Since the Synod of 1991 finished its work, the Contact Committee has been busy implementing Synod’s decisions and carrying out the normal work of the Committee. It is time that we report concerning our work.
The work which has occupied most of the Committee’s time is the work in Singapore. The Synod of 1991 made some important and far reaching decisions concerning our sister-church relations with the Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore. One of these decisions involved appointing Hope Protestant Reformed Church of Walker, Michigan to be the calling church for the calling of a minister-on-loan to labor in Singapore over an extended period of time. Another decision was to send a minister, if possible, for a period of four to six months to labor there as soon after Synod as possible.
In consultation with the Consistory of Hope Church, the Contact Committee decided to wait a few months with calling a minister-on-loan. The chief reason for this was: it seemed best to wait until we had secured someone to go to Singapore for four to six months to evaluate the work there before actually calling someone for an extended period of time.
God graciously granted us a man to go for six months. The Council of Grandville Protestant Reformed Church consented to release Rev. Kortering. The Committee wishes to express its gratitude to the Council and congregation of Grandville for releasing their minister for this important denominational work. Rev. Kortering is using the pastoral heart and the wisdom of experience which God has given him, to do the important work that needed to be done to help with the problems which these new churches face.
Rev. and Mrs. Kortering are living in an apartment building which is almost exclusively Chinese. They have the opportunity to learn firsthand the Chinese culture, and, from what they report, they are enjoying this learning process for the most part. Rev. Kortering was stricken with a stomach problem for a while, a problem brought on more than likely by the diet of spicy foods which are so characteristic of some Oriental cuisine. But God restored him again, for which we are thankful.
The life of the Korterings is a very busy one. Rev. Kortering is preaching twice on the Lord’s day, is serving as advisor on various committees, is doing his own share of visiting and pastoral work; he gave two Reformation Day lectures and conducted a six-week course dealing with some Reformed principles of church polity that are involved in the making of decisions by ecclesiastical assemblies.
Rev. Kortering and his wife are expected back in the States some time in the early part of March.
Plans are being made in the ERCS to prepare a student for coming to our country in order that he may acquire Seminary training with us. While the hope of the ERCS is to establish a Seminary in Singapore in the future, the time is not yet ripe for this.
We take this opportunity also to remind our people that the Synod of 1991 authorized our churches to take two collections for First Evangelical Reformed Church to assist them in their building project. So far as the committee knows, the actual work of the erection of a new place of worship has not yet begun. The congregation has encountered several delays brought about by the government bureaucracy. But the congregation is sure that work will be able to begin shortly. The building will cost in excess of $1,000,000.00 Singapore money (about half that in U.S. money). This is a great financial burden for the church there to take upon itself. Our churches willingly and eagerly assisted Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church when that congregation was purchasing a place of worship. And now we have the privilege and opportunity to assist First Church.
Synod also authorized the Contact Committee to secure, if possible, ministerial help for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia. Specifically, a request was made for ministerial help for the congregations in Launceston and Burnie. The Contact Committee has written to all of our consistories, asking them to. release their minister for a period of time, but so far no supply has been obtained for these churches. In the meantime, the saints in Burnie are using video tapes for their worship services, something which they are enjoying more than audio tapes. It gives them an opportunity to “see” some of our ministers.
Two students from the EPC of Australia are presently in the Seminary. Their presence in Seminary gives a dimension to the classroom work which is appreciated by all the students and professors.
In November, Rev. Marvin Kamps was sent by our churches through the Contact Committee to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as an observer to the annual meeting of NAPARC (North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council). While he could not participate in the decision- making processes, he had opportunity to address the assembly, give some information about our churches, and speak with various delegates. One interesting aspect of NAPARC’s work is its decision to ask the Christian Reformed Church (also a member) to reconsider its decisions on women in ecclesiastical office.
The Contact Committee received an invitation to send observers to the November meeting of the Christian Reformed Alliance, held in Lynwood, Illinois. This organization is an organization of Christian Reformed conservatives formed to assist, give direction to, and coordinate the activities of churches who are considering leaving the Christian Reformed Church. The Committee decided not to send such observers, believing that the decision was weighty enough that Synod ought first to speak on the matter.
Material is also being sent out in the hopes that this will result in additional contacts. Six subscriptions to the Standard Bearer were sent to ministers in Hungary and Romania. Rev. Herman Hoeksema’s Reformed Dogmatics and Triple Knowledge were sent to a minister in Prague.
There is always a great deal of work to be done, as many in this land and abroad are concerned about the apostasy that prevails in so many denominations. As the Contact Committee works in these areas to establish relationships with faithful people of God, the members see their need of wisdom from on high to serve the churches in this important work. We seek the prayers of our fellow saints.
Fraternally in Christ,
H. Hanko, Secretary