Classis Minnkota, a regional group of Christian Reformed churches, has set aside funds to help churches hire seminarians as summer interns—with the unusual stipulation that those interns must believe that it is unbiblical for women to serve as elders and pastors.
Classis Minnkota, which has churches in Minnesota and the Dakotas, voted to use its [seminary] student fund to give two churches $4,000 toward hiring a theologically conservative student intern from Calvin Theological Seminary for each of the next two summers.
“Churches really look at the theological fit with the classis when looking for leadership,” said Rev. Roger Sparks, chair of the classis’ ministry leadership team, which came up with the idea. “This is just the context in which we are doing ministry in the CRC today.”
“Some could perceive this [internship program] as exclusive,” Sparks added. “My take is in a more positive light: this gives an opportunity for students to someday fit into the context of our classis, to build bridges for seminarians to possibly serve in our classis someday down the road.”
Classis Minnkota has about $30,000 in its student fund, which is traditionally used to supplement the tuition of seminarians who hail from that classis—but no one from the classis has been attending the seminary for the last few years, said Rev. LeRoy Christoffels, the stated clerk. “We thought we might as well spend the money on something that has to do with ministerial training.”
“Ordinarily the churches of Classis Minnkota are not actively involved in the preparation of future pastors . . . perhaps because the staffing model of most of the churches in classis is to have a solo pastor rather than a ministry staff,” read the minutes for the classis meeting where the funding was approved.
The minutes later stated that “that Classis Minnkota could serve its own interests while serving seminary students and the church at large [by hiring theologically conservative seminary students].”
Thus far, only one church is looking to use the funds, probably because the funding is only partial and it would cost about $9,000 to fully support an intern, according to Sparks.