An Interview with Mrs. Michigan of 1966

We express our appreciation to Miss Johanna Timmer for presenting her interview with Mrs. Gary Vreeman of Holland, Michigan, who has recently chosen “Mrs. Michigan of 1966” and will be competing for the title of “Mrs. America.” Also in such situations there is opportunity to live to God’s praise as a witness to his grace in Christ Jesus our Lord.

REPORTER: Mrs. Vreeman, there must he several reasons why you arc thrilled to have been chosen as Mrs. Michigan. That we of the Reformed faith may also feel justified in being thrilled with you, Torch and Trumpet should like to give you this opportunity to convey your own convictions and feelings in this matter. Mrs. Vreeman, Did the desire to compete in the Mrs. America Contest come up in your own mind?

Mrs. V.: No. My name was submitted by friends and acquaintances to the Mrs. America Panel of Judges, which annually conducts a search for the nation’s outstanding home-maker.

REPORTER: What was your initial reaction to the very idea?

Mrs. V.: Oh no! What do I have to offer that others don’t?

REPORTER: What steps led to your making the decision, as a Christian mother, to enter the contest?

Mrs. V.: I talked about it with my husband and children. They actually influenced me the most. I pondered it with myself, my husband, my family, and my God. Finally I came to the conviction that I had to do it. In fact, I made my decision so late that the initial questionnaire had to go to the judges by air mail special to reach them before the deadline.

REPORTER: Is this a “glamour girl” sort of contest involving worldly activities and appearances in places where a child of God does not belong or appearing in a manner of dress that would disgrace the Christian community?

Mrs. V.: By no means. The official information sheet informs me that “competitive events will require town or street dress wear. These competitive  events are open to the public; so something simple but nice is in order.” They list such leisure time activities as golfing, touring, swimming, fishing, etc.

REPORTER: Will you describe what will be required of you?

Mrs. V.: My first duty as Mrs. Michigan will begin when Mr. Vreeman and I arrive in San Diego, California. After the mayor of San Diego presents me with a key to the city, I shall present him with a symbolic gift from the State of Michigan. Mr. Vreeman and I shall then be interviewed by the full panel of judges.

Next in order of activities will be a Safe-driving, Contest followed by a Luggage Packing Event. The flower arrangement that I have to create must incorporate our state symbol. This will be on display during the entire pageant week. There will also be a competitive event in which I have to communicate for five minutes with a child I have never met before and who doesn’t know me.

In an Interior Design Competition I shall have to do the interior decorating of a room with the use of a kit.

There will also be a Grocery Shopping Contest in which I must purchase, with only ten dollars, all the food items needed for me to prepare and serve a dinner for six people.

The Baked Dessert Competition requires my baking a dessert from either an original or published recipe, using no pre-packaged mixes.

The Laundry Event involves my washing a load of laundry which must include a white, long-sleeved men’s dress shirt which I must iron during the event. In a Home-makers Question and Answer Forum, I must participate in all aspects of home-making.

At the Hostess-at-Home Event I shall be given two minutes to t.ell how I entertain, what type of party I give, what type of activity I have, and what kind of food I serve my guests.

It is their belief that to be whole person each a woman must have a good sense of her own identity, that she should have all outlet or way of expressing her individuality and/or creativity. Therefore 1 must participate in aCreative Expression Event. [Later in this interview Mrs. Vreeman will announce her project. JT.]

The last competitive event is the Money Management Quiz.

REPORTER: What is your deepest reason for being excited about bearing the title, Mrs. Michigan?

Mrs. V.: I am most deeply excited about my opportunity to express to the whole country how I feel about what I like to call house-keeping Christianity.

REPORTER: Might this new honor in any way harm your Christian influence on your ten children?

Mrs. V.: I pray that it won’t. My husband and I pray that our children will accept this honor both graciously and humbly as we are trying to do.

REPORTER: What is Mr. Vreeman’s profession and place of work?

MRS. V.: He is principal of the Rose Park Christian School in Holland.

REPORTER: How does he as the principal of a Christian school justify your functioning as Mrs. Michigan, and, we hope eventually, Mrs. America?

Mrs. V.: Parents of his pupils have expressed. their happiness in there being someone in their church their school, and their community who can represent them nationally. He is happy because he believes that in our day and age we must witness in the larger community. He is happy that this organization is still willing to consider mothers who can symbolize the ideals of the Christian church, of Christian discipline, and of Christian morality.

REPORTER: Where are your children attending school?

Mrs. V.: Some are the Southside Elementary Christian School in Holland, one is the Maplewood Christian Junior High, three are at the Holland Christian High School, and the eldest is at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa.

REPORTER: What importance do you yourself attach to the cause of Christian education?

Mrs. V.: I feel it is one of the important things we give to our children. Perhaps I sense this the more because I did not have the opportunity of getting a Christian education myself.

REPORTER: Mrs. Vreeman, you believe in the sovereignty of God and in His direction in all of life. Can you not only see the hand of God in having been named Mrs. Michigan, but can you also see a divine purpose in having come into a brilliant limelight among the citizens of the Wolverine State?

Mrs. V.: I am not sure what God’s purpose is, but of this I am sure, that He has a purpose in this. I was deeply impressed with the Scriptural reference a friend sent me in a letter of congratulations. It reads, “For the eyes of the Lord flash back and forth over the whole earth to display His strength on behalf of those whose heart is full of integrity toward Him.” II Chronicles 16:9 (Berkeley Version).

REPORTER: Might it, then, have been wrong for you to have rejected this honor?

Mrs. V.: Absolutely. I am sure the Lord gave it to me. I am sure He expects me to use it for the His glory. We are praying that we may see our opportunity to witness so that the others may know that we are children of God.

REPORTER: Mrs. Vreeman, your husband, you, and your children operate the Christian Reformed Conference Grounds north of Holland. Do you think that your being Mrs. Michigan will affect your work and influence at the conference grounds favorably or unfavorably?

Mrs. V.: I think it should be favorable. I see no reason why it shouldn’t be favorable both on the part of the people and favorable on our part in giving us an added opportunity for witnessing.

REPORTER: Likely many people will come to the conference grounds to meet Mrs. Michigan. Will this tend toward making you proud, inefficient, and neglectful of physical and spiritual duties?

Mrs. V.: I certainly hope not, and pray that it won’t.

REPORTER: You are the first Christian Reformed woman, as far as I recall, that has ever received this honor in our country. No doubt, some of our people are wondering whether you can be true to your confession while engaging in the variety of activities that will be asked of you as Mrs. Michigan. During this year the people of Michigan will think that you belong to them, and may therefore at times request your presence under questionable circumstances. Won’t you be tempted to compromise your Christian convictions and thus offend the Christian Reformed communion of which you are a part and particularly the congregation of which you are a member?

Mrs. V.: I see no reason why. The agreement reads thus: “The contestant agrees to conduct herself at all times in such a manner as is consistent with the highest moral and ethical standards, and agrees to refrain from any act, which, in the sole discretion of Mrs. America, Inc., is deemed detrimental to and in depreciation of the interests of Mrs. America, Inc.” Again, “Contestants shall comply with all reasonable requests by Mrs. America, Inc. in connection with its promotion, exploitation, and publicity.” I would consider any un-Christianity request unreasonable. One of the questions they asked me was, “What part does the church play in your life?” I answered, “An unqualified first place.”

REPORTER: Will there be any competitive activity in the Mrs. America Contest which will give you a particularly good opportunity to let your light shine?

Mrs. V.: Yes, because as my talent in the Creative Expression Event I intend to present a broadcast exactly like the kind I do daily from my home over radio station WJBL in which I include a spiritual meditation and house-wifely philosophy. I shall be especially mindful of using this presentation as my real Christian witness.

REPORTER: Mrs. Vreeman, as a Calvinist you believe that you must strive to do everything to the glory of God. This means that you must be a mother, you must cook, bake, wash, paint, direct music, manage money, communicate with children, broadcast, give book reviews, et cetera, to the glory of God. How can you possibly do this faithfully as Mrs. Michigan?

Mrs. V.: I believe that as Mrs. Vreeman I have tried, in my home and community, to use all talents and abilities God has given me for His glory. As Mrs. Michigan I must and want to do this in a larger sphere.

REPORTER: Mrs. Yreeman, have you a special concluding word to direct to the readers of Torch and Trumpet and through them to Calvinists everywhere?

Mrs. V.: I hope and pray that this opportunity given to me by the Lord may be used to convey to the whole country the influence that a Christ-centered home has in the community. Dear readers, I deeply covet the prayers of everyone of you.

REPORTER: Mrs. Vreeman, it is our hope and prayer, that the Lord will watch over you in all your ways as Mrs. Michigan, that He will over-rule for the glory of our triune God, for your own good, for joy find blessing to your family, neighbors, and friends, and for the advancement of God’s kingdom in Michigan and, we hope, eventually in America. “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy paths.”