Two or three times each year, Christian Reformed churches send representatives to classis, a regional grouping of churches. Delegates at those meetings review and make decisions about their shared ministries and practice mutual accountability for their individual ministries. Here are highlights from the most recent classis meetings:
Classis Heartland approved the start of Living Water Community CRC in Orange City, Iowa. Classis Iakota called Rev. Carl Bruxvoort to ministry to the immigrant/refugee community of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
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 status: New Horizon CRC in Clifton, N.J.; New Ground Harvest CRC in Los Angeles; Journey CRC in Longmont, Colo.; The River CRC in Edmonton, Alberta; and Faith Community CRC in Fullerton, Calif.
Pine Creek CRC and South Olive CRC, both in Holland, Mich., have merged their congregations.
New Hope Fellowship CRC in Holland, Iowa, will no longer receive support from Classis Northcentral Iowa, but a group will continue to worship led by a ministry associate.
Forest (Ont.) CRC; East City Community CRC in Orleans, Ontario; Godwin Heights CRC in Wyoming, Mich.; Elohim Haitian Ministries in Orlando, Fla.; and Calvary CRC in Orange County, Calif., have all closed.
The Red River Fellowship of Winnipeg, Manitoba, is considered resigned from the CRC as it has affiliated with another denomination. Mission Community Church of Anaheim, Calif., was disaffiliated at its request.
John Stellingwerff is the new Safe Church Coordinator in Classes British Columbia North-West and British Columbia South-East.
Workshops will be held in Seattle in March 2008 to help churches with questions of abuse.
Classis Alberta South/Saskatchewan rejected a request that only male ministers and elders be allowed as delegates to classis. Classis Iakota accepted a request that only male ministers and elders be allowed as delegates to classis.
In Classis Northern Michigan, Trinity CRC of Sparta declined to send any delegates to classis in response to Synod 2007’s decision to allow women delegates to synod. In Classis Kalamazoo the same thing happened with Second CRC of Kalamazoo, Mich.
Classis Greater Los Angeles appointed Joseph Chun as the Korean Coordinator for classis. The same classis approved a motion that emerging churches may send up to two officebearers to classis as voting delegates.
Classes Hackensack and Hudson voted to establish a Multiethnic Community Team to encourage and facilitate diversity awareness, racial reconciliation, community building, and cross-cultural ministry.
The Leadership Development Network in Classis British Columbia North-West has 17 new students.
Pensions and Finance
Classis Grand Rapids East granted 15 churches a reduction in denominational ministry shares due to declining memberships.
Classis Alberta North appointed Ron De Vries as the new youth ministry coordinator for classis.
Classis Minnkota requested that Synod 2008 instruct the committee overseeing the new CRC hymnal to include the Heidelburg Catechism and to continue to give Psalms priority by placing them all together at the beginning of the hymnal, rather than spreading them throughout the hymnal by topic.
Classis Chicago South requested that Synod 2008 declare Oct. 12, 2008, as Elim Sunday, in honor of Elim Christian School’s 60th anniversary.
Classis Eastern Canada requested that Synod 2008 add to Church Order Article 12 that ministers of the Word be required to engage in the ministry of prayer.
In Classis Toronto, the church visitors to First CRC, Toronto, concluded that the church is tailoring its ministries to gay and lesbian members according to the denominational guidelines for same-gender relationships. They also noted there is still a breakdown in covenantal relationships within the classis surrounding this issue.
Ministers Coming and Going
Entering Ordained Ministry
Entry into ordained ministry in the Christian Reformed Church is governed by Church Order Article 6 (candidates who have the prescribed seminary training), Article 7 (those without seminary training who are deemed to have exceptional gifts), and Article 8 (ministers from other denominations). Every person who enters ordained ministry in the CRC must be examined by a classis in the presence of synodical representatives (deputies).
This fall, classes examined and approved the following for ministry: Joy Engelsman, Sam Perry, Robert Pollema, Todd Hilkeman, John Bothof, Drew Sweetman, Zeke Nelson, Ben Katt, Maurice VanderVeen, Shawn Bootsma, Jana Vander Laan, Brad Close, Steven Lee Kooy, Jeff Bulthuis, Mike VanderKwaak, Leon Johnston, and Brad Smith.
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: Elzo Tenyenhuis, Stephen Rhoda, Alan Vanderwoerd, Peter Vander Beek, Robert Haven, Peter Aviles, Pedro Toledo, and Jeff Voorhees
Leaving Ordained Ministry
Classes may end ordained ministry status of a pastor if the minister has voluntarily left the CRC or has taken up a nonministerial vocation. A classis may also end ordained ministry status if a minister released from a congregation did not receive a call to another church within two years. Those whose status as an ordained minister was ended include, Tom Semper, John Kemper, Kirk MacNeil, Pieter Manuhutu, Peter Padro, Srinrisack Saythavy, and John Liu.
—Banner News Correspondents