Missions of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America

Covenant Reformed News - September 2023

Covenant Reformed News
September 2023  •  Volume XIX, Issue 17


 

Nehemiah’s Godly Enquiry Concerning Jerusalem

The Bible itself often identifies the spiritual significance of its major characters and it is also instructive who makes these identifications. Abraham is called “the father of all them that believe” by Paul, the great proponent of justification by faith alone (Rom. 4:11). David is spoken of as “the man after God’s own heart” by no less than Jehovah Himself, who saw and moulded David’s heart (Acts 13:22). John the Baptist is the one who would “make ready a people for the Lord,” as stated by the angel Gabriel, who was preparing Zacharias and Elizabeth for the birth of their son (Luke 1:17).

Nehemiah is a man who sought the welfare of Israel. This is what God’s enemies thought regarding him. This is a good testimony to have from the ungodly, and their fears regarding Nehemiah were accurate! “When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel” (Neh. 2:10).

Here are three well-known roles or works of Nehemiah. First, he was the cupbearer of Artaxerxes, the Medo-Persian Emperor. Second, he became the governor of Judah. Third, in this office, he was the moving force in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s perimeter wall. In all these roles, whether as cupbearer, governor or wall builder, he was a man who sought the welfare of Israel. The church needs more men and women like him!

Two members of Nehemiah’s family are named. His father was called Hachaliah (1:1; 10:1) and he had a brother named Hanani (1:2; 7:2), as well as at least one other brother (1:2). If Nehemiah had sisters, they are not mentioned in this book.

Here are two good reasons to think that Hachaliah and his wife had a godly home. First, they had Nehemiah for a son. Second, they had Hanani for a son, whom faithful Nehemiah appointed one of the leaders in Jerusalem, the holy city (7:2).

The Lord especially uses homes like that of Mr. and Mrs. Hachaliah to produce men and women who seek the welfare of Israel, the elect, redeemed and gathered church of our Lord Jesus Christ. These are the sort of homes we need in our congregations!

What does Nehemiah ask at the very start of his book? He makes a double-barrelled enquiry about the people back in Judah and its capital city, Jerusalem (1:2).

The people about whom Nehemiah asks are those who had returned to Judah out of the Babylonian captivity in two main groups. First, there was the group under Zerubbabel the governor. They numbered about 50,000, including Jeshua the high priest, and they rebuilt the temple (Ezra 1-6). These people arrived in Judah over 80 years before the events of Nehemiah 1. Second, there was the much smaller group under Ezra the scribe. Ezra 7-10 deals with the arrival of this great priest and focuses on his leadership in promoting spiritual edification (rather than physical construction). Ezra and his group arrived just 13 years before Nehemiah 1.

How are these two groups doing? Are they amalgamating and uniting in the Lord’s service? Why did Nehemiah enquire about them? Because he cared about their welfare!

Why did he ask about the place, Jerusalem? Because he knew that there was rebuilding work that needed to be done. He hoped to hear that the city wall was progressing. After all, Ezra’s party was there to inject new energy into the people of God in Judah.

To whom did Nehemiah make these enquiries? Nehemiah asked Hanani, because his godly brother knew the issues and understood the importance of people’s spiritual morale. Nehemiah asked the “men of Judah” who were with Hanani because they had recently been there and so they had first-hand knowledge.

Do you see the significance of this? In general, you need to ask the right people in order to get accurate and helpful answers. This is perhaps especially true as regards the church. Ask people at the heart of the church, people who are spiritually attuned.

When did Nehemiah ask Hanani and these men of Judah these questions? When, after journeying from Jerusalem, they had arrived in Shushan the palace, also known as Susa the citadel, one of the places where the Medo-Persian emperor resided and where Nehemiah worked. In other words, these people had up-to-date information on the situation on the ground or, at least, information as current as possible in those days.

Let us follow the text in Nehemiah 1:1-2, which summarizes our exposition so far. “The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah” (1)—here is the book’s heading. Next the scene is set: “And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace” (1). Then comes the arrival of the party from the west: “Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah” (2), followed by Nehemiah’s enquiry about the people and the place, “I asked them [1] concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and [2] concerning Jerusalem” (2).

What was their reply? “And they said unto me, [1] The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: [2] the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire” (3).

How did Nehemiah respond? Not merely with pleasantries: “And how was the weather during your long journey?” Was he a little bit saddened or fairly upset? No! He was deeply troubled and you know why, reader! Because Nehemiah was a man who loved God’s church, her distress was his distress. Doubtless Nehemiah had sung Psalm 137 in the captivity many times and he had meant it! “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy” (5-6)! Rev. Angus Stewart

 

The Covenant of Redemption (1)

A reader writes, “I would like Rev. Hanko to discuss the traditional ‘covenant of redemption’ theory in a future News, particularly the various versions of it:

1) an agreement between the Father and the Son;
2) an agreement between the three divine Persons;
3) an agreement between the Triune God, as represented by the Father, and Christ.

Some say that the covenant of grace in time is a mirror image of this eternal contract; others say it is something separate and different. Various texts are used for this theory.”

The idea of a covenant of redemption (Latin: pactum salutis) or “counsel of peace” (Zech. 6:13) dates back to the seventeenth century, with the term “covenant of redemption” first appearing in 1638 in a speech by the Scottish theologian David Dickson. Men such as Herman Witsius, Patrick Gillespie and James Durham developed the idea in detail. Though many consider the notion of such a covenant as speculative and unbiblical, it continues to have its defenders.

There are different ideas about the parties in this covenant, nicely enumerated above by the friend who sent in the question. Most often, the covenant of redemption is considered to be an agreement between the Father and the Son, to bring about the redemption of the elect through the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ. Louis Berkhof, for example, defines the covenant of redemption as “the agreement between the Father, giving the Son as Head and Redeemer of the elect, and the Son, voluntarily taking the place of those whom the Father had given Him” (Systematic Theology, p. 271). 

Biblical basis for such a covenant of redemption is sought in the many scriptural passages that describe the salvation of the elect in terms of a purchase, implying, so it is said, a previous agreement, either between the Father and the Son or between the Triune God and Christ. Likewise, the word “propitiation” in Romans 3:25 and I John 2:2 is assumed to imply a transaction of some kind between the Father and Christ. All the references to Christ’s coming in obedience to the Father, fulfilling God’s will, doing His Father’s business and saving those whom the Father gave Him, are cited as proof of such an agreement or transaction between God and Christ.

An important text to those who teach a covenant of redemption is Zechariah 6:13, which speaks of “the counsel of peace” which “shall be between them both.” This passage, however, has nothing to do with any kind of pre-temporal inter-Trinitarian covenant or a covenant between God and Christ. It refers to the union of the priestly and kingly offices in Jesus who is “a priest upon his throne.” In other words, the text speaks of the reconciliation of justice and mercy in Christ who is both King and Priest, not a covenant of redemption.

We are among those who find the theology of a covenant of redemption to be speculative and unbiblical. Our objections to such a covenant, however, have to do not only with the interpretation of various passages but also with the fact that those who hold to a covenant of redemption begin with an unscriptural view of the nature of a covenant. They all define a covenant in terms of an agreement, a contract or a transaction, whether it be a covenant between all the Persons of the Trinity, between God and Christ, between God and Adam or between God and His elect people. This agreement, so it is said, has promises, conditions and stipulations, as any agreement would. After starting with that wrong idea that the covenant is an agreement, those who hold to a covenant of redemption find proof for such a notion in the passages mentioned above.

We have three objections to such a presentation of the covenant. First, such a view of the divine covenant is not to be found in the Bible. Scripture always presents the divine covenant as a relationship, not an agreement. The formula for the covenant between God and His people reveals the covenant to be a relationship. That formula, though expressed in different ways, is essentially, “I will be your God, and ye shall be my people” (Lev. 26:12). We will write more of the covenant as a relationship in another article.

Second, if the covenant is an agreement, then God and man, whether Adam, the elect or Christ as man, act on equal terms. That is a denial of God’s sovereignty. In His works and ways with man, God never acts as equal but as sovereign. Even in the incarnation, Christ as man is subject to the Father, sovereignly chosen, equipped, sent into the world and assigned the work of redemption (Act. 2:36). As the Servant of God (Isa. 49:6), His work was subject always to God’s judgment and approval (Matt. 3:17).

The covenant relationship between God and the elect never depends on the elect agreeing to be God’s people or even on Christ agreeing on their behalf. It is not a transaction or agreement. That would make God’s covenant dependent and conditional. God sovereignly chooses the elect to be His people, effectually redeems them in Christ and powerfully converts them by the Spirit. Thus the covenant between God and His people is never described in the Bible as an agreement, something dependent on the will and cooperation of the sinner, but as a relationship established and kept by God Himself. We call this a “unilateral” covenant, a covenant established and maintained by God alone. The covenant between God and His people, then, is not bilateral or two-sided but one-sided. It is, most emphatically, God’s covenant.

Third, if the covenant is an agreement, it is not “everlasting” (Gen. 17:7). An agreement is always temporary, ending when its terms and conditions have been met. God’s covenant does not cease when the redemption of His elect people has been accomplished, but reaches its highest glory and splendour in eternity. 

If we are going to speak, therefore, of a covenant of redemption, it is not an agreement between God and Christ, but the relationship between them, established through the incarnation, in which Christ, as God’s Son, becomes the One through whom and in whom God establishes His covenant with us. It is the relationship described in Psalm 89:26-28: “He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation. Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him.”

More must be said, however, and we will continue this discussion in another article, Lord willing. Rev. Ronald Hanko

 

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
Website: https://cprc.co.uk/ • Live broadcast: cprc.co.uk/live-streaming/
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
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Reformed Witness Hour Newsletter - October 2023

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News from the Reformed Witness Hour

October 2023

 

Help Us Get the Word Out!

 

This month we have five Christ-centered, Gospel-themed messages to share!

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In October, we will continue with Rev. Bruinsma’s series on Christ’s return.

October 1
Satisfied with Marrow and Fatness 
Psalm 63:5


October 8
Gathered Unto Armageddon
Revelation 16:10-16


October 15
The Final Sign of Christ’s Return
Luke 21:25-28


October 22
The Scripture of God’s Word
2 Peter 1:20-21

October 29
To a Thousand Generations
Psalm 105:6-8

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New Radio Station Update

You may remember in March this year we announced that the Reformed Witness Hour would air on two new radio stations: WGTK in Greenville, South Carolina and WLQV in Detroit, Michigan. Since that time, we have also found a second station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to air our program, WJAS. We are extremely excited to see that in the first six months of broadcasting in South Carolina, the number of messages listened to in the state has doubled compared to the six months prior to broadcasting there.

 

In Case You Missed It!

If you missed it, take time to listen to Rev. Bruinsma’s message on Christian Education called Craving Knowledge. As we continue this school year, this sermon gives a wonderful reminder of our calling as children of God to gain knowledge and wisdom in the Word of God. Rev. Bruinsma discusses Proverbs 1:7, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction” and expounds on the three important terms used:

  1. Knowledge: what we must attain or desire.
  2. Instruction: the way we are to attain such knowledge.
  3. Wisdom: the goal of our knowledge.

Do you crave knowledge? Fools despise instruction, remember.  At times children like to bemoan the fact that they must apply themselves to their studies. But the Word of God is plain; apply yourselves to your schoolwork, not simply because it is beneficial from an earthly point of view, but because it is beneficial from a spiritual point of view. All knowledge is a gift of God.  And the more we know of God and how He works in creation and history, the more we become wise.  Learn more by listening to the message at reformedwitnesshour.org, search for key words: Craving Knowledge.

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PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for October 1, 2023 *(Updated)

Psalm 117Today, October 1, is the fortieth Lord's Day of this year of our Lord 2023. Below you will find special highlights of PRC and sister-church news. It is our hope that these reports not only inform you but also give you opportunity to pray for the needs of these churches and mission fields throughout the world.

If you are new to this website and the PRCA, we invite you to join us in worship today or on any of the Sunday's of this year at one of our local congregations near you, or listen online.

O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD. ~ Psalm 117:1,2

CONGREGATIONAL NEWS 

  • Lynden PRC (WA) was to vote after her morning service today from the Consistory's new trio: Rev. J. Engelsma (Crete PRC), Rev. D. Noorman (SW PRC), and Rev. R. Smit (PRC foreign missionary). *Rev. Noorman has received this call.

  • Rev. D. Noorman is considering the call from Loveland (CO) PRC (received Sept.10). He plans to answer by Oct.8.

  • Last Sunday Randolph PRC voted to call Rev. R. Smit (PRC foreign missionary, currently living in the States).

  • Last Sunday Hudsonville PRC extended a call to Rev. N. Decker (Grandville PRC).

  • Last Sunday Zion PRC voted to call Rev. M. Kortus (Hope PRC-Redlands, CA).

  • On Sept.3 Cand. M. Koerner accepted the call from Hosanna PRC (Edmonton, AB). This past week he was examined by Classis West, which met in Crete PRC (IL). He successfully sustained this examination and Hosanna PRC was advised to proceed to his ordination and installation. He has filed paper with the Canadian government for a work permit, and when these are approved, he and his wife Sharon can move to Edmonton. "The immigration application for Pastor-Elect Koerner’s work permit has been submitted. An answer is expected from the U.S. government around October 11th, Lord willing." (Today's Hosanna bulletin)

  • Rev. D. Kleyn and his wife Sharon plan to move to Doon, Iowa this week, where he will be installed as Doon PRC's pastor on Oct.15. May the Lord grant them safe travels and a smooth transition into their life and labors there.

  • Georgetown PRC's Council has formed a new trio from which to call a pastor: Revs. A. Brummel (Calvary PRC-Hull, IA), G. Eriks (Unity PRC-Byron Center, MI), and D. Noorman. The congregational meeting is set for Oct.8 after the morning service. 

Special Congregational Notices:

Hosanna PRC (Edmonton, AB): "We have been granted a lease with St. Albert Evangelical Lutheran Church, 11 Glenview Crescent, St. Albert. Our first services will be on October 1st. Service times will remain at 1:00 PM and 6:00 PM. We give thanks to the Lord for the continued provision of a building. Psalm 34:10 - “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.” And also this: "The parsonage property in Akinsdale (St. Albert) has been purchased. The new possession date is Monday, October 30th. We give thanks to our denomination for their generous donations, which have allowed us to purchase this property with cash. 'Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.' II Corinthians 9:11"

Zion PRC (Jenison, MI): "Community Bible Study: Our first meeting will be this Wednesday [Oct.4] with Howard Pastoor as the leader. There are extra flyers placed in all the mailboxes in the back, please use them to personally invite neighbors, co-workers or anyone that may be interested." [held in the church's back building, sw side]

Classical appointments and pulpit supply for today in the vacant PRCs:  Rev. R. Barnhill in Doon (IA) PRC; Prof. C. Griess and Rev. C. Haak in Georgetown PRC; Rev. H. Bleyenberg in Hosanna PRC, Edmonton, AB; Prof. R. Cammenga and Rev. G. Eriks in Hudsonville PRC; Rev. M. Kortus (2nd week) in Loveland PRC; Elder led in Lynden PRC; Rev. M. McGeown in Randolph PRC; Prof. B. Gritters and Rev. D. Noorman in Zion PRC.  May we count it a blessing of our church federation that we can help one another in these needs. Let us remember to pray for the men who supply these pulpits and for the vacant congregations. And may we continue to pray for men to hear the call to serve as pastors and missionaries!

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS

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Pastor-elect Matt Koerner and his wife Sharon following his successful examination at Classis West this past week (see below)

Classis East: Classis East met on Wednesday, September 13, at Trinity PRC. The delegates are scheduled to reconvene on Wednesday, Oct.25. For a summary of the actions and decisions, visit this page.

Classis West: Classis West held its regular meeting in Crete PRC (IL) this past Wednesday, September 27. At this meeting pastor-elect Matt Koerner was examined and approved for ordination as a minister of the Word and sacraments in the PRC. For more on this meeting, including the stated clerk's public report, visit this page.

Rev. J. Laning, PRC home missionary, is preaching for two Sunday's in Hope PRC-Redlands, CA while Rev. Kortus is in Loveland on classical supply.

PRC 100th Anniversary: With gratitude to our faithful God, the PRCA look forward to our 100th anniversary. The celebration is planned for June 23-27, 2025, at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, MI. The various committees of the 100th anniversary steering commitee are busy preparing for this historic event, including a special commemorative book. Watch for further notices and updates!

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7th-grade students from Hope PRCS visited seminary this past Friday, taking part in devotions with faculty and students

PRC Seminary Notices:

  • The PR Theological Seminary will enter its sixth week of the first semester of the 2023-24 term tomorrow. Things are going well so far, for which we thank our gracious Father. The schedule and calendar have been posted here. ​The faculty, students, and staff covet your prayers as we continue our various labors this new school year.
  • Faculty and students attended the pre-Classis West Officebearers' Conference on sexual abuse this past Tuesday in Crete PRC (IL). Prof. Dykstra and Prof. Griess gave speeches related to the subject, and faulty and students participated in the round-table discussion held afterward. Prof. Griess' speech may be found here.
  • The 7th-grade class of Ms. S. Smit from Hope PRCS (Walker, MI) visited the seminary Friday morning, Sept.29. They received an introduction to the seminary by Prof. Cammenga, took a tour of the building, participated in devotions and break with faculty and students, and then sat in on Prof. Huizinga's OT history class. 
  • This week Bruce Feenstra will lead the daily devotions.
  • Tomorrow, Monday, Oct.2, is the first round of Practice Preaching for students Aaron Van Dyke and Bruce Feenstra (1st time for him). Pray for them as they prepare and deliver their sermons and for the faculty as they provide constructive criticism for thei students growth in this crucial area of their training.
  • In connection with a special conference held online for interested people in Mexico, Prof. R. Cammenga recently prepared three lectures on the errors of the well-meant offer of the gospel and the truth of the Reformed-biblical call of the gospel. You may find these lectures on the seminary's YouTube channel.
  • Seminary Convocation was held on Wednesday Sept.6 in Hope PRC in Walker, MI.  The video of the convocation program is now available on the PRTS' YouTube channel.
  • Senior Sem. Arend Haveman is doing his internship this summer and fall (July-December) in Pittsburgh PRC under Rev. W. Bruinsma. He is busy with all aspects of the ministry. After this is completed, he will return for this final semester next year, Lord willing
  • The Spring 2023 issue of the PR Theological Journal was published in April. Digital copies have been posted on the journal webpage (see link here). The Spring issue features articles on a distinctive feature of PRC teaching on the covenant of grace, on the image of God in man from a conference in Mexico, on R.L. Dabney's "proposals of mercy," and the first part of a history of Classis West of the PRC - and, of course, several significant book reviews.  If you want to be added to our mailing list (either print or digital) or wish to pick up a copy, contact Valerie Kleyn, the seminary secretary (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Look for the fall issue in a few months!
  • During normal school sessions the seminary is open daily from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. (holidays excepted), including the library and bookstore. PRC members and friends are welcome to visit and make use of these resources.
  • For the latest seminary news and information, visit the seminary's website - and don't forget the blog!

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SISTER-CHURCH/MISSION NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore and her Kolkata, India mission work:
    • Pastors J. Tan and M. Wee are faithfully serving the CERC. Today these special notices were in her bulletin:
      "We thank God for the Mooncake Gospel Meeting yesterday, that we could hear a gospel message on Jesus as the Light of the world, who alone gives light and life, deliverance from the darkness of sin and death. May we be more faithful as we follow His light, believing and obeying His Word, and be equipped to shine as lights in the world, means used by God to bring others from the darkness of unbelief into the light of Christ.We thank God for the Mooncake Gospel Meeting yesterday, that we could hear a gospel message on Jesus as the Light of the world, who alone gives light and life, deliverance from the darkness of sin and death. May we be more faithful as we follow His light, believing and obeying His Word, and be equipped to shine as lights in the world, means used by God to bring others from the darkness of unbelief into the light of Christ.
      "Do continue to keep in prayer the delegates to Kolkata, Pastor Tan and Elder Wee, as well as Deacon Wee who is joining them. Pray for Pastor Tan who will also be preaching there today. They have sent over some highlights of their trip, much of it seeming to revolve around food. But certainly there is much more behind the scenes, sweet fellowship over meals and around the study of God’s Word. May the saints in Kolkata and the visitors from Singapore be refreshed and encouraged in communion with one another."
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland:
    • Rev. A. Stewart continues to minister the Word faithfully in the CPRC.
    • The August 2023 issue of Covenant Reformed News was recently published. Visit the link to read the articles on being clothed with Christ (part 3) and on why baptize all infants of believers by Rev. R. Hanko.
    • The CPRC YouTube channel may be found here.

  • PRC in the Philippines and her mission work in various places:
    • Berean PRC bulletin: Elders Umali and Penaverde led her worship services today. And, "Rev. Ibe and family are visiting with the saints in All of Grace Protestant Reformed Fellowship (AGPRF), Gabaldon, NE. Rev. Ibe will lead them in their worship service today at 9 AM and in their Bible study at 10:45 AM, God willing."
    • Provident PRC bulletin: Deacon Mitch Suarez led her worship services today.

REFORMED RESOURCES for EDUCATION, EDIFICATION, and EVANGELISM

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Listen to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you, on Sermonaudio, or on your favorite podcast - wherever you are!

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  • This month (October 2023) the RWH continues the series on the return of Jesus Christ by Rev. W. Bruinsma, along with other special messages. Today's message is titled "Satisfied with Marrow and Fatness" based on Psalm 63:5. For the October RWH Newsletter, visit this page. 
  • The Reformed Witness Hour publishes each month's messages in an attractive booklet. These printed sermons are a great blessing to many and are distributed all over the world, including to many prisoners in the U.S. If you or your Evangelism Committee would like to receive these, let the RWHC know and they will add you to the mailing list (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

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  • In need of sound biblical and Reformed catechism materials for children and young people? Check out the PRC's full curriculum of materials here. Call the PRC Seminary for help with any of these materials (616-531-1490).

  • For sound, distinctively Reformed literature on a variety of subjects and for all ages - including church history and Bible study materials - visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association website or stop in at their Jenison (Michigan) location.

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  • The Reformed Book Outlet (downtown Hudsonville, MI) is now operating in its new store in downtown Hudsonville! The new location is at 3472 Harvey St. in Hudsonville. Visit the store and browse the variety of resources for your Reformed-Christian faith and walk, including many children's titles. They are open Tuesday-Friday, 10-5, and Saturday 10-1.

This Week's Thought for Contemplation

Do You Know the True God? (2-3)

Do you know the true God? Not the god of man’s imagination, but the God of the Bible? This is an important question, because Jesus teaches us that eternal life is knowing God and His Son, Jesus Christ (John 17:3). If you are to live with God forever in heaven, you must know Him.

If you are interested in knowing the true God, please consider the following.

(4) God’s Salvation

1. God is also the Saviour who has sent Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners from their sin and the everlasting torments of hell (Isa. 43:11).

2. In His death, Christ suffered the torments of hell in the place of all those who believe in Him. By His death, He paid their debt and earned for them the forgiveness of their sins (I Peter 3:18).

3. Christ fulfilled God’s demand for believers by perfectly loving God and keeping God’s law. God considers them to be righteous in Christ (Rom. 5:19).

4. Christ gives spiritual life to those whom God saves so that they believe in Him. They know God and enjoy His fellowship. They will live with the true God in heaven forever (I John 5:20).

(5) True Faith

1. Do you seek the forgiveness of your sins, the righteousness of Christ, and eternal fellowship with the true God? God says to you,'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house' (Acts 16:31).

2. Believe that God is your Creator, Sustainer and Ruler, who is worthy of your love and worship. Realise that you are a sinner who has failed to fulfil your God-given duty and who needs salvation. Trust God to save you from your sins through the atoning death and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ.

3. True faith will cause you to repent of your sins. You will acknowledge that you are a sinner, sorrow over your sin and rebellion against God, and forsake your sin (Eze. 18:30).

4. True faith will make youobedient. It will cause you to seek to keep God’s commandments and live a life of thanksgiving to Him (James 2:17-19).

5. True faith believes that salvation is not the work of man but the gift of God. The believer is saved by the grace of God alone (Eph. 2:8-9).

(6) Do You Know?

Do you know the true God and His Son Jesus Christ?

If not, obey the command of God to trust Christ for salvation.

Without the knowledge of the true God, which comes through faith, you do not have eternal life but face the everlasting torments of hell.

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Classis West Meeting - September 27, 2023 - Official Report Added

CretePRC

Classis West held its regular meeting Wednesday, September 27, 2023 in Crete PRC (Illinois).

Matt Koerner exam Sept 27 2023 1

The main item on the agenda is the examination of Pastor-elect Matthew Koerner (2023 PRC Seminary graduate), who has accepted the call to Hosanna PRC in Edmonton, AB, Canada. Last evening he gave his specimen sermon before the delegates of Classis West and Crete PRC in a worship service. This morning Classis approved that sermon and proceeded to his examination in theology, Bible knowledge, confessions, and practica.

Rev JMarcus chair CW exam MKoerner
Rev. J. Marcus, chair of Classis, asking for any further questions from the delegates

Rev MKortus exam MKoerner
Rev. M. Kortus questioning Matt K in the doctrine of the church

Classis West has approved Pastor-elect Matt Koerner's examination and advised Hosanna PRC to proceed with his ordination. We rejoice with the brother and his wife in God's goodness and grace in this successful examination. May He continue to bless them as they anticipate his ordination and installation in Hosanna PRC.

Rev JMarcus chair CW exam MKoerner final

Rev. J. Marcus informing Pastor-elect M. Koerner and his wife Sharon of Classis' approval of his examination.

Matt Sharon Koerner CW diploma Sept27 2023
Matt and Sharon Koerner with his classical diploma

Yesterday (Tuesday, Sept.26) Classis West held an officebearers' conference on "Abuse in Our Churches and the Proper Response." A good number of officebearers and members attended, including the faculty and students from the PRC Seminary.

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News Report of Classis West of the PRCA

Meeting September 27, 2023

Classis West of the Protestant Reformed Churches met on September 27, 2023, in Crete (IL) PRC. The Crete congregation did a fine job of hosting the delegates.

The day before the meeting, an officebearers’ conference was held on the timely subject of “Sexual Abuse in our Churches and the Proper Response.” Prof. Cory Griess spoke first on “The Consistory’s Response to Sexual Abuse,” and Prof. Russell Dykstra spoke next on “Repentance and Reconciliation of the Abuser.” The conference concluded with a roundtable discussion among pastors, elders, and professors in which they talked about various questions and challenges they face in working through cases of sexual abuse.

Delegated to Classis were 25 men (8 ministers and 17 elders), and they were joined by three synodical deputies from Classis East. A number of visitors were also present, including junior high and high school students from the area Protestant Reformed school. By alphabetical rotation, Rev. J. Marcus chaired the meeting.

Two elders signed the Formula of Subscription as first time delegates to Classis, the minutes of the previous meeting of Classis were approved, and the questions of Article 41 of the Church Order were asked and satisfactorily answered by the consistories.

The highlight of the meeting was the examination of Pastor-elect Matthew Koerner, who had accepted the call to serve as pastor of Hosanna PRC (Edmonton). The night before Classis convened, the delegates gathered with the Crete congregation to worship God and to hear the specimen sermon of Mr. Koerner. He preached on Psalm 34:1-3 and displayed clearly the gifts that God has entrusted to him for the proclamation of the gospel. The majority of the morning of Classis was taken up with the joyful work of examining Mr. Koerner in theology, knowledge of Scripture and the Reformed confessions, controversy, and practica.  Throughout the exam the brother gave a good account of the intellectual and spiritual gifts necessary for the ministry. Classis unanimously approved his examination, and the synodical deputies from Classis East heartily concurred. The brother plans to be ordained and installed into the ministry in the next few months. We give thanks to the Lord of the harvest for supplying our churches with another faithful laborer!

After the conclusion of the exam, Classis heard regular reports from the stated clerk, classical committee, and reading sermon library committee and approved their work.

The church visitors of Classis reported on their work with the saints of Covenant of Grace PRC (Spokane, WA) after the resignation of office and departure from the denomination of their pastor and two of their three other officebearers. Classis approved the work of the church visitors regarding this case and thanked them for their timely response to the situation. Classis also asked the consistory of Loveland PRC, which has taken oversight of the saints in Spokane, to bring a recommendation to the next meeting of Classis regarding the viability of a congregation in Spokane and the path forward for the saints there. Finally, Classis communicated to the saints in Spokane its continued love, care, and support for them.

In closed session, Classis treated the report of a special committee assigned by Classis in March to help a consistory regarding a case of sexual abuse. Classis approved the work of the special committee up to this point, and gave further mandates to the special committee as to their work with the consistory going forward.

Classis made a schedule of pulpit supply through March of 2024 for the vacant congregations of Loveland (CO) PRC, Lynden (WA) PRC, and Randolph (WI) PRC.

The expenses of this meeting totaled $11,174.59.

Classis finished its work by about 5:00 PM.

Classis West will meet next in Randolph (WI) PRC on March 6, 2024, the Lord willing.

Rev. Joshua Engelsma

Stated Clerk, Classis West

PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for September 24, 2023 *(Updated)

Psalm 116 18Today, September 24, is the thirty-ninth Lord's Day of this year of our Lord 2023. Below you will find special highlights of PRC and sister-church news. It is our hope that these reports not only inform you but also give you opportunity to pray for the needs of these churches and mission fields throughout the world.

If you are new to this website and the PRCA, we invite you to join us in worship today or on any of the Sunday's of this year at one of our local congregations near you, or listen online.

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. ...What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people. ~ Psalm 116:5-9; 12-14

CONGREGATIONAL NEWS 

  • Rev. D. Noorman is considering the call from Loveland (CO) PRC (received Sept.10). He plans to answer by Oct.8.

  • Today Randolph PRC voted to call Rev. R. Smit (PRC foreign missionary, currently living in the States).

  • Hudsonville PRC holds her congregational meeting for the calling of her next pastor tonight after the evening service. The Council's new trio is: Revs. N. Decker (Grandville PRC), Rev. W. Langerak (Trinity PRC), and Rev. D. Noorman (SW PRC). Rev. N. Decker has received this call.

  • Today Zion PRC voted to call a pastor from the Council's new trio: Revs. M. Kortus (Hope PRC-Redlands, CA), J. Maatman (SE-Grand Rapids, MI), and J.Smidstra (First PRC-Holland, MI). Rev. M. Kortus has received this call.

  • On Sept.3 Cand. M. Koerner accepted the call from Hosanna PRC (Edmonton, AB). This week Wednesday, Sept.27, he will be examined by Classis West in Crete PRC (IL). Pending approval of that examination, the brother will be ordained and installed in Hosanna.

  • The Consistory of Lynden PRC (WA) presents a new trio: Rev. J. Engelsma (Crete PRC), Rev. D. Noorman, and Rev. R. Smit. A congregational meeting is scheduled for Sunday, October 1, after the morning service.

  • Georgetown PRC's Council has formed a new trio from which to call a pastor: Revs. A. Brummel (Calvary PRC-Hull, IA), G. Eriks (Unity PRC-Byron Center, MI), and D. Noorman. The congregational meeting is set for Oct.8 after the morning service. 

Special Congregational Notices:

Faith PRC: Reformed Doctrines Class: A new season of instruction in Prof. D. Engelsma’s Reformed Doctrines Class will begin on Wednesday, September 27 at Faith PRC (Jenison, MI), God willing. The class meets from 7:30 to 8:30 PM. The first class will treat of the creation and rebellious fall of Lucifer and a host of angels with him. It will consider the question, whether we take the devil and his demons seriously enough in the struggle of our Christian life. The class meets every second and fourth Wednesday of the month. All are welcome to attend.

Hosanna PRC (Edmonton, AB): "We have been granted a lease with St. Albert Evangelical Lutheran Church, 11 Glenview Crescent, St. Albert. Our first services will be on October 1st. Service times will remain at 1:00 PM and 6:00 PM. We give thanks to the Lord for the continued provision of a building. Psalm 34:10 - “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.”

Classical appointments and pulpit supply for today in the vacant PRCs:  Rev. R. Smit in Doon (IA) PRC; Prof. D. Kuiper and Rev. W. Langerak in Georgetown PRC; Rev. A. Brummel (2nd week) in Hosanna PRC, Edmonton, AB; Prof. R. Cammenga and Rev. E. Guichelaar in Hudsonville PRC; Rev. M. Kortus (1st week) in Loveland PRC; Rev. M. DeVries (2nd week) in Lynden PRC; Rev. D. Lee in Randolph PRC; Prof. B. Gritters and Prof. R. Dykstra in Zion PRC.  May we count it a blessing of our church federation that we can help one another in these needs. Let us remember to pray for the men who supply these pulpits and for the vacant congregations. And may we continue to pray for men to hear the call to serve as pastors and missionaries!

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS

CretePRC
Crete PRC (Illinois), host of last week's meeting of Classis West and Officebearers' Conference

Classis East: Classis East met on Wednesday, September 13, at Trinity PRC. The delegates are scheduled to reconvene on Wednesday, Oct.25. For a summary of the actions and decisions, visit this page.

Classis West: Classis West will hold its next regular meeting in Crete PRC (IL) on Wednesday, September 27. 

CALL TO WORSHIP: The consistory calls the [Crete] congregation to a special worship service to be held on Tuesday, September 26 at 7:00 p.m. Pastor-elect Koerner will deliver the sermon as part of his classical examination.

Crete PRC will be hosting an officebearers' conference on Tuesday afternoon, September 26. The theme of the conference is “Abuse in Our Churches and the Proper Response.” The first speech will be given at 1:00 by Prof. C. Griess on the topic of “The Consistory’s Response to Sexual Abuse.” The second speech will be given at 2:30 by Prof. R. Dykstra on the topic “Repentance and Reconciliation of the Abuser.” There will also be a round table discussion after the second speech.  The round table discussion will center around the theme of the conference “Abuse in our Churches and the Proper Response” and will be for officebearers only. Visitors are welcome to attend the speeches.

Rev. J. Laning, PRC home missionary, is preaching for two Sunday's in Hope PRC-Redlands, CA while Rev. Kortus is in Loveland on classical supply. Hope PRC had this note in her bulletin today: "Evangelism Lecture: The congregation is invited to attend an evangelism lecture on the basics of the reformed faith by Rev. James Laning. The lecture will be held this week Friday night at 7 p.m. at church. Please join us for fellowship and refreshments afterwards. We will also be hosting a book sale."

Rev. D. Kleyn and his wife Sharon arrived safely in West Michigan this past week after leaving their foreign mission labors in the Philippines. They are staying with his parents and visiting family and friends, while he prepares to give at the RFPA meeting this week Thursday. He plans to attend the meeting of Classis West this week and next week they will move to Doon, Iowa, where he plans to be installed on Oct.15. 

PRC 100th Anniversary: With gratitude to our faithful God, the PRCA look forward to our 100th anniversary. The celebration is planned for June 23-27, 2025, at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, MI. The various committees of the 100th anniversary steering commitee are busy preparing for this historic event, including a special commemorative book. Watch for further notices and updates!

Front flowers Sept 2023

PRC Seminary Notices:

  • The PR Theological Seminary will enter its fifth week of the first semester of the 2023-24 term tomorrow. Things are going well so far, for which we thank our gracious Father. The schedule and calendar have been posted here. ​The faculty, students and staff covet your prayers as we continue our various labors this new school year.
  • Faculty and students will be attending the pre-Classis West Officebearers' Conference on sexual abuse this Tuesday in Crete PRC (IL).
  • Rev. G. Eriks will again lead the chapel on Wednesday this week, while Aaron Van Dyke will lead the daily devotions.
  • Next Monday, Oct.2) is the first round of Practice Preaching for students Aaron Van Dyke and Bruce Feenstra (1st time for him). Pray for them as they prepare their sermons.
  • In connection with a special conference held online for interested people in Mexico, Prof. R. Cammenga recently prepared three lectures on the errors of the well-meant offer of the gospel and the truth of the Reformed-biblical call of the gospel. You may find these lectures on the seminary's YouTube channel.
  • Seminary Convocation was held on Wednesday Sept.6 in Hope PRC in Walker, MI.  The video of the convocation program is now available on the PRTS' YouTube channel.
  • Senior Sem. Arend Haveman is doing his internship this summer and fall (July-December) in Pittsburgh PRC under Rev. W. Bruinsma. He is busy with all aspects of the ministry.The junior student this year is Aaron Van Dyke (Faith PRC); the sophomore is Bruce Feenstra (Hope-Redlands, CA; attending Hope PRC-Walker, MI); and the freshmen are Joseph Ophoff (Loveland PRC) and Isaac Van Baren (Hope PRC-Walker, MI). Sem. Ophoff  is enrolled in the new special seminary entrance program (SSEP), which initially involves finishing some pre-seminary requirements and beginning some seminary-level courses.
  • The Spring 2023 issue of the PR Theological Journal was published in April. Digital copies have been posted on the journal webpage (see link here). The Spring issue features articles on a distinctive feature of PRC teaching on the covenant of grace, on the image of God in man from a conference in Mexico, on R.L. Dabney's "proposals of mercy," and the first part of a history of Classis West of the PRC - and, of course, several significant book reviews.  If you want to be added to our mailing list (either print or digital) or wish to pick up a copy, contact Valerie Kleyn, the seminary secretary (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Look for the fall issue in a few months!
  • During normal school sessions the seminary is open daily from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. (holidays excepted), including the library and bookstore. PRC members and friends are welcome to visit and make use of these resources.
  • For the latest seminary news and information, visit the seminary's website - and don't forget the blog!

Ps133 1 2

SISTER-CHURCH/MISSION NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore and her Kolkata, India mission work:
    • Pastors J. Tan and M. Wee are faithfully serving the CERC. Today these special notices were in her bulletin:
      First, "This Saturday 30 September, we will be having our Mooncake Gospel Meeting in church, under the theme “Jesus Christ the Light of the World”. Do make plans to attend, and to invite your friends and family as well. After the gospel message and dinner, there will be a lantern activity for the children as well. Let us obey Christ’s calling of us to be lights of the world, pointing those who are yet in darkness to the One who is The Light of the World, from whose light we shine as lights." 
    • And second, concerning her mission work in Kolkata, India, this notice appeared: "This coming week, a delegation from the Council will be visiting the saints in Kolkata. Pastor Tan and Elder Wee are the official delegates, and Deacon Wee is accompanying them as well. They plan to leave on 28 Sept and be back on 3 Oct, Lord willing. This is the first delegate visit since the time of covid, and we thank God that we are able to have contact with the saints there in this manner. Please pray for God’s blessing upon this visit, for safe travels, and that it will be a mutually encouraging and refreshing time for all."
    • The last issue of Salt Shakers was Issue 69 is on the theme "GST: The Christian's Response." Especially for young people, the magazine contains a variety of articles and is edifying for ALL readers! Visit the link provided here to read and learn. 
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland:
    • Rev. A. Stewart continues to minister the Word faithfully in the CPRC.
    • The August 2023 issue of Covenant Reformed News was recently published. Visit the link to read the articles on being clothed with Christ (part 3) and on why baptize all infants of believers by Rev. R. Hanko.
    • The CPRC YouTube channel may be found here.

  • PRC in the Philippines and her mission work in various places:
    • Berean PRC bulletin: Rev. V. Ibe led worship services today. And, "The saints in All of Grace Protestant Reformed Fellowship (AGPRF), Gabaldon, NE. will join us in our worship services today via Livestream at our official Facebook account."
    • Provident PRC bulletin: Deacon Ruel Dela Fuente led her worship services today.

REFORMED RESOURCES for EDUCATION, EDIFICATION, and EVANGELISM

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Listen to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you, on Sermonaudio, or on your favorite podcast - wherever you are!

W Bruinsma RWH

  • This month (September 2023) the RWH continues the series on the return of Jesus Christ by Rev. W. Bruinsma. Today's message is titled "The Great Tribulation" based on Matt.24:9-22. For the September RWH Newsletter, visit this page. 
  • The Reformed Witness Hour publishes each month's messages in an attractive booklet. These printed sermons are a great blessing to many and are distributed all over the world, including to many prisoners in the U.S. If you or your Evangelism Committee would like to receive these, let the RWHC know and they will add you to the mailing list (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

CatBookSamples

In need of sound biblical and Reformed catechism materials for children and young people? Check out the PRC's full curriculum of materials here. Call the PRC Seminary for help with any of these materials (616-531-1490).

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  • The Reformed Book Outlet (downtown Hudsonville, MI) is now operating in its new store in downtown Hudsonville! The new location is at 3472 Harvey St. in Hudsonville. Visit the store and browse the variety of resources for your Reformed-Christian faith and walk, including many children's titles. They are open Tuesday-Friday, 10-5, and Saturday 10-1.

This Week's Thought for Contemplation

Do You Know the True God? (2-3)

Do you know the true God? Not the god of man’s imagination, but the God of the Bible? This is an important question, because Jesus teaches us that eternal life is knowing God and His Son, Jesus Christ (John 17:3). If you are to live with God forever in heaven, you must know Him.

If you are interested in knowing the true God, please consider the following.

(2) God’s Demand

1. Since God is your Creator, Sustainer and Ruler, to whom you owe your very life, He demands that you reverence Him as the only true God (Ps. 33:8).

2. God requires that you worship and serve Him from a heart that is filled with gratitude for all that He has done for you (Ps. 100).

3. In reverence, you must obey God’s law as given in the Ten Commandments. This obedience must be complete and perfect (Ex. 20:3-17).

4. Your obedience must come from a heart of love. You must love God with all your being and you must love your neighbour as yourself (Matt. 22:37-40).

(3) Man’s Failure

1. However, you do not keep God’s commandments out of love for Him. You are a sinner who fails to do what God demands of you (Job 7:20; 13:23; 40:4).

2. You can do nothing that is truly good and pleasing to God. Even the best of your works are like filthy rags to God (Rom. 3:10-18).

3. Your sinful deeds come from a wicked heart. You were born with a corrupt inner nature (Gen. 6:5; Ps. 51:5; Jer. 17:9).

4. God is the holy One who hates sin and must punish sinners. Apart from God’s grace, you will be condemned to the everlasting torments of hell forever (Matt. 13:49-50).

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Missions Update 2023

Here is a recap of recent work. 

Domestic Missions

After issuing several calls for home missionary, on November 20, 2022 Zion PRC received an acceptance of a call to Rev. James Laning, then pastor of Hull PRC in Northwest Iowa. He has since completed his ministry in Hull, moved to West Michigan, and will be installed as PRC home missionary on Feb.5, 2023, Lord willing. He then plans to take some special classes and receive some special training for his work as home missionary.
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In accordance with the decision of Synod 2021, the Domestic Mission Committee (DMC) sought out a calling church for Domestic/Home Missions.
We joyfully report that Zion PRC has agreed to be the calling church for Home Missions and has been officially appointed to this role by the DMC on behalf of synod. Now the Council and Congregation of Zion PRC will take the lead in calling a missionary, caring for his needs, and overseeing and supporting his work to publish the gospel of Christ in North America. While Zion PRC takes the lead, the DMC looks forward to helping the congregation in this effort as much as possible with its help and advice.
Please pray that God will bless the efforts of Zion PRC and the DMC to take up the work of Home Missions again, especially praying that God will provide our churches with a man to serve as a Home Missionary. 
In the service of Christ,
the Domestic Mission Committee of the Protestant Reformed Churches
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Covenant PRC Ballymena, Northern Ireland (150)

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PRC Missions in the Philippines

Greetings to our PRCA Congregations

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord of the Harvest. Significant changes have taken place in our mission labors in the Philippines which we need to report to you.

Decision to Withdraw Our Missionaries

The Doon Council and the FMC decided in April 2023 to begin the process of withdrawing our missionaries from the Philippines. Synod 2023 expressed approval of this decision for these reasons:

"a. Since the PRCP has become more established, they want to carry out the mission work in the Philippines, rather than having our missionaries do this work. 1) The PRCP’s desire to perform their own mission work: “The testimony of the missionaries and the testimony of the recent 2023 delegation indicate that the PRCP desire to perform their own domestic mission work within the Philippines and do not desire the assistance of the PRCA in their mission work” (Agenda, p. 264). 2) At this time, SNO is not a viable mission field for our missionaries. Due to the presence of a dangerous communist group in SNO, it would not be safe for our missionaries to live there. In addition, the PRCP desire to take over this work in the future. 3) The impact of this for the missionaries: “The missionaries are no longer fulfilling many aspects of their mandate and call as missionaries” (Agenda, p. 264). Instead, the missionaries are now functioning more as visiting ministers by providing pulpit supply, teaching catechism, leading Bible studies, and helping the Classis periodically. This was not the reason they were called to the Philippines as missionaries.

b. The PRCP no longer intend to utilize the missionaries to provide seminary instruction to their prospective ministers. 1) Providing seminary instruction had become the primary work of the missionaries due to developments on the mission field. 2) However, the one student who was receiving instruction from the missionaries is no longer enrolled. In addition, the PRCP has made known their desire to utilize our denominational seminary moving forward. The Classis of PRCP wrote: “We are pondering now to send our future students in [sic] the PRTS in MI, USA [the Lord willing] just like what the Berean PRC did with Rev. Ibe ten years or so ago. The advantages we think outweigh the disadvantages” (Agenda, p. 286) 3) Thus, this important aspect of the work of the missionaries is no longer desired.

c. Doon PRC and the FMC have the calling to determine whether the missionary’s work should be continued. “During the initial term of service and subsequently, the calling church and the denominational mission committee shall regularly evaluate the missionary’s labors, primarily to help him develop the gifts necessary for mission work, and secondarily to determine whether the missionary’s work should be continued” (“Constitution of the Foreign Mission Committee,” VI.D.2; emphasis added).

d. A decision regarding the withdrawal of both missionaries from the field follows our normative practice of sending missionaries two by two into this particular field of labor (cf. Acts of Synod 2008, articles 57-58; Acts of Synod 2009, articles 35-37)."

Preparations and plans have been made, and also have been implemented, for our staggered withdrawal from the Philippines.

Decision to End Our Mission Work in the Philippines

In addition to its approval that our missionaries be withdrawn from the Philippines, Synod 2023 directed "the Doon council and the FMC to close the mission field in the Philippines and take the necessary steps to bring the work to completion." Here are the Synod's reasons:

"a. Since the PRCP has become more established, they want to carry out the mission work in the Philippines, rather than having our missionaries do this work. 1) The PRCP’s desire to perform their own mission work: “The testimony of the missionaries and the testimony of the recent 2023 delegation indicate that the PRCP desire to perform their own domestic mission work within the Philippines and do not desire the assistance of the PRCA in their mission work.” (Agenda, p. 264) 2) At this time, SNO is not a viable mission field for our missionaries. Due to the presence of a dangerous communist group in SNO, it would not be safe for our missionaries to live there. In addition, the PRCP desire to take over this work in the future. 3) The impact of this for the missionaries: “The missionaries are no longer fulfilling many aspects of their mandate and call as missionaries” (Agenda, p. 264). Instead, the missionaries are now functioning more as visiting ministers by providing pulpit supply, teaching catechism, leading Bible studies, and helping the Classis periodically. This was not the reason they were called to the Philippines as missionaries.

b. The PRCP no longer intend to utilize the missionaries to provide seminary instruction to their prospective ministers. 1) Providing seminary instruction had become the primary work of the missionaries due to developments on the mission field. 2) However, the one student who was receiving nstruction from the missionaries is no longer enrolled. In addition, the PRCP has made known their desire to utilize our denominational seminary moving forward. The Classis of PRCP wrote: “We are pondering now to send our future students in [sic] the PRTS in MI, USA [the Lord willing] just like what the Berean PRC did with Rev. Ibe ten years or so ago. The advantages we think outweigh the disadvantages.” (Agenda, p. 286) 3) Thus, this important aspect of the work of themissionaries is no longer desired.

c. There are still necessary steps that must be taken tobring the work to completion. These steps include, but are not limited to, ensuring that the ongoing work of the missionaries is properly transferred to the PRCP and determining who will manage the Philippine Book Fund (both inventory and funds) as well as the mission fieldwebsite."

According to this synodical decision, our foreign mission work in the Philippines is being brought to a fitting and brotherly conclusion.

Withdrawal of Rev. Smit and Family

We spent the latter half of April and most of May selling and disbursing our household possessions. What we wanted to keep (books and some household possessions), we put into 10 shipping boxes (20" x 20" x 20"). We expect that these things will arrive in Hudsonville, MI, by late July.

After our farewells in May to the PRCP congregations and our brethren in southern Negros Occidental, and after graduations at Faith Academy on June 2, we departed from Manila and travelled on a direct flight to Vancouver, B.C., Canada, on Monday, June 5. We spent a week in the Lynden, WA, area so that we could visit family and so that I could provide pulpit supply to the Lynden congregation on June 11. We arrived in Hudsonville, MI, on June 14, where we will remain in our interim housing during the summer months with our older children and siblings as we wait for the Lord to provide for me a place of labor in our churches in His good time.

Current Activities of Rev. and Mrs. Kleyn

Rev. and Mrs. Kleyn are currently doing the work of downsizing, selling items, and packing their remaining belongings and books.

Rev. Kleyn is preaching three Sundays a month in the vacant Provident PRC and one Sunday in Provident's outreach work in Guiguinto, Bulacan. He is teaching Provident's two catechism classes and leading its Wednesday Night Bible Study, which currently meets twice a month and is continuing its study in Acts.

The Kleyns are expected to depart from the Philippines in about mid-September, the Lord willing.

July Delegation of the Doon Council and FMC

For the brotherly closure of the mission work, a delegation from the Doon Council and FMC is being planned for a visit in the Philippines from July 21 to 31. This visit is intended to provide fellowship for the Kleyns, but it is also intended by the Doon Council and the FMC to express a formal and fitting "farewell" to our fellow saints in the PRCP and SNO. Mr. Jim Regnerus (Doon) and Mr. Brian Gritters (FMC) will serve on this delegation, and be accompanied by their wives and some of their daughters.

Southern Negros Occidental

Rev. Kleyn recently (June 19-20) travelled to SNO with Rev. V. Ibe, Elder Sonny Umali, and Elder Alann Penaverde in order to introduce the delegation of PRCP with the five pastors and several elders of the SNO congregations (Inayauan, Si-alay, Canturay, Maricalum (Sipalay), and Hinobaan). According to Rev. Kleyn's report, this visit seemed to be a good start to the transition of the work in SNO to the PRCP churches.

PRCP Congregations

The Contact Committee of the PRCP is currently working with the Contact Committee of the PRCA regarding pulpit supply needs in the latter part of 2023 and beyond. This possible pulpit supply for the two PRCP churches is very helpful since only Berean PRCis served by Rev. Vernon Ibe, while Provident PRC remains vacant. We pray that the Lord will also grant seminary students to the PRCP, and through their seminary training, faithful pastors. We commend the PRCP to the grace and Word of our God.

Conclusion

Synod 2023 thanked the current and former missionaries (Revs. A. Spriensma, D. Holstege, R. Smit, and D. Kleyn) as well as their wives and families for their selfless and dedicated labors over the years in the Philippines. In expressing thanks for the fruit that the Lord brought through our laborers, Synod echoed Scripture: “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:5-6)

Synod also thanked the FMC and the Doon PRC for their diligent labors for the past 22 years in the Philippines. We, too, express our sincere thanks for their faithful and persevering labors.

We also pray that the Lord in His mercy will guide our churches soon into another foreign field of labor in the areas, as designated by Synod, under the oversight of the FMC: Mexico, The Caribbean, Central and South America, Africa, and Asia (including the Middle East).

While we pray that the Lord's kingdom may come, may He grant us the grace and wisdom to be prepared for the privilege to serve Him through our calling churches and missionaries in another place in the Lord's harvest field (Mark 16:19-20).

In His Service and in Your Behalf,
Rev. Richard J. Smit and Family

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