A Church Was Transplanted
By Henry Nyman
A CHURCH WAS TRANSPLANTED
What moved people to emigrate? For some this was not a hard question to answer. But when it is of such magnitude, we speak of thousands. Only once before, in the mid eighteen hundreds when severe poverty and potato famine brought many immigrants to the new world. After world war two, after ten years of depression and five years of war and occupation. Yes, these were some of the reasons. In the late forties and early fifties, there was a movement or spirit, if you like, to make emigration the centre of thought, talk, and media. The liberation by the Canadian soldiers made many a head turn to Canada; a bond was made with the Canadians. Comparisons were made of countries who opened its doors to new immigrants. Some went to
New Zealand or Australia, some to South Africa or Argentina, the U.S.A. and Canada. Many chose to go to Canada; others would simply follow friends or family. Not everyone had the same reason to emigrate, but we stand in awe " That many" ?
The first boat with emigrants left the Netherlands, in July 1947. The second boat left that same year in September. Boats that were used for troops during the war were used for emigrants' boats.
The Christian emigration society did a lot for the cause, to assure employment and living area for the immigrants. Many immigrants went through emotional hardship; the move was a big undertaking.
Looking back we can only conclude, it was God's doing to bring so many people of one faith. May we ask fifty years later what is God's will for us and our church. We are thankful for the missionaries that were here to help us, to establish this Church, a Canadian Church who may proclaim the Gospel, and share the Word with each other, in clubs, societies, and in the home. In family visits, often the elders came away with new encouragement and blessings from those he visited. In our short history, sometimes we can compare our church with the children of Israel, the trek through the wilderness. We are eager to receive the blessings from God. But we too grumbled like the Israelites, and drove our leaders to hit the rock instead of speaking to it. We pass on the Word of God to our children: did we as well pass on the negative? A question we must answer for ourselves.
Several societies were started. The young people society was started by Mr. John VanDyk. To show their appreciation the young people made him an honourary member. In the early years we had big groups in the young people society. At one time we counted seventy two at one of our rallies at roll call.
In the early fifties we divided our society in three groups, the young women society [Tabitha] and the young men society [Ora et labora] and the junior group. The number of young people would change over the years, corresponding to
the number of younger or older families in the church. The young people society were affiliated with the league in early years the Eastern Ontario League. This was split and the Quinte League was formed. It took a lot of travelling and often we would have the All-Ontario League meetings. In 1956 we had the Convention of the Young Calvinist Federation in Hamilton. The theme of the convention was “Revive Us Again, Revival In Our Life”. Over 4000 young people attended this convention.
Several societies were started: The men society and the women society. Later we would call them just study groups. But in the early times these were official with a board, affiliated with a district league and a the Federation. Most Bible discussions were in the Dutch language, but were changed to English. The women society divided in the Dutch and the English. One group was called Ruth and the other Mary, Martha. The men society was known to struggle to get new members interested. Did Bible study lose interest, or are we really too occupied with other more important things?
A Christian school society was started in 1952, but were unable to start a Christian school. The society sponsored the Vacation Bible School. We were able to support the Belleville Christian High School and the Belleville Christian School. Later we were able to join the Sonrise Christian Academy.
When the Christian School society joined the Sonrise Christian Academy, the work that was done for the vacation bible school was taken over by the evangelism society of the Church.
Mission work was sometimes limited. We could support the mission work through the denomination, the Foreign Missions. or the Home Missions. As a church we supported Rev. M. DeBerdt in Japan until he retired. Later we supported the
Cater family in the Honduras, later in Costa Rico.
But evangelism in our own surroundings has been very difficult. The evangelism society for many years organized the beach service, sometimes the question: Is it an evangelism, a service to the tourist or members of our church?
The vacation bible school in Bloomfield was always an enjoyable time for the children and teachers.
All societies that serve the church are needed to sustain the church and its people with all its up and downs. One thing certain is the words of our Saviour: "I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH." These words of our Saviour are often comforting for our people, or even to the church.
Do we become disillusioned when our vision does not come into reality, or are some more aggressive than others in their pursuit? Do we see the Church as the bride of Christ, waiting for the bridegroom, who adorns itself for His coming?
We are part of this Church and we may boast that we hold the torch and hold it high.
In the fifty years we did not excel in numbers, but we have shown our love and care for each other. We are thankful to God to give us the ability and the means to give of the Blessings we received, to maintain our Church.
That our hearts always be open in the years ahead of us, that this will always be "Bethany" where Jesus meets his friends.