The seminary has once again opened its doors and begun another year of instruction. There is always an eagerness to begin classes again. The summer recess is just long enough for students and faculty. Now we have buckled down to the rigors of another academic year.
One significant change from last year concerns the seminary building itself. The summer of 2009 saw the renovation of the entrance to the seminary. This summer’s work was more extensive. It involved construction of a new (larger) all-purpose room, new (larger) rest rooms, a new kitchen, and a new faculty lounge, which will double as a meeting place for denominational committees. In addition, this phase included construction of a centrally located bookstore. The bookstore carries all of the textbooks used by the students in all the different courses they take, as well as many other worthwhile books for the libraries that they are beginning to build. Purchases may be made from the bookstore by anyone who visits the seminary.
This project was funded exclusively by donations and not at all through synodical assessments. We are grateful to the Theological School Committee and to all those who contributed. The building has not only been improved functionally but also updated aesthetically. Staff and students alike work in a very pleasing environment that is conducive to study and learning. If you have not yet seen the changes in the seminary building, or have never seen the seminary, we invite you to stop by and take a tour.
The new school year began with the seminary-sponsored conference commemorating the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible. Prior to the conference in the Grand Rapids area, the seminary professors gave their speeches at the officebearers’ conference of Classis West. That was the first week of September. The following week, the conference was held at the First Christian Reformed Church of Byron Center, Michigan. The conference was well attended and a profitable time had by all. At the time of this writing, the faculty is planning a third presentation of their conference speeches in the NW Iowa area, October 7 and 8, 2011. They will also be preaching in the area churches the Lord’s Day of October 9. All three speeches will also be published in the upcoming (November 2011) issue of the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal. Besides the three conference speeches, the journal will include Rev. Doug Kuiper’s introductory meditation at the Officebearers’ Conference entitled “God’s Word Written: Where, How, and Why?” If you are not a journal subscriber, you may contact the seminary in order to have your name added to our mailing list.
This past year three seniors graduated from the seminary, now Rev. Nathan Decker, Rev. Brian Huizinga, and pastor-elect Jonathan Mahtani. What a joy for the faculty to see these brothers take their place as ministers in our denomination. But our joy is bittersweet. These three will be sorely missed “on the hill.” We are confident that the Lord will use them in the office of Christ for many years in our churches.
This fall we welcomed to our halls one first-year student, Mr. Ryan Barnhill, a son of our Hudsonville PRC. We have one second-year student, Mr. Joshua Engelsma, a son of our Hope PRC of Walker, MI; one third-year student, Mr. Eric Guichelaar (who was recently wedded to a daughter of the undersigned), a son of our Wingham, Ontario congregation; and one special student, Mr. Vernon Ibe, a member of the Berean PRC in the Philippines. Both Mr. Guichelaar and Mr. Ibe have been licensed by the faculty to speak a word of edification in the churches. As much as possible we will be scheduling them to lead the worship services of the churches that request pulpit supply from the seminary.
Mr. Ibe is presently serving an internship under the supervision of Rev. Ronald VanOverloop and the Grace PRC consistory. Mr. Ibe is anticipating graduation from the seminary in the spring. After his graduation, Mr. Ibe, his wife, Melody, and young son, Martyn, intend to return to the Philippines and take up labor there.
Besides their teaching loads, the professors also preach regularly, teach catechism classes and lead Bible study societies, speak to various groups on different occasions, write for the denominational publications, develop their courses, and mentor the students. All three professors will be giving Reformation Day lectures in the churches. We love our work and pray that the fruits of our labors are a blessing to our churches, our sister churches, and the church of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout the world. In addition to the four seminarians, seven area pre-seminarians are studying Greek Grammar under the tutelage of Prof. Gritters. The faculty is aware, also, of a few other men, outside the Grand Rapids area, who intend, after graduation from college, to attend the seminary. If there are young men in the churches who are so inclined, we urge them to contact our registrar, Mr. Don Doezema, for advice concerning course selection. Completion of the seminary prerequisites is necessary for entrance into the seminary.
Besides welcoming back students and staff, the seminary welcomed one new full-time staff person. With the approval of Synod 2011, Mr. Charles Terpstra, a member of Faith PRC, was hired to work in the library. The focus of Mr. Terpstra’s labors is the processing of the Letis library, which the seminary purchased a couple of years ago, and incorporation of this collection into our library. The faculty is grateful for the synod’s decision. Mr. Terpstra has already proved to be a very helpful addition, both to the students and to the faculty.
We at the seminary covet the prayers of the churches. We pray for the churches, and we trust that the churches pray for us. Pray that we may be given by God strength for the work. Pray that we may remain faithful to our Reformed heritage and distinctives. And pray that God will raise up more young men to study for the ministry of the Word—men of God; men who have the necessary gifts; hardworking, humble men; men who love Christ and who love His bride, the church. Pray for men who heed the apostle’s exhortation in II Timothy 2:15: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
For the Faculty,
Prof. Ron Cammenga, Rector