Acting at the request of Classis Pacific Northwest (a classis is a regional grouping of churches), Synod 2019 (the Christian Reformed Church’s general assembly) created a new classis. The new classis, to be called “Classis Northern Cascades,” will include 11 congregations drawn from the northern part of Classis Pacific Northwest. Seven of the Washington churches are from Lynden, three from Bellingham, and one from Sumas.
The reasons given for the division in the original request to synod center on the size of the present Classis Pacific Northwest. In terms of the number of congregations affiliated with it, it is the largest classis in the denomination, making for large meetings, long agendas, and participants who never get to know each other.
Questions were raised in the synod discussion about whether these are the real reasons. Michael Vander Laan, Classis B.C. South-East, said the “real reasons” were not size but differences over theological issues between the congregations in the Lynden area and elsewhere in Classis Pacific Northwest. Doug Fakkema, Classis Pacific Northwest, said, “Those of us who are in the south end of [the proposed line between Classis Pacific Northwest and the new classis] have experienced some real sadness over [the request for the new classis].
Aaron De Boer, also of Classis Pacific Northwest, said the proposal to create a new classis had been a multi-year process, and contrary to what had been implied, “There is no monolithic theology, even in Lynden.”
The synod approved the new classis and authorized the executive director of the denomination to appoint a neutral moderator to help the new classis and the old classis divide up assets now held by Classis Pacific Northwest.
Synod 2019 is meeting at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., from June 14-20. For continuous coverage from our award-winning news team, download the Banner app on your mobile device or follow The Banner Magazine on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted on The Banner’s dedicated Synod web page several times daily. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.