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Classis Watch: Spring 2020

Classis Watch: Spring 2020
Niagara conducted the classis exam of Terence Schilstra by Zoom online conferencing.
Photo by Wendy de Jong

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.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many classes to change their meeting format or cancel meetings. Classis Alberta North, meeting in mid-March, reduced its meeting from two days to one. Classes Chatham, Huron, Red Mesa, and Hamilton canceled their May meetings. Classes Grand Rapids East, Niagara, Toronto, and Quinte met in May via Zoom video conferencing.

Those welcomed into ministry in the Christian Reformed Church include seminary graduates Shawn Richardson, Dan Crapo, Cris Harper, and Terence Schilstra (Church Order Articles 6 and 10). 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, was Rev. Eunsang Hwang (Church Order Art. 8, p. 23).

Ministers released from a congregation: Rev. Chelsey Harmon from Christ Community Church in Nanaimo, B.C.; Rev. Stephen Moerman from Peace CRC, Menno, S.D.; Rev. Tom van Milligen from Georgetown (Ont.) CRC (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; and in the status of one deposed (Church Order Art. 14).

Joella Ranaivason and Erin Stout were honorably released.

Michael Dadson was released in the status of one deposed.

Ministers granted emeritus status (retired): Revs. Peter Stellingwerff, Andrew Vanden Akker, Yoon Whan Kim, David Weemhoff, Cecil van Niejenhuis, Tom Van Engen (Church Order Art. 18).

Commissioned Pastors

Commissioned pastors are called to specific roles within their classis. Honorably released were Khary Bridgewater (Grand Rapids East) and Nola Visser (Alberta North).

Steven Timmermans (Grand Rapids East) was 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).

Dream Church, Buena Park, Calif., changed its name to Springing Fountain CRC.

Cascade of Hope CRC, Denver, Colo.; Fox Valley CRC, Crystal Lake, Ill.; and Comstock (Mich.) CRC closed.

Synod 2020

Synod 2020 has been canceled due to COVID-19. However, all communications and overtures are still received. Some will get dealt with by a special meeting of the Council of Delegates. The rest will be deferred to Synod 2021.

Classis Minnkota requests that Synod 2020 not adopt the proposal to recognize the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women, asking that synod redouble its efforts to respect the convictions of and seek feedback from people with different views on women in office before making such proposals.

Classis Minnkota sent a communication to Synod 2020, noting that even though Synod 1995 declared that both complementarian and egalitarian views are faithful interpretations of the Word of God, synodical practice since that time has become markedly egalitarian, making it difficult for complementarians to participate in good conscience. 

Classis Minnkota sent a communication to Synod 2020 supporting the use of the Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality.

Classis B.C. North-West appointed a team to consider if a realignment of Christian Reformed congregations and congregations of the Reformed Church in America might be a way forward for our two denominations through the divisive issues of marriage and human sexuality. A communication about this was sent to Synod 2020.

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