Two of the weightier actions of the upcoming synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches convening on June 10 at the Hudsonville, MI Protestant Reformed Church will involve the denomination’s theological seminary. Synod must appoint a successor to the longtime professor of practical theology and New Testament studies, Prof. Robert D. Decker. Prof. Decker has served at the seminary since 1973. In consultation with the faculty, the Theological School Committee presents a nomination of Rev. Ronald L. Cammenga, Rev. Barrett L. Gritters, and Rev. Steven R. Key.
Synod will also hear the examination of graduating seminarian William Langerak. Subject to synod’s approval of his examination, Mr. Langerak will be eligible for a call to one of the vacant churches this summer. At present, there are three vacancies. Acceptance of the appointment to the seminary will add a fourth. In addition, the Hull, IA church is calling a second missionary to Ghana.
There is another graduate, Paul Goh. Mr. Goh will return to Singapore, to work in the Evangelical Reformed Churches of Singapore. These churches will conduct their own, final examination of Mr. Goh.
The Theological School Committee proposes to synod that the graduation exercises for Mr. Goh and Mr. Langerak be held on Monday, June 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church.
Only one new student will begin training in the seminary this fall. He will join the four full-time students presently enrolled. Two of the four will be third-year students next school year, and two will be second-year students. There will be no graduate in 2004.
The Theological School Committee recommends that synod grant permanent tenure to Prof. Russell Dykstra, who has completed his seventh year at the seminary.
The Domestic Mission Committee informs synod that Rev. Angus Stewart, presently working in Northern Ireland under the auspices of the Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church and the Domestic Mission Committee, has been received as a Protestant Reformed minister by decision of Classis East. The synodical deputies of Classis West concurred. The Domestic Mission Committee and Hudson-ville recommend that synod “decide to continue the work with the Covenant Protestant Reformed Fellowship, with Ballymena as the base of our mission labors in the British Isles.” The Fellowship consists of six families and five individuals. Hudsonville is to be the calling church. Hudsonville informs synod that if synod adopts these recommendations concerning the work in Northern Ireland, Hudsonville will call Rev. Stewart to be missionary to the British Isles.
Synod is informed that the home mission work in Spokane, WA with the Sovereign Grace Reformed Church has abruptly ended. The Domestic Mission Committee asks synod’s approval of renewing the work in Spokane with four families and three individuals who remain.
Synod will consider the report on the home mission work in Pittsburgh with four or five families committed to forming a Protestant Reformed congregation.
The Foreign Mission Committee reports on the fields in Ghana and in the Philippines. The attached report on Ghana by the council of the Hull, IA Protestant Reformed Church calls synod’s attention to a serious weakness of our work in Ghana: the inability of the missionary to speak the language of the people.
In connection with benevolence, the language barrier our missionary faces is quite hindering to the work there. To alleviate this the council, along with the FMC has approved the hiring of [S.A.] to help with the interpretation. This has helped our missionary tremendously when working with the saints there. The past delegation saw this firsthand and recommended that the next missionary to be called to Ghana should take some TWI language classes before going to the field.
The Committee for Contact with Other Churches informs synod that the Evangelical Reformed Churches of Singapore are as yet unable to adopt a position on marriage and divorce. They hope to do so in 2004. The Contact Committee of the Protestant Reformed Churches makes the following recommendation to synod:
That with respect to the marriage and divorce issue synod convey to the ERCS the urgency of resolving this issue at their classis meeting in February 2004 and plead that they maintain what we believe to be the biblical position as upheld by their sister church, the Protestant Reformed Churches.
The Evangelical Reformed Churches of Singapore intend to send a delegate to synod to attend the graduation of Mr. Paul Goh.
The Hope, Walker, MI Protestant Reformed Church, calling church for missionary-on-loan Rev. Arie denHartog, informs synod that, in addition to his other duties, Rev. denHartog gave twenty-six lectures in Myanmar on “All of Grace” and “The Reformed Pastor.” He also preached Sundays in a number of churches in Yangoon. This is work done under the direction of the Mission Committee of the Evangelical Reformed Churches of Singapore.
The Contact Committee informs synod that it carried out the mandate given it by the synod of 2002, that it give “a clear call to repentance to the Christian Reformed Church for its departure from the truth of the Scriptures and the Reformed confessions.” This call to repentance was given at a meeting with the Inter-Church Relations Committee of the Christian Reformed Church. The Inter-Church Relations Committee of the Christian Reformed Church responded that it was unconvinced of the need for repentance on the part of the Christian Reformed Church in the matters specified by the Protestant Reformed Churches.
Thus evidently ends the brief, strange contact of the Christian Reformed Church and the Protestant Reformed Churches nearly eighty years after the Christian Reformed Church adopted the Arminian doctrine of common grace, made it binding upon its officebearers and people, and deposed ministers and entire consistories for opposing the false doctrine. This contact was occasioned, it will be remembered, by an overture from a Christian Reformed theologian to Classis Grand Rapids East of the Christian Reformed Church. The overture called on the Christian Reformed Church to apologize to the Protestant Reformed Churches for her unjust actions in expelling those who formed the Protestant Reformed Churches from her fellowship.
This was the first official contact between the two denominations in almost eighty years (the “Pantlind Conference” in 1939 was unofficial). No doubt, it will be the last. The Lord Jesus Christ judge between us.
The Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia sends a letter to the synod over the signature of David Torlach, stated clerk of presbytery. The letter thanks the Protestant Reformed Churches for sending delegates Prof. Robert Decker and Rev. Ronald Cammenga to a conference in Australia in 2002.
Among other matters, synod must decide the viability of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church, Wyckoff, NJ. Synod 2002 instructed Classis East to inquire into the viability of this very small congregation. Classis East judges Covenant to be a viable congregation. Classis East advises synod to reevaluate Covenant’s situation in three years.
The Board of Trustees of the Protestant Reformed Churches recommends that synod take certain actions, which the Board details, to build up the Emeritus Fund to three million dollars over the next twenty years. At present, the Fund, which provides support for retired ministers and their widows, holds slightly more than one million dollars.
A member overtures synod to rescind Article 27 of the acts of Synod 2001, regarding missionaries’ administration of the sacraments and pronouncement of the benediction.
The Yearbook Committee reports numerical growth of the denomination during the past year in the amount of thirty-five families.
The pre-synodical worship service will be held on Monday evening, June 9, at the Hudsonville Church at 7:30. Rev. James Slopsema will preach the sermon.
May the King of the Church bless the synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches so that they themselves persevere in the faith and so that they continue to give uncompromising witness to the truth, as regards both doctrine and life, to others.