It has been quite some time since you have heard from our Theological School and of the progress of our students. By the time you read this the school will have closed its doors for the summer vacation “Vacation” one calls it with tongue-in-cheek: for the faculty will be busy in preparation for next September’s work-load, and the students will be extremely busy this summer making a living. But more about that later. First we would like to take you with us to be an unseen guest at a typical day in school.
Way back, on December 18, Rev. Kortering and the undersigned made one of the monthly visits to the school as representatives of the School Committee. This time we chose to pay Prof. Hoeksema a visit. The first class of the day, Old Testament History, was attended by Messrs. Bekkering, Kamps, Miersma, Slopsema and Van Overloop. This morning the class was called to order about eight minutes late—due to adverse driving conditions, one of the few reasons accepted by the professors for tardiness on the part of the students. After opening devotions, the instructor read and interpreted Genesis 3:16-19, in which he found the pronouncement of the curse upon Eve as it was to be manifested in the sorrow of her childbearing and in her subjection to her husband. The observation was made that womankind attempts to emancipate itself from this curse, but never fully succeeds because of the judgment there expressed. The curse of God upon the ground, it was explained resulted in thorns and thistles and all manner of noxious weeds to thwart man’s attempt to obtain sustenance for himself and his family. All his labor and toil was to be in the sweat of his face, and eating corruptible foodstuff to feed a corruptible body; all in the sphere of death! Man was forced to work that he might eat, instead of eating that he might work, as he did in the state of rectitude.
The next class was that of Dogmatics, attended by all of the students, Mark Hoeksema having joined the group. This class was conducted mainly in the question-and-answer method, treating the steps of Christ’s exaltation. One’s attention was aroused to the fact that the professor insisted on proof texts from his students to corroborate their answers. And to top it off, he asked for them in their original Greek! (Een beetje overdreven! H.C.H.)
Coffee break was next on the agenda, and the two visitors from the School Committee (but not the unseen guests) were remembered by the professor’s wife, who packed his snack: two extra home-made cookies were labeled for them.
After recess the class of Typology was called to order, with Mark absent so as to attend Prof. Hanko’s Greek class in the next room. The types under scrutiny were the Outer Court in the tabernacle, and its center piece, the Altar of Burnt Offering. The instructor expertly correlated the types and that which they typified, arriving at the conclusion that all this service in the tabernacle was but a promissory note to be marked “paid in full” by the Antitype, our Lord Jesus Christ.
It being the last day of the semester, the last class on schedule, Hebrew Reading, was substituted (by mutual consent) by a continuation of the study of Dogmatics. The many questions raised by the students anent the terms hades, hell, disembodied state, and the concept of the burial and resurrection of the “I” of each person, were answered by their mentor without leaning too heavily upon conjecture, but quoting mainly from the Word of God. Sitting in on a class of this nature makes one aware of the fact that much of that field is so mysterious and unknown, but nevertheless is revealed to us in the Scriptures in a somewhat limited way.
Rev. Kortering was asked to close this session with prayer, in which he led us in thanksgiving to our Covenant God for our school as His great gift to us, including the students whom He has moved to study for the ministry, and the two dedicated professors who give their all for this cause. The School Committee would like to believe that this prayer, and corollary, the prayer for God’s continued blessing, rises to the Throne of Grace from each of our pulpits and from each of our membership.
From the above mentioned wintry day we would like you to make a “giant leap” to the month of June. The last two weeks in June, the four Sundays in July, and the five in August, D.V., will be busy days for our would-be ministers. Those eleven weeks will see vacant pulpits supplied and vacant parsonages occupied. The five students who are licenses to “speak a word of edification” will not have much of a vacation, if that word means surcease from work. They will be very busy preaching twice each Sunday and making sermons the other six days of the week. Each of them will gain valuable experience in this activity which might be called a ministerial resident internship.
Mr. Miersma will be in Forbes, N.D., the last two weeks in June and all of July, living in the parsonage furnished for him and his wife. The five Sundays in August will find him filling the vacancy in Hull.
Mr. Van Overloop is scheduled to till the pulpit in Randolph, Wis. for the first six weeks, and will then move back to Grand Rapids to supply congregations in that area while their pastors are on vacation.
Mr. Kamps plans on supplying Doon for six weeks, and will finish the five Sundays in August in Forbes.
Mr. Bekkering has been appointed to serve in the place of vacationing ministers in the Grand Rapids area for the first six weeks, and will then supply Randolph’s pulpit during the month of August.
Mr. Slopsema has been assigned to preach in Hull for six weeks, and will then be expected to finish the summer in Doon.
The sixth student, Mark Hoeksema, is not yet advanced to the status of the other five, and so will be occupied with his usual summer work—that of cutting grass for a local gardener. “Making hay at home,” as one of his fellow students put it.
The above arrangement has been made by the faculty for the benefit of our vacant churches, and will be a boon for the students. They will especially benefit from their summer experience as they shall be guided and advised by a grateful consistory. The congregations certainly will appreciate these fledglings as they “try their wings,” or, to change the metaphor, as they test the shepherd’s staff for size.
May the King of His church richly bless these earnest young men in this new venture, to the edification of the saints and to the glory of His