The Protestant Reformed synod that meets this month, God willing, is not the 75th synod. The first synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches (PRC) convened on May 22, 1940 at the First PRC of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Rev. Herman Hoeksema preached the pre-synodical sermon on Acts 15:28a: “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us.” Rev. Gerrit Vos was president of the first synod. Rev. C. Hanko was a minister delegate.
Among its decisions were the following: that the official language of synod would be English; to advise the churches to take offerings for the relief of war-torn Netherlands; to petition the Christian Reformed Church to discuss “in a brotherly spirit” the history and doctrines that resulted in the separate existence of the PRC; to approve the theological examination of seminarian John A. Heys and admit him to candidacy in the PRC; and to assess each family in the churches 25 cents a year for the Emeritus Fund.
Synod of 2000 will consider reports by the Domestic Mission Committee on the works in the British Isles; Spokane, WA; and Pittsburgh, PA.The Foreign Mission Committee (FMC) reports on the work in Ghana, Africa. The committee requests approval to continue work in the Philippines with a view to calling a missionary for full-time work there in 2001. The FMC intends to send two delegations to the Philippines during the next year.
The Contact Committee (CC) recommends that synod implement sister-church relations with the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland. The committee proposes that synod advise Hope PRC, Walker, MI to call a minister to replace Rev. Jay Kortering as minister-on-loan to our sister churches in Singapore. The plan is that this man would work with Rev. Kortering in Singapore for a year, until Rev. Kortering’s term expires in June, 2002. The CC requests approval of its holding another conference with the United Reformed Churches in the fall of 2000. It recommends that the PRC seek no further contact with the Hungarian Reformed Churches (HRC). Grounds are that the HRC contain a wide variety of factions, including Pentecostals and extremely liberal and modernistic elements; that the HRC are officially a member of the World Council of Churches; and that the HRC allow women to be ministers.
The Theological School Committee (TSC) reports that Mr. Mark Shand graduates from the seminary, having completed a special, three-year course of study. The committee proposes a public graduation program the evening of June 15. Mr. Shand will seek admission into the ministry of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia. The TSC is requesting synod to approve partial sabbaticals for Prof. Decker and Prof. Engelsma for the 2001/2002 and 2000/2001 school years respectively.
The Board of Trustees recommends that synod declare that it is appropriate for the PRC to receive gifts of life insurance policies.
A synodical study committee presents its recommendations changing a number of articles of the Church Order.
The synodical Emeritus Committee overtures synod to rescind the decision of 1999 (“Acts of Synod,” Art. 72) concerning support of retired ministers according to Article 13 of the Church Order. This decision of last year’s synod made $15,000 available to every retired minister “with no questions asked [about need].”
The 75th Anniversary Committee reports that all is in readiness for the celebration of the anniversary of the PRC, June 19-23, 2000, immediately following the meeting of synod. The celebration will be held on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI. Evening programs will be held in the auditorium of the Sunshine Community (Christian Reformed) Church at 3300 E. Beltline, NE, a few miles north of Calvin. The annual Protestant Reformed Young People’s Convention will be held at the same time and place as the anniversary celebration. The committee reports that already as of the end of March, registration for the anniversary celebration exceeds the original estimation. There is room for more. Synod should express a hearty thanks to the committee on behalf of the denomination. The committee consists of David M. (chairman) and Nancy Ondersma, Ken and Machele Elzinga, Sid, Jr. and Lisa Miedema, Hank and Deb VanderWaal, and Greg and Vicki VanOverloop.
In addition, the agenda includes five appeals against decisions of the classes and a protest against a decision of last year’s synod. The churches must exercise Christ’s power of judging.
The report of the Yearbook Committee shows that the churches continue their steady numerical growth. Total membership is nearing the biblical 7,000.
Synod will hold its meetings at the Georgetown PRC in Hudsonville, MI. Synod will convene on Tuesday, June 13. Rev. Ron Cammenga will preach at the pre-synodical worship service the evening of June 12 at the Georgetown church.