Dear friends of the Seminary,
The 2019 school year has begun well. Pray that we may finish well too, since the Lord calls us always to “endure to the end.” The labors are a joy as we do them in Christ’s name and for His church. But the devil always assaults, too, so please keep the seminary in your personal, family, and congregational prayers.
This school year is different from others in several ways.
First, Rev. Brian Huizinga is now Professor Huizinga. On September 4, at a full sanctuary of Grandville (MI) PRC where he and his family will be members, Rev. Huizinga was installed as Professor of Dogmatics and Old Testament Studies. Prof. R. Cammenga, whose position Prof. Huizinga is taking, preached the
sermon from Acts 27:23, Paul’s confession and expression of trust in God when his ship was sinking, “Whose I Am and Whom I Serve.” The sermon is also found in this issue. Prof. Huizinga will spend two years preparing to teach. He takes courses at Calvin Theological Seminary and Puritan Reformed Seminary, and intends to obtain his degree from Calvin. Welcome, Professor Huizinga, the seminary’s fifth professor of Dogmatics and Old Testament and the seminary’s eleventh professor since the beginning of this institution in 1925.
Professor Doug Kuiper (taking over the church history department from Prof. R. Dykstra) finished his preparatory studies in April when he defended his Master’s thesis (ThM.) on the legacy of Rev. George Ophoff for the PRCA. The thesis is published, available for purchase through the seminary, and a very interesting and valuable read. Prof. Kuiper is teaching three courses this semester: Greek Grammar (in preparation for teaching Greek reading), Hermeneutics (the principles of interpreting Scripture), and a new course he created for the seminary, Research Methodology.
That is a common question we get. “Now that the new professors are in place, what are Professors Cammenga and Dykstra doing?” The short answer: They are still teaching full time. The explanation is that, over 30 years ago, the churches adopted a wise transition plan for professor replacement. When a professor turns 65, the churches begin the process of obtaining his replacement. The key word is begin because the process takes five years. First, synod calls a new man to replace the professor who turned 65. If he accepts synod’s appointment, he begins to prepare for the specific areas he will teach, taking classes at area seminaries in order to obtain a degree that is higher than the one our seminary grants to its graduates. This study takes two years, during which time the newly elected professor does not teach at all. The man he replaces continues his regular, full-time labors during those two years. In the third year, the new man begins teaching some of the courses, the older man retaining most of them. At the end of the five years (if God so wills to give health) the older man is declared emeritus (ceases his full-time labors, but retains the office of minister) and the new professor teaches all the courses.
Prof. Dykstra and his replacement, Prof. Kuiper, are beginning the third year of the five-year transition. Prof. Cammenga and his replacement, Prof. Huizinga, are beginning the first of the five-year transition. The replacement of the undersigned, God willing, will be called in two years, the year in which he turns 66.
The plan is wise, enabling the new man to prepare well, and continuing to use the gifts of the older man in the process. Professors Cammenga and Dykstra are as busy as they ever have been. We are thankful for that.
Two of our six full-time students are from our sister church, Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church (CERC) in Singapore—Josiah Tan and Marcus Wee. Both Mr. Tan (in his fourth year) and Mr. Marcus (in his second) are married and have two children. The class of first-year students includes four men. Doner Bartolon, originally from Mexico and then Spokane, now a member of our First PRC in Grand Rapids, is married and has two children. Jeremy Helms and his wife are members of our Georgetown PRC in Hudsonville, MI. Matt Koerner is a member of our Southeast PRC in Grand Rapids. Isaac Peters is from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPCA) in Tasmania, Australia. The EPCA and the PRCA have corresponding relations. Since 1994 we have had the privilege of training four of the EPC’s ministers. We are thankful to have Mr. Peters among us. He and his wife and four children attend Grace PRC in Standale, MI.
The unique nature of the present student body is that four are from foreign countries and only two have expressed intentions of becoming ministers in the PRCA. Please include in your prayers that the Lord provide students who aspire to the ministry—both for our sister churches and our own denomination.
In the seminary entrance is a framed sign with a quote from John Calvin when the French Reformed Churches pleaded with him for ministers. In a figure of speech, Calvin responded, “Send us wood, and we will send you arrows.” When the convocation speech last year mentioned that, the next day a close friend and supporter of the seminary brought to the speaker’s home a slab of rough-cut wood. Of course, from it we would make ‘arrows’ (ministers) for the churches. An idea was born that day, and the fruit of it is hanging in the seminary entrance. See the picture of the sign on this page.
People of God, the churches need ‘arrows.’ Please send us wood.
Not to be overlooked in this news article is this past year’s building addition and this summer’s library remodel. Synod 2018 approved a significant addition of an archives storage room. The old archives room downstairs was not nearly large enough for our holdings and had some risk of catastrophic loss. The new room (about 25×60 feet) has more than double the capacity of the old and is much more easily accessible now, just off the library. Included in this addition are two spacious offices that can be used temporarily by the older professors who are still active while the newly appointed professors are in the process of replacing them. Eventually, the offices can be used for library and for archive research. While the addition was being completed, the entire library was remodeled. Originally built in 1995, the library was due for an update. The picture here does not do justice to the fine work done to make the library not only beautiful, but more functional for the students and faculty.
We hear that the Theological School Committee may be planning an open house. If that happens, we hope to see many of you here!
For the faculty,
Prof. B. Gritters, Rector