Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of our 1972 Synod was the examination and graduation of our three new candidates for the ministry, Messrs. Wayne Bekkering, Marvin Kamps, and Ronald Van Overloop, It is always a highlight when in our small denomination, with its small school, the Lord gives us new candidates for the ministry of the gospel. This year, however, was something special because there were three graduates. This is something that has not happened for many years in our churches. In fact, there are many adults among our membership who cannot remember such an event, so long ago it is that this has happened. There is, therefore, abundant reason for gratitude to our faithful covenant God for this evidence of His loving kindness and care for our churches and our seminary. I cannot refrain from adding to this the reminder that these three candidates are also the first products of our combined pre-seminary and seminary program which was begun, on a trial basis, in 1968. This is also significant. 

Preceding the happy event of graduation, there was a rather grueling schedule of oral examinations for the three graduates, a schedule which occupied the first three days of Synod’s sessions almost entirely. Immediately after Synod was organized on Wednesday, June 7, each of the graduates was required to preach a 45 minute sermon on a text assigned by the Theological School Committee. In connection with this, the student was also required to submit a written outline for perusal by a committee of Synod. A committee of two was appointed to advise Synod on each sermon. By mid-afternoon of Wednesday this part of the examination was completed, and Synod had approved the sermons and decided, upon the advice of these committees, to proceed with the rest of the examinations. Thereupon Synod recessed in order to give its four advisory committees opportunity to work and to prepare their reports, so that Synod might proceed with its other work, once the examinations were finished. 

All day Thursday, from 8:30 in the morning to 5:00 in the afternoon was devoted to an oral examination in dogmatics. The three students were examined together, with questions being asked by the professor in dogmatics. At the end of each segment of the examination opportunity was given for any delegate of Synod to ask further questions on any answer given by a student which was not entirely clear or satisfactory to that delegate. On Friday morning, June 9, there were further examinations (again conducted by the professors in these branches) in New Testament History, Church History, Church Polity, and Old Testament History. For the first time this year there were no oral examinations in Hebrew and Old Testament Exegesis or in Greek and New Testament Exegesis. These two examinations, according to a decision of the 1971 Synod, were written. The students were assigned passages of Scripture in advance by the Theological School Committee; and committees of Synod were appointed to advise Synod as to the quality of these written examinations. The oral examination of the students was concluded with an examination in Practica (practical things) by the Reverend C. Hanko. At the conclusion of this long schedule of oral examinations, Synod in executive session and by ballot approved all three young men unanimously and declared them eligible for a call from one of our congregations on July 7. 

Thereupon the candidates and the visitors were called back in to Synod, the president of Synod informed the candidates of Synods decision, addressed them with fitting words of congratulation and exhortation, the gathering sang the doxology, and prayer of thanksgiving and intercession was offered by the Reverend J. Heys, Synod’s second clerk. This is always a highly emotional moment, and this year was certainly no exception. It struck me that the president of our Synod, Reverend C. Hanko, is our oldest minister in years of service in the ministry. He graduated in 1929. He addressed our newest candidates, and his long years of experience were reflected in the remarks which he addressed to them. When the delegates and visitors, along with the professors, were given the opportunity to congratulate the newly declared candidates for the ministry, there were many smiles of joy and many wishes for the Lord’s blessing, but also few dry eyes. 

The Graduation Exercises were held in the auditorium of the First Protestant Reformed Church on the evening of June 13. It was a warm and humid summer evening. But a large audience—the largest audience for seminary graduation in my memory—attested to the interest of our people in this event. Reverend H. Veldman, President of the Theological School Committee, was chairman for the evening. The program was interspersed with singing from our Psalter by the audience and musical numbers by the Hope Heralds. Candidate R. VanOverloop spoke in behalf of the graduates on the subject, “Continuing In The Things Learned.” His address appears elsewhere in this issue. It was this reporter’s turn this year to speak in behalf of the faculty; and he spoke on the subject, “New Theology And Old.” His address will appear in the August issue of our Standard Bearer. At the conclusion of the program the candidates were given their well-earned diplomas. They then received congratulations from the large audience present. 

A snapshot of the candidates accompanies this article, courtesy of the Reverend Dale Kuiper. 

It is our prayer that the Lord will soon give these three candidates a place in the ministry of our churches, and that He will give them a long and fruitful ministry. 

This was indeed a highlight of this year’s Synod, and a highlight for our churches.

Thanks be to God!