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):
- Randall Buursma
- John Harold Caicedo
- Steven Eckersley
- Matthew Eenigenburg
- Andy Hanson
- Daniel Kinnas
- Sam Lee
- Ruth Lemmen
- Sarah Roelofs
- Eric Schlukebir
- Mark Van Drunen
Transferred in from other denominations were the following:
- Henry Cho
- Chris Choe
- David Lee
- Jay Song
- Randal Young, to Evangelical Community Church in Hong Kong
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:
- John Aasman, Keystone Community CRC, Ada, Mich.
- Cindy Holtrop, chaplain, Hope Network
- Margaret Hummelman, Hillside CRC, Abbotsford, British Columbia
- Il Yong Kan, Hanaro Community CRC, La Puente, Calif.
- James Pott, Bethel CRC, Waterdown, Ontario
- George Rowaan, Tillsonburg (Ontario) CRC
- Henry Reyenga, Transcona CRC, Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Verlan Van Ee, Living Hope Community CRC, Fox Lake, Wis.
- Ryan Veeneman, Newman CRC, Hesperia, Mich.
Leaving Ordained Ministry in the CRC
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 did not receive a call to another church within two years. Those whose status as an ordained minister in the CRC was ended include the following:
- Eneyas Frietas
- Paul Hahn
Officebearers can be removed from ministry if they are guilty of neglect or abuse of office, or in any way seriously deviate from sound doctrine and godly conduct. Deposed was Bradley Center.
Ministry Associates are elders called to a specific ministry and ordained to function within that classis. The following ministry associates were approved by classes:
- Andrew Carlson (Pacific Northwest)
- Khary Bridgewater (Grand Rapids East)
- Eric Cepin (Arizona)
- Bill Hanchett (Atlantic Northeast)
- Darryl Jordan (Hackensack)
- Jen McIntyre (Huron)
- Adam Bounmee Nhotsavang (Minnkota)
- Sandy Reynolds (Alberta South/Saskatchewan)
- Yee Hwa Soon (Chicago South)
- Wilma Vander Leek (British Columbia Southeast)
- Dan Walcott (Holland)
New Ministries and Ministry Changes
- Classis Arizona approved a new military chaplaincy at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
- Classis Pacific Hanmi approved affiliation of New Life Church, Las Vegas.
- Cerritos WooRi Church, Artesia, Calif., transferred to Classis Pacific Hanmi.
- In Classis Southeast U.S., Grace CRC, Indian Harbor Beach, Fla., retained the church’s assets following a lawsuit.
An emerging church does not have its own council and is under the care of a council of a neighboring Christian Reformed church. 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:
- Evergreen Church (Ridgefield Park, N.J.)
- The Tapestry, Richmond, British Columbia
- River Rock Church, Folsom, Calif.
- Queens CRC, Jamaica, N.Y., seeking to disaffiliate from the CRC.
- Rogers Heights CRC, Wyoming, Mich., closed.
- The Gathering, Sacramento, Calif., disbanded.
- Classis Central California will study the appropriate educational path for a ministry associate to pastor an established church.
- Classis Columbia appointed a task force to help churches with the biggest needs to make immediate and long-range recommendations for their future.
- Grace CRC (Kalamazoo, Mich.), Medicine Hat (Alberta) CRC, and Transcona CRC (Winnipeg, Manitoba) protested the seating of female delegates at classis.
- Classis Illiana asked four churches that were seeking to join it because it does not seat female delegates to pursue other options.
Training or Discussion
- Classis Quinte discussed antiracism.
- Classis Huron discussed aspects of church membership.
- Classis Illiana discussed children at the Lord’s Supper.
- Classis British Columbia Southeast discussed safe churches and restorative justice.
- Classis Yellowstone heard a presentation by Eugene Peterson on mission and church planting.
- Classis Georgetown discussed healthy leadership.
- Classis British Columbia Northwest held discussions on safe church, restorative justice, the Belhar Confession, and pastor-church relations.
Synod 2012 (the CRC’s annual leadership meeting) will decide 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). The following classes sent requests (overtures) to synod to adopt the Belhar Confession:
- Grand Rapids East
The following classes sent requests to synod to adopt the Belhar Confession as a testimony:
- Atlantic Northeast
- Central Plains
- Grand Rapids North
- Lake Erie
The following classes sent requests to synod to not adopt the Belhar Confession:
- Eastern Canada
- Northern Michigan
- Pacific Northwest
Classis Toronto requested the confession be sent to the churches for further study.
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 2012 will discuss whether to adopt it. The following classes sent requests:
- Classis Columbia and Classis Minnkota: that the third paragraph be amended to state that the three confessions fully agree with the Word of God.
- Classis Lake Superior: Amend by adding that officebearers have freedom to discuss and explore but not contradict the church’s teachings.
- Classis Zeeland: Send the revision back to a new committee.
Creation Stewardship Task Force
Synod’s Creation Stewardship Task Force has sent its report and recommendations to Synod 2012. The following classes sent requests or communications regarding that report:
- Classis Alberta North requested that synod adopt the report.
- In Classis Alberta South/Saskatchewan, Iron Springs (Alberta) CRC states that synod cannot speak for members of the CRC on climate change.
- Classis British Columbia Southeast requested a postponement.
- Classis Columbia stated that the report is not within the sphere of the church and questioned whether the denomination, classes, or churches should declare positions on political matters, lobby governments, or advocate for political reasons.
- Classis Eastern Canada requested that the heavy emphasis on declaring humans’ responsibility for climate change be dropped.
- Classis Hamilton requested the report be tabled to 2013 and invite congregations to consider how the church can speak prophetically on this issue.
- Classis Zeeland requested the report not be adopted.
Other Overtures (Requests) and Communications to Synod 2012
- Classis Grand Rapids North requested 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 (USA).
- Classis Grandville requested a change in the Church Order regarding a collaborative approach between the calling church and a CRC agency employing a minister.
- Classis Hamilton requested a change in the Church Order to allow the same person to chair classis for up to one year.
- Classis Minnkota requested an independent review of the Ministers’ Pension Plan.
- Classis Lake Erie requested that synod call the denomination to repentance of personal and institutional racism.
- Classis Lake Erie requested that synod drop the requirement that all motions at synod must be made in writing.
— Banner News Correspondents