Highlights of 2016 Winter Classis Meetings

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Two or three times each year, Christian Reformed churches send representatives to their classis, a regional grouping of churches. Delegates at those meetings review and make decisions about shared ministries and practice mutual accountability for their congregations’ individual ministries. Here are the highlights of some of the most recent classis meetings.

Entering Ordained Ministry in the CRC

Classes examined and approved the following candidates (seminary graduates):
Hyeon (Tony) Bang
Blake Campbell
Shelby Gemmen
David Groen
Daniel Jin Su Hwang
Ed Jiang
Erick Kamp
Brandon Kim
Kristy Manion
Janina Mobach
Karis Mpindi
Mark Vander Werf
Corey Van Huizen
Lesli Van Milligen

Ministers Entering CRC Ministry from Another Denomination

Jeff Funk
Julius Umawing
Sherman Lii
Kei Lian Mang
Shu-Min (Grace) Cheng
Tomas Ivens
Wonki Kim
Jong Kim

Ministers Loaned to Another Denomination
Karis Mpindi, St. John Reformed Church, Montreal
Chris Fluit, Presbyterian Church USA
Dongwon Na, Waldorf  (Md.) Calvary Church

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. Sam Gutierrez, chaplain, University of British Columbia, Kelowna

Rev. John Koster, Aggasiz (B.C.) CRC
Rev. Ron Smeding, Bethel CRC, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Rev. Walt Vanderwerf, Duncan (B.C.) CRC
Rev. Sam Perry, River Terrace CRC, East Lansing, Mich.
Rev. Richard Jones, L.A. Community Church
Rev. Alison Jones, L.A. Community Church

Leaving Ordained Ministry in the CRC

Classes may end the 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 in the CRC was ended include the following:

Ferry Yang
Richard De Vries
Jin Soo Yoo
Chris Mitchell
DongEun Woo
Timothy Van Zalen
Ron Black and Joshua Holwerda were dismissed from CRC ministry.

Commissioned Pastors

Commissioned pastors are elders called to a specific ministry and ordained to function within that classis. The following commissioned pastors were approved by classes:

Nick Vander Ploeg (Chatham)
Brenda Sansom-Moorey (Greater L.A.)
Suni Tsai (Greater L.A.)
Todd Kuperus (Northern Michigan)
Brian Dunn (Alberta North)
Mark Green (Central Plains)
Russel Gabel (Muskegon)
Rafik Kamel (Alberta South/Saskatchewan)
Noel De Luna (Central California)
Ed Thompson (Rocky Mountain)
Juan Sierra (Southeast U.S.)
Jason Palm  (Southeast U.S.)
Aaron Mamuyac  (Southeast U.S.)

New Ministries and Ministry Changes

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 were designated as organized congregations:

Celebration Fellowship Prison Church, consisting of congregations in three correctional facilities.

Hope CRC, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Blanket Exercise

Synod 2015 encouraged churches and classes to hold the Blanket Exercise in preparation for Synod 2016’s discussion of the Doctrine of Christian Discovery. The following classes held the Blanket Exercise:
Toronto, Hamilton

Synod 2016 – Doctrine of Discovery

Classis Red Mesa overtures Synod 2016 to suspend adopting the Doctrine of Discovery report until further discussion among the Navajo and Zuni churches.

Synod 2016 – Committee to Provide Pastoral Guidance re Same-Sex Marriage

Classis Grandville overtures Synod 2016 to “declare that the Canadian and United States governments have acted outside their sphere of legitimate authority by redefining marriage so as to include same-sex relationships.”

Classes Illiana, Zeeland, Pacific Northwest, Heartland, and Toronto overture Synod 2016 to reject the report of the Committee to Provide Pastoral Guidance re Same-Sex Marriage.

Classis Holland overtures Synod 2016 to reject the report from committee and acknowledge the report’s dismissive tone toward the church’s ethnic minority community.

Classis Iakota overtures Synod 2016 to, in areas of disagreement, adopt the minority report of the committee, specifically regarding officiating weddings, playing a role in weddings, and membership.

Several classes requested that Synod 2016 recommit the report to the current committee, dismiss the committee, or form a new committee

Classis Grand Rapids East sent a communicationto Synod 2016 offering its own report on same-sex marriage.

Classis Toronto overtures Synod 2016 to add to the Church Order Supplement Article 69c a declaration that “The Word of God defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman; Same-sex marriage ceremonies, whether civil or religious, are in conflict with the Word of God; and ministers who do not uphold Article 69-c would be subject to admonition and discipline of the church.”

Classis Alberta South/Saskatchewan overtures Synod 2016 to appoint up to seven advisors who are same-sex oriented to each synod in the same manner that ethnic and women advisors are appointed.

Other Overtures

Classis Holland overtures Synod 2016 to maintain panel of female advisors to synod regardless of the number of female delegates.

Classis Hamilton overtures Synod 2016 to form a task force to address the equity in classis-based  funding for students attending

Calvin Theological Seminary, including the challenges faced by Canadian students.

Classis Hamilton overtures Synod 2016 instruct the denominational office to supply synodical study reports ordinarily by September 15.

Classis Zeeland overtures Synod 2016 to commission Calvin Theological Seminary to create a series of instructional, devotional, and interactive pieces about the Five Solas of the Reformation.

Classis Iakota overtures Synod 2016 to redesign the ministry shares system with an eye toward resourcing and equipping the local congregation.

—Banner Staff

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