URCNA Classis Report Report on meeting of Classis Central US of the United Reformed Churches in North America

Convening at Community United Reformed Church of Schererville, IN  —  November 12-13, 2007

Classis Central US has a new can­didate for the ministry and a new manner of overseeing its treasurer.

Meeting at Community URC in Schererville, Ind., under the over­sight of Cornerstone URC (Sanborn), the 22nd meeting of Classis Central US convened on the evening of Monday, Nov. 12.

Delegates spent the largest portion of Monday evening and Tuesday examining Mr. Steve Swets, a Com­munity URC member and graduate of Mid-America Reformed Semi­nary.

It was Rachel Swets – Steve’s wife – who made the first appearance before classis, coming forward to accompany the delegates on piano as they lifted their voices in praise. But a short time later, all eyes turned to Steve, who testified to God’s work in turning his eyes away from himself and toward the ministry.  Mr. Swets explained that, while he was a teen, he went through a time of rebellion which the Lord used to show him the sig­nificance of his comfort in Christ. It was at that time that he decided to enter college in preparation for serving the Lord in the ministry. During the course of his prepara­tions, Mr. Swets obtained a bachelor’s degree from Calvin Col­lege, as well as his Master of Divin­ity from Mid-America. He served summer internships in Sheffield, Ontario, and Neerlandia, Alberta; and also married Rachel during seminary. They currently are ex­pecting their first child. Having wit­nessed his examination, delegates concurred with the decision of the Community URC Consistory that Mr. Swets had sustained his exami­nation. Should he accept a call within Classis Central US, they agreed, his ordination examination will be waived.

Classis also approved a new method for overseeing its treasurer, in answer to an overture from Cor­nerstone URC of Sanborn, Iowa. Previously, the Rules of Procedure for Classis Central US did not specify a consistory to oversee the work of the treasurer. In the past year or so, it was recognized that this could cause a problem with tax law, in addition to leaving the trea­surer with no direct consistorial oversight.  Cornerstone requested a change to the Rules of Procedure that would require classis to appoint a consistory to oversee the treasurer’s duties. That consistory would appoint a treasurer and an alternate, and it would oversee their work, which would specifically in­clude the sending of an annual fi­nancial report to each Church in the classis and a financial statement for each meeting of classis. Cornerstone’s overture asked classis to name it as the overseeing consistory. That overture was ap­proved unanimously.

In the midst of its business, classis also was asked to advise one con­gregation concerning a pending dis­cipline case; delegates from Cov­enant Reformed Church of Kansas City reported on the needs of the Springfield United Reformed Fel­lowship; and delegates from Lynwood URC reported on their recent decision to begin a Church plant in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Delegates also took note of two reasons for rejoicing:

—Providence Reformed Church of Des Moines – which began as a church plant under Covenant Re­formed Church of Pella – sent del­egates to classis for the first time since organizing.

—Rev. Spencer Aalsburg of Sioux Falls URC Fellowship and his wife, Julia, welcomed a new daughter, Hannah Sophia, while delegates were preparing to meet on Mon­day.

Delegates also expressed their thanks to Rev. Ralph Pontier of Redeemer URC, Orange City, for his years of service on behalf of Classis Central US. Rev. Pontier, who chaired this meeting of classis, recently accepted a call from Emmanuel URC of Neerlandia, Alberta. He and his wife, Lois, plan to depart for the north country at the end of the year.

Classis Central US plans to meet again at 6 PM. on Monday, March 10, for a two-day meeting that is expected to include one candidacy examination. Grace URC of Waupun, Wisc., is the next conven­ing consistory.

Classis wishes to express its sin­cere appreciation to Community URC for its gracious hospitality, as well as to the Consistory of Corner­stone URC for its work preparing for this meeting of classis.

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

URCNA Classis Michigan

The delegates to Classis Michigan arrived early to the Covenant United Reformed Church in Byron Center to what was to become per­haps one of the most difficult meet­ings of her ten year history.  Classis was very skillfully led by Rev. G. Lubbers.  Rev. B. Vos served as Vice-Chairman and Rev. W. Oord as Clerk.

One of the first items on the agenda was to recognize the disbanding of the Allendale United Reformed Church.  The Allendale URC was organized in 1992 and was faith­fully led at first by the late Rev. C. Werkema and then by Rev. M. Zylstra.  Long time member, Mr. Dale Oosterbaan, spoke briefly to Classis of the need for continued fi­nancial support for the emeritus Rev. Zylstra.  Rev. E. Marcusse offered a prayer of thanks for the witness that Allendale URC had provided through her years and for continued blessings upon  Rev. Zylstra and the former members of Allendale.

The Church Visitors reported on visits they had made to various churches, giving account to the blessings and  challenges that the churches were facing.  Classis went into Executive Session to hear the report of the Church Visitors with respect to their work with the Grace URC in Alto.  After hearing the lengthy report, Classis voted unanimously to thank the Church Visitors for their diligence and work.  The Chairman offered prayer for the continued work that must still be done.

Covenant URC in Kalamazoo asked Classis to appeal Synod’s adoption of pastoral advice con­cerning justification.  The appeal stated that the nine points adopted were contrary to the Church Order and that the URCNA has never de­fined the way churches are to re­ceive “pastoral advice.” After some discussion the appeal was denied. The delegate from Cov­enant URC of Kalamazoo in­formed the Classis that the Consis­tory of Covenant URC in Kalamazoo does not consider itself bound to the nine points adopted by Synod 2007.  Grounds cited in­cluded that they were adopted in a manner contrary to Church Order Article 29 and that the URCNA does not give any official standing or sanction of “pastoral advice.”

The bulk of the afternoon and evening session dealt with the standing of a minister in the URCNA who has re­signed from the office minister in the URCNA after being suspended from that office, and, who has been in­volved with a schismatic church.  Sub­sequent to his resignation, the sus­pended minister appealed his suspen­sion.

First in open session and later in executive session, Classis dealt with many concerns brought up by the elders, the minister involved, and even considered concerns raised by the “schismatic” church.  Although classis was divided on what the “right thing to do” in this situation should be, classis was VERY delib­erative in their discussions.  It was very evident throughout the debate that there was no politics, no hidden agenda, etc.; just a strong, and of­ten emotional, desire on the part of each delegate to honor Christ and His Church. In the end, it was decided to table any further action regarding Rev. Adams until Grace URC has time to deal with his appeal, and if nec­essary, Classis is called on to deal with it.

—Humbly submitted, Rev. W. H. Oord Clerk of Classis