In my last article (January 2006), I explained the purpose and basic function of the Federation Board. The Board serves as a central guide and coordinator of the works and activities done by and for the young people of our denomination. Much of this work simply involves the normal tasks and decisions necessary for managing any organization. For example, we look at financial reports which have to do with the Beacon Lights, PR Scholarship Fund, or convention. We approve the expenditures of these groups, give them financial support when needed, and nominate officers. These are the ordinary tasks that must be done in order to keep the Federation running smoothly in all its parts. One of the important parts that needs year-long attendance is the Young Peoples’ Convention which I would like to spend some time talking about.
The PRYP Convention has been an annual tradition in our denomination since the late 1930s and early 1940s. Along with the Federation of Young People’s Societies, which emerged at the same time, it was viewed as a very worthwhile event which encouraged spiritual growth, friendship and fellowship among the young people. Since the humble beginnings of the PRC, it has been a very small denomination, and thus, from the beginning it has been important for its people to cling tightly to each other. In the late 1930s, concerned members saw the need for activities and events which would provide good opportunities for their young people to meet others of the same faith and walk of life. The convention was born as an excellent way to do this, and it has remained such for over sixty years. At the convention, Protestant Reformed young people from all around the country and from Canada are able to meet others of their age who have the same beliefs. They share experiences together which serve their spiritual growth and bind many of them together with the ties of Christian friendship. Having gone to four conventions myself, I can truly say that this is the case. The PRYP Convention is an event of inestimable value for the lives of our young people.
Having said all this, let’s take a look at this year’s convention which is being hosted by the Doon and Hull churches. First of all, as with all conventions, there will be a spiritual theme around which everything is centered. This year’s theme will be “Running the Race,” a phrase based on Hebrews 12:1. There we read, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” This is the text, then, which will form the basis for the speeches as well. The first speech will be given by Rev. G. Eriks who will look at the course on which we are running. In the second speech, Rev. A. Brummel will address the discipline that is required of us runners. Finally, in the third speech, Rev. D. Overway will speak on the strength we runners need in order to be victorious. These speeches will undoubtedly address the young people in their particular age and station of life. They will be an excellent opportunity for them to learn and grow spiritually side by side with each other. In addition to the speeches, the young people will have the opportunity to look into God’s Word themselves in discussion groups. They will study and discuss certain topics and see what the Bible has to say about them.
After beginning each day with these discussion groups, the young people will have opportunity to enjoy some pretty interesting activities! The organizers of this year’s events intend to give conventioneers a good-sized dose of what it means to have fun in Iowa! On Tuesday, conventioneers will discover themselves drifting down the Rock River right in the heart of Lyon County (for those of you familiar with the area). I’m told that they may discover some roving cattle on their way, but I don’t think there’s any need to worry J. On Wednesday, conventioneers are in for a good ole’ time with what is being called “Iowa’s Almost Anything Goes.” I think for the parents’ sake we must emphasize the “almost” part of the name. However, for you conventioneers, consider the possibilities! Included in this will be a fire-fighting tournament, a dunking tank, and rounds of volleyball like you’ve never played it before—in the mud! Finally, on Thursday, conventioneers go off to the fair, but not to any ordinary fair. At this country fair you will be creating the entertainment yourselves. Let’s just say there won’t be any “No Touching” signs by the hog and cattle pens!
On each night after the speech, there will be plenty more time for fun and fellowship. As you are all deeply pondering the speeches and discussing them with your new and old friends, you can see how the message applies to you when you participate in further events. During events like mixers, hayrides, bonfires, and sports, you can enjoy activities and fellowship “with so great a cloud of witnesses,” and begin running “with patience the race that is set before us.” On the last night, Thursday, the traditional banquet will conclude the convention, and late Friday morning the conventioneers will have to part ways.
So on behalf of the Fed Board and the host churches, I strongly encourage the young people from all our churches to attend the convention, and I ask the parents to urge them to go too. Our Protestant Reformed Churches have always been a small band that desperately needs there to be friendship and communion among its members. The PRYP Convention is one outstanding way to form Christian friendships with those of the same faith. In addition, it is a whole week dedicated to the benefit of the young people. They are fed with the Word of God as it applies directly to them, and they are given times of fun and excitement to enjoy God’s world and apply His Word to their behavior. The Iowa group has done a great job so far, and they would love to see a good turnout, so get ready to make the trip to beautiful Northwest Iowa where spiritual edification and Christian fellowship await you.