Longtime Classis Clerk Honored

| |

Rev. Howard Spaan has been referred to as the grandfather of the Christian Reformed Church in the state of Oregon.

Spaan, age 91, retired recently after serving 46 years as stated clerk of Classis Columbia, a regional group of churches in Oregon and southern Washington. The classis honored him at a special luncheon during its meeting Sept. 25.

Spaan first served as clerk in 1965 for Classis Pacific Northwest. As the CRC expanded in Oregon, Classis Columbia formed in 1969, and Spaan became its first—and only—clerk until April of this year.

(L-R): Revs. Jelmer Groenewold, Howard Spaan, and D. Vance Hays

Mike Vander Veen

He said he always enjoyed writing the minutes for each meeting. “I do the minutes different than most stated clerks,” Spaan explained. “I always give the context and action behind a motion passed—pastors kept telling me they really appreciate that.”

Spaan has seen Classis Columbia endure many changes over the past five decades. Minutes were first hand-written, then typed on a typewriter, and now sent out via e-mail. Classis meetings used to be all male delegates until female deacons were invited to attend, and later women elders.

Spaan was also part of a “classis renewal” in the late-1970s. “It was hard to get delegates to go back then because they said it was too boring. It was all business and nothing else,” said Spaan.

He was part of two conferences sponsored by the denomination that helped bring a spiritual emphasis to classis meetings, as well as separate prayers for ministries in the Christian Reformed Church.

Spaan is the longest-serving clerk of classis in the history of the CRC.

About the Author

Amy Toornstra is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. She lives in Salem, Oregon.

See comments (2)



I know how much you enjoyed being a stated clerk and how much you enjoyed being the "longest-serving clerk of classis in the history of the CRC." If I'm not mistaken, you also served as the stated clerk of Classis Lake Erie when you pastored the Cleveland West CRC. How many total years have you served as a stated clerk?

I thought you might be interested in the following Prayer for Stated Clerks.


George (Vander Weit)


God, in days of old you sent us prophets and leaders of thousands and of ten thousands, and in later days when prophets are rare and leaders are at most times in disrespect, you have sent us stated clerks.

We give you thanks for all you send. We confess that we sometimes use these servants willfully and with disdain, often punishing them for our own parliamentary sins and cursing them when we are entangled in our own procedures. Grant them continued patience. Keep their minds clear and their Book of Order nearby. Give them some special peace so that they may one day be free of the noise of our solemn assemblies and reside in your presence decently and in order. Amen.

(Vic Jameson, associate director, Presbyterian Office of Information, in Monday morning, a publication of the UPUSA; 19??)

Congratulations on your retirement. It has been a pleasure to work with you as a member of the classis you served, as well as a Synodical Deputy returning to your meetings for special events. You are thorough and appreciative of the church's way of handling matters decently and good order. (Read that somewhere...)
I recall an initial meeting when I was a delegate from First Manhattan and wondered why you retained the position so loooooooooooong and misundertood it as a power grab. I was WRONG....and didn't get to unseat you, and was branded as "...that Canadian..." I've repented of my foolish ways and am glad my relationship with you and Margaret.