Friday, July 5, 2013

An Update Long Overdue

I’m committing my own pet peeve here – apologizing for being MIA on this blog for the last six months.  I was surprised to learn that my last post was January 14th.

Alas, I am back and much has transpired over the last several months.  Most last post was the fifth and final in a series on the calling process within the CRC where I described in detail how the process works.  Since that time, I have sustained all my oral examinations and interviews with the seminary and the candidacy committee, graduated from CTS with a Master of Divinity degree (M.Div.) on May 18th and been declared eligible for call by Synod 2013 on June 11th.

In the midst of all of that I (and my family) entered into interview and discernment processes with several churches.  Two of them in particular -- Pease CRC in Pease, MN and Ridgewood CRC in Jenison, MI -- expressed significant enough interest two have us visit and go through the formal interview process.

Those processes, the timing, etc. is a whole story in itself – long on detail, but short on reading worthiness – that I will not recall here.  As the Lord would have it, we received an official letter of call from the Pease Christian Reformed Church in Pease, MN on the day of my eligibility to receive such a letter.

We had known the letter was coming and having actually received it a day early, I left it tacked to the refrigerator, unopened, until I could officially do so the next day.  So, after being granted the approval of Synod in the morning, Jessica and I went out for lunch and together opened the letter of call.

I did so rather ceremoniously.  You see, one of the worries that I had when we started this journey three years ago (almost to the day) was, “Will I even be able to get a job at the end of all of this?”  It was a legitimate concern for me, a husband and father of three.  I was asking so much of them and they were counting on me to do this and do it well.  Now we were at the end of this journey and the Lord had indeed been gracious and blessed us with an opportunity to serve his church.

We were (and still are) excited about this opportunity and felt little reason to decline.  Sure, it was perfect, no place is.  But something about this big congregation (450 or so members) in this small town (Pop. 242 – soon to be 247) just seemed right and good and fitting.  The people we’d met were gracious and inviting, the church is strong and healthy, and they were just as excited about us as we were about them. So, we accepted the call and I am very much looking forward to starting ministry in Pease, Minnesota.

On July 16th the moving truck arrives to pack up and carry our worldly possessions the 750 or miles from Grand Rapids to Pease – exactly three years and six days after it arrived in Grand Rapids from Sioux Center.  God is good and we are all anticipating this next step.

So our days have been spent making plans and filling boxes, along with purging, selling, sorting, and donating all the stuff that five people accumulate in three years.  We just returned from a wonderful week in Ontario with Jessica’s family and are again picking up where we left off.  The house is slowly returning to the state in which we left it.  Though our physical footprint will be slight, the footprint of the memory of this place and our time here will be much larger and deeper.

If you happen to be in town on Sunday, July 14th consider worshiping at Seymour CRC on the corner of Alger and Eastern where I will deliver a ‘farewell’ of sorts to that place and those people that have been so much a part of our time here.  If not, maybe we’ll see you in Pease.  I preach there for the first time on July 28th and  for ad many Sundays into the future as the Lord sees fit.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Road to the Call #5

As I noted last time, I am at the point in my seminary career where my academic work for a Master of Divinity degree and my plans to become ordained as a Minister of the Word in the CRC merge.  They also diverge…

Even though an M.Div degree is required to be ordained in the CRC, one can get that degree from just about any accredited seminary in and take an alternative route to receive ordination in the CRC.  I chose to get mine through Calvin Theological Seminary which means that, up to now, I was fulfilling both the requirements for my degree and my ordination simultaneously.  While that is still happening, there are also additional things that I must do which I detailed last time. 

Once all of those requirements have been met and satisfied, to both the seminary’s and the candidacy committee’s satisfaction, the Candidacy Committee - on the recommendation from the seminary – will recommend to synod that I be declared eligible to receive a call. When Synod convenes this June in Grand Rapids, MI my name, Lord willing, will be among 50+ names who will be seeking ordination in the CRC this year.

The process at Synod is a process whereby a sub-committee of Synod will review the files of all the candidates and recommend our names to the floor of the entire synod for eligibility having completed the necessary requirements as set forth by the denomination.  Synod will then vote on the list as a group – accepting or rejecting all of us at one time.  Only after that vote will I be allowed to entertain a call from a CRC congregation to be ordained as a minister. 

And it is at that point that the process of ordination comes full circle and ends where it started.  If you recall, my first entry in this set of five made the important point that my desire to enter the ministry was to be confirmed and affirmed by a local congregation.  Here again, my acceptance of a call comes from a local congregation thereby completing what was started over three years ago, where it started – with a local congregation; who (hopefully) sees in me what that first congregation saw in me – the grace of God and a desire to use the gifts He’s given me to serve Him and His people.