On a beautiful September evening, they came from far and near to Hamilton, Ontario, to celebrate the College Evening, which includes the annual convocation for the Theological College of the Canadian Reformed Churches.
The auditorium of Redeemer University College provided a fitting venue for the pomp and circumstance associated with such an event. After the processional and singing of Psalm 145, Rev. J. Moesker, chairman of the Board of Governors, opened the evening with reading about the ministry of reconciliation from 2 Corinthians 5:11-21. It was an appropriate reminder of the tremendous love and grace of God in entrusting to men the message of reconciliation. After prayer for blessing, the chairman gave the floor to two special guests.
Mr. Adriaan Van Leeuwen, a deputy for the Training of the Ministry of the Free Reformed Churches in Australia, spoke words of appreciation and support on behalf of those churches. The Theological College receives students and financial support from these churches. Next Dr. Wolter
H. Rose, who teaches Semitic languages and ancient Near Eastern history and culture at the Theological University of Kampen, the Netherlands, conveyed the greetings on behalf of our sister institution. He mentioned the bonds that unite us, and also commemorated that their school had celebrated 150 years of theological training.
Next, the principal, Dr. C. Van Dam, reported on the events of the past year. Besides the usual memorabilia, he noted that this had been a year of transition. Dr. A. J. de Visser, former missionary in South Africa, was able to join us as Professor of Diaconiology and Ecclesiology to replace an ailing Dr. J. De Jong. Also the Lord called to Himself two emeritus professors who had served the churches with distinction: Dr. J. Faber who served as principal and taught dogmatics from 1969 to 1989, and Dr. K. Deddens who taught the pastoral and ecclesiological disciplines from 1984 to 1990.
After some uplifting singing to the praise of God, Dr. A. J. de Visser gave the keynote address dealing with the Missional Church movement. Having described this movement as a call to the church in North America to reevaluate its calling to evangelism, Dr. De Visser then proceeded to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. He also formulated some challenges that Reformed churches on this continent face with respect to the church’s missionary calling. He suggested that it should be possible to become more pro-active in the area of evangelism, while at the same time holding on to our Reformed doctrines.
After singing a prayer of thanksgiving for the Lord’s ongoing care for his church, the time for the granting of the Master of Divinity degree came. This year was unique. We only had one graduate, and he was our first Korean graduate, Mr. Dong Woo Oh. It was wonderful that his parents were able to make the trip from Korea and witness this event. The graduate addressed the audience in both a serious and humorous fashion, much to the delight of all.
Another annual highlight at the College Evening is the presentation of the Women’s Savings Action. This organization has representatives in the local congregations, and in their own quiet way, they collect money for the library. This year they were able to present $30,000 for the purchase of new books. Needless to say, the whole college community greatly appreciates their efforts and is very thankful for the labor of love that the women in the churches perform.
After the formal part of the evening came to an end, the socializing continued for a long time in the excellent facilities of Redeemer College.
Some Background on the Theological College
Since the readers of Outlook magazine may not be familiar with this seminary, allow me to mention a few salient facts. The Canadian Reformed Churches are convinced that the training of ministers of the gospel belongs to the task of the church. In 1968 these churches meeting in synod therefore decided to establish a seminary in Hamilton. In 1981, the Theological College Act was passed by the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, empowering the senate to grant, among others, the degree of Master of Divinity.
The full-time faculty numbers four professors. Old Testament is taught by Dr. C. Van Dam; New Testament by Prof. G. H. Visscher; Dogmatics by Dr. N. H. Gootjes; and Ecclesiology and Diaconiology by Dr. A. J. de Visser, who also serves as director of the Pastoral Training Program. Rev. J. De Gelder gives part-time instruction in Church Polity and from time to time we have special lecturers come in.
Since the churches are convinced that only the best is good enough, we strive for academic excellence, coupled with practical pastoral training. The Board of Governors takes its supervision on behalf of the churches seriously. and we enjoy regular visits by the governors to the classroom.
At present we have seventeen students, who come not only from Canada, but also from Africa, Australia, China, and Russia.
Further information can be found at our website:
C. Van Dam