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Theological Education Update

Written by Rev. G.R. Procee
On behalf of the Theological Education Committee of the Free Reformed Churches, we announce that brother G.m. Bilkes has been accepted by Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregations (HNRC) at their October 2 Classis meeting, as full time theological instructor at the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary (PRTS) in Grand Rapids. Mr. Bilkes has been appointed as instructor in the Old and the New Testament subjects. At the same Classis it was also decided to request Rev. P. VanderMeyden to teach a course at this seminary in the Spring of 1999. The students Eric Moerdyk and Jack Schoeman are at present enrolled in the PRTS. The brother of the HNRC have agreed to our proposal as a form of Joint Seminary Instruction for students of both denominations. It is with delight that we report this progress and we pray that the Lord will graciously bless our endeavours to the honour of His most holy Name and to the edification of His church.

It is to be understood that this endeavour entails considerable costs. The Theological Education Committee wishes hereby to confirm and reiterate what our Synod of June 1998 has decided; that these costs are to be covered by voluntary offerings from the churches and individuals. The costs are considerable. Our churches will have to support the students in their education and also finance the costs for the full time theological instructor. There are additional costs involved and there are also plans to expand the mode of instruction in order to secure a high level of academic and spiritual theological training for our students. Funds are needed.

Three congregations have already dontated funds to the Seminary Fund and we trust that there is wide spread suppor for this endeavour. The Theological Education Committee trusts that this support will translate into generous donations. The costs for 1998 will amount to around $25,000 and for the year 1999 the budget will range close to $100,000 in Canadian funds. For the development of future plans for theological traning, even more funds are needed.

Beloved members of the Free Reformed Churches, for many years we have desired some form of instruction whereby we as a denomination can instruct our students. We now have this opportunity to do so in conjunction with another small denomination, which has many distinctives in common with us: the love for the Reformation, Second Reformation and Secession theology. We must consider it our duty to pass on the rich Reformed heritage that our fathers have stood for to future generations. May this Joint Seminary Instruction venture be a means, under God's blessing, for the furtherance of His Kingdom. May we as small Reformed denominations be faithful and remain fatihful to Reformed scriptural experiential theology.

Individuals and churches who wish to donate funds can do so as follows:
1.In CANADA: Treasurer of Seminary Fund of the FRC, Mr. J.D. Tamminga, 1324 Rosseau Place, Burlington, ON L7P 3N2
2.In USA: Treasurer of the Free Reformed Church, 950 Ball Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

On behalf of the Theological Education Committee of the Free Reformed Churches,

G.R. Procee, Secretary


We would like to share with you the official response that our Theological Education Committee received from the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregations.

October 13, 1998

Free Reformed Churches of North America
Theological Education Committee
c/o Rev. G. Procee, Clerk

Dear members of the Theological Education Committee,

It is with joy that we may inform you of the decision made at our October 1 meeting with regards to cooperation in the training of the ministerial students of our congregations. May our Lord's blessing rest upon them to the building up of His kingdom. The following are the decisions which were made. They were also ratified by our denomination Classis on October 2, 1998.

Decision A:
After interviewing Mr. Gerald Bilkes, the Theological Seminary Committee decided to appoint him as a guest professor for one (1) year for the Spring and Fall, 199 semesters. This appointment will be subject to review at the end of the one (1) year. The following is our understanding regarding this decision. With Mr. Bilkes' being hired by the Free Reformed Churches (FRC):
1. Mr Bilkes would be accountable to the FRC. His wage would be fully paid by the Free Reformed Churches, thus incurring no expense to the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregations (HNRC).
2. He would be a full-time instructor/professor, starting his actual teaching time as per February 1, 1999, being the beginning of the second semester, the Lord willing. It is understood that Mr. Bilkes hopes to complete his doctoral dissertation in October, 1998.
3. he would be appointed to teach the curriculum of Old and New Testament studies, which would eventually include hermeneutics, textual criticism, isagogics, exegesis, etc. Exact courses will be worked out mutually between Dr. J.R. Beeke and Mr. Bilkes, in consultation with your Theological Education Committee.

Decisions B:
Mr. Eric Moerdyk and Mr. Jack Schoeman have been granted the opportunity to study at the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary (PRTS) begining September 1, 1998. Free tuition will be granted for these two (2) students for courses taken at the PRTS. However, they will be required to pay for courses at the Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary.

Decision C:
Rev. P. VanderMeyden will be asked to be a guest professor for the source entitled "Ecclesiology" for the spring 1999 semester. The Ecclesiology course is a 3 credit course.

Brothers, we pray that our Lord's favor will rest upon these decisions, that i might be for the welfare of the students and congregations, and that we may be bound ever closer together in the service of Jehovah.

If you have any questions regarding the above, feel free to call or email me.

With brotherly regards,

William J. Tanis II
Secretary
Theological Seminary Committee of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregations.

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