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  

PRC Archives – Adams CS Class of 1961

Recently a PRC member wanted some old pictures of Adams Christian School here in Grand Rapids (now located in Wyoming, MI), so I found the box of archived items on this school and she had some items scanned for her use.

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But left in the folder was a 1961 yearbook – the “Spotlight”, as it was called then. I browsed through it and found some interesting pages that I thought could be shared today here.

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For one thing, the dedication was a nice tribute to the work of Mr. Fred Hanko, as you will see from the above page.

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The mention of his coaching in various sports made me locate the sports team pages and sure enough, Mr. Hanko coached both the boys basketball and football teams.

Yes, FOOTBALL team! And to quite a successful season too – undefeated – and not by slim margins either (note those scores!)! I can’t imagine this was tackle football, so perhaps flag. Someone from Adams can confirm. But it brought back memories of the tumbling class Mr. Hanko taught us during gym class when I was at Hope school. That was a lot of fun!

You may also note some familiar names and faces on that basketball team – including a certain PRC minister of some stature (back row in the center). It seems that this team had it struggles on the court, but still counted it a successful season. Mr. Hanko taught them sportsmanship well.

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Now this last posted page is interesting too. I believe you will notice some familiar people on those intramural teams as well as on the “safety squad.” Can you guess what the latter group’s role was? And that teacher in the upper left-hand corner, I believe that is my former 4th grade teacher at Hope – Miss W. Koole, now in glory (along with at least one other in this picture).

What a blessing our Christian schools and teachers are!

PRC Archives: YP’s Convention and Mystery Photo #1 of 2017

We are overdue for some pictures from the PRC archives! So, on this Friday we will have some fun and include TWO items – and make them into mystery photo contests too.

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The first is from the 1957 Young People’s Convention held in…. (You didn’t think I was going to tell you everything, now, did you? That’s part of your responsibility to find out.) But I am sure you will recognize some of these young people and members of the crowd in the photos above and below. Some are clear; others you will have to work harder at.

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The question with these photos is not only who are the people in the numbered pictures, but WHERE was the 1957 YPC held? And if you were an attender, let us know – and whether you made it into one of these pics!

Our second photo is a mystery PRC church building one. It’s in a folder by itself in the archives photo file cabinet. But it’s an important church from our past, so take a stab at it and see what you can guess.

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Have fun! Friday fun! Can’t wait to hear back! 🙂

Published in: on February 24, 2017 at 2:26 PM  Comments (4)  

Michigan Service Hub Collections now live in DPLA! | Michigan Archival Association

On our history/archive day we will broaden our scope a bit and mention this news that came from the Michigan Archival Association this week.

It concerns collections of digital archive material from our state of Michigan that are now part of a larger digital archival collection – the national “Digital Public Library of America.” Below is the full news item as sent out by the MAA:

On January 31st, DPLA (Digital Public Library of America) announced that collections from the Michigan Service Hub are now live and ready to view!

Quoting from the announcement, “As of this week, the Michigan Hub partners have made 42,000 new items discoverable in DPLA and plan to add more in the future.

Michigan’s contributions to DPLA are rich in the state’s local history and culture including the auto industries of the Motor City, but that’s not all – look for collections and items representing such diverse topics as Civil War soldiers’ experiences, cookbooks, botany, and social protest posters.”

Follow the link below to the full official DPLA announcement and then on to the Michigan collections!
https://dp.la/info/2017/01/31/michigan-service-hub-collections-now-live/

And on that link you find the news reported this way by the DPLA:

We are pleased to announce that the collections of the Michigan Service Hub are officially ‘live’ in DPLA and ready to explore! Accepted to the DPLA network in 2015, the Michigan Service Hub represents a collaborative effort between the Library of Michigan, University of Michigan, Wayne State University, Michigan State University, Western Michigan University and the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services. As of this week, the Michigan Hub partners have made 42,000 new items discoverable in DPLA and plan to add more in the future.

Michigan’s contributions to DPLA are rich in the state’s local history and culture including the auto industries of the Motor City, but that’s not all – look for collections and items representing such diverse topics as Civil War soldiers’ experiences, cookbooks, botany, and social protest posters.

Take a peek below at some of the newly-added materials from the Michigan Service Hub and start exploring today!

It then goes on to point to this special item as an example of what you may find in the Michigan collection:

This Civil War pocket diary was kept by Union soldier Augustus Yenner and is one of several digitized as part of Western Michigan University’s United States Civil War collection. On New Year’s Day, 1863, Yenner wrote of the difficult conditions from a Kentucky battlefield: “Oh such a morn & day will never be forgotten, as long as reason remains, We lay in the frosty air & frozen ground…

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Source: Michigan Service Hub Collections now live in DPLA! | Michigan Archival Association

PRC Archives – Sermon Conversions

Over the last few years the PRC archives has received an abundance of sermons by PRC ministers on cassette tapes. Add to that the multitude (boxes!) of reel-to-reel sermon tapes already in the archives, mostly organized and cataloged, but nothing more.

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Special tapes and covers Rev. B. Woudenberg made and donated.

These are both magnetic types of tape, with a shelf-life of 25 years we were told. We are well beyond that. And yet, amazingly, these tapes have preserved the sermons. The problem is (among other things), these sermons are not accessible, and they ought to be. And they ought to be preserved digitally (mp3), which will also make them more accessible.

In the last year we have begun to organize the hundreds (thousands?!) of cassette tapes, cataloging them by minister, text, and sermon title, as well as occasion (if special). Kevin Rau did some initial sorting, but now Bob Drnek with help from his wife Anne has been making a master list of what we have.

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All the equipment we need for cassette conversion!

And now, he and I have begun to convert them to mp3. Right now, we are doing cassettes, using some old players we have (note my personal custom boombox!), an audio cable, a PC, and a a free software program called “Audacity.” We can get it set up, let them run, and go about our other business – he at home and I at Seminary.

The results are that we have better preserved these sermons and made them accessible. Where are they?, you ask. Saved in the cloud, for one thing. And gradually, I am also uploading them to the PRC website, audio sermon section. And because we are focusing on the oldest of the sermons and mostly our deceased former ministers, you will find them going mainly under the “Classic PRC Sermons” section. Check it out when you get the chance.

A recent one that was referred to by Prof. R. Dykstra in his recently completed Interim course (The History of the PRC Schism of 1953) is that by Rev. Richard Veldman (former minister at SE PRC in Grand Rapids, MI) on Q&A 74 of the Heidelberg Catechism (“Infant Baptism”) – a marvelous defense of our covenant view and the place of children in that covenant of grace. Listen to it and be edified!

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Bob D tinkering with the reel-to-reel machine. We are glad no one recorded us “mad scientists” trying to thread our first trial tape!

We are also preparing to convert the reel-to-reel sermons. We found some old equipment downstairs at Seminary (3 reel-to-reel players/recorders), and tried them all. The newest-looking one – a nice Sony machine – worked the best, but needs to be repaired. This week I found a shop that specializes in this (Blackies’ Radio and TV), so soon we will also be able to start on these tapes. There are some gems tucked away in the archives room.

Do we want any more old cassettes or reel-to-reel tapes? Of course! We would never turn them away. There is history in these tapes! Not just preaching history, but also special programs, congregational anniversaries, lectures, etc. Bring them in! Just not all at once. 🙂 Thanks for all the donations we have received!

Lest we forget, the PRC 100th anniversary is approaching. We are looking for archive material of ALL kinds. Think about what YOU can donate for the preservation – and enhancement – of our history! Documents, pictures, tapes, etc. We will be grateful for anything you have.

PRC Archives: First PRC Music Programs, 1941-1964

‘Tis the season for programs.

As you know, during the Christmas and New Year seasons numerous church choir and Sunday School programs are held, besides those which our Christian schools produce and perform. From this point of view, too, it is a wonderful time of the year. I speak as a music lover, as I enjoy and am edified by a variety of Christian music.

Which made we remember that in the PRC archives we also collect many church programs – that is, the printed versions. Our First PRC in Grand Rapids used to have many such music programs (entire oratorios, in fact), in part because of her size and thus in part because of the musical talent in her midst. She also had the Radio Choir (connected with the Reformed Witness Hour program), which produced her own programs and also sponsored others (cf. below).

In looking up a folder in one of First’s boxes in the archives, I found these miscellaneous programs, which I share with you today. It will give you a sense of the variety of music programs she once prepared and hosted. Undoubtedly, you will also recognize a few names. 🙂

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1stprc-gr-programs_00031stprc-gr-programs_00041stprc-gr-programs_0005And, I might add, though she is considerably smaller today then she was in her prime (one of the largest Reformed congregations in the U.S.), First PRC still has terrific musical talent in her midst – evident from the fine programs she still hosts.

 

 

RWH at 75 – 1950 WFUR Contract & Coverage Map

As noted here throughout this year, in 2016 (October 12, to be exact) the Reformed Witness Hour radio program sponsored by the Protestant Reformed Churches turned 75 years old (1941-2016).

We have been marking this significant event with features on different aspects of the program. To this point we have not spoken much about  stations, so today we will do that.

The RWH was first broadcast on WLAV-AM (yes, that’s correct, for those of you who know something about the FM station)! And, you may recall, in the early years these broadcasts were done live from the sanctuary of First PRC in Grand Rapids, MI.

But early on the RWH also contracted with the Christian station WFUR to carry the broadcast – on AM and FM. The William Kuiper family (owners) has been faithful supporters of our program over all these years, and you may know that they are still involved personally with the station as announcers (Steve and others). We are most grateful for their loyal support.

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In the RWH files now preserved in the PRC archives I found an old contract with this station from 1950, as well as a coverage map. Both contain some interesting statistics as well as history.

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Did you know that the station was owned and managed by the “Furniture City Broadcasting Corporation”? Maybe now you will figure out why the call letters of the station are what they are. You will see what the contract amount was back in 1950. What do you think it is today?

But here is a more important question: if you live in the Grand Rapids, MI area, do you listen to the RWH program each Sunday? It is broadcast twice – at 8 am and at 4 pm. If you are not a regular listener, don’t you think it’s about time you became one?:)

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PRC/RWH Archives – H. Hoeksema Christmas Message, December 23, 1945

The Reformed Witness Hour is a special radio ministry of First PRC in Grand Rapids, MI and supported broadly by the Protestant Reformed Churches in America. This past October, the RWH program celebrated its 75th anniversary (1941-2016).

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In the early years of the program, the RWH messages were recorded on glass records, which had been stored for years in First PRC (the images here are of some we have saved in the archives room – from the Dutch version of the RWH program used in the 40s and 50s).

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While we do have copies of the printed form of all the old RWH messages (in the PRC archives and in the Seminary library – cf. the image of the first page of HH’s message featured here), we do not have all the audio recordings, partly because the early ones were in this glass record form.

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A few years back, we sold the equipment that played these records but asked the buyer to help us convert these recordings to CDs. He has been working (slowly) to clean the records, restore them, and convert them.

hh-oldLast night at our RWH Committee meeting we had in hand the first sample of his efforts. And we believe we have been richly rewarded. The recording is amazingly clear and crisp. This first preserved audio message from the glass records is a message by Herman Hoeksema dated December 23, 1945. It is titled “The Meaning of Bethlehem” and is based on Luke 2:11.

I have uploaded the file and posted it on the PRC website under the audio sermons. You may find it here (as well as at the link with the title above). Enjoy and be edified by this part of our RWH history – newly preserved!

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