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 the highlights of the most recent classis meetings:
Classis British Columbia celebrated the inaugural worship service of The Well, a church plant in Kelowna, British Columbia, while Classis Grand Rapids East granted $5,000 to Madison Square CRC for a multisite church plant.
Classis Grand Rapids South made plans to start an outreach-driven church in southern Kent County, Mich., in 2008, and Classis Southeast U.S. approved a new church plant in west central Florida, to be called Suncoast Christian Church.
Classis Lake Superior granted funding for Crossroads CRC in Brainerd, Minn., and Classis Zeeland approved start-up funds for ATLAS outreach ministry.
An emerging Christian Reformed church does not have its own council and is under the care of a neighboring 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.
Classis Pacific Northwest approved the organization of Emmaus Road CRC in Seattle, Wash.
Classis Pacific Northwest appointed Rev. Randy Rowland as home missionary for the classis.
Classis Alberta North heard that because 11 of its churches do not have a Safe Church policy, the classis cannot get abuse insurance. Classis British Columbia North-West is requesting that Synod 2008 change the guidelines for Advisory Panels (the panel that conducts a hearing when a church leader is accused of abuse), allowing all parties to have legal counsel through the process and each advisory panel to have at least one legal expert on the panel.
Form of Subscription
Classis Iakota asked Synod 2008 not to adopt the proposed Covenant of Ordination as a replacement of the current Form of Subscription. Classis Northcentral Iowa asked synod to make revisions to the proposed covenant, and Classis Lake Superior asked synod to defer the decision about the matter until Synod 2009. Classis Holland expressed support for the Covenant of Ordination.
Leadership Issues - Women
Classes Georgetown and Yellowstone decided not to allow female delegates to classis meetings. Classis Zeeland asked churches to delegate women to classis only when necessary.
Classes Alberta South/Saskatchewan and Hamilton both received protests or communications after allowing women as delegates to classis.
Classis Grand Rapids South defeated a motion to prevent women from serving as delegates to classis or synod, while Classis Grand Rapids East elected four female delegates to Synod 2008.
Classis Iakota refused to ask synod to declare that the Bible reserves the offices of minister, elder, and evangelist for men.
Leadership Issues - Emerging Churches
Classes Central California, Grand Rapids South, Northern Michigan, and Zeeland invited emerging churches within each classis to send delegates to classis.
Leadership Issues - Ministry Associates
Classis Chicago South requested that Synod 2008 revise the Church Order of the CRC to allow ministry associates who have demonstrated exceptional qualities or who have led an organized congregation for five years to be ordained as ministers of the Word.
Classis Illiana requested Synod 2008 to give the local classis more responsibility in the ordination of ministry associates to the position of minister of the Word following their service to a local congregation.
Leadership Issues - Other
Classes Illiana and Northcentral Iowa requested that Synod 2008 allow the local classis to control the process by which a minister from another denomination enters the CRC, rather than it being the responsibility of the Synodical Ministerial Candidacy Committee.
Classis Central California allowed an elder who is incarcerated to administer the sacraments in the detention facility for the term of his incarceration.
Classis Grand Rapids East requested Synod 2008 to require that ministers who retire or enter a different area of Christian service become members of a different congregation than the one last served, unless granted an exception by the classical ministry committee.
Classis Muskegon requested Synod 2008 to discontinue the practice of appointing ethnic and female advisers to synod.
Classis Red Mesa voted to develop a Leadership Development Network for the classis.
Classes Alberta South/Saskatchewan and Zeeland held discussions about the second Sunday worship service.
Classes Niagara and Alberta North put the environment on their agendas. Niagara asked that the denomination’s Board of Trustees develop guidelines for CRC institutions, agencies, and congregations to implement practices that respect God’s earth. Alberta North held a workshop with Cal DeWitt, professor of environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, aimed at motivating congregations to discuss climate change and the care of creation.
Classis Grand Rapids East sent a letter to Calvin College’s Board of Trustees, protesting its decision not to grant an exception to its church membership policy for Denise Isom.
Classis Northern Michigan asked Christian Reformed Home Missions and Classis Muskegon for a fuller explanation concerning the sale of the property of the former University Church of Mt. Pleasant.
Classis Thornapple Valley heard that four churches in classis are now sponsoring Burmese refugee families, helping them to resettle in Michigan using grants from classis provided for that purpose.
Classis Pella will be renamed Classis Central Plains, effective 2009.
Classis Quinte adopted a five-point marriage-and-family strategy encouraging churches to be intentional in providing a safe place for marriage partners to share their struggles.
Classis Eastern Canada declined to ask Synod 2008 to reconsider participation in the Lord’s Supper by all baptized members.
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 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 winter, classes examined and approved the following for ministry: Brian Kuyper, Greg Selmon, Daniel Roels, Kenneth Bieber, Bret McAtee, James Kim, and Scott Roberts.
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 minister: Ken Nydam .
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 does not receive a call to another church within two years. Those whose status as an ordained minister was ended include Colin Ward, Tony Maan, James McCune, Tim Van Lant, and Timothy Chan.
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: John Liu.
—Banner News Correspondents