The seminary salutes all our readers of the Standard Bearer! Your regular prayers sustain us. We hear of them. Your financial support—through weekly offerings—makes it possible for us to do our work without thinking about daily bread. Thank you. Your extraordinary gifts make possible the growth of the library, attendance at conferences otherwise not feasible, and building additions and improvements not imagined a generation ago. We are humbled by this generosity in the name of Christ.
Most importantly, some of your sons are here to study. Currently, there are four men studying pre-seminary Greek. Soon, God willing, these men will apply for admission to the seminary proper. As you know, two of our students are on their six-month internship: Mr. Matthew Kortus at Trinity PRC (having accepted a new call, Rev. N. Decker will continue to supervise the internship from nearby Grandville PRC) and Mr. Jacob Maatman at Hudsonville PRC. In January they will return for one more semester before taking their final examinations publicly at synod in June. And two men are here from our sister church in Singapore: Mr. Josiah Tan in his third year, and Mr. Marcus Wee in his first. For them, the USA is a very foreign land. But they and their families bear this trial with grace for the sake of the Lord who is dear to them.
We also hear reports that others are seriously considering the call to the ministry. The Lord answers prayers.
Dear young brothers, if the Lord lays on your heart this burden to study for the ministry, be assured that we are willing to talk to you about it, privately. Please call or email any of us professors. And be assured that, if God does call you, and you are not able to resist His will, you will not regret it. It will be a happy reality when the Lord works in you a ‘willingness in the day of his power’ (see Psalm 110).
We hope that elders, parents, and teachers continue to hold before young men the need for ministers in the churches. Be realistic with them about the work, but do not forget to tell them also of the joys of the ministry.
Our semester began a day late this Fall because of the special meeting of synod, but it began well. As usual, we held a convocation service in Providence PRC to open the year in God’s house, among God’s people, with a speech or sermon to motivate us to labor before the Lord. Taking turn by rotation, Prof. Gritters had the privilege this year to give the speech. He expounded and applied Acts 20:24 with the topic, “None of these things move me….” These words were the apostle’s moving testimony in response to the prospect of some pretty significant suffering as a missionary-pastor. Suffering and prison awaited him in Jerusalem and beyond, but he said that this did not disturb him. The prospect of trouble did not deter him from embarking on the next ship. Knowledge of the greatest troubles did not destabilize him at all. His explanation? He did not count his life dear unto himself. Of course, his life was important; but it was not important for himself. For him, life was always for God and God’s Son, never for himself. Then, and only then, could he conduct his ministry with joy. The entire speech can be found online at prca.org/resources/publishing/lectures.
Our classes begin early (6:50 a.m.) for the pre-seminary Greek students, so that they can be off to other college work or, as in the case for some, an occupation. Regular classes begin at 7:50 each day, and usually are finished by noon. The afternoons have the students hunkered down in their study carrels in the library (sometimes after an invigorating game or two of ping-pong downstairs).
It may be interesting for readers to know a bit more about seminary life, so I take a moment to give a little insight into what else goes on. The main part of our work, of course, is the instruction given in the classes and the students’ preparation for these classes—languages and Exegesis, Church History and Dogmatics, Catechetics and Church Polity, and so forth—on Tuesdays through Fridays. Mondays are reserved for Practice Preaching. Visitors attend some classes, taking advantage of the invitation to sit in and learn. Each day mid-morning we have student-led devotions in the assembly room, when students take turns leading in singing, reading Scripture, and prayer. Then we have coffee together for a few minutes and get to the third and fourth hour classes. At noon we all eat lunch together, and on occasion have discussions on theology or some practical matter in church life. The upcoming proposal on the Michigan ballot to legalize marijuana made for an intriguing discussion about the implications of this for elders and their work. Every Friday our custom is to grill up brats for the group. Sometimes we have visitors. From time to time a student or professor will contribute a ‘cultural enrichment’ item—from the trivial to the serious. Recently, we had a display of old coins, some dating back to the biblical era. Another time a student played classical music that explained some of the Psalter melodies.
More formal are our regular Student Club meetings. The students propose a topic for discussion. In the evening, students and professors assemble at one of the professor’s houses and discuss, debate, deliberate on a topic—ranging from deep theology to practical and pastoral questions. The wives of the students get together regularly as well to ‘talk shop.’ In these evening meetings the professors’ wives lead discussion and give instruction about the life of the wife in the parsonage. “Even so must their wives be…faithful in all things.” We trust this helps them to be faithful helpers to their minister-husbands.
By the time you get this issue of the Standard Bearer, the professors will be ready to travel cross-country to give Reformation Day lectures. We plan the seminary ‘reading-recess’ at the end of October so that the professors can lecture away from home without missing (too many?) classes here. We hope to see many of you, soon.
Please continue to pray for our work. And talk to your sons about the call to the ministry.
“The blessing of the Lord be upon you.”
From your seminary,
Prof. Gritters, Rector