December 1, 1971 Dear Brethren and Sister in the Lord:
In this letter we wish to share with you some information and some thoughts about the outlook for the future of our seminary. As faculty, we are undoubtedly closer to the day to day operation of the school and have a closer knowledge of its present and future needs than any others. Yet the seminary is the school of our churches and their membership. And by this we mean not merely the Synod and the Theological School Committee and the Consistories; but we mean YOU as congregations and people of God. For this reason you ought to know about our school and its operation and its needs, so that you can make these matters your conscious concern in your prayers, in your discussions and fellowship with one another, and in your giving of support.
Especially do we wish to convey to you a sense ofurgency with respect to the needs of our seminary for the immediate future.
There are needs which will have to be met, if at all possible, in the very near future; and delay in meeting them will be harmful for the work of our school and our churches.
You will all recall that for several years the outlook with respect to future ministers in our churches seemed rather bleak. We had a rather severe shortage of ministers; and we did not have many students, or ministers to be. From our congregations and people many urgent prayers ascended to the throne of grace, asking that the Lord would raise up young men in our churches for the ministry. And this need was stressed among us by means of the spoken and the written word, too.
Well, the Lord has heard and is hearing these prayers. And He is not stingy in His answers to our prayers. He is providing abundantly.
Evidence? Here are some facts. For the past few years we have had seven students in our seminary—more than in many years. For the first time in very many years—going back to 1953—there will be a graduating class, the Lord willing, of four at the end of our current term,
Still more. At a faculty conference about some of. these matters not long ago, we listed the names of young men of whom we knew that they were interested in pre seminary training, and, eventually, seminary training. We soon had a list of eight names in addition to the men who are already in our school. Some of these have already begun their pre sem work; some are hoping to begin it in the fall of next year. These are young men who have been in touch with the faculty; there may even be others who have not yet contacted us. This also, remember, is an answer to our prayers! The Lord is busy providing the young men whom we asked Him to raise up!
The question is: what is the significance of this for our churches and our seminary?
Our last Synod confronted this question, and its answer was: our thankful response to the Lord’s answer to our prayers must be that we make provision for the training of these young men. To this end, Synod adopted plans for a pre seminary program in our school. This beginning of a pre sem course was to be initiated in the fall of 1972. And, as you know, a third professor was also called; but the Lord did not lead anyone to accept that call last summer.
This only serves to make matters mote urgent, however. The pre sem program has been adopted, and remains to be carried out. But besides, there are pre seminarians ready to follow that program and to be trained! Some of them have frankly expressed an eagerness to get their training as much as possible in our own school. They are virtually knocking on the door of our school already. And you see, these young men are faced by the practical problem of planning their courses, but of not knowing what to figure on as far as pre sem training in our own school is concerned. Someone might say: let them go to college for a year first. But there are several problems connected with this? One problem is that they cannot even plan any college work without knowing what they can expect to get from our own school. Which subjects shall they take? Which subjects will they be able to get with us? How soon can they plan on coming to our own school? one year? two? Another very serious problem they face is: which college shall I attend? Where can I get the necessary courses not only, but also where can I get training which is not downright detrimental from the point of view of Protestant Reformed principles? Both of those latter questions are becoming increasingly difficult to answer, you know.
There are other aspects which could be mentioned. But the above should give you some insight into this very urgent problem for our churches and our school,
Beloved, think about these things. And pray much! Pray that the Lord will keep us faithful and make us zealous to perform our calling. Pray for the School Committee and the faculty, who must wrestle with these problems. Pray, too, that the Lord will in due time provide us with another professor, so that the work of our school may go forward. Pray, too, for our students and students-to be, that they may be encouraged in their purpose to prepare for the ministry, and that the Lord may open the way for them. And let us unitedly work for the advancement and enlargement of the work of our seminary. Ora et laboral! Pray and labor!
Your brethren in the Lord,
P.S. A special note to our pre sems and future pre sems: keep in touch with us; and we will try to keep you posted on developments. Perhaps in the near future we can give you some more definite information and advice on your course.