Classis Watch: Late Fall 2021

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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 several months. (Unless otherwise noted, quotations come from minutes of the classis.)

Those welcomed into ministry in the Christian Reformed Church include Rev. Nate Meldrim (previously ordained in the Reformed Church in America, Church Order Art. 8), Rev. Gerhardt Venter (following a satisfactory colloquium doctum—doctrinal conversation—Art. 8)  and candidates Tyler Helfers, Mark Broadus, Joshua Stammis, Femke Visser-Elenbaas, Lisa Meyer, Dawei (David) Shao, Kelly J. Buist, Sunghak (Paul) Yang, Jeff Liou, Jessica Maddox, Ryan Phan, K Joshua*, HoonJae Lee, Joshua*, Steven Dykstra (ordination Dec. 12, 2021), and Bryzon Masiboh (Art. 6 and 10). 

Ministers loaned (Art. 13c): Revs. Dawei (David) Shao to Detroit Chinese Bible Church in Farmington Hills, Mich., and Sunghak (Paul) Yang to Korean Bible Church in Ann Arbor, Mich. (Classis Grand Rapids East).

Ministers released from a congregation (Art. 17a): Revs. Dan Meyer from Edson-Peers CRC in Edson, Alta., and Cal Hoogendoorn from First CRC in Sioux Falls, S.D. 

Rev. Chelsey Harmon was designated as eligible for call (this action was taken in October 2020 by Classis B.C. Northwest but was not previously reported). Rev. Paul Birnbaum was declared eligible for call by Classis Iakota.

Leaving Ministry in the CRC

Classes may end a pastor’s ordained ministry status, guided by Church Order articles 14 and 17. Designations of release (reflecting the manner and spirit in which the minister acted during the time leading up to and including resignation from office) are honorably released, released, dismissed, or in the status of one deposed (Art. 14).

Glenn Adams and Steve Van Noort were honorably released (Art. 14-b). 

Ken Vander Horst (Art. 17d) and Paul Van Stralen (Art. 14-b) were released

Ministers retiring (granted emeritus status): Rev. John Ooms (Art. 18).

Commissioned Pastors 

Approved as commissioned pastors called to specific roles within their classis (Art. 23) were Mark Crawford and John Simon (Classis Arizona); Nancy Yang (B.C. South-East); and Danta Covington (Southeast U.S.). Classis Columbia approved a job description and learning plan (Art. 24a) for Gerry Muller, serving as a commissioned pastor since 1999.

Ken White (Classis B.C. South-East) was released from ministry as a commissioned pastor.

Commissioned pastor emeritus status was granted to Ron Glass (Classis California South).

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).

CrossPoint CRC in Chino, Calif., merged with Korean New Beginnings of CrossPoint Church (emerging).

Higher Calling Ministries (Southeast U.S.) was recognized as emerging. 

Fruitland CRC in Stony Creek, Ont., will disband (to close in June 2022). East Paris CRC in Kentwood, Mich., disbanded and closed. 

Name changes: Trinity CRC in Grandville, Mich. (Classis Georgetown), has changed its name to The Refuge. 

Other Matters

The restorative practices task force of Classis B.C. South-East launched a website with resources for congregations pursuing restorative practices.

Synod

Classes may direct requests or communications to synod, the broadest assembly of the Christian Reformed Church, awaiting its next convening. 

Classis Toronto is requesting four things of Synod 2022 in relation to proposed structure changes that have been progressing toward implementation. It asks synod to “a. pause implementation of the SALT (Structure and Leadership Taskforce) report ... until Canadian churches and members have been well-informed and have had a reasonable opportunity to provide input; b. establish that the top priority is to enhance the capacity of ministries in Canada to be appropriate for and respond to the Canadian context in which we do ministry. ... c. ensure that the executive director for Canadian ministries will have a voice in the senior leadership of the whole denomination, as well as meet legal requirements to ensure that decisions regarding direction and control of ministry resources in Canada are made by the appropriate authorities. d. ensure that the Canada Corporation ... has enough authority and respect within the Council of Delegates to fulfill the functions for which it has been established and directed by various synods and by the legal requirements in Canada.” The SALT report was approved by the Council of Delegates of the CRC to recommend to synod in May 2021. Shortly after that the CRCNA Canada Corporation dismissed then Canadian Ministries Director Darren Roorda. The Canada Corporation has faced questions on both matters.

Many classes have sent requests or communications to synod connected to the report of the Committee to Articulate a Foundation-laying Biblical Theology of Human Sexuality. (See Classis Watch: Winter 2021, Classis Watch: Spring 2021, Classis Watch: Late Spring 2021, and Classis Watch: Fall 2021.) Classis Niagara is asking synod “to affirm the biblical foundation sections of the report as being in accord with biblical teaching understood from a Reformed perspective as it pertains to human sexuality in the areas addressed in the report” and to “recommend the report as a whole to the churches as a useful tool to help encourage ongoing learning, discussion, and guidance toward biblically faithful responses to pastoral situations churches face (connected to human sexuality).” Classis Niagara also adopted one aspect of an overture written by a group of university students, asking that synod “create a plan of action to continue careful deliberation of the complex issues around human sexuality (particularly gender identity, same-sex orientation and same-sex marriage) and engagement with people affected by these issues.” 

The human sexuality report was requested by Synod 2016 and, after one year’s delay (due to the cancellation of Synod 2021 on account of the COVID-19 pandemic), is coming to Synod 2022 for consideration. It was released to the churches in October 2020.


*Beginning with Synod 2019 some candidates for ministry were accepted without revealing their full names publicly “because they have been and will continue to be involved in ministry where the security of those to whom they minister requires that their names and photos not be made public.” K Joshua and Joshua, welcomed as Ministers of the Word by Classis Thornapple Valley, are ministering with Resonate Global Mission.

About the Author

Alissa Vernon is the news editor for The Banner.

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