work at the Seminary, this is the time of year when attention gets directed to the outside as well. We have been cleaning up the dead and storm-damaged trees and brush in the woods surrounding Seminary. Advantage Tree service cut down some trees last week and came back to grind stumps this week (cf. above picture).

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And yesterday – finally a glorious day of sunshine! – our yard maintenance man, Brad Gritters and his helper, applied some fresh bark to the landscape. That always improves the look of our beautiful new landscape.

Thanks to all those who help maintain our seminary and make the building and grounds look so beautiful!

Yet nothing can top what the Lord of creation and providence does when He gives a gorgeous sunrise as He did one morning this week. I took the picture below and Google Photos gave it a slightly enhanced look. But it truly appeared as if the sky was on fire.

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That’s the news from “seminary hill” for this week!

Published in: on April 8, 2017 at 10:32 AM  Leave a Comment