A Report of Classis Midwest of the United Reformed Churches in North America
Psalm 133—Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion;for there the Lord commanded the blessing; life forevermore.
This Psalm of David expresses how commendable and enjoyable it is to participate in and experience the blessing of unity in the church. These times were rare for David who, as a young man, was separated from his family and covenant community because of the jealousy of King Saul. And later, as a king and father, he experienced constant strife in the home and treachery in his reign. Among the many words one could use to describe David’s life, “peace” and “unity” would probably not be among them. The reader senses from this psalm times to be remembered and treasured.
He uses two analogies to describe this experience of unity. The first is the consecrated oil that was used to anoint Israel’s high priest and congregation alike. It portrayed the grace of God who provided one who would intercede as mediator between God and Israel. These men were not admitted to their duties until they had been anointed by this oil. The oil used was precious and uncommon, and so strongly perfumed that when it was liberally poured upon the head, spilling onto the beard and garment, a pleasing aroma would permeate the whole area. These times were pleasing not only to a man, but were a sweet savor to God as well.
The second analogy David uses to describe unity is that of dew upon the mountains. In Israel it was due rather than rain that regularly cooled and replenished the dry land. David uses these two analogies to indicate that unity among God’s people is both pleasing and productive and should be longed for and enjoyed.
And to be sure, many have indeed longed for such an experience. I am presently in my sixth year in the ministry and have been involved in many various “ecclesiastical” meetings. After these meetings I would wonder what it would be like to experience such unity. What would it be like to labor with others who share Biblical convictions, who share a common vision, who demonstrate a trust for one another because of a common conviction of the trust-worthiness of one another? Such unity among churches and individuals, though seemingly rare, had in other times and situations been experienced. Such unity would honor God. I joined with others and prayed for this blessed experience that David described.
At the April 8–9 meeting of Classis Midwest of the United Reformed Churches in North America the Lord answered our prayers. We truly enjoyed a Psalm 133 experience.
The meeting was chaired by Rev. Ed Knott, associate pastor (emeritus) of Beverly United Reformed Church (Wyoming, MI) who opened the meeting by reading Ephesians 1:15–22. Rev. Art Besteman of Beverly URC was elected Vice-president and Rev. Ralph Pontier of Redeemer URC (Orange City, IA) was elected clerk. The delegates had voted that the term of office of the classical clerk is three years, and that one clerk may serve for more than two consecutive terms.
After the initial business was complete, the classis proceeded to examine two men both graduates of Mid America Reformed Seminary, for ordination into the Gospel ministry. Steven De Boer, called by Eastmanville URC (Eastman ville, MI) and Phillip Vos, called by Covenant URC (Kalamazoo, MI) answered many questions in the areas of practica, church polity, confessional knowledge, Reformed doctrine and ethics. These men proved themselves well prepared and received unanimous approval by the delegates.
The classis, expressing the desire to establish relations with other confessionally reformed federations, will send an overture to synod 1997 “to pursue the establishment of ecumenical relations with the following ecclesiastical federations: the Canadian Reformed Churches; the Free Reformed Churches; the Orthodox Christian Reformed Churches; the Orthodox Presbyterian Church; the Presbyterian Church in America; the Protestant Reformed Churches; The Reformed Church in the United States, and the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America.”
Rev. Jerome Julien, the present stated clerk of the federation, reported that nine churches had joined the federation since October 1996 which brings the total number to 46. He further reported that there were several other churches presently expressing interest in joining. The first classis meeting of Classis Midwest was a blessed experience for all who were present. It was a precious time to be remembered and treasured. It was truly a pleasure to enjoy Aaron’s oil and the mountain due. From now on, whenever we read Psalm 133, we can truly say, “Been there, done that!!”
Rev. Derrick J. Vander Meulen, is pastor of Bethel United Reformed Church in Jenison, MI.