Seminary students who intend to minister in the Christian Reformed Church but did not study at Calvin Theological Seminary (CTS) used to face a challenging hurdle.
Requirements dictated that they complete the year-long Special Program for Ministerial Candidacy (SPMC). For many students, this meant an additional year of study and, for some, a year away from their families.
But no more. The seminary replaced the SPMC with the new Ecclesiastical Program for Ministerial Candidacy or EPMC—a condensed program offering a 10-week fall quarter component and a two-week intensive summer component.
In the fall of 2005, 16 students enrolled in EPMC to examine the history, church polity, and confessional preaching of the CRC.
During their 10 weeks in Grand Rapids the students “jumped in with both feet,” said Rev. Donald Byker, director of field education. Meals and meetings provided a forum for students to get to know one another, as did the seminary’s Service-Learning Day. Later in the quarter, lunch with faculty members eased pre-candidacy interview jitters.
Students supported one another as well: some EPMC students initiated and maintained a weekly gathering for communal prayer, and a student senate-sponsored “Root Beer Kegger” gave regularly enrolled CTS students a chance to bid farewell to new friends.
EPMC students came to CTS to round out their seminary education with courses and experiences to prepare them for ministry in the CRC. They left with even more. One student commented, “It was just good to be at Calvin and get to know the people that I will be doing ministry with in the CRC.”
Though their time together was short, students felt that they had opportunity to form long-term connections with others who will become their colleagues in ministry in the years to come.