GS 2013 art 11

GS 2013 Article 11 – CRTS: Board of Governors re: Appointing a Fifth Professor

1.         Material:

  • 1.1.      Report from the Board of Governors (8.2.10.a)
  • 1.2.      Supplementary Report from the BoG re: Fifth Professor (8.2.10b)
  • 1.3.      Supplementary Report from the BoG re: Board appointments and accreditation update (8.2.10.c)
  • 1.4.      Letters from the churches at Grand Valley (, Attercliffe (, Burlington-Fellowship (, Fergus-North (, Calgary ( and St. Albert (

2.         Observations:

  • 2.1.      The Board of Governors is recommending that Synod approve the appointment of a fifth full-time professor who would have the responsibility of the Department of Ecclesiology and would be designated as the Professor of Ecclesiology. His main tasks would be to teach Church History and Church Polity, with additional courses in Philosophy and Apologetics. Further time would be used to relieve the other professors of specific courses and provide administrative and faculty support. Such approval of Synod would come at the cost of approximately $12.30 per communicant member per year.
  • 2.2.      To support its proposal, the Board provides the following rationale:
    • 2.2.1.   One of the primary matters brought forward by the Board of Governors to both Synod 2007 and 2010 concerned the perceived need for fifth full-time professor. Synod 2007 decided not to agree to the recommendation of the Board for the appointment of a fifth full-time professor to teach in the areas of Biblical and Theological Studies (see Article 130, Acts of Synod 2007). Synod 2007 provided a number of directives to the Board of Governors including the need for an external review of the program of the Seminary as well as an evaluation of the workload of the faculty. Synod 2010 noted that the Board was in the process of preparing a new proposal and gave some further directives in that regard (See Consideration 3.3, Recommendation 4.1, Article 95, Acts of Synod 2010). Synod 2010 also recommended that the churches consider the reasons for “the eventual appointment of a fifth professor” (Recommendation 4.13, Article 103, Acts of Synod 2010). These reasons are summarized in Observations 2.5.1 – 2.5.11 of Article 103, Acts of Synod 2010.
    • 2.2.2.   In its Report to Synod 2013, the Board informs Synod that following Synod 2010 the churches were polled in regard to their opinion concerning the appointment of a fifth full-time professor. The responses of the churches were overwhelmingly in favour of such appointment (25 out of 28 churches; see page 3 and pages 32-35 of Appendix 1 of the Report of the Board to Synod 2013).
    • 2.2.3.   Following Synod 2007, the Board requested an external review by three men affiliated with the Association of Reformed Theological Schools (ARTS). The first recommendation of these men was to “[a]ppoint a fifth full time Professor for the academic year of 2010-2011.” Additionally, they wrote: “We feel that your areas of greatest need lie in Church History, Philosophy, Apologetics and Spirituality. Your present church historian is far too overworked to maintain his current pace. Barring substantial growth, the school should be well situated with five professors for many years to come” (see lines 826ff of the Report of the Board to Synod 2010).
    • 2.2.4.   The Board reports to Synod 2010 that while the Seminary has not completed the whole review process via the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), the Self-Study has been completed and submitted and the process of review, analysis and self-reflection has affirmed the rationale and basis for the needed appointment. Appointing a professor of Ecclesiology allows for a more natural division of subjects areas. Traditionally theological education has been divided into five departments: Old Testament, New Testament, Dogmatology, Diaconiology and Ecclesiology. Each department includes a group of subjects that naturally fit together and complement each other. So far, the fourth and fifth departments have been taught by one professor at our seminary. “This is possible but not ideal” (See the last page of Appendix 2, 847, Rationale 1). If a professor has one department of subjects that naturally fit together, then as he does more specialized research in one subject, it frequently happens that his research also has spin-off effects for his other subjects because they are so interconnected. Thus, the time spent in research receives “compound interest.” However, this compound interest effect is not easily experienced in the present double-department of Diaconiology/Ecclesiology. That professor is kept busy simply trying to keep up with the rather diverse collection of subjects that are included in that double department (See the last page of Appendix 2, Rationale1). The most straightforward solution is to have one professor assigned to each department.
    • 2.2.5.   In its report to Synod 2013, the Board references the external review of the ARTS (see 2.2.3 above) indicated a need in “Church History, Philosophy, Apologetics and Spirituality”. The Board therefore proposes that in addition to Church History and Church Polity, the fifth Professor of Ecclesiology should also teach the present course in philosophy and develop a new course in Apologetics. This would fit well with his main task of teaching Church History because teaching philosophy involves a good grasp of the history of ideas. Moreover, developing a course in apologetics would help students in defending the faith clearly, as well as teaching others how to do the same. This would benefit not only those students who may be called to serve in mission or church planting situations but also those in established congregations. Adding a fifth professor would provide the needed capacity for making this addition to our curriculum. Appointing a professor of Ecclesiology would also allow the Professor of Diaconiology more time to focus on the following aspects of his department:
      • [a.]       Enhancing the instruction in Homiletics. The number one purpose of the seminary is to train preachers of the gospel (See the last page of Appendix 2, Rationale 11). Therefore, Homiletics (i.e., the study of making sermons) and the weekly sermon sessions are critical components of the seminary’s program. We can train men to exegete the Scriptures carefully, to espouse sound doctrine and to refute all heresies. However, if these men cannot bring it all together on the pulpit, in a clear, understandable and applicatory sermon, then we are not accomplishing our main purpose. At present, this critical aspect of Homiletics falls within that double department which is spread over so many different subject areas. However, if the double department is divided, the professor who teaches Homiletics will be able to invest more time and energy into this very important subject area of homiletics.
      • [b.]       Maintaining and improving the Pastoral Training Program (PTP). The development of the PTP over the past number of years has been an improvement that has been deeply appreciated by both the students and the churches. At the same time, this new aspect of the training—which takes considerable time to organize and manage—also falls into the double department.
      • [c.]       Enhancing missiological research and teaching at our seminary. The Canadian Reformed Churches are becoming increasingly involved in mission work, both at home and abroad. In part this is what motivated the Church at Langley to make a proposal to Synod 2010 suggesting that Dr. de Visser be appointed as Professor of Mission and Evangelism. As such this proposal was not feasible since it would create a vacancy in the department of Diaconiology and it is not the task of the Seminary to serve as a Mission Resource center. At the same time, relieving Dr. de Visser from responsibility for the Department of Ecclesiology would provide him with more opportunity to enhance current courses in Missiology and Evangelism as well as provide extra courses for those called to mission fields. In the end although the complete proposal of the church at Langley would not be met, in the main the essence of having a professor able to give more attention to mission and evangelism would be achieved.
    • 2.2.6.   The Board draws attention to the fact that with the development of the Seminary over the years, the various administrative duties distributed among the faculty members have increased considerably. This is so especially in the office of the principal. Having a fifth professor would provide more flexibility in how these extra duties are distributed, as well as possibly generating some opportunity for cross discipline instruction, allowing all professors sufficient time for preparation and teaching as well as attending to administrative responsibilities. It would also allow all professors to dedicate more time to research and publishing.
  • 2.3.      Correspondence from the churches re: the Report of the Board of Governors to Synod 20103             indicates the following:
    • 2.3.1.   The churches at Grand Valley, Fellowship-Burlington, Calgary and St. Albert express support for the recommendation of the Board for the Appointment of a fifth professor.
    • 2.3.2.   The church at Attercliffe does not support the recommendation of the Board for a fifth professor but asks Synod to instead instruct the Board to rearrange the work load among current faculty members. Attercliffe reasons that the teaching load at the College has not increased and that the proposal for a fifth professor is based not on current teaching loads but on possible future course offerings. Further, Attercliffe considers that increasing the number of courses would excessively increase the workload of students. Additionally, Attercliffe calculates that the proposal of the Board would increase the cost per comm. member for the Seminary by 16.6%.
    • 2.3.3.   The church at Fergus-North indicates its support of the Board’s proposal. They state, however, that the addition of a fifth professor should be geared to improving the education of the students particularly in their pastoral task.

3.         Considerations:

  • 3.1.      The Board demonstrates that it has done due diligence in seeking external evaluation of the curriculum of the Seminary and the workload of the current faculty. Thus, it has fulfilled the directives provided by Synod 2007 and 2010.
  • 3.2.      The Board satisfactorily demonstrates that the department of Ecclesiology ideally requires its own professor. The current professor of ecclesiology is over-burdened in having to teach two departments.
  • 3.3.      The Board satisfactorily demonstrates that the overall program of the Seminary can be significantly enhanced by the addition of a fifth full-time professor.
  • 3.4.      Attercliffe does not work with the direction set by Synods 2007 and 2010. These Synods did not close the door for a fifth professor but sought a clearer foundation for such recommendation.
  • 3.5.      The proposal of the Board of Governors reflects the emphasis of the Church at Fergus-North (see Observations 2.2.5).

4.         Recommendation:

That Synod decide to approve the Board appointing a full-time professor for the Department of Ecclesiology, with such professor to be designated as the Professor of Ecclesiology.


with members of the Board of Governors abstaining