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September 15, 2009

I write this news on September 15, after one full week of classes in this new semester. The starting date this year was late. Both the extended session of Synod 2009 and the seminary’s Calvin Conference in late August led the TSC to approve a starting date two weeks later than normal. But the year has begun, and begun well, under God’s blessings.

The highlight of the summer was our Seminary-sponsored Calvin Conference in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin. For over a year preparations were made for this significant event. Southwest PRC (Grandville, MI) is to be recognized for their fine work in organizing most of the conference as the seminary gave them direction.

Speakers were four professors (R. Cammenga, R. Dykstra, D. Engelsma, and B. Gritters), one minister from the PRC (S. Key), one from the Covenant PRC in Northern Ireland (A. Stewart), and one from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia (C. Connors). Each presented a speech on some aspect of Calvin’s life and teachings. There will be a lengthier report of the conference coming soon. An abbreviated form of each speech will be included in an upcoming issue of the Standard Bearer. The seminary’s Journal plans to print the entire text of the speeches in the next two issues. (If any reader of the Standard Bearer is interested in receiving the Journal, please write to Prof. Cammenga at the seminary’s address.)

I noted at one time during the conference that our guests came from at least 15 different states, 3 Canadian provinces, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Australia. The seminary is grateful to God for the opportunity to sponsor such a conference, which drew in the smallest meeting some 300 eager participants, and in the evening speeches, over 1000.

But now the seminary’s work of instruction has begun. And with a significantly expanded entry-way and remodeled front offices, as can be seen from the picture. The Theological School Committee completed the construction in time for classes to begin without any distractions. Thanks to the TSC’s building committee and to all who were involved in the significant project. And thanks to the many donors who made the significant addition to the seminary possible. Please come to visit the seminary if you are in Grandville and witness the important work done in our very attractive and comfortable facility.

Missing from class this semester are the two fourth-year students, who are training under the supervision of an experienced pastor in an internship. Seminarian Daniel Holstege of the Southeast Grand Rapids PRC serves in the Randolph, Wisconsin, PRC, under the mentorship of Rev. Doug Kuiper. Seminarian Martyn McGeown of the Covenant PRC in Northern Ireland serves under Rev. Arie denHartog in Southwest PRC, Grandville, MI.

Third-year students have been licensed to speak a word of edification in the churches. Nathan Decker, Brian Huizinga, and Jonathan Mahtani were absent from their home congregations much of the summer because of the large number of requests for supply. They and we (professors) are thankful for the opportunity to preach in the churches, sometimes all over the US and Canada, and experience the beauty of the communion of the saints. All of us preached so much we are eager to see the saints in our own congregations again. Our second-year student is Stefan Griess, from Loveland, CO, PRC. And our first-year students are Karl Dykstra from the Southeast PRC, Grand Rapids, MI, and Erik Guichelaar, from Wingham PRC, Ontario.

This fall, as the seminary tries to do at times, we have invited to speak for us a guest lecturer, a noted historian, Mr. Robert Swierenga. Prof. Swierenga, now research historian at Hope College, has a special interest in the Formula of Subscription, and on October 2 will speak on its history in Dutch Reformed churches.

The professors treasure their work—teaching, mentoring students, developing courses, writing for the Journal and Standard Bearer, lecturing for special occasions, and assisting in the area churches as they are able. The work of the Lord here is a great work. We pray daily for the churches, the pastors, the elders and deacons. Please remember us in your prayers too.

And again: pray that God may equip our sons for the high and glorious calling of the gospel ministry.

Prof. B. Gritters,

Rector