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PRC Synod 2017 - Day Six Report

 wed crowd 1
A large crowd gathered for the discussion of several protests and appeals relating to the doctrine of salvation by grace alone in Christ alone.

The following report from day six of the PRC Synod 2017 (Wednesday, June 21, 2017) is furnished by Rev. C. Spronk, second clerk. We take this opportunity to thank him for the daily reports.

Early in today’s session Rev. Doug Kuiper read a letter acknowledging the call to serve as professor of Church History and New Testament Theology and expressed his intention to answer the call no later than July 16, 2017.

Synod then turned to the advice of Committee II regarding the report of the Psalter Revision Committee. Synod instructed the Contact Committee (which is overseeing the work of the Psalter Revision Committee on behalf of synod) to poll the consistories in order to gauge denominational support for the project of Psalter revision and report back to Synod 2018.

Synod treated an appeal that contended that a consistory violated a members right to protest and appeal according to Article 31 of the Church Order when it placed that member under discipline after he filed a protest. Synod rejected this appeal and ruled that Article 31 of the church order was not violated.

Synod voted for synodical committee members with the following results (3 year terms unless otherwise stipulated):

A. Catechism Book Committee: Rev. R. Barnhill, Bob Vermeer.
B. Contact Committee Prof. R. Dykstra, Rev. Eriks, Sid Miedema.
C. Domestic Mission Committee: Revs. A. Spriensma, R. Van Overloop, Doug Dykstra (Faith), Doug Pastoor.
D. Emeritus Committee: Chester Hunter (primus), Gaylen Te Slaa (secundus).
E. Foreign Mission Committee: Revs. C.Griess and D.Kuiper, Leon Uitenbogaard, Perry Van Egdom.
F. Student Aid Committee: Jeremy Meulenberg, Steve Bylsma.
G. Theological School Committee: Revs. R. Van Overloop and W. Langerak and Cal Kalsbeek, Greg Van Overloop.
H. Finance Committee: Revs. G. Eriks and C. Haak.
I. Board of Trustees: Rev. G. Eriks (3 year term), Nick Kleyn (3 year term), Rev. R. Smit (2 year term), Sid Miedema (2 year term).

Synod treated the advice of Committee IV regarding five protests. This committee started last week by bringing recommendations regarding the legality of six protests. One protest was declared illegal on the ground that the protestant is not a member of the PRCA. So today Committee IV brought advice about the substance of the other five protests.

All of the protests had to do with decisions of synod 2016 regarding a sermon on John 14:6. Synod 2016 decided not to sustain an appeal that contended that the sermon in question teaches a conditional covenant. Synod 2017 sustained three protests against that decision declaring that the sermon did make “our good works part of the “way” of the text.” Synod also declared that another protest did not need to be treated since it asked for a clarification of a decision that synod has now overturned. Synod also rejected the protest of the consistory (of the pastor who preached the sermon) that defended the sermon on John 14:6. Synod made some decisions to try to help the consistory and the pastor work through and implement these decisions, and appointed a committee to help them in all matters pertaining to this case.

Synod 2016 also took a decision not to sustain the decisions of a consistory and Classis East to charge a man with antinomianism. Synod 2017 decided not to sustain a protest against that decision today. However, it did note that some of the statements made by the individual in question “taken at face value, are contrary to Scripture and the Reformed Confessions.”

Sometime around 8:00 p.m. the minutes of the day were read and approved. The Vice-President, Rev. Bruinsma thanked Rev. Key for his capable leadership as chairman of Synod 2017. Rev. Key thanked the delegates for their cooperation. Prof. Russell Dykstra Closed with prayer.

Synod 2017 is adjourned.

PRC Synod 2017 - Day Five Report

Delegates visitors Mon 1

The following report from day five of the PRC Synod 2017 (Monday, June 19, 2017) is furnished by Rev. C. Spronk, second clerk.

Synod began the day by treating the recommendations of Committee II regarding an appeal against the decision of Classis East to uphold a consistory’s decision to grant permission to members of the BERG (Confessing Protestant-Reformed Congregation of Giessen, Germany) to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Synod rejected this appeal.

The Catechism Book Committee (CBC) reported that it polled the consistories of our churches with regard to suggested improvements in the catechism books and workbooks used for the Bible History and Heidelberg Catechism classes. The CBC plans to evaluate the results of the poll and bring appropriate recommendations to Synod 2018. Synod approved the actions of the CBC.

The Contact Committee reported good news today about a potential seminary student, Dr. Ronald Carey. Dr. Carey is a physician in Vellore, India. Georgetown PRC is working with the group to which Dr. Carey belongs and recommends him for seminary. He, his wife, and their one child plan to move to the US in the fall of 2017. The Theological School Committee is in the process of admitting Dr. Carey as a special student. Because of Dr. Carey’s need for support synod decided to ask the congregations to take three collections in 2018 for the Foreign Student Assistance Fund.

Synod approved of the work of the synodical deputies from Classis West in their concurring with the decision of Classis East to approve of the organization of Zion PRC.

The following motions where moved, supported, and carried regarding our mission work in the Philippines:

1. That synod approve the work performed by Doon PRC’s Council and the FMC in the Philippines on behalf of the churches.
2. That synod express its appreciation to Doon PRC for their faithful oversight of the mission work in the Philippines.
3. That synod express its gratitude to Rev. and Mrs. Holstege and to Rev. and Mrs. Kleyn for their faithful service in the cause of the mission work in the Philippines.
4. That synod adopt a 2018 budget of $457,000 for the mission work in the Philippines (note: This amount is for three missionaries).
5. That synod grant financial assistance to the PRCP Classis in the amount of P671,952.44 (about $13,439) for 2018 to be taken from the FMC Special Mission Fund.

The FMC reported that it is working closely with Georgetown PRC in evaluating the work in India. The India Committee of the FMC is growing in its conviction that the time to call missionaries to India might be sooner rather than later. Another reason to pray that God will
provide us with more ministers!

Synod took a decision to request that our congregations designate four offerings for foreign missions and one offering for the Philippine book fund in 2018.

This afternoon synod began by treating the recommendations of Committee II regarding the Psalter Revision Committee. Synod declared that the proposed revisions of Psalms 73- 89 are in harmony with the principles of the text, music, and format approved in 2016. This decision is not a final approval of the section but is simply a statement that synod judges that the committee has faithfully followed the adopted principles. Synod also approved the distribution of Psalms 73-79 to the congregations for usage and feedback. Hopefully these booklets will be available in your church soon. Until then you can find the revisions at psalter.net. Committee Two made one more motion regarding Psalter revision that was recommitted for reformulation. More on that another day.

Synod welcomed Revs. Carl Haak and Andy Lanning to its session today. Rev. Haak did not attend the sessions of synod last week to attend to a pastoral need in the congregation he serves. Rev. Bill Langerak filled in for him, and we are thankful for his willing service to synod last week. Rev. Lanning, pastor of the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore, was not able to attend last week’s sessions because he was a speaker at the CERC’s church camp. He arrived today in time for the afternoon session of Synod.

Finally, synod took a decision to recess until Wednesday in order to give Committee IV more time to formulate its advice regarding six protests.

Mon visitors 1

PRC Synod 2017 - Day Four Report

Group pic 1

The following report from day four of the PRC Synod 2017 is furnished by Rev. C. Spronk, second clerk.

SISTER-CHURCH RELATIONSHIP APPROVED!
The highlight of today’s work was the approval of a sister-church relationship between the Protestant Reformed Churches in America and the Protestant Reformed Churches in the Philippines! We give thanks to God for the mutual love that our denominations have for the
truth of God as confessed in our churches. We look forward to the rich blessings we will enjoy in a our mutual encouragement and oversight of each other.

Synod began the day considering the report of the Student Aid Committee. The committee reports that the student assistance fund has a balance of $163,649.29. Synod approved the recommendation to request each congregation take one collection for this fund.

Synod then turned to the report of the Contact Committee (CC). We give thanks to God for all the opportunities that He has given our denomination to interact with other churches through the CC. Synod approved the CC’s work with the following congregations and denominations:


• The Covenant Evangelical Church in Singapore
• The Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Australia
• The Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland
• The Bekennende Evangelisch-Reformierte Gemeinde of Giessen, Germany
• The Protestant Reformed Churches in the Philippines
• The Korean Presbyterian Church (Koshin)
• Gereformeerde Kerke in Nord Afrika (a newly formed denomination consisting of five
congregations that left the GKSA).
• There are also some individuals with whom the CC has contact in South Africa.

Last year’s synod adopted a policy for the CC to use in evaluating the possibility of participating in or joining ecumenical councils. The CC applied this policy to the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC) and recommended that our denomination not apply for membership in this council. Synod approved this recommendation and mandated that the CC send observers to the November 2017 meeting of NAPARC with the following mandate:


• Express thanks for the invitation and greetings from the PRCA.
• Give a brief introduction of the PRCA.
• Convey synod’s decision that we will not be applying for membership in NAPARC at this time. The grounds for not applying for membership are:


a. Although NAPARC shows a level of commitment to the confessions, which is evident from their actions of removing the Christian Reformed Church, yet the council does not manifest a sufficient commitment to the confessions. This is evident from their allowance of member denominations who have exonerated those who embrace the teaching of the Federal Vision and their allowance as member denominations those who teach a doctrine of creation that does not interpret literally the Genesis creation account.
b.Although NAPARC does address some of the matters that divide its member denominations, according to our observers, there has been little to no discussion during plenary sessions of the threat of the teachings of Federal Vision, especially in the denominations in which officebearers have been accused of teaching this heresy.

We are thankful to God for all of the people who serve our denomination. Today Synod expressed its appreciation for the work of:


•The Stated Clerk, Rev. Ron Van Overloop
• The Assistant Stated Clerk, Don Doezema
• The Denominational Treasurer, Don Offringa
• The Denominational Bookkeeper, Pamela Bos
• The Board of Trustees

Synod took a decision to reject a protest against the decision of Synod 2016 to “Instruct the [Contact Committee] and its Psalter Revision Committee to continue their participation in the interdenominational project of Psalter revision” (Acts of Synod 2016, Article 49, B, 3, p. 61-62). This does not conclude synod’s treatment of Psalter Revision. Sometime next week synod will treat the report of the Psalter Revision Committee which is working under the auspices of our Contact Committee.

Synod approved the emeritation request of Rev. Tom Miersma. The chairman noted that Rev. Miersma spent many years serving as a missionary for our denomination as well as a pastor in our churches in Classis West.

Subsidy requests were approved in the amount of $350,055. The Denominational Budget for 2018 was approved in the amount of $2,112,432. Due to the wise management of funds over the past several years the per-family synodical assessment was able to be reduced by $40 so that the assessment of each family will be $775 in 2018.

During the Contact Committee Report regarding the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Northern Ireland (CPRCNI) synod received a report from the CPRCNI’s Elder Brian Crossett. Brother Crosset reported on the spiritual health of the congregation in Ballymena and of the mission group in Limerick, Ireland. At the end of our session today synod bid farewell to brother Crossett, wishing him safe travels home and God’s blessings on the saints in Northern Ireland and Ireland. Brother Crossett also told the joke of the day: “There are three kinds of people: people who can count, and people who can’t.” This helped get the otherwise sober delegates to smile during the synodical photo session.

Synod accepted the invitation of Byron Center PRC to host Synod 2018 that is to convene on June 12 at 8:00 AM.

Synod 2017 will not meet in session tomorrow [Saturday]. But you can be sure that some of the committees of pre-advice will be working away to finish their advice. Synod will reconvene as a body Monday morning at 8:00 AM.

Have a blessed weekend and a blessed Lord’s Day!

Below are pictures of this year's synodical officers and committees:

Synod 2017 officers
Officers: Rev. C. Spronk, 1st clerk; Rev. D. Kuiper, 1st clerk; Rev. S. Key, President; Rev. W. Bruinsma, Vice-president

 Comm 1
Committee 1 - Rev. R. Van Overloop, Elder Bob Brands, Elder Sid Miedema, Rev. J. Laning, Prof. B. Gritters

 Comm 2
Committee 2 - Rev. W. Bruinsma, Rev. R. Kleyn, Elder Al Muerer, Elder Pete Adams, Prof. R. Cammenga

 Comm 3
Committee 3 - Elder John Van Baren, Rev. C. Spronk, Rev. B. Huizinga, Elder Henry Ferguson

Comm 4
Committee 4 - Elder Skip Hunter, Rev. Doug Kuiper, Rev. Gary Erils, Elder James Lanting, Prof. R. Dykstra

Comm 5
Committee 5 - Rev. S. Key, Elder Gary Boverhof, Rev. W. Langerak, Elder K. Bruinsma

PRC Synod 2017 - Day Three Report

Sem exam practica

The following report from day three (Thursday) of the PRC Synod 2017 is provided in part by Rev. C. Spronk, second clerk.

Today Synod heard the final portions of the examination of the seven senior seminarians, with the men being examined in the final loci of Dogmatics, Church Polity, NT History, and then in Practica.

Following that, Synod approved the examinations of Matt DeBoer, Brian Feenstra, Joe Holstege, Jon Langerak, David Noorman, Stephan Regnerus and Justin Smidstra. They are no longer seminarians! Synod has declared them candidates for the ministry of the word and sacraments in the Protestant Reformed Churches. They will be eligible for calls on July 15.

Faith choir sem grad
Faith PRC Choir sings at Seminary graduation.

The graduation ceremony took place tonight in Hudsonville PRC. Prof. B. Gritters spoke on “The Ministry: An Existence, Not An Occupation.” (picture below)

BG speech sem grad

RD KK diplomas
Prof. R. Dykstra (Seminary rector) and Rev. K. Koole, president of the Theological School Committee prepare to hand out diplomas.

JLangerak diploma

Candidate J. Langerak receives his diploma.

There is nothing more to report today. After the examinations finished synod adjourned for the day to allow the committees of pre-advice to do their work.

PRC Synod 2017 - Day Two Report

The following report from day two of the PRC Synod 2017 is furnished by Rev. C. Spronk, second clerk.

DougKuiper 1Synod voted today to extend a call to Rev. Doug Kuiper to replace Prof. Dykstra as professor of Church History and New Testament Theology. Rev. Andy Lanning was elected as the alternate and will receive the call should Rev. Kuiper decline. Our prayers are with Rev. Kuiper as he considers this call.

The oral examination of the seven senior seminary students began today. Once again the delegates and the students divided into two groups. Professor R. Cammenga examined the students in Introduction to Dogmatics, Theology, Anthropology, and Christology. Professor R. Dykstra examined the students in Church History. Professor B. Gritters conducted the examination in Old Testament History. Prof. Gritters also examined one of the groups of students in Church Polity. Hopefully the students will get a good night of rest and be ready to conclude the examination tomorrow.

Synod had time today to treat the advice of Committee 1. Here are some of the important decisions:
• Synod noted that Southwest PRC’s work as the calling church for our home missionary has ceased after 18 years and expressed appreciation to the congregation for its faithful labors.
• A budget of $137,000 for a home missionary was adopted. Let us pray that God will provide our churches with a home missionary soon!
• Professor Barry Gritters was appointed to a three-year term as Rector of our seminary beginning on July 1 of this year.
• Thanks was expressed to Profs. Cammenga, Dykstra, and Gritters, and to Judi Doezema and Charles Terpstra for their faithful labors in the seminary. They do a tremendous job!
• The stated clerk was instructed to inform the churches of the urgent need for seminary students! Let us heed the words of Jesus in Luke 10:2 “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”
• It was noted that Matt Kortus, Jacob Maatman, and Darren Vink have finished their second year at the seminary, and Josiah Tan (from Singapore) has finished his first year. May the Lord sustain these men in their preparation for the ministry of the gospel.

Synod also treated the advice of Committee 4 concerning the legality of 7 protests that have to do with the decisions of Synod 2016 in regard to the Hope PRC (Walker, MI) and Neil Meyer case. Five of the protests were declared legal. One part of a three-part protest was declared legal (the other parts were declared illegal). One protest was declared illegal. Committee 4 will now craft advice concerning the substance of the legal protests.

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Synod Day 2 Update 1 2 Page 2

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PRC Synod 2017 - Day One Report

HudsonvillePRC pic

The following report from day one of the PRC Synod 2017 is furnished by Rev. C. Spronk, second clerk.

RevCSpronk

Synod convened this morning at 8:00am in Hudsonville PRC. Present were the 20 delegates from Classes East and West, our three seminary professors, and Mr. Brian Crossett. Mr. Crossett a special guest of synod who represents our sister church, the Covenant Protestant
Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland.

Rev. Steven Key was elected as president, Rev. Bill Bruinsma as vice-president, Rev. Doug Kuiper as 1st clerk, and Rev. Clay Spronk as 2nd Clerk.

The following committees of pre-advice were appointed:

Committee 1: Rev. Van Overloop, Rev. Laning, Elder Robert Brands, Elder Sid Miedema, and Prof. B. Gritters. This committee will bring advice regarding domestic missions, our seminary, student aid, and an appeal from Mr. Gerald Feenstra.


Committee 2: Rev. R. Kleyn, Rev. W. Bruinsma, Elder Pete Adams, Elder Al Meurer, and Prof. R. Cammenga. This committee will bring advice regarding the work of the Contact Committee and the Catechism Committee. It will also treat the appeal of Mr. Case Lubbers.


Committee 3: Rev. C. Spronk, Rev. B. Huizinga, Elder Henry Ferguson, Elder John Van Baren. This committee’s task is to bring advice regarding foreign missions and the appeal of Mr. Wes Koops.


Committee 4: Rev. G. Eriks, Rev. D. Kuiper, Elder James Lanting, Elder Chester Hunter, and Prof. R. Dykstra. Synod appointed this committee to treat seven protests that are related to the same case.

Committee 5: Rev. S. Key, Rev. C. Haak, Elder Keith Bruinsma, and Elder Gary Boverhof. As is always the case at synod, committee 5 will bring advice regarding various financial matters.

Synod has the privilege of examining seven seminarians this year. Today was sermon day. Synod divided into two groups to listen to the sermons. One group remained at Hudsonville to listen to the specimen sermons of four students. The other group met at Providence PRC to hear the specimen sermons of the other three students. Synod approved of all of the sermons.

The oral examination of the students will begin tomorrow morning. Live-streaming of the examinations, at least portions of it, will be available at: http://www.hudsonvilleprc.org/. After the approval of the students’ sermons synod adjourned for the day so that the pre-advice committees could begin their work.

Finally, it should be noted that Rev. Bill Langerak filled in for Rev. Haak today. Yesterday a family in the congregation Rev. Haak serves experienced the sudden loss of a teenage daughter. Synod was led by Rev. Eriks in prayer to ask God to care for those who are hurt by this tragedy and for Rev. Haak as brings the gospel of comfort in this time of need.

GEriks pulpit

If you wish to listen to Rev. G. Eriks' pre-synodical sermon preached Monday night in Hudsonville PRC, "The Vision of the Holy God," visit this Sermonaudio link.

Below are a few images from Day 1 - thanks to John Van Baren for the synod pictures this year!

delegates table 2

Delegates table 1

Key Kuiper 1
A diligent president (Rev. S. Key) and first clerk (Rev. D. Kuiper), checking time to ensure a prompt session.

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