United Reformed Churches in North America Classis Central U.S. Report

Classis Central US met at Covenant Reformed Church of Pella, Iowa — January 16–17, 2006

A lengthy agenda awaited the delegates of Classis Central US when they met on the evening of January 16 at Covenant Reformed Church of Pella, Iowa. Despite its length, however, the business at hand was ripe with opportunities to sing songs of rejoicing before the Lord.

Rev. Bill De Jong served as chairman pro tem, calling the meeting to order. Thereafter Rev. Harold Miller wielded the gavel as chairman, Rev. Tom Wetselaar served as vice-chairman, and Rev. Todd Joling served as clerk. Much of Monday evening was consumed with reports of committees and officials, church visitors concerning six churches, and administrative tasks.

Classis was blessed to receive fraternal greetings from Rev. Peter Holtvluwer, representing Classis Manitoba of the Canadian Reformed Churches; and from Rev. Jeff De Boer, representing Classis Covenant East of the Reformed Church in the US. The following day, greetings were received from Rev. Rodney King, representing the Presbytery of the Midwest of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church; and from Rev. Robert Grossmann, representing Classis South Central of the RCUS. Our own ministers also made some fraternal visits – Rev. Larry Johnson to Dakota Presbytery of the OPC and to South Central Classis of the RCUS, and Rev. John Vermeer to Classis Manitoba of the CanRC.

Tuesday proved to be a long but fruitful day for delegates.

The first major item of business was a request by Illiana Reformed Fellowship of Dyer, Ind., for entrance into the federation. Elder Brian Yonkman of Lynwood URC – which sponsored the fledgling congregation – presented the request, noting the agreement of IRF’s office-bearers to both the Three Forms of Unity and our Church Order. After a short period of questioning, delegates granted the church provisional admittance to the federation, pending ratification by the synod to be held in 2007.

The next matter of business was to examine the two ministers who hold memberships in the new congregation: Rev. Dr. J. Mark Beach and Rev. Dr. Cornel Venema. Both men are Mid-America Reformed Seminary professors whose ministerial credentials are in the Christian Reformed Church. Following an extensive oral examination, the men sustained their exams and were welcomed warmly. Next up was Mr. Jody Lucero, a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary in California and candidate from Classis Southwest US. Mr. Lucero was called to serve Providence Reformed Church, a Des Moines church plant supervised by Covenant Reformed Church of Pella. He too sustained his examination, making him eligible to be ordained as a minister of the Word and sacraments.

Finally, classis examined Mr. Spencer Aalsburg, a 2005 Mid-America graduate who has been providing pulpit supply for a small group meeting in DeMotte, Ind. A native of the Pella area who is under the supervision of Covenant Reformed Church, Aalsburg emerged from his lengthy examination weary but triumphant. After privately conferring, Aalsburg’s elders declared him to have sustained his examination – a decision with which classis concurred, agreeing to waive his ordination exam if he receives a call in a church of Classis Central US.

After congratulating Mr. Aalsburg – and with the evening growing late – delegates debated the wisdom of finishing the meeting the next day. However, delegates from several congregations offered to defer requests for advice to the next meeting, allowing business to concluded late Tuesday.

Before adjourning, however, delegates offered concurring advice regarding a discipline case for Covenant Reformed Church of Kansas City.

They also elected a new stated clerk. Rev. Todd Joling has been serving in this capacity since Rev. Peter Kloosterman accepted a call to New Zealand in August 2005. However, Rev. Joling also serves as a member of the Committee for Ecumenical Relations and Church Unity, and he asked to be released from the full-time duties of clerk. Rev. Doug Barnes was given the task.

Classis is scheduled to meet again on March 21 in Waupun, Wisc., with the Consistory of Oak Glen URC convening. That classis will be charged with performing ordination exams for Mr. Talman Wagenmaker, who recently accepted a call to Grace URC of Waupun; and for Mr. James Sinke, who recently accepted a call to the Rock Valley church plant that is supervised by Doon URC. Another classis meeting is scheduled for June 13, with the intent of conducting four candidacy exams for men expected to graduate this spring from Mid-America Reformed Seminary.

Many thanks to the Consistory and members of Covenant Reformed Church for their hospitality!

For further information, contact Rev. Doug Barnes, pastor of Hills URC & Stated Clerk of Classis, by telephone at 507-962-3254 or via e-mail at