On Friday evenings in Wellandport, Ontario a group of about 35 girls and 10 counselors (along with 5 Junior Counselors) gather at the church for Bible Study, crafts and fellowship. The opening devotions with the entire club consist of repeating the Guideposts of Kingdom Seekers; our motto from Matthew 6:33; our theme verses from Psalm 119:2, 10 & 11 done responsively and singing the theme song “Seeking God’s Kingdom”. The meeting then moves to a Bible study time of 30–45 minutes in small groups divided according to age (9–13).
The two youngest groups study either Wise Friendships by Rev. K. Anema of Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church of Holland, Mich. or Kingdom Seekers Theme Lessons based on the Matthew 6 passage by Rev. B. Shouwstra of Balmoral, Ontario URC. These lessons bring home the truths of Scripture in a very meaningful way. The girls learn how God’s Word directs every facet of our lives as well as what it means to seek first God’s Kingdom.
The older girls study any one of several Bible lessons written by Dr. P.Y. De Jong of Beecher, Ill; Rev. K. Anema, Rev. A. Bezuyen of St. Catharines, Ont; Rev. J. Dykstra of Wellandport, Ont., and Mr. W. Rang of Dunnville, Ont. We share some refreshments and have a break for about 15 minutes. Then we have about 45 minutes of badge work and/ or craft time.
Aside from the blessings of spending the evening together in this fashion, we are also excited about the fact that this scene is being repeated in over thirty churches across North America.
Beginning in October of 1999 at a meeting of the Niagara area URC’s girls’ club counselors, Kingdom Seekers has since grown quickly. At that meeting the focus was to be on how to find uniformity of Bible lessons among the Niagara area churches girls’ clubs. There was no direction among the six Niagara churches and solid Reformed material was just not available (or so we thought).
Word of this meeting had spread and two other churches from Classis Southern Ontario joined us at our first meeting. Someone suggested that we contact Dr. P. Y. De Jong for lesson material. Talk shifted to starting our own club and things sort of snowballed from there.
A committee was commisioned under the direction of the consistory of Wellandport URC. The commitee consisted of Rev. A. Bezuyen, pastor of Trinity URC of St. Catharines, Ontario; Mr. D. Allen Stares, teacher at heritage Christian School in Jordan, Ontario, Mr. J. Snieder, elder in Wellandport, Ontario; and 3 girls club counselors: Mrs. Ingrid Sikkens of Wellandport, Mrs. Sheila Koning of Hamilton URC and Mrs. Bonnie Baarda of Wellandport.
The committee met for the first time in January 2000 and quickly set to work developing a program known as Kingdom Seekers Girls’ Clubs. Guideposts were selected, a theme song was written (in a rather remarkable way), badges were written and a uniform and logo were designed. Bible study material was submitted by ministers and lay people almost faster than we could read and assess them. There were 20 badges submitted within 6 months. Word spread and soon requests for materials flooded in. What was first thought to be a program for the Niagara area churches soon spread across North America. By September of 2001 a full program was available for churches. To say we were overwhelmed by the requests for such a program would be an understatement.
During the developmental stage the commitee was amazed again and again by the providence and care of our Father in Heaven. We have witnessed God’s leading in so many wonderful ways. In our feeble little minds we thought that only our immediate neighborhood was dissatisfied with the options available to us in the way of girls club programs. We found out very quickly that the need was greater than we thought. Malachi 3:10 is a verse who’s truth has been impressed upon us time and again. “And try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”
Once requests and orders started to come in, we were amazed at the variety of churches contacting us. As of August 2002, there are 32 Kingdom Seekers clubs. Most are in United Reformed Churches but there are also two Canadian Reformed Churches, two Orthodox Presbyterian Churches, two Christian Reformed Churches, and one Orthodox Christian Reformed Church involved. There are also now over thirty badges in the manual as well as a handbook outlining the guidelines for meetings and outings, the recruitment of counselors and the responsibilities of all involved with the program in the local church.
What does it take to begin a Kingdom Seekers Club? A willingness to work in God’s kingdom in youth ministry. There is no membership fee but a there is a charge for Bible material and uniforms. Even though the Bible study lessons go through a three-fold process of screening (Kingdom Seekers committee to Education Committee of Wellandport and then on to consistory) we strongly urge each and every consistory to approve the lessons. If a club ordered every set of the eleven Bible studies offered (order one copy and photocopy as many as you need for your group) a club could have enough material for about ten years, given the five year format of the program. Lessons are available through Reformed Fellowship of Grandville, Michigan.
Badge development is an on-going process. We encourage the submission of badges from anywhere. Most of the badges were written by counselors. One may also order one manual which contains all the badges, counselor helps, handbook, sheet music for the theme song and a copy of the guideposts and photocopy the pertinent pages for the girls and counselors.
We do not stress that a church must use the entire program. There are churches that use the Bible curriculum exclusively. Neither do we limit the program to five years. Some clubs begin at a younger age than nine and include older girls as well.
Information may be obtained from the Kingdom Seekers web site, www.kingdomseekers.org. The site includes printable order forms, a copy of the handbook and a list of contacts with telephone and fax numbers and addresses both web and postal.
Friday nights are special for the girls in Wellandport, but that’s not all that they do as Kingdom Seekers. The girls attend a kick-off in September and a rally in March. At these events there is a speaker, workshops, games, lots and lots of singing and much fellowship with the neighboring clubs. Every other summer the Wellandport club goes camping for three days, usually a Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Devotions are held every morning before we go on with the day. Usually a theme is studied such as a psalm, or a Biblical persons’ life. The highlight of the campout is the campfire of Wednesday evening. The girls are required, with the help of their counselors, to lead a devotional, lead in singing a song out of our songbooks, perform a skit provided by the counselors (these are normally fun in nature) and sing a fun song. We share many a laugh and also many wonderful and meaningful truths are learned from God’s Word.
Most counselors will concur that a season goes much too fast, which leads me to believe that the season has been enjoyed by all. This article was written in August so that means it is soon time to have a counselors’ meeting to decide the focus of the year and assign counselors to age groups, decide which badges to do this year, press the uniform …… so many things to do to get ready for the season. Can’t wait to get started.
Bonnie Baarda is one of the founders of Kingdom Seekers. She lives in Wellandport, Canada.