As always a new school-year brings changes. It happens that this year, there are more changes than usual at the seminary. One change is that our long-time registrar, Mr. Don Doezema, has retired. Mr. Doezema has fulfilled the duties of registrar faithfully for some thirty years and we are grateful for his dedicated service. Mr. Charles Terpstra, the seminary’s librarian, has now assumed also the registrar’s duties. We want to encourage all young men who have aspirations for the ministry to contact Mr. Terpstra. If you are a senior in high school and intend to take a pre-seminary track in college, contact Mr. Terpstra. He can send you a seminary catalog, which lists all the courses that are prerequisites that must be met in order to qualify for entrance into the seminary. He can sit down with you and discuss your college schedule in order to ensure that you meet all the required prerequisites. He can talk with you about college scheduling, about the possibility of taking pre-seminary Greek at the seminary, which is our strong preference, and answer any questions that you might have. That future students contact the registrar also enables us to make projections and lay some plans for future course offerings. Mr. Terpstra can be reached at the seminary: (616) 531-1490. Anyone who desires a seminary catalog can stop by the seminary and pick one up, send a letter requesting that one be mailed, or find it online at www.prca.org/seminary/website/catalog. Inquiries should be directed to: Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary, 4949 Ivanrest Avenue, Wyoming, MI 49418.
As always, the faculty is assisted this year by our faithful faculty secretary, Mrs. Judi Doezema. For many years now Mrs. Doezema has answered the phone and directed calls, assisted the faculty with keyboarding, photocopying and collating study materials, checking out and returning library books, taking care of the seminary bookstore, assisting students in many different ways, and a host of other tasks. Although we often take her for granted, we would be lost without her. But working quietly behind the scenes, she undoubtedly makes our work much easier.
Our Student Body
One big change from the last few years is the number of students in the seminary. We currently have eleven students in our student body, nine of whom are first-year students. With all the new students, the seminary is a beehive of activity. At present Mr. Joshua Engelsma is completing his six-month internship. He, his wife Courtney, and their three children, Calvin, Charlotte, and Noah, are currently living in Lansing, Illinois while he completes his internship in the Peace Protestant Reformed Church, under the mentoring of Rev. Clayton Spronk.
Mr. Ryan Barnhill is our only third-year student. He and his wife Miranda and baby daughter Mya attend the Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church. Mr. Barnhill was licensed to speak a word of edification in the churches this past spring. Since that time many of you have had him lead the worship services in your congregation. Mr. Barnhill’s family went through a severe trial this summer in the death of his mother, Mrs. Mary Barnhill, to cancer. We trust that God arranges all these circumstances and uses them, too, in His preparing of Mr. Barnhill for the work of the ministry. Besides preaching in the churches, Mr. Barnhill also teaches two catechism classes in our vacant Faith PRC.
We have no second-year students.
The Lord has answered our prayers and blessed us with nine first-year students. Mr. Matthew DeBoer is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Doug DeBoer. He is a recent graduate of Calvin College and is a member of the Hudsonville PRC. Mr. Brian Feenstra is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ryan Feenstra. Brian is married to Tabitha and they have an infant son, Tyce. He is a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University and is a member of the Hope, Walker PRC. Mr. Joseph Hostege is the son of Mr. and Mrs. James Holstege. He is married to Lisa, the daughter of Prof. Barry and Lori Gritters. His older brother Daniel is the angel of the Holland PRC. Joe is a graduate of Calvin College and attends Southeast PRC. Mr. Jonathan Langerak is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Langerak. He graduated from Grand Valley State University and is a member of our Southwest (Grandville, MI) PRC. Mr. Aaron Lim is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Colin Lim. He is a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University. Aaron is a member of our sister church, the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore. He attends the Hope, Walker PRC. Mr. David Noorman is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Noorman. He is a graduate of Calvin College and is a member of our Faith PRC. Mr. Nathan Price is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Price. He is married to Nicole and together they have four children: Evelyn, Lydia, Elizabeth, and Nathan. Nathan graduated from Grand Valley State University and he and his family are members of our Trinity PRC in Hudsonville, Michigan. Mr. Stephan Regnerus is the son of Mr. and Mrs. James Regnerus. He is a recent graduate of Dordt Christian College in Sioux Center, Iowa. He is a member of the Doon, Iowa PRC. Mr. Justin Smidstra is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Colin Smidstra. He is a graduate of Calvin College and is a member of the Hudsonville, Michigan PRC.
Besides to our students, the faculty have opened up a number of their classes to auditors. It is a pleasant change to have classes with up to sixteen students in them, including the goodly number of visitors auditing some of the seminary classes. It makes for livelier discussions and the possibility of more questions. If anyone in the Grand Rapids area, or anyone visiting the Grand Rapids area from the west or from a foreign land desires to spend a morning visiting our seminary classes, contact the seminary secretary and arrangements can be made. This is the sort of thing that we very much want to encourage. We want our people to know by experience something of the institution that is their seminary.
Besides the new students entering the seminary this year, we know of a few young men in college, and even in high school, who indicate that it is their desire to study in the seminary and prepare for the gospel ministry. For this we give thanks to our covenant God, who is making provision for the future of our churches and sister-churches, provision for replacement of a fairly large number of men who will be retiring from the ministry and the seminary. And provision, we pray, for the growth of our denomination and sister-churches. Let us continue to pray the Lord of the harvest that He continue to send forth laborers into the abundant harvest. If there is a young man who is contemplating the ministry, feel free to contact one of the professors in order to arrange a time to discuss the matter of the call to the ministry.
The three members of the seminary faculty stay busy teaching the full array of seminary courses. In addition, the faculty frequently preach in area churches, lecture, teach catechism classes, give special presentations, write for the religious periodicals (for example, Standard Bearer, Beacon Lights, Protestant Reformed Theological Journal, Perspectives in Covenant Education).
Prof. Dykstra spoke at our convocation service, which was held on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at Faith PRC. Although the crowd was not nearly as large as it could have been, those who did attend, along with the members of the Theological School Committee, the faculty, and the student body, were blessed by Prof. Dykstra’s stirring address entitled, “Pray For Us!” This is indeed our earnest desire, faculty and students together. Pray for us that God will keep us faithful. Pray for us that the truth will be maintained, defended, and developed. Pray for us that God will use the seminary for the training of godly, committed, gifted men of God who will be able to serve Christ and Christ’s church in the office of minister of the Word.
Prof. Dykstra has completed the partial sabbatical he had during the 2012-2013 school year. He is finishing up the written manuscript that was to be produced as a part of the sabbatical, a sabbatical that was devoted to a study of the history, the principles, and the distinctive worldview imparted through Reformed covenant education.
During the present school year, Prof. Gritters will be taking a partial sabbatical. The 2013 Synod of our churches approved this sabbatical, which is intended to allow time for Prof. Gritters to do research and writing in the area of church polity (government). “The goal of his sabbatical would be to produce materials that could possibly be incorporated into a post-Essentials catechism class, that would be helpful to elders in their work, and that could be used on the mission field to assist our missionaries in establishing churches. This work would also enhance his church polity course at the seminary” (2013 Acts of Synod, p. 164f.).
At present the faculty, with the assistance of the Hudsonville PRC Evangelism Committee, is planning a commemoration of the 450th anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism. This celebration is planned for Thursday through Saturday, October 17-19, 2013, at the Hudsonville PRC. Besides speeches by each of the professors, speeches will also be given by Rev. Carl Haak, Rev. Jurgen Klautke, and Rev. Angus Stewart. In connection with the conference, a writing contest has been held. At the conference the winners in all the different categories will be announced. For more information, including the schedule of events, those who are interested can consult the seminary’s page on the denominational website. We are anticipating a good crowd for the conference, and look forward to seeing many of you.
We covet your prayers at the beginning of a new school-year. We realize that only if the Lord crowns our efforts with His blessing will our labors be profitable. Pray earnestly for that blessing. And pray that the Lord will continue to raise up students to study for the ministry in our churches and our sister-churches, that “the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same [may be committed] to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (II Tim. 2:2).
For the faculty,
Prof. Ronald Cammenga, Rector