Monday, February 19, 2007

Ordination and Induction

Dear friends and family,

I am now officially writing to you as Rev. Terreth Jon Klaver, Pastor of the Southern Presbyterian Church of Launceston. I was ordained into the sacred ministry on the afternoon of February 17, 2007. The service was simple, Biblical, and edifying.

The service began with Rev. Raeburn Cameron-Smith (Pastor emeritus of the Southern Presbyterian Church of Launceston) welcomed the people to the service and opened in prayer. We then sang Psalm 124 and Elder John Coles, the Clerk of the Presbytery, gave a description of the call that was extended to me. Rev. Iain Smith, the Pastor of the Southern Presbyterian Church of Hobart, then gave a brief and compelling charge to the congregation from Hebrews 13. Rev. Cameron-Smith then gave a charge to me from I Timothy 6.

I was then asked the following questions:

1. Do you believe the Old and New Testaments to be the very Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice, which you will faithfully preach at all times?

2. Do you believe the doctrines and teaching of the Westminster Confession of Faith, and is this Confession a personal statement of your personal understanding of the teaching of the Word of God?

3. Do you believe and will you maintain the the System of Presbyterial Church government adopted by the Southern Presbyterian Church?

4. Do you agree with and will you conform to the Church Practice and form of public worship approved by the Southern Presbyterian Church?

5. Are your motives in accepting this call by this congregation that you love Christ and His people and desire to serve and glorify Him in the congregation?

6. Do you promise that with God's help and grace you will endeavor to be a faithful shepherd to this flock of God, praying for them, teaching them, leading and correcting them as God's Word requires of a true Pastor?

By the grace of God I answered affirmatively. The members of the Presbytery laid their hands on me and offered prayer. I then signed the formula of subscription and received the right hand of fellowship from the brothers of the Presbytery. We sang Psalm 80:14-19 and Rev. Cameron-Smith closed the service with the benediction.

After the service we had a nice time of food, fellowship, and prayer with the congregation and many visitors from other churches in Tasmania.

The time of my ordination and the following days are proving to be days of prayer and reflection. My ordination and induction are a confirmation of the desire the Lord has put in my heart to serve Him since I was in my mid teens. I am overwhelmed at the Lord's goodness to me and I ask that you would all continually remember me and Martha as we seek to serve the people of the Southern Presbyterian Church of Launceston and the cause of Christ's Kingdom in Australia.

Below are some pictures that were taken at the Ordination and Induction service. There are more coming, but I am still trying to figure out how to place and edit them. The first is of the questions being asked and the second is of me being extended the right hand of fellowship.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Just a quick note to let you know that Herb Krul arrived safely and the ordination is on track for today. Terreth Jon Klaver will be officially appointed minister of the gospel to the Southern Presbyterian Church of Launceston, Tasmania as of the presbytery meeting 2pm Saturday Aussie time, which is 10pm Friday Eastern US time. We are very thankful to God for this day, and appreciate the prayers and providences which have brought Terry to this place. Thanks to each of you who is thinking of and praying for him.

There will be recording of this event which may be available later on; we'll keep you updated.

In Christ,

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Coming Visitor and How Terry got to Tassie

Dear friends & family,

Due to an amazing and unexpected blessing from the Lord, I was reminded that many of you may not know how I came to be the pastor of the Southern Presbyterian Church of Launceston, Tasmania. In the light of my coming ordination, I thought that it might be nice to share this unexpected blessing with you as well as how the Lord brought me to Tassie.

The unexpected blessing was that last week I received word from my friend Herb Krul that he hopes to come to Launceston for my ordination. I was quite surprised but very thankful to the Lord that Herb could come.

Herb is an elder in the Heritage Reformed Congregation (HRC) of Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada, and incidentally he was a Tasmanian before he moved to Canada. I got to know Herb and the men and women of the HRC in Chilliwack when I had the privilege of doing an internship in their midst. During that internship, and ever since, the Chilliwack HRC has had a special place in my heart and the people there are never far from my thoughts and prayers.

It was interesting to hear a bit about Tasmania from Herb and his family while I was doing the internship because I had never been there and knew little about it. All I really knew about Tasmania was where it was and a bit about the now supposedly extinct "Tasmanian Tiger" or Thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus) from a report I did in high school.

Another reason I was interested in Tasmania was that I knew I was going to visit Australia, thanks to the family of my friend and fellow seminarian Bert Pohl. I met Bert just before I started seminary. Bert is from Adelaide, South Australia, but had moved all the way to Grand Rapids, Michigan to attend Puritan Reformed Seminary. By the grace of the Lord, Bert and I met and we have been good friends to this day. While I was in Chilliwack, Bert told me that his family wanted to fly me to Australia for a month once studies were finished (Bert and I were in the same graduating class, but I was bumped back a year because I needed to complete my extended internship in Chilliwack to fulfill the requirements of the Seminary Education Committee of the HRC). So after I finished my internship in Chilliwack, I flew out to Australia to spend some time with Bert Pohl, his wife Kryna, and Bert's family.

While we were in Australia, we did some traveling. We spent two weeks in Adelaide, one week in Melbourne, and one week in Tassie. In Melbourne, I had the opportunity to meet and make good friends with the Rev. John Nelson of the Australian Free Church and his wife and family. The week in Tassie would turn out to be one of the most important in my life, though I did not know it at that time.

When Bert, Kryna, and I were in Tassie we stayed at the manse (minister's house) of Rev. Iain Smith who is the pastor of the Southern Presbyterian Church in Hobart. I remember standing on the porch of the manse in the midst of the cool late night air just thinking and praying about how familiar Tasmania seemed to feel though I could not place why. As I looked out over the small mountains and rolling hills, I wondered if it was because I was reminded of British Columbia. I was still missing Chilliwack greatly, so perhaps that was it; but somehow there was more to it that I could not quite place. Somehow this marvelous new place felt familiar in a way I could not explain and in a way that seemed to comfort me and unsettle me at the same time. This feeling only grew the whole time we were in Tasmania.

I did not know why we were in Tasmania. I initially thought it was just a little vacation travel trip, but there was more going on. We were in Tasmania because the Southern Presbyterian Church in Launceston was possibly interested in calling Bert Pohl to be their pastor. He asked if his American friend could come along and they thought it was an excellent idea. Bert, Kryna, and I must have visited almost all the office bearers in both the Hobart and Launceston churches. Bert and I preached one Sabbath in Launceston and on a week day I took a Bible study in Hobart. In the meantime, we saw as much of Tas as we could.

As we traveled and visited the office bearers, I found out a startling bit of history that I personally shared with the Southern Presbyterian Church: we had both been influenced by the small Dutch denomination called the Protestant Reformed Churches (PRC).

The PRC was a split from the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) over the doctrine of common grace. While I was doing my Bachelors degree at Reformed Bible College (now Kuyper College), I came across the writings of one of the founders of the PRC, Herman Hoeksema. Hoeksema was the theological sparring partner the Lord brought to me to help me iron out and define much of my own theological thinking. As I wrestled through Hoeksema's insights and formulations, I considered joining the PRC (this was before I had even heard of the HRC) but did not due to some of his errors concerning the relationship between the doctrine of the Trinity and covenant, and his view of marriage, divorce and remarriage.

The Evangelical Presbyterian Churches had received some theological help from the Protestant Reformed, but soon discovered some of the negative effects their distinct understanding of certain doctrines can have on how children are viewed and on evangelism. These difficulties led to a split and the formation of the Southern Presbyterian Churches. I was stunned to see that the Lord had led me personally in a way parallel to how He led the Southern Presbyterian Churches.

As we left Tasmania, I stored all these things in my heart. Why had Bert Pohl come from Adelaide to PRTS? Why had the Lord joined us in friendship? Why had the Lord inclined the heart of Bert's family to bring me to Australia? Why did I have to wrestle so much with the PRC if I was meant to stay in the HRC? Why did Tasmania seem so familiar? Was it just because it was like Chilliwack? How could it be that the Krul family was living in Chilliwack but was from Tasmania and even knew some members of the Southern Presbyterian Church of Launceston (but did not even know they were in that church)? I knew there may not have been answers to these questions, and even if there were they may not have been significant, but nonetheless I hid these things in my heart and prayed about them.

Upon returning from Australia to the U.S., I soon received a letter from the Southern Presbyterian Church of Launceston asking me to return to Tasmania and spend more time preaching and ministering in their midst as they considered whether they would like to extend me a call to be their pastor. I was amazed, stunned, thankful, overjoyed, hesitant, and afraid all at once. I immediately consulted with my two pastors (Dr. Beeke and Rev. Vander Zwaag) and my friend and mentor Rev. Ray Lanning. As correspondence with the Southern Presbyterian Church continued, I kept them informed.

After much prayer, thinking, counsel, and helping out at the HRC church plant in Yellville, Arkansas, I returned to Tasmania and ministered the Word in their midst for two and a half months. After that time, they extended me a call to be their pastor and the Lord gave me the freedom to accept with the blessing of HRC.

Here I sit today typing up this blog entry and I marvel to see how the Lord has pulled all the threads of my life together, especially the threads of my time studying the PRC, my time with the people in the Chilliwack HRC, and my friendship with Bert Pohl. I could explain how my coming here tied even more threads together but these will have to suffice for now.

I am also very thankful to the Lord that all these threads have been joined before the Lord joins me to my wonderful and precious Martha. I have been praying for her and waiting for her for years, and now, in the Lord's perfect timing, all these things come together.

Who would have ever thought that a man from Grand Rapids who almost joined the Protestant Reformed would meet an Australian in seminary, serve a church with some people from Tasmania in Canada, and eventually become a pastor in Launceston?

The Lord's ways are truly great, deep, and beyond our understanding.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Dear friends & family,

I am afraid I am going to be in the habit of apologizing on this blog. I am simply not posting enough. Posting does come to mind often, but I get discouraged because I do not have my camera software and I thus provide none of the all-important pictures that would help make this marvelous island I now call home come alive to all of you. So until my library arrives in a couple of months, the Lord willing, please bear with the pictureless accounts.

Having solicited your patience for my picture-less post, I thought I would share a few experiences about being an American in my new home of Australia:

Whenever you speak to anyone you are immediately identified as an American and as a tourist. Whether you are at the bank, the grocery store, a restaurant, a wildlife park or reserve, or even just talking to someone at the cross walk, when they hear your voice their eyes widen a bit and you can see on their faces "You're an American!" It is a bit of a novel experience. All of a sudden you can see the questions race through their mind: "Why are you here?," "What do you think of Australia?," "How long are you staying?" and a bit of "What do you know... an American."

Surprisingly, one of the first questions people ask is "Are you from Canada?" I was surprised how often this happened, and it usually happened when I spoke with retail and customer service workers. This phenomenon seems to happen for two reasons:

Reason #1 Australian Safety
When people ask me if I am from Canada, I usually explain that I am not from Canada but from "the States." One of the last times this happened, I asked the person, "Do you meet a lot of Canadians here?" She responded, "No, not really." So I asked her, "Do I sound Canadian?" "No," she said. But then she added, "We always ask people we think could be from the U.S. or Canada if they're from Canada because if you accidentally ask a Canadian if they're from the U.S. they get mad." I had a chuckle to myself and asked, "Has somebody from the U.S. ever gotten upset about being asked if they're Canadian." She simply said, "Oh no, they never care." I thanked the woman and walked away smiling to myself thinking about some of my different discussions with Canadians about the relationship between the States and Canada.

Reason #2 Being a Yankee (U.S. definition i.e. a Northerner)
I have found out from another person that some people think I am Canadian because "You don't sound American." I asked the person who said this to describe what an American sounds like. He then tried to immitate a bit of a Southern U.S. accent. I asked him if he remembered where the Americans he has met were from in the States. The response is almost always some place south of the Mason/Dixon line. I try and explain that I am from the North and therefore may sound a little more like the Canadians.

I have recently obtained something that officially confirms my status as a male living in Australia; I have a Barbie! Now I hasten to add that a "Barbie" is not a doll, it is a Barbecue. The Aussie (pronounced Ozzie) Barbie is slightly different than the North American BBQ. The Aussie Barbie is by large majority gas powered and the flame heats either a flat metal plate or a bumpy or grooved metal plate, though some do have grill slots or slats that drip straight down. To someone from North America, this would be like outdoor frying. In North America even the gas powered grills usually have little lava rocks in them that are heated and the "grill" suspends the material to be cooked above the "brickets." One can obtain a charcoal grill here in Oz, but they do not seem to be popular. I do miss the "grilled taste" and the "charcoal flavor" of the North American BBQ, but the versatility and variety of use for the Aussie Barbie is amazing. The Aussie Barbie is also easier to clean and simpler to care for. I hope to begin a tradition of the annual Manse Barbecue in the near future.

I have also been alerted by a friend here in Taz that my car is not an "Executive" but a "Magna." Apparently the designation "Executive" speaks of the style or class of car, not the model of the car.

One last reflection is how an American can feel like a stranger in a strange land one moment and in some ways feel at home in the next. The plants, animals, driving, money, cars, houses, and accent (even though I am the one who has one now) are all different, but there are a lot of similarities. Coca-Cola and Pepsi are everywhere. As I drive around, I see Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, MacDonald's, and Domino's (sadly no Tim Horton's, the Ice Cap is truly the greatest coffee drink in the world). When I walk into stores or restaurants, they are usually playing American music from the 50's to contemporary Pop-Rock. American culture has been imported everywhere. The switch from Oz to U.S. can be a little disorienting at times.

However, in the midst of all these things the Lord grants strength and upholds. I may be in a new place, but the Lord is here and the Lord's people are here. Though I may be away from friends and family in North America, I have friends and family here that are praying for me and to whom I can always turn.

Until the next post then.

Love through Christ,

P.S. The Lord willing, I hope to be ordained and installed on February 17. Please continue to remember the cause of Christ here in Tassie and especially the brothers and sisters in the Southern Presbyterian Church of Launceston.