Two or three times each year, Christian Reformed churches send representatives to meetings of classis, a regional grouping of churches. Delegates to those meetings review and make decisions about their shared ministries and practice mutual accountability for their congregations’ individual ministries. Here are highlights from the most recent classis meetings:
Entering Ordained Ministry
Entry into ordained ministry in the Christian Reformed Church is governed by Church Order Article 6 (candidates with the prescribed seminary training), Article 7 (those without seminary training deemed to have exceptional gifts), and Article 8 (ministers from other denominations).
Classes examined and approved the following candidates: Bryan Dick, Darrin Compagner, David Spoelma, Dirk VanEyk, Jon Flikkema, William Harris, Jonathan Spronk, Kevin Vande Streek, Laurie Hogge, Matthew Stob, Nathaniel Bradford, Robert Datema, and Simon Cunningham.
Transferred in from other denominations were Revs. Cary Holbert, Felix Fernandez, John Westfall, Jung-Un Park, Peter Kang, Christina Kang, Taek Ho Yang, and Sung Soo Joshua Lim.
Readmitted to Ministry
Rev. Charles Jeon and Rev. Dan Kruis.
The following pastors were granted permission to serve a non-CRC church: Revs. Charles Hong, Mark Klompien, and Steven Steenstra.
Leaving a Congregation
When neither retirement nor discipline is involved, a minister can, for weighty reasons, be released from ministry in a specific congregation, at the request of the pastor, the church council, or both. Classes released the following ministers from their congregations: Revs. DaeWoo Park, Dan Vos, Douglas Pruim, Gary Stevens, Jae Kim, and Michael Veenema.
Leaving Ordained Ministry
Classes may end the ordained ministry status of a pastor if the pastor has voluntarily left the CRC or has taken up a non-ministerial vocation. A classis may also end ordained ministry status if a minister released from a congregation does not receive a call to another church within two years. Those whose status as an ordained minister in the CRC was ended include Derek Miedema, Douglas VandeKamp, Mark Tidd, and Henry Mogollon.
Ted Gray was dismissed from ministry in the CRC.
Classes may depose a minister for disciplinary reasons involving abuse or neglect of office, deviation from sound doctrine, or ungodly conduct. The following pastor was deposed: Daniel L. Mulder.
Ministry associates are elders of their calling churches who serve in a variety of ministries such as education, evangelism, pastoral care, and music.
The following persons were approved as ministry associates: Anthony VanderHoek, Dave De Ridder, Doug Kennedy, and E. Allen Drew.
New Ministries Approved
- Campus ministry at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan
- Hybrid campus/missional church ministry in Ottawa, Ontario
- Campus ministry at Loyola University in Chicago
- New church plant by Springing Fountain CRC in Santa Monica, Calif.
- Church plant in Olympia/Tacoma, Wash., and the Capitol Hill area of Seattle
- Church plant in Mount Airy, Pa.
- Church plant in Iowa City, Iowa.
An emerging church does not have its own council and is under the care of a neighboring Christian Reformed church’s council. An organized church has its own council. Changes to a congregation’s status as emerging or organized must be approved by the classis.
The following churches moved from emerging to organized:
- Cariboo Community CRC in Williams Lake, British Columbia
- Heritage Fellowship CRC in Brampton, Ontario
- River City CRC in Cambridge, Ontario.
The following churches were declared emerging churches:
- New Hope Fellowship in Holland, Iowa
- Valley Community CRC in Napa, Calif.
- Jesus Te Llama CRC is now part of Madison Avenue CRC in Paterson, N.J.
- Second CRC in Denver will be renamed Jewel CRC
- Solomon’s Porch CRC (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) and River Rock CRC (Folsom, Calif.) are merging.
- WooRi CRC transferred to Classis Pacific Hanmi.
Classis Lake Erie noted the emerging relationship between the campus ministries at Michigan State University in East Lansing and University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
- Comunidad de Cristo in Hialeah, Fla.
- First CRC of Oak Lawn, Ill., has withdrawn from the denomination.
Women in Church Leadership
A request from First CRC, Byron Center, Mich., to exclude women officebearers as delegates to classis was referred to the executive committee of Classis Grandville.
Classis Minnkota is requesting that Synod 2010 note errors in the portion of the “biblical-theological argumentation” that presents evidence in favor of the ordination of women as ministers, elders, and evangelists.
Pensions and Finance
Classis Holland approved liability insurance for classical staff, including the Safe Church Team. Classis Wisconsin declined to suspend voting rights of churches that have paid less than 50 percent of their ministry shares. Classis Grandville declined to pursue supporting Christian day school education as a classis.
Classis Heartland noted that ministry share income is at its lowest level since 2002. Classis Lake Erie noted the financial struggles of several congregations, and Classis Grand Rapids North noted a serious shortfall in 2009 ministry share giving.
Classis Arizona and Classis Pacific Northwest received requests for training for officebearers.
Classis Thornapple Valley is restaffing its formerly defunct Safe Church Team, and Classis Iakota is looking into forming a regional team with neighboring classes. Classis Alberta North noted the lack of Safe Church Teams in its congregations, and Classis Niagara held a seminar for churches to create such teams.
Classes Grandville, Georgetown, Eastern Canada, Northcentral Iowa, Lake Superior and Quinte all discussed the Belhar Confession.
Classis Heartland encouraged local churches to send communications about the Belhar to Synod 2010. Classis Iakota formed a committee to study and respond to the confession.
Classis Wisconsin received a study about the Belhar, and Classis Niagara is requesting that Synod 2010 propose to Synod 2012 that the Belhar be adopted with the same status as Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony [of the CRC], rather than full confessional status.
Classes British Columbia Southeast and British Columbia Northwest discussed materials from the denomination’s Faith Formation Committee regarding children at the Lord’s Supper.
Classis Illiana is requesting that Synod 2010 reject the guiding principles proposed by the committee and reaffirm earlier decisions requiring children to make an age-appropriate profession of faith prior to participation in communion. Classis Zeeland requests that Synod 2010 withhold action on the matter.
Form of Subscription/Covenant for Officebearers
The Form of Subscription is the document all CRC deacons, elders, pastors, and ministry associates are required to sign before taking office, declaring they agree with the doctrines of the church.
A committee of synod is drafting a new version of it, called the Covenant for Officebearers, and it is being studied by the churches.
Classes Rocky Mountain, Alberta South, Arizona, and Eastern Canada held discussions on the topic.
Children and Youth
Classis Alberta North discussed how to share the gospel in view of dropping literacy rates among youths. Classis British Columbia Northwest discussed where 20- and 30-year-olds go when they leave the CRC.
Overtures/Requests to Synod 2010
Classis Minnkota is requesting that Synod 2010 approve the transfer of Second CRC of Kalamazoo, Mich., and Trinity CRC of Sparta, Mich., to Classis Minnkota. Classes Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids North, respectively, indicated they will acquiesce with the transfers if synod approves.
Classis Rocky Mountain is requesting that Synod 2010 revise the 1991 statement on evolution by removing the declaration that rules out theorizing about evolutionary forebears of the human race, by clarifying the confusing language adopted by Synod 1991, and by allowing CRC theologians and scientists to continue to investigate the matter following the guidelines set out by the rest of that report.
Classis Grand Rapids North is requesting Synod 2010 to declare that if a pastor leaves a church for purely personal reasons, the church should not be forced to extend compensation and benefits.
Classis Grandville and Classis Lake Erie want Synod 2010 to take a new look at the Church Order of the CRC. Grandville wants a rewrite of the articles concerning the office of deacon, and Lake Erie wants the task force currently revising the document to have a broader mandate for making changes.
Classis Red Mesa requested that its theological education committee prepare materials on a Christian response to gambling.
Classis Alberta North noted that it will celebrate the classis’s 100th anniversary Oct. 17, 2010.
Classis Arizona churches noted increased support because of increased involvement in their surrounding communities.
—Banner news correspondents