News from the Seminary: Thursday, March 30, 2011

It is time again for a report of our work here on "Seminary Hill." We recently passed the mid-point of second semester; next week is Spring Break; after that there are only five more weeks of class until exams. 

Exams for the returning students, that is. Not for graduating students. 

The rule in the Theological School Constitution states that the final examination of graduatingstudents will be oral. At synod. In public. No one is more conscious of that than our three senior seminarians. Since they have returned from their internships in January, they have been keenly anticipating the three days of public exams at synod. The written exams for the other students run from May 16-24. Synodical exams for the seniors will be, God willing, in Grandville PRC, on June 15 and 16, with their public sermons on June 14. There are a few written exams for the seniors—in translation from the original languages and exegesis of both Old and New Testament passages. But these written examinations are approved by delegates of synod rather than the seminary professors. 

The fourth-year seminarians reported very positively on their six-month internships. In October I reported in this column that seminarian Nathan Decker was interning in Grandville PRC under Rev. Koole's supervision, seminarian Brian Huizinga in Southeast PRC (Grand Rapids) under Rev. W. Langerak, and seminarian Jonathan Mahtani in First PRC (Grand Rapids) under Rev. Slopsema. Recommendation from the faculty for examination at synod depends on a successful internship, and we are happy to report that all three students did well—by their own report and that of their mentors. 

Between semesters the seminary schedules a focused, eight-day course on a particular topic of special interest. The professors teach this course in rotation. This past January, for all of the students and some interested visitors, Prof. Gritters gave instruction on Heidelberg Catechism preaching. The professors are thankful to convey to the next generation of preachers not only the Church Order's requirement to preach the Catechism, but especially a genuine love for this honored tradition. And love it we do: Prof. Cammenga currently preaches the Heidelberg for Hope PRC (Grand Rapids) in their vacancy; Prof. Dykstra for Trinity PRC (Hudsonville); and the undersigned recently finished about 18 months supplying the pulpit for First PRC (Holland), until the Lord provided for them a pastor. Preaching the Catechism is not merely academic here. May it never become so. 

But back to the students. With time swiftly passing, the semester draws to a close, synod looms, and before we realize it, the three seniors will, if the Lord permits, be declared eligible for a call in the churches. We thank God for His work in these brothers and soon commend them to the churches. 

Mr. Vernon Ibe, student from the Berean PRC in the Philippines, has been assigned a six-month internship in Grace PRC (Grand Rapids) under the supervision of Rev. R. VanOverloop. This will bring Mr. Ibe to January of 2012, and next year at this time he hopes to face his final examinations before he returns to the saints in his country. 

The other four students will occupy themselves this summer in various ways. Some find employment in the library here; others in the work of their hands; and one may assist on a mission field for a time for further training in the unique work of a missionary. Please pray for all of our students that the Lord qualifies them so that the churches may have "able and faithful" ministers of the gospel. 

But I urge the churches to pray for more men whom God calls to these studies. Our Lord instructed us to pray for laborers for the harvest. Encourage your pastor to include this petition in his public prayers regularly. Perhaps the Lord will answer those prayers by raising up a young man from your congregation. We are encouraged by the news that five young men have expressed desire to take pre-seminary (college-level) Greek here next fall! If these classes go well, these men would be on track to apply formally for admission to the seminary in two more years. May the Lord give us many more! 

Yesterday we welcomed 17 Juniors from Covenant Christian High School's Church History class. Mr. Scott VanUffelen (and other teachers) take groups of students to visit seminary once or twice per year. Yesterday the students received a brief introduction to the seminary, a tour of the building and grounds, and an opportunity to sit in one class from each of the professors. Will the Lord use this to plant the seed of desire for the gospel ministry in one of these young men? 

Please pray for us, as we daily pray for you and love you, the people of God.

Prof. Barrett Gritters, Rector