In an event 150 years in the making, Classis Central California of the Christian Reformed Church (a regional group of churches) met together with Classis Central California of the Reformed Church in America to worship and talk together on the topic “Urgency of the Mission . . . Breath of the Kingdom.”
Leaders from both denominations led in worship. Back row (l-r): Tom DeVries, Joel Boot; front row (l-r) Jul Medenblik, Tim Brown, and Scott Sherman
The two days included an educational component at Calvary Reformed Church in Ripon. There was a question and answer session with seminary presidents and denominational leaders, as well as the regular work of the classis, at Almond Valley CRC, also in Ripon.
Tom DeVries, general secretary of the RCA, said that for too long we have been two kingdoms even though we have one King. “Kingdom living is not done with division but with unity,” he said.
The theme of unity and partnership ran through the entire event. Joel Boot, executive director of the CRC said, “God’s desire is for his people to be one!”
In a show of unity, presidents from three seminaries served communion to the approximately 400 worshipers. Tim Brown of Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Mich., Jul Medenblik of Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Scott Sherman of Newbigin House of Studies in San Francisco, shared how those institutions of higher learning are joining together in a spirit of collegiality and unity to shape the leaders of our future.
The impetus for much of this joint effort was the work of Kingdom Enterprise Zone, a joint church-planting effort of the CRC and RCA that is active in areas around the country.
The conversations and work of these local leaders led to a conversation about finding unity at a classis level as well. “Pieces were there but we didn’t have a table to sit around,” said Paul Vander Klay, pastor of Living Stones CRC in Sacramento, and part of the Kingdom Enterprise Zone in central California. Now leaders and pastors from both denominations are coming to the table to talk about what they can do together.
Meanwhile, at a recent meeting, Classis Arizona decided not to ask synod (the CRC’s annual leadership meeting) for permission to form a union classis made up of churches from both denominations.
At the denominational level, there are preliminary plans for the two denominations to hold their synods simultaneously on the same campus in Iowa if the logistics can be worked out.