HUDSONVILLE – Reformed Youth Services, a new youth ministry designed to assist youth leaders and young people in churches dedicated to the historic Reformed faith, commenced its ministry May 1. Ed DeGraaf, Jr. was appointed as director of Reformed Youth Services.
According to Rev. Stephen Arrick, board chairman, Reformed Youth Services will serve as a reference point for like-minded youth leaders.
“We hope to provide the resource support for local church youth groups which will help them to be more effective in their ministry,” Arrick said. “We need material that is Reformed, things people are able to use and do without hesitation. Our hope is that this organization will develop a ministry that is distinctly Reformed.”
The director, who will be accountable to a board representing six churches, as well as to the council of Cornerstone Church in Hudsonville, MI, is expected to seek out the development of Reformed youth curriculum, Bible studies and speakers, review and recommend existing materials, coordinate special events and initiate and organize service activities and projects.
Reformed Youth Services will publish leader and youth newsletters as well as a variety of other publications. The director will also serve as a liaison to the Kyrie youth convention by serving on its planning committee.
DeGraaf, 38, is a 1980 graduate of Calvin College where he majored in Sociology and minored in English. From 1989 to 1992, he served as a publications editor for the Young Calvinist Federation, editing its leaders’ newsletter and various related publications.
Ed and his wife, Cheryl, have been senior high youth leaders at Cornerstone Church since 1992 and have been members of the Kyrie convention planning committee since its inception in 1994. A former deacon, Ed has also covered high school sports for weekly newspapers in the Grand Rapids area on a full or part-time basis for the past 11 years. The DeGraafs are expecting their first child in late July.
Charter member churches include: Bethel CRC, Jenison; Beverly CRO, Wyoming; Cornerstone, Hudsonville; Cutlerville IRC; Eastmanville Reformed Bible Church; First CRC, South Holland, IL; Immanuel Fellowship, Kalamazoo; Kettle Lake IRC, Alto; Lynwood CRO, Lynwood, IL; Oak Glen Covenant Community, Lansing, IL; Messiah’s IRC, Holland; Pompton Plains Reformed Bible Church, Pompton Plains, NJ; Seventh Reformed Church, Grand Rapids; and Trinity Reformed Bible Church, Byron Center.
The idea for RYS originated at Seventh Reformed Church as an outgrowth of the Kyrie convention. In October of 1995 Cornerstone Church’s council agreed to be the supervising council for the ministry.
Reformed Youth Services will benefit leaders by serving as a network of encouragement and support. “It gives them an opportunity to share ideas,” said Andrew VanderMaas, youth director at Seventh Reformed Church. “Reformed Youth Services can also provide direction in the area of resources. Plus, it will hopefully encourage connectedness among Reformed youth by sponsoring special events.”
The ministry will be housed in Bethel Independent Reformed Church in Jenison, MI.