The 2004 annual synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches (PRC) met in Hull, Iowa from June 8-11. The Hull counsel and congregation were gracious hosts.
The large, beautiful auditorium of the Hull church was full for the pre-synodical worship service the evening of June 7. Visitors were present from the neighboring Doon, Iowa and Edgerton, Minnesota congregations. Rev. Ron VanOverloop preached the sermon. His text was Zechariah 4:6: “This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”
Elected officers of synod were Rev. Kenneth Koole, president; Rev. Steven Key, vice-president; Rev. Daniel Kleyn, first clerk; and Rev. Charles Terpstra, second clerk.
Synod received reports of the denominational mission works, both domestic and foreign. Southwest PRC, Grandville, Michigan requested permission to administer the Lord’s Supper on the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania mission field. Synod responded by instructing its Domestic Mission Committee to study the matter along the following lines: “1. The resolution of apparently contradictory synodical decisions of the past. 2. The decision of Southwest to enroll those who made confession of faith in Pittsburgh as members of Southwest PRC. 3. The principles set forth in the Form of Ordination of Missionaries, the relevant articles of the Church Order, Scripture, and the Reformed tradition.” The Domestic Mission Committee is to present its advice to the 2005 synod.
The recommendations of a special committee establishing “a coherent and equitable policy regarding furloughs and vacations for our missionaries and ministers-on-loan” were adopted.
Among decisions governing the theological seminary of the PRC was the admission of one student to the seminary in the 2004/2005 academic year. Synod noted the urgent need for ministers and reminded the churches to press this need upon capable young men. Synod 2005 will appoint a minister to succeed Prof. David Engelsma as professor of dogmatics and Old Testament in the seminary.
Synod approved the proposal of its Contact Committee that the Contact Committee send a delegation of two to participate in an international conference hosted by the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia in July, 2005. The theme of the conference will be “The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ.” In response to the request of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the delegation of the PRC will include a professor. While in Australia, the professor will teach a post-graduate course to the ministers of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
Synod instructed the Contact Committee once again to express to the Evangelical Reformed Churches of Singapore the “urgent need” for those churches to come to the biblical stand on the issue of marriage, divorce, and remarriage. The Contact Committee of the PRC is also to report to synod 2005 regarding a position paper of one of the Singapore churches on common grace and the well-meant offer of the gospel. Synod noted that these are unresolved issues in the Evangelical Reformed Churches of Singapore.
The Contact Committee informed synod that the Denominational Contact Committee of the Evangelical Reformed Churches of Singapore has drawn up and presented to the Classis of the Singapore churches a “Proposed Policy for Fraternal Church Relationships.” This proposed policy affects the sister-church relationships with the PRC. Synod approved the response of the Contact Committee of the PRC to this proposed policy. Both the “Proposed Policy” and the synodically approved response can be read in their entirety in the forthcoming 2004 “Acts of Synod” of the PRC.
Synod approved the entrance of a congregation in Wingham, Ontario, Canada into the denomination. The congregation was formerly affiliated with the Orthodox Christian Reformed Churches. Synod conveyed to the Wingham consistory and congregation its joy at God’s leading of the Wingham church to the PRC.
A helpful explanation by a special synodical committee of rules governing protests, appeals, and overtures was adopted. This explanation clarifies various documents brought to the ecclesiastical assemblies. Members of the PRC, as well as consistories, should give attention to this explanation, which will be published in the 2004 “Acts of Synod.”
The Free Reformed Churches of North America had addressed synod asking concerning the interest of the PRC in participating in a “low-grade revision” of the Authorized Version of Scripture. The Free Reformed Churches informed synod that they have decided not to pursue the project and have, therefore, withdrawn their request of the PRC.
Synod rejected an overture from a member of the PRC asking synod to rescind decisions of the synod of 2001. These decisions concern missionaries’ baptizing and pronouncing the benediction in certain, prescribed circumstances. By rejecting the overture, synod upheld the decisions in articles 27-29 of the 2001 synod.
In closed session, synod treated two appeals by members of the churches against decisions of consistories and classes concerning the discipline of these members.
In other actions, synod approved $209, 941 for support of emeriti ministers in 2005. The balance in the Emeritus Fund at present is $1,430,091. The Fund grew by 25% in 2003. Subsidy for needy churches in 2005 was approved in the amount of $179, 122. Synod approved aid for seminary students in 2005 in the amount of $44,000. The total synodical budget for 2005 is $1,578,000. The synodical budget per family in 2005 will be $866. This is up from $845 in 2004.
The PRC have grown numerically in the past year to 28 congregations, 1,765 families, and a total membership of 7,080.
The Byron Center, Michigan PRC has been asked to host the 2005 synod, convening on June 14, 2005, God willing.
May the Spirit of the exalted Christ bless the PRC and the universal church through the decisions of synod.
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”