This article appears in the President's Blog edition of the Calvin Seminary Forum
This past year, I celebrated 25 years of ordained ministry in the Christian Reformed Church in North America. It was 1995. That year also marks a significant transition in the CRC. It was in that year that Synod officially opened the office of Minister of the Word to women.
As anyone who lived through that era remembers, this opening came with hesitancy and “back and forth.” Synod decisions were revised, amended and for one season even reversed. The offices of deacon and elder have their own history in this story, but today we focus on the office of Minister of the Word.
That hesitancy and “back and forth” still exists in the CRC. Synod finally decided that there were two equal and valid interpretations of Scripture and called the church to honor and respect those on both sides of this discernment.
During the midst of a pandemic, the CRC was again cautious in their look back on this history. A “celebration” of this anniversary became a “commemoration” to acknowledge the pain in many families and in many church families, some of whom left the CRC to form what came to be known as the United Reformed Church (URC).
I even predict that this issue may cause some of our readers some levels of pain and discomfort in recalling this history. At the same time, I want to give you a picture of men and women who in obedience to the call of God come to Calvin Theological Seminary as part of their faithful response to the Lord Jesus Christ.
I can give witness to the fact that God is working through His church and through His people – male and female. One of the people who I would testify helped me and others in this journey was and is Calvin University Pastor Mary Hulst. Mary and I were classmates and we remain colleagues. Mary and I served together in student government (Student Senate) and we helped each other make it through comprehensive exams by being in the same student study group. It has been a joy to see how God has used and is using Pastor Mary and so many other women in ministry.
As we enter into 2021, we continue to commemorate the anniversary of women’s ordination and we desire to deepen our expressed commitment to education and formation of students (women and men) who seek to follow God’s call.
I close this Medenblog by drawing a parallel to when someone asks me how long Jackie and I have been married. We were married on June 11, 1982 – so I usually say – 38 years and counting. In response, people usually say – “Congratulations!”
I added that phrase – and counting – a number of years ago, because I wanted my answer to not seem to indicate a marriage that was ending or finished. I wanted to articulate a continued commitment that will hopefully (D.V.) take Jackie and I to 39 years of marriage.
And so on this time of remembering and reflection on ordination of women as Ministers of the Word in the CRCNA, I would like to say 25 years and counting! Let us respond – “Congratulations!”
May God find us faithful to that ministry and may our students find a hospitable community of learning to explore and respond to that call of God! We can do nothing less.