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 congregations’ individual ministries. Here are the highlights of the most recent classis meetings:
Entering Ordained Ministry
Entry into ordained ministry in the Christian Reformed Church is governed by the Church Order (the rules that govern the structure and activities of the CRC):
- Under Article 6 (candidates with the prescribed seminary training), classes examined and approved the following candidates: Jonathan Averill, Paul Birnbaum, Joel DeMoor, Rebecca Jordan Heys, Mark Hilbelink, James Kirk, Allen Kleine-Deters, Brad Knetsch, James Kuiper, Nicholas Monsma, Bonny Mulder-Behnia, Zachery Olson, Albert Postma, Brian Seifert, David Van Berkel, Paul van Stralen, Aaron Winkle, Tim Wood, and Andrew Zomerman.
- Under Article 8 (ministers from other denominations), classes held doctrinal conversations and approved the following pastors: Drew Brown, Jeong Ha Chun, Richard Jones, Joshua Jung, Rich Kim, Boo Shik Kong, Tim Kwon, Kyung Ho Park, Won Seok Song, David Van Harten, Mirtha Villafane, and Robert Woodyard.
Under Church Order Article 23, ministry associates are elders who are called to a specific role within the classis where they are approved. The office of ministry associate applies to a variety of ministries, including education, evangelism, pastoral care, music, youth, and more. The following persons were examined and approved as ministry associates:
- Drew Angus, Gabe Wong Herrera, Bill Hodgeman, Wen-Yau Hsieh, Joe Huizenga, Kathy Klesser, Jodi Koeman, Matthew Lin, John Shepherd, Ken Vis, Lon Wagner, and David Stewart.
The following pastors were granted permission to serve a non-Christian Reformed church:
- Hyuk Soo Kwon and Peter Van Drunen.
Leaving a Congregation
Under Church Order Article 17, 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 from their congregations the following ministers:
- William Delleman, Jeff Fisher, Ed Gerber, Charles Geschiere, Ken Krause, Mike Laird, Coleman Moore, Karl Neerhof, Peter Van Elderen Jr., Eugene Vis, and David Westra.
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 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:
- Clifford Bajema, Karl House, Myung-han Kang, and Byung Min.
Readmitted to Ministry
Classis may readmit pastors previously released. The following pastors were readmitted to CRC ministry:
- Tony Maan and Steve Van Eck.
Classes may depose a minister for disciplinary reasons involving abuse or neglect of office, deviation from sound doctrine, or ungodly conduct. If a minister is one who has retired or left the denomination, a classis can declare their status to be that of one deposed. The following persons are considered deposed:
- Nam Kieu and Lloyd Burghart.
New ministries were approved for the following areas:
- Providence, R.I.
- Milton, Ontario
- Mukilteo, Wash.
- Quincy, Wash.
- Gallatin Valley, Mont.
A fledgling or 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 church moved from emerging to organized:
- Iglesia Cristiana Vida Neuva CRC in Miami Lakes, Fla.
The following ministries have ended:
- North Shore Chapel CRC in Danvers, Mass.
- Manchester (N.H.) L.I.F.E. CRC
- CRC campus ministry at Passaic County Community College, Paterson, N.J.
- Kincardine (Ont.) CRC
- Classis Toronto’s hospital ministry.
Richfield CRC in Clifton, N.J., is seeking to merge with two Reformed Church in America congregations in that city.
Evangelism and Outreach
Classis Southeast U.S. plans to plant or affiliate with 20 new churches by 2020.
Classis Huron invited deacons to attend classis in January 2010, with recommendations about making deacons voting delegates to come in May 2010.
Classis Huron also voted to discontinue its annual pastors’ retreat and encouraged pastors and spouses to attend the retreat hosted jointly by three neighboring classes.
Classis Chatham noted that Operation Manna (a CRC diaconal organization in Canada) is working with a $40,000 shortfall.
Classis Eastern Canada rejected a request to establish a yearly bursary for training regional leaders in the GEMS and Cadet programs. Those are the programs for girls and boys in many Christian Reformed churches.
In Classis Lake Erie several churches indicated their struggle for survival especially due to financial pressures.
Classis Alberta North discussed how to journey with “emerging adults” (as defined by Jeffery Arnett), and also the Christianity Today article about marrying younger.
- Classis British Columbia Northwest discussed pastoral care for members with same-sex attraction.
- Classes Chicago South, Illiana, and Northern Illinois had a presentation about church planting in the inner city.
- Classis Pacific Northwest created an extended education program for Korean congregations to help them learn about CRC polity and doctrines and help them establish a firm identity within the CRC.
Classis Eastern Canada had a workshop on boundaries for pastors.
Classis British Columbia Northwest had a presentation and discussion on the Belhar Confession. Synod 2009 proposed that Synod 2012 adopt the Belhar as an official confession of the CRC. Synod is the annual leadership meeting of the CRC.
Classis Huron held a discussion on faith formation.
Revised Form of Subscription
Classes British Columbia Northwest and Pacific Northwest held discussions about the revised Form of Subscription being proposed to Synod 2010. The Form of Subscription is the document that ordained leaders sign to indicate their agreement with the teachings of the CRC.
Children and Youth
Classis California South discussed how to deal with potential members who do not believe in baptizing young children.
Overtures to Synod
Classis Heartland is requesting that Synod 2010 appoint a study committee to provide guidance regarding non-attending church members, including studying the applicable articles in the Church Order.
Classis Pacific Northwest wants Synod 2010 to ask the Candidacy Committee to provide clarity regarding the permanence and length of stay for ministry associates serving in established churches, particularly in the role of solo pastors (Church Order Article 23). The Candidacy Committee regulates the admission of persons into ministry in the CRC.
Classes British Columbia Northwest and British Columbia Southeast formed a committee to connect their congregations with Christian Reformed congregations in Sierra Leone.
Classis Grandville approved a grant of $35,000 for development of a retreat center focused on church renewal.
In response to an inquiry, Classis Minnkota advised a group of ministers and elders in western Michigan to pursue formation of a classis that would be united theologically. The inquiry noted efforts being made to prepare overtures to Synod 2010 to form such a classis.
—Banner News Correspondents