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Synod 2019 joyfully welcomed 42 new candidates for the office of minister of the Word in the Christian Reformed Church.

Jul Medenblik, president of Calvin Theological Seminary, encouraged the candidates with Psalm 90:12 — “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

“Let’s call this your first day,” he said. The number of new candidates nearly matches the number of retiring pastors in 2019. Those retiring pastors have served for a total of 1,227 years, or 447,855 days.

“You do not get to 1,227 years without faithful days,” said Medenblik. “We want to encourage you to a long obedience day by day, year by year in the same direction.”

Synod president William Koopmans also addressed the candidates: “Surround yourself with the truth each day. Surround yourself with the truth, but never surrender the truth. Keep your eyes on Jesus.”

As the session ended, friends and family members laid their hands on the graduating seminarians while Koopmans prayed for the Holy Spirit to empower them.

This year for the first time, four of the candidates were not publicly named, rather only identified by their initials. “They are entering into areas [of the Middle East and Asia] where it won’t be safe for them or their families, so they need to remain anonymous,” said director of the Candidacy Committee David Koll. “It’s an indication that the CRC is going to places where it hasn’t gone before these days.”

Synod 2019 is meeting at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., from June 14-20. For continuous coverage from our award-winning news team, download the Banner app on your mobile device or follow The Banner Magazine on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted on The Banner’s dedicated Synod web page several times daily. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.

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