Two or three times each year, Christian Reformed churches send representatives to their classes, regional groups 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. Links to the relevant articles of Church Order are included.)
Candidates welcomed into ministry in the Christian Reformed Church (Arts. 6 and 10): Joseph Steenholdt, Aleah Marsden, Kiseok (Daniel) Kang, Anthony Vander Schaaf, Mark Elffers, William Roelofs, David Jooheyng Kim, Sheri Admiraal, Ivan Santoso, Ben Wimmers, Mario Perez, Rebecca Hall, Rebecca Tjapkes, Noelle Jacobs, Kent Sanders, and Brad Bootsma.
Ministers welcomed into ministry in the CRC from other denominations (Art. 8): Revs. Han Gyu Park, Hun Joon Park, Jin Sung Ah, Marno Retief, Sungwoo (Alex) Park, Eun Suk (Peter) Oh, and John Kim.
Ministers loaned (Art. 13-c): Revs. Kiseok (Daniel) Kang to the Korean United Church of Modesto, Calif.; C.L.* to the Evangelical Formosan Church of Houston, Texas (effective Dec. 15, 2022); Josiah Youngquist to Ebenezer Reformed Church of Oregon, Ill.; and Daniel Rhee to Living Water Church of Houston, Texas. Loans extended: Hannah Guan to NewGate Church of Aurora, Colo.; and Karis Mpindi to the Reformed Church in Montreal, Que.
Ministers on leave (Art. 16): Rev. Amos Hyunmo Joung from The Loving Church in Tucson, Ariz.
Ministers released from a congregation (Art. 17-a): Revs. Marc Nelesen from Georgetown (Mich.) Christian Reformed Church; Greg VanderHorn, from Trinity CRC in Fremont, Mich. (released as pastor of New Community Church in Newaygo, Mich.); Reese Vander Veen from Modesto (Calif.) CRC; Verlan Van Ee from Kenosha (Wis.) CRC (disbanded); Dale Fopma from Hope CRC in Grandville, Mich. (disbanded, effective Jan. 5, 2023); Ryan Hoogerbrugge from La Glace (Alta.) CRC (disbanded); Don Ridder from Grace Fellowship CRC in Pella, Iowa; Dominic Palacios from Hope Fellowship CRC in Denver, Colo.; Darren Roorda from Providence CRC in Beamsville, Ont.; and Heidi de Jonge from Westside Fellowship CRC in Kingston, Ont.
VanderHorn, Van Ee, Fopma, Hoogerbrugge, Ridder, de Jonge, and Revs. Kyung Lok Jang and Andrea Baas are eligible for call. Eligibility extended for Revs. Daryl Meijer, Aminah Al-Attas Bradford, Nathaniel Al-Attas Bradford, Katrina Schaafsma, Jim Kuiper, Gregory Kett, Dan Vos, Todd Hilkemann, Joe Nasvytis, Mark Bennink, and Bryan Van Soelan.
Leaving Ministry in the CRC
Classes may end a pastor’s ordained ministry status, guided by Church Order articles 14 and 17. In the case of Art. 14, 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.”
Richard Visser, Jin Lee, Allen Pontarelli, Jonathan De Ruiter, Keith Mannes, Cary Gephart, and Sangmyung (Samuel) Lee were honorably released.
Charles Van Hoffen was released.
Ministers retiring (Art. 18) (granted emeritus status): Revs. Thomas De Does; Loren Kotman (effective Dec. 15), Randal Young (effective Dec. 27, 2022), Perry J. Tinklenberg (effective Dec. 31), Jack DeVries (effective Jan. 1), Douglas MacLeod (effective Jan. 6), Michael Kooy (effective Jan. 20), Will Hensen (effective Feb. 8), David Prince,; NamJoong Kang, Albert Sideco, Mark Stephenson, George De Jong, Raymond Yeo, Piet Heerema, Tom Walcott, and Sung Chang Choi.
Approved as commissioned pastors called to specific roles within their classes (Art. 23): Keith Hoekstra (Classis Heartland); Nate Rusticus (Grandville); Caley Meza (Chicago South); Annie Jamieson (Central California); Eric Crawford (Northern Illinois); Insuk Rebecca Dunne (Ko-Am); Ruben Sinnema (Yellowstone); Brad Engbers (Central Plains); Gary Hoeksema (Red Mesa); Jessica Kuncaitis (Grand Rapids South); Joel Gagnon (Atlantic Northeast); Leah De Vos (Niagara); Sean Folkerts (Alberta North); Carlos Tamayo (Arizona); Edwin Dalupan and Fred Kim (Hudson); Chris Avery and Erick Rodriguez (California South); and Luis Becerra, Judith Becerra, and Paul Hannemann (Rocky Mountain).
Related: Two of these commissioned pastors have been featured recently in news stories, A Church that Loves, Celebrating 10 Years in Arizona; Alberta CRC Commissions Pastor in Ministry on First Nations Reserve
Shaun Buikema was released in the status of one deposed; Carrie Rodgers (Classis Georgetown) and Rene Rivery (Arizona) were released, and Anthony Vander Laan (Ontario Southwest), Lisa DeYoung (Grand Rapids East), David Mosterd (Holland), Brian Bylsma (Quinte), Justin Dudney (B.C. South-East), Bryan Vander Tuig (Southern California), and Aaron Deboer (North Cascades) were honorably released from ministry as commissioned pastors (Art. 24-d).
Classis Rocky Mountain approved the separation of Sunrise Community Church and Commissioned Pastor Kimberley Masters.
Commissioned pastor emeritus status (Art. 24-e) was granted to Henry Perez (Wisconsin); Richard Silversmith (Rocky Mountain); Louis Bosma (Ontario Southeast, effective Dec. 31); Kathy Kiesser (B.C. North-West), and Bob DeVries (Muskegon, effective Jan. 31, 2023).
New Ministries and Ministry Changes
An emerging (unorganized) church does not have its own council and is under the care of the council of a neighboring CRC. An organized church has its own council (Art. 38).
Christ Community Church in Plainfield, Ill. (which had been part of Classis Northern Illinois) reverted to emerging status and is now under the authority of the council of Orland Park (Ill.) CRC, part of Classis Chicago South. The emerging church is now known as Plainfied (Ill.) CRC. Also recognized as emerging: The Light and Salt Church of the World in Palisades Park, N.J., and Peace Community Church and Hope CRC in Houston, Texas.
Orange Hope Church in Fullerton, Calif.; Indonesian CRC in Dover, N.H.; and Grangeville (Idaho) CRC organized.
Iglesia Buenas Nuevas (Good News) CRC in Miami, Fla., reverted to unorganized status.
The following congregations disbanded: Kenosha (Wisc.) CRC; Southwest Community Church in Grand Rapids, Mich. (emerged in 2016); Hope CRC in Grandville, Mich.; Jacob’s Well Church Community in Evergreen Park, Ill.; Hope CRC in Rapid City, S.D.; New Life Ministries in Hawthorne, N.J.; Ridgewood (N.J.) CRC; La Glace (Alta.) CRC; Faith CRC in Nashville, Tenn.; and Community CRC in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Emerging congregations Southwest Community Church in Wyoming, Mich., and The Springs Community Church in Austin, Texas, closed. The emerging congregation of Friendship Community Church in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, merged with a non-CRC church, becoming disaffiliated from the CRC.
My Beloved Church in Coquitlam, B.C., and Vancouver Dream Church in Burnaby, B.C., affiliated with the CRC and are recognized as emerging churches (Art. 38-c). First Reformed Church Lincoln Park (N.J.) affiliated with the CRC through Classis Hudson (after disaffiliating from the Reformed Church in America).
Name changes: Middleville (Mich.) CRC is now Restoration CRC; Westmount CRC in Strathroy, Ont., is now Compass Community Church; Jusung Mission Church in Anaheim, Calif., is now Joo Sung CRC.
Classis Grand Rapids East appointed an ad hoc committee “to identify and, in consultation with congregations, recommend a strategic response to Synod 2022.” It thanked and dismissed a previous ad hoc committee appointed by the classis executive committee “to seek answers to questions that arise in the wake of Synod 2022 and its decisions related to human sexuality.”
The committee in loco, appointed by Synod 2022 to oversee the compliance of Neland Avenue CRC to the rulings of synod, met with Classis Grand Rapids East at its September meeting, part of the committee’s synodical mandate. Classis minutes did not include details; the committee is to report to Synod 2023 by way of the published Agenda for Synod.
Classis Central Plains adopted, by two-thirds majority, a new policy for selecting delegates to synod and the Council of Delegates: “All delegates to synod or the Council of Delegates (COD) from Classis Central Plains must affirm the CRCNA’s position on human sexuality, in keeping with the HSR (human sexuality report) and the synodical decisions of 1973, 1999, 2002, 2016, and 2022, including the interpretation of the word “unchastity” in Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 108.” Synod 2022 affirmed that “unchastity” encompasses a list of sexual behaviors, including homosexual sex, “all of which violate the seventh commandment” (Acts of Synod 2022, p. 922). “Anyone who is unable or unwilling to make this affirmation will be considered ineligible to serve on the COD or as a delegate to synod on behalf of Classis Central Plains,” the policy reads.
Classis Iakota requires that “all Officebearers who were ordained and installed to office who signed the Covenant for Officebearers prior to Synod 2022, be willing to re-sign the Covenant for Officebearers with clear understanding of the decisions of Synod 2022 in view.” It notes, “All leaders of the church sent to Classis are required to be of one mind and heart in faith and covenant revealed in God’s Word” and “Synod 2022 gave clarity to the doctrines of penal substitutionary atonement and human sexuality that should be affirmed by all signers of the Covenant for Officebearers.” One negative vote was registered to the adoption of this requirement. The classis also requires “all those currently holding licensure to exhort in Classis Iakota to affirm their shared faith in the gospel by signing the Covenant for Officebearers at the Classical level.”
Classis Iakota and Classis Eastern Canada adopted new guidelines for selecting delegates to synod. Iakota will “delegate, when possible, one or more delegates to synod for two consecutive years, preferably maintaining a balance of returning and new delegates to provide for consistent continuity” and will “select all delegates, including the second Minister of the Word delegate, by active communal discernment and vote, and not simply by rotation.” Eastern Canada will “ordinarily send delegates to Synod people from four different congregations or at most two (delegates) from the same congregation.”
Classis Heartland is sending a communication to the general secretary of the CRC and the Council of Delegates, urging them “to replace the appointment of Church of the Servant in Grand Rapids, Mich., as the convening church for Synod 2023.” The communication asserts that when the appointment of this church was discussed on the floor of synod, some “expressed concern that Church of the Servant may not be inclined to fully support the confessions of the church in light of the decisions of Synod 2022 regarding the HSR (human sexuality) report. Those speaking in favor asserted that no such charges had been made against Church of the Servant.” Heartland says in its communication, “Following Synod 2022, in a letter to their congregation, the executive committee at Church of the Servant stated their position on the decisions of Synod 2022 may in fact jeopardize their standing with the CRC. In this letter they say, ‘We find ourselves in new territory for which there is no roadmap. We face complex questions about the shape and possibilities of our life as a congregation, especially as it relates to our affiliation with the CRC and various ministry partners.’” Heartland concludes, “If Church of the Servant is questioning their future relationship with the CRCNA, it doesn’t seem appropriate for the CRCNA to invite them to host the next synod.”
Churches from Venezuela in the process of affiliating with the CRCNA through Classis California South joined the Sept. 29 meeting of the classis by video conference. “Jose Pinero, the liaison and key local leader for the Venezuelan churches, addressed Classis California South on their behalf.”
Classis Alberta North received a report from its ad hoc mental health committee, struck in 2019 “to research, report, and recommend on how (the classis could) support church leaders in the context of the multiple mental health challenges we face today.” The classis will form a standing Classis Mental Health Support Team, to include five to seven individuals trained or knowledgeable in the area of mental health. The team will be accountable to Classis and will “support and equip the clergy and lay leaders of (Classis Alberta North) churches to provide encouragement to people under their care in the area of mental health.”
Classis Zeeland adopted a procedure for handling confessional difficulty gravamina, declaring “that a council which has received a confessional-difficulty gravamen should not ordinarily delegate that officebearer to classis, nor declare them eligible to be sent to synod, while they are going through the discernment process, and studying out their difficulty.” The procedure further states “that if by way of exception, an officebearer that currently has an active confessional difficulty gravamen on record with a council is to be delegated to classis or declared eligible to be delegated to synod, that the confessional-difficulty gravamen must be submitted with their credentials to classis.” Zeeland noted, “It would be dishonest for a council to send someone that doesn’t currently fully affirm all our Forms of Unity, and just pretend that they still do.”
Related: Council of Delegates: Requesting an Exception to Synod 2022’s Human Sexuality Decisions (Oct. 19, 2022)
*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.” Classis Watch continues this practice when requested.