Welcome Professor-Elect Rev. Douglas Kuiper!
On September 20, God willing, a few short days after this issue appears, Rev. Douglas Kuiper will be installed as the tenth professor in the history of the Protestant Reformed Seminary. Elected by the 2017 Synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches in June, he will be replacing Prof. Russell Dykstra as Professor of Church History and New Testament Studies, a position Prof. Dykstra has held since 1996. Prof. Dykstra will preach at the installation service, to be held in Faith PRC in Jenison, MI.
According to the rules of the seminary, the transition process begins when a professor reaches age 65, and can take as much as five years—a great benefit for the new professor to take on his work gradually and carefully as the retiring professor assists him. Most of you probably already know that the three current professors are so close in age that to replace them all according to the current rules would have them all replaced within possibly 4 or 5 years. Thus, synod decided to spread out their retirements—Prof. Dykstra’s and Prof. Cammenga’s ‘process’ beginning a little earlier than the rules call for. If all goes according to plan, Prof. Cammenga’s replacement will be called in 2019 and Prof. Gritters’ in 2021. In this way, we hope that the seminary retains what is sometimes called “institutional memory,” perhaps better called “ecclesiastical precedent.”
Professor-elect Kuiper began his ministry in 1995 and served in Byron Center, MI, Randolph, WI, and Edgerton, MN. Rev. Kuiper brings to the seminary, therefore, a wealth of experience in the pastorate, something we judge essential for a professor to bring to the classroom, especially in a seminary with only three professors. It takes an experienced minister to train ministers. For the first few years, most of Rev. Kuiper’s time will be spent preparing to teach—obtaining another degree in some area of church history, and creating lectures for the fifteen or more classes he must teach.
Rev. Kuiper and his wife Teresa have four children.
We look forward to working with the brother!
The summer months are usually busy for the professors. Writing projects, course development, meeting with current or prospective students, as well as denominational work, keeps them occupied. On behalf of the Contact Committee, Prof. Dykstra spent four weeks in Australia and Singapore, and Prof. Cammenga will be travelling to South Korea in September. Other work of the Contact Committee takes a great deal of time for the two faculty members on that committee. The professors preach for various churches, often twice each Sunday, both locally and out-of-state. They lecture on mission fields or in sister churches during Christmas or summer ‘breaks.’ Vacant churches ask for help teaching catechism and sometimes ask advice of the faculty. The professors write for the Standard Bearer, produce the PR Theological Journal, and at times write for the Beacon Lights or sister churches’ causes. The faculty is also busy planning a conference commemorating the 500th anniversary of the sixteenth-century Reformation, in October; and another conference for next year celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Great Synod of Dordt. Please pray for strength for all four professors.
The seminary has changed dramatically with the departure of the seven graduates, now candidates for the ministry of the Word. We are thankful to God to see them being placed on trios and receiving calls. As I write, three of the seven have already accepted calls. We trust that the Lord has an important place for each of them…in His own time.
This summer these brothers have been busy preaching across the USA and Canada. Two will squeeze in a wedding before a call and ordination. All of them have been approached by churches for various kinds of work—especially teaching catechism and preaching. Please pray for these brothers.
Our need for students
The four current students have been busy this summer as well. They work to support themselves, and those who are licensed to preach do so quite regularly. Please keep in your prayers third-year students Mr. Matt Kortus, Mr. Jacob Maatman, and Mr. Darren Vink, as well as second-year student from Singapore, Mr. Josiah Tan.
There are no first-year students coming into the seminary this fall—a cause for fervent and regular prayers and for carefully laying before the young men in the churches the need for pastors.
The churches need more students. I keep a list for myself of names of men who have expressed some interest in the ministry. The list has several names, from young men of high-school age through older young men who are currently working in other occupations. They include PRCA members and members of sister churches. This is good! Two or three of them are so serious that they plan to take pre-seminary Greek beginning late August, able we hope to begin seminary itself in a few years. Of course, not all of the others will begin training for the ministry. But it is good to know that young men are taking seriously the duty they have to consider whether they have the gifts for this work. You will notice that I do not give names of these brothers. We keep the names to ourselves, so as not to put undue pressure on them by making public their thoughts. If any young (or older) men want to talk about what the ministry involves and what seminary requires, please feel free to contact any of us professors, or speak to our registrar, Mr. Charles Terpstra.
Special Missions Training
PRCA members (and others!) ought to be aware of a wonderful opportunity made available to our students who have finished two years of seminary. About twenty years ago, an older lady in our churches left to the seminary at her death a significant sum of money. She attached to it a request that it be used for “further training in missions.” This money has been used over the years both for the missions professor and for students who would like experience on the mission field. This summer, Seminarian Matthew Kortus and his wife Sarah spent two months in the Philippines with our missionaries there. All their expenses were paid out of this special “Missions Training” fund. Some of you have read brother Kortus’ reports and are aware of how profitable such a time can be for a student, as well as for the missionaries he assists and for the field itself. The seminary is very grateful for such bequests to the seminary. Were it not for these donations, such experience would not likely be gained by the men. This is good for the churches!
Classes began here “on the hill” on August 28 when Prof. Gritters, the newly appointed rector, gave the opening chapel address. Classes are held Tuesday through Friday, always only in the mornings. Afternoons and nights are reserved for studies, and Mondays for practice preaching and catechism instruction, which will begin by the end of September.
I would imagine that some of the area schools will again send their children on “field trips” to visit the seminary for a morning. Both grade schools and Covenant Christian High School have sent groups for several years. We are thankful for such interest in the churches that even many children and young people can see what we do here at seminary.
For the faculty,
Prof. B. Gritters, Rector