Classis Watch: Winter 2020

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Two or three times each year, Christian Reformed churches send representatives to their classis, a regional group of churches. Many of the actions taken by classes are governed by the CRC’s Church Order, the rules that govern denominational life. Here are some of the actions by classes in the past few months.

Those welcomed into ministry in the Christian Reformed Church include seminary graduates Luke Carrig, Jungseong (Samuel) Kim, Marcel Kuiper, Tim McHugh, Nathan Groenewold, Anthony Matias, and Kathy Vana.  (Church Order Articles 6 and 10).

Those welcomed into ministry in the CRC from other denominations, following a satisfactory colloquium doctum (doctrinal conversation) establishing soundness of doctrine, sanctity of life, and knowledge and appreciation of Christian Reformed practice, include Revs. Minsoon Kim, John Lee, Doug Nieuwstraten, Josh Schatzle, and Justin Bailey. (Church Order Art. 8, p. 23).

Ministers loaned: Rev. Tim McHugh to First Reformed Church of Lincoln Park, N.J. (Church Order Art. 13b)

Ministers released from a congregation: Rev. Bryan Van Soelen, from Providence CRC (Holland, Mich.); Rev. Greg Fluit, from Fellowship CRC (St. Thomas, Ont.); Rev. Marc Van Berkum, from Central Avenue CRC (Holland, Mich.); Rev. Daniel Munchul Kim, from East Bay Korean CRC of El Cerrito (Calif.); Rev. Paul Birnbaum, from Hope CRC (Rapid City, S.D.); Rev. Seung Jun Lee, from Hanaro Community CRC (La Puente, Calif.); and Rev. Stephen Eckersley, from Immanuel CRC (Cornwall, Ont.). (Church Order Art. 17a, p. 34).

Leaving ministry in the CRC

Churches and classes make a declaration reflecting a resigned minister’s status that is appropriate to the way and spirit in which the minister acted during the time leading up to and including resignation from office. Those designations are honorably released, released, dismissed, or in the status of one deposed (Church Order Art. 14).

Simon Ko, Carols Lezameta, and Mwaya wa Kitavi were released in the status of one deposed.

Tom Groelsema was honorably released.

Len Meinema and Raymond Coffey were released.

Ministers granted emeritus status (retired): Revs. Daniel Brink, Chris Kostelansky, Mark Douglas, Jack Dik, Nick Overduin, Carel Geleynse, James Chiang, Bruce Persenaire, Christian Oh, and Manny Bersach (Church Order Art. 18).

Commissioned Pastors

Approved as commissioned pastors, called to specific roles within their classis were Brian Myers (Classis Grand Rapids North), Ron Boersema (Classis Zeeland), Nick Lang (Classis Arizona), Moises Pacheco (Chicago South), Lorraine Rong Li (Classis Grand Rapids East), and Justin Halbersma (Classis Eastern Canada). (Church Order Art. 23).

Jason Romine (Classis Hudson), Mike Collins (Classis Hamilton), Bruce Dykstra (Classis Atlantic Northeast), and Mike Sarkissian (Classis California South) ended their service as commissioned pastors.

Socheth Ha (Classis Holland), Francisco Golon (Classis Wisconsin), Helen Chew (Classis Central California), and Ron Geerlings (Classis Grand Rapids South) were granted commissioned pastor emeritus status.

New Ministries and Ministry Changes

An emerging (unorganized) church does not have its own council and is under the care of a council of a neighboring CRC. An organized church has its own council (Church Order Art. 38).

New Life Prison Church, located inside the Newton (Iowa) Correctional Facility, was declared organized. The church will have an inside congregation and council along with an outside council. The outside congregation will be made up of commissioned members approved by their home church for investing themselves in the ministries of the New Life Prison Church. (See Prison Church Seeks Organized Status, Jan. 17, 2020.)

Also declared organized: Hasarang Family Church (Chandler, Ariz.) and Missions Church (Tucson, Ariz.).

Southside Christian Church Burmese ministry (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Living Hope CRC (Metcalfe, Ont.) closed.

Synod 2020

Any change to the Church Order requires one synod to propose the change and a subsequent synod to adopt the change before it takes effect (Church Order Article 47).

Requests (overtures) from classes to Synod 2020:

Classis Grand Rapids East asks that synod revise Church Order Articles 12, 13, and 14, using the word position instead of work, and implement a signed covenant of joint supervision for ministers called to specialized ministries.

Classis Muskegon asks that Synod 2020 revise Church Order Article 45, changing synod delegations to one minister, one elder, and one deacon, eliminating the need for a fourth delegate. Classis Chicago South also asks for a revision to the same article, allowing a classis to send an at-large delegate as an alternate in synod delegations. (Currently, all delegates must be current officebearers.)

Classis Zeeland asks Synod 2020 to adopt a supplement to Church Order Articles 82-84,  allowing a church or a classis to appeal to a broader assembly if it deems an officebearer in another church (or classis) to be in violation of the Covenant for Officebearers.

Classis Grand Rapids East asks Synod 2020 for a revision of Church Order Article 17-a, allowing the release of a minister from a congregation to occur without concurrence of synodical deputies, unless the request for release results in a need for evaluation and assistance before accepting another call.

Classis Columbia would like Synod 2020 to appoint a study committee to consider a revision of Church Order Article 17 and several related articles in order to guide pastors and churches in times of conflict as well as assistance for positive pastoral transitions.

Classis Zeeland sent a communication to Synod 2020 and the synodical Study Committee on Human Sexuality, declaring “that those lusting or engaging in homosexual relations are living in sin, and are called to repent, and find forgiveness at the cross.”

Classis Illiana asks Synod 2020 to declare that denial of the Penal Substitutionary Atonement doctrine “is a grievous deviation from sound doctrine, a heresy: to in any way deny that Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection is a substitutionary work of bearing God’s wrath on our behalf because of the just punishment we deserve for our sin.”

About the Author

Gayla Postma retired as news editor for The Banner in 2020.

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