News from Winter Classis Meetings

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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 in the CRC

Classes examined and approved the following candidates (seminary graduates):

  • Rick Admiraal
  • George Den Oudsten
  • Jeff Dephouse
  • Steve De Ruiter
  • Chelsey Harmon
  • Brittney Salverda
  • David Salverda
  • Anthony Sytsma
  • Josh Tuininga
  • Emily Vandenheuvel
  • Tom VanderPloeg
  • Andrew Vis
  • Laurie Zuverink

Transferred in from other denominations were:

  • Rev. David Sungju Cho
  • Rev Ken Kyung Hong
  • Rev. Kang Won Kim
  • Rev. Pablo Sang Won Lee
  • Rev. Won Chul Ma
  • Rev. Deog Jong Nam
  • Rev. Jim Kwangchul Seung
  • Rev. Randall Simon

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 from their congregations the following ministers:

  • Rev. Don Cowart, New Holland (S.D.) CRC
  • Rev. Eun Sung Lee, East Bay Korean Presbyterian CRC, Hayward, Calif.
  • Rev. Randal Meyers, Haven CRC, Zeeland, Mich.
  • Rev. Martin Vellekoop, Maple Ridge (British Columbia) CRC
  • Rev. Jude Reardon, Grangeville (Idaho) CRC

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 did not receive a call to another church within two years. Those whose status as an ordained minister in the CRC was ended include:

  • Suh Hyun Park
  • David Vander Meer

Ministry Associates

Ministry Associates are elders called to a specific ministry and ordained to function within that classis in that role. Ministry associates approved by classes were:

  • Chris Allen (Lake Erie)
  • Bryan Blakely (Grand Rapids East)
  • David Buurma (California South)
  • James Jones (Grand Rapids East)
  • Faith Lim Geok Keng (Greater Los Angeles)
  • Shane Rozeveld (British Columbia Northwest)
  • Manuel Soto (Columbia)
  • Duane Terpstra (Holland)
  • Rob Whitmere (Hackensack)
  • Marc Zumhagen (Illiana)

Leadership Issues and Leadership Training & Development

  • Classis Chatham discontinued the position of leadership developer.
  • Classis Northern Michigan had a training session on ministering to couples in crisis.
  • In Classis Huron, Stratford (Ontario) CRC will not send delegates to the May meeting because it will be chaired by a woman.
  • In Classis Kalamazoo two churches continue to protest the presence of women delegates.

New Ministries & Ministry Changes

  • Classis Hudson approved a new campus ministry at Stony Brook University.
  • Classis Georgetown approved the start of a new church plant called Alive Ministries.
  • Classis Grand Rapids East approved starting Square Inch Community CRC.
  • In Classis Greater Los Angeles, Hope International CRC in Arcadia is merging the English, Indonesian, and Chinese congregations into one.
  • Evergreen Church of Ridgefield Park, N.J. was welcomed by Classis Hudson.
  • Hawaii Logos Church was welcomed by Classis Pacific Hanmi.
  • Lincoln Center CRC in Grundy, Iowa (Northcentral Iowa) is affiliating with the Reformed Church in America.
  • New Life (Lao) (Hamilton) is affiliating with the Mennonite Conference of Canada.
  • Classis Alberta South is researching a new church plant on the edge of Calgary, Alberta.

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:

  • Pathway CRC in Olathe, Kansas (Heartland)
  • River CRC in Sutton, Mass. (Atlantic NE)
  • Love Korean CRC in Clifton, N.J. (Hudson)

Grangeville (Idaho) CRC in Classis Columbia moved to emerging status.

Ministries Ended

  • Thousand Oaks Community CRC in Lake Terrace, Calif., was closed.

Finance

Classis Wisconsin declined to suspend voting privileges on finance matters for churches whose ministry share contribution falls below fifty percent for four years.

Belhar Confession

Whether to adopt the Belhar Confession as a fourth Reformed standard for the Christian Reformed Church (alongside the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort) will be decided at Synod 2012.

The following classes held discussions about the Belhar Confession:

  • Arizona
  • California South
  • Chatham
  • Huron
  • Kalamazoo
  • Muskegon
  • Wisconsin
  • Yellowstone

Classis Northcentral Iowa sent a communication to Synod 2011 expressing its disagreement with having the Belhar Confession recognized on par with the CRC’s three forms of unity.

Proposed Covenant for Officebearers (Form of Subscription revision)

The Form of Subscription is the document that officebearers sign to affirm their agreement with the official teachings of the church. The proposed revision is called the Covenant for Officebearers and Synod 2011 will discuss whether to adopt it.

Classis Central Plains sent a communication to Synod 2011 expressing concern that the wording changes allow for the possibility of deviation. Classis Grand Rapids North sent an overture (request) to Synod 2011 asking for amendments.

Classis Heartland sent an overture asking that reference to the Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony be removed from the proposed revision.

Classes Hudson and Columbia sent an overture asking that Synod 2011 not adopt the revision.

Proposed Revisions to Translations of Confessions

In preparation for a hymnal being produced for both the Reformed Church in America and the CRC, revisions to the CRC’s translation of the three Reformed standards (Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dort) are proposed to bring them into alignment with the RCA’s translations. Synod 2011 will discuss whether to adopt them.

Classes Holland, Grand Rapids North, Columbia, and Zeeland have sent overtures requesting that Synod 2011 not adopt the translations.

Classis Columbia would like a larger, more academic committee formed to review translation of the confessions. Classis Wisconsin would like the decision delayed for one year to give churches more time.

Overtures (Requests) to Synod 2011

  • Classis Grand Rapids North is requesting that the process to change the confessions of the CRC be altered so that before a proposed change can be adopted by synod, two-thirds of the classes would have to approve the change by a majority vote, similar to the process in the Reformed Church in America and the Presbyterian Church-U.S.
  • Classis Central Plains is requesting that Synod 2011 declare that there are strict limitations on the extent to which the Genesis text can be reinterpreted within the Reformed tradition, that the stories of Genesis are clearly meant to refer to real events . . . and that the reality of the events described is of foundational importance for the entire history of redemption. Any interpretation that calls into question the event character of the story told in these first chapters of the Bible must be firmly rejected, whatever difficulties this may cause with respect to the scientific evidence.
  • Classis Columbia is requesting that Synod 2011 withhold action on the proposed changes to the Church Order regarding children at the Lord’s Supper. 
  • Classis Alberta North is requesting that when a pastor-church separation has caused hurt, that both pastor and council be required to participate in restorative dialogue with a trained facilitator before the pastor can accept a call or the church can extend a new call.

See comments (1)

Comments

Ministry Associates

The above announcement INCORRECTLY states, "Ministry Associates are elders called to a specific ministry and ordained to function within that classis in that role."

The CRC Church Order in Article 2 reads, "The church recognizes the offices of minister of the Word, elder, deacon and ministry associate. These offices differ from each other only in mandate and task, not in dignity and honor." And in Article 23 a. states, "Ministry associates shall be acknowledge as elders of their calling churches with corresponding privileges and responsibilities. Normally, their work as elders shall be limited to the ministries in which they serve as ministry associates."

Article 23 in its language can be open to interpretation but it is clear the ministry associate is an ordained person (independent of the other three offices) called to a specific ministry in his or her classis (not a denomination wide ordination, ordination is local (classis) in nature) and while in that specific classis ordination he or she may normally have a say in their calling church council when related to his or her ordination responsibility, i.e. chaplain, minister of music, youth pastor, pastor, etc.

I do believe it is time the CRC clarify the wording of Article 23 a.

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