September 8, 2021
The beginning of the meeting
Classis East convened at 8:00 a.m. at Grandville PRC. Rev. Joe Holstege presided as chairman. Two delegates represented each of the eighteen churches of Classis East. Eight elders were present as delegates at classis for the first time and signed the Formula of Subscription. Rev. M. McGeown, pastor of Providence PRC, also signed the Formula. Providence PRC reported that Rev. McGeown was installed on September 5, 2021 as their pastor and thanked Classis East for sixteen months of pulpit supply for their congregation.
The questions of Article 41 of the Church Order were asked of the representatives of each council and were satisfactorily answered. The report of the Stated Clerk was read and approved.
At its May meeting Classis East mandated that the church visitors who served in 2020 provide a report to further explain and clarify the appointment of a fifth church visitor, which took place in 2020. In response to this mandate the 2020 church visitor’s provided a report, which was approved by classis. The chairman appointed six committees of pre-advice.
Committee 1 presented information and recommendations regarding two requests for a Day of Prayer in accordance with Article 66 of the Church Order. One request, from an individual, was declared illegal on the ground that he did not bring his request by way of an overture through his consistory. The other request came from Trinity PRC’s Consistory. This request was declared legal, and classis decided to approve the request and proclaimed a Day of Prayer in the churches of Classis East on November 2, 2021. The second ground for this decision is noteworthy and reads, “Our churches are experiencing great affliction at the present and it would be very fitting for a day of prayer. This great affliction is evidenced by the ongoing schism that has torn apart the body of Christ, the great need that we as a denomination have for ministers of the Word, and other ongoing afflictions as well.” Classis also approved a motion to direct the Stated Clerk to inform Classis West of its decision, so that if Classis West decides at its upcoming meeting later in September to declare a Day of Prayer as well that it could be held on the same day.
Committee 2 presented information and advice regarding a protest of a decision of classis taken at its May meeting. In January of 2021 Classis East approved certain decisions of the Stated Clerk regarding the public distribution of the January Agenda. The protestant filed a protest against that decision in May, which protest was not sustained by classis. The protestant protested this decision not to sustain his May protest; classis declared his protest legal and determined not to sustain it. In its decision classis explains to the protestant that the rules of Classis East, which he contends the Stated Clerk violated, “do not give specifics regarding the public distribution of the agenda. In particular, the rules only specify publication of the agenda to officebearers.” Classis also stated that its declaration in January that “the actions of the stated clerk were reasonable, wise, and in general accord with our current rules” is a judgment classis has the right to make and was proper “in light of the fact that clear rules for the public distribution of the agenda to non-officebearers do not exist.” Classis also declared that, after answering two protests, this matter is finished between the protestant and Classis East.
Committee 3 presented information and advice regarding a request of members of the Wingham PRC to implement Article 38 of the Church Order to reconstitute a consistory and thereby to reorganize the congregation. Elder Rod Crich joined the meeting of classis for its deliberations on this request via FaceTime. Classis gave joyful approval of the request to reorganize. Since the implementation of Article 38 of the Church Order requires the concurrence of synodical deputies, Revs. E. Guichelaar, J. Laning, and S. Key attended the meeting of classis and concurred with the decision to reconstitute Wingham’s consistory and reorganize the congregation. Classis appointed the consistory of Unity PRC to carry out the reorganization of the congregation and appointed Rev. G. Eriks to serve as moderator for the congregation once it is reorganized.
Committee 4 presented a pulpit supply schedule that was adopted by classis. From October through January classis will provide supply for the Hudsonville, Kalamazoo, and Wingham congregations.
Committee 5 presented a report on the expenses for the meeting of classis, which totaled $2,044 to cover the costs of travel for the delegates and for the synodical deputies and to cover the costs incurred by the kitchen committee of Grandville PRC. Classis authorized payment for these expenses.
Classis appointed Rev. M. DeVries and Rev. K. Koole as alternate church visitors to help the church visitors appointed in January with their work.
Rev. Holstege reported that he thanked the caterers for their work in serving the delegates of classis. A word of appreciation is also appropriate to express to the entire Grandville congregation for graciously and capably hosting the meeting of classis. Classis looks forward to its next meeting, which will be hosted by Providence PRC, convening at 8:00 a.m. on January 12, 2022.
The script minutes were read and approved. Classis voted to adjourn, and Rev. Holstege closed with prayer. The delegates began to travel home around 5:30 p.m.
We give thanks to God for the brotherly way in which all the work was done, and we pray for His blessing upon the decisions of classis and upon our churches.
In Christ’s service,
Rev. Clayton Spronk,
Stated Clerk, Classis East
September 29, 2021
Classis West of the Protestant Reformed Churches met on September 29, 2021, in Crete PRC (Crete, IL). The day before the meeting, an officebearers’ conference was held on the timely subject “The Doctrine of Sanctification: The Blessed Work of Christ’s Spirit.” There were three speeches: Rev. S. Key spoke on “The Spirit of Freedom,” Rev. M. Kortus spoke on “Be Ye Holy: The Doctrine of Sanctification from Leviticus,” and Rev. J. Engelsma spoke on “In the Way of Our Obedience.” After the speeches there was a question and answer period. Besides the officebearers, a large group of visitors were in attendance, including the seminary professors and students. A very enjoyable day of instruction and fellowship was had by all!
The following day, Classis began with opening devotions led by the chairman of the previous meeting, Rev. J. Engelsma, who gave a meditation on I Timothy 4:16 on the urgency of the personal holiness of ministers. After Classis was legally constituted, Rev. E. Guichelaar assumed the chair.
Classis made a number of decisions throughout its meeting relating to the First PRC of Edmonton. Classis did not initially seat delegates from this congregation because it judged there to be sufficient question concerning the relationship between the men named on the credentials and our denomination that they should not be seated until determination is made concerning their status in Classis West and the PRCA. Classis did give advisory vote to the minister and elder so that they had a right to speak to matters on their case, and made arrangements for them to join the meeting via Zoom. After deliberation, Classis ruled that the group sending these men as delegates had set themselves outside of the PRCA by their decisions and actions, and therefore did not recognize these men as representatives of the lawful congregation nor seat them as delegates. Classis appealed to one of the By-Laws of the PRCA (X.A) which refer to the procedure to follow when there is “strife and division” in a congregation. Classis ruled that this was the case in this congregation, and the men delegated are representatives of that part of the congregation that has “revolt[ed] against the constitutional provisions of the Church Order of the Protestant Reformed Churches, and reputiate[d] its obligations as a member church of the denomination.” Therefore, the “adjudication” of Classis is required for the recognition of the “lawful congregation.”
Classis declared a protest of the former consistory of First PRC of Edmonton against the work of the church visitors to be not legally before it, since Classis had ruled that the group sending this protest had set themselves outside of the denomination and therefore did not have the right to protest any longer. Classis then approved the work of the church visitors with respect to this congregation.
Two individuals submitted material related to the case in First PRC of Edmonton, but Classis did not enter into their contents because Classis already addressed the primary concerns in those letters and because they were judged to be merely letters of information.
With the concurrence of the synodical deputies from Classis East who were present, Classis West approved the request of the remaining members of the First PRC of Edmonton to reconstitute a consistory and thereby reorganize as a Protestant Reformed congregation according to Article 38 of the Church Order. The grounds for doing so were as follows: 1. Though relatively small, other churches organized recently for the first time with fewer families (Pittsburgh in 2016 with 7, Covenant of Grace in 2009 with 5). Furthermore there is potential for growth in light of the presence of young families with children and their location in a large metropolitan area. 2. Immanuel PRC has judged that there are sufficient number of men who are qualified to serve in the special offices in the church. 3. The desire and conviction of these saints is to remain a Protestant Reformed Church in Edmonton. 4. Maintaining a Protestant Reformed witness in this large metropolitan area will be more established and effective with an organized congregation there. Classis also made plain that by this decision it recognized the reconstituted congregation and consistory as the First Protestant Reformed Church of Edmonton, who alone legitimately have the rights to the name, property, archives, assets, etc. Classis appointed the consistory of Immanuel PRC to carry out the reorganization of First PRC of Edmonton according to Article 38 of the Church Order, and appointed Rev. H. Bleyenberg to serve as moderator of the reorganized congregation.
Classis treated a request from an individual for Classis to declare a day of prayer in harmony with Article 66 of the Church Order. Classis ruled the request not legally before it, since the individual did not give ample proof that the way of submitting an overture could be ignored. Classis also received for information a letter from Classis East giving information regarding its calling a special day of prayer.
In closed session, Classis treated an appeal of an individual regarding his discipline. Classis declared the appeal to be not legally before it. One consistory sought the advice of Classis regarding the increase of censure of a member under discipline. In closed session, Classis advised the consistory to proceed to the increase of censure.
Classis made a schedule of pulpit supply for the vacant congregations of Doon (IA) PRC, Covenant of Grace PRC (Spokane, WA), and First PRC of Edmonton. The expenses of this meeting totaled $8,377.49. Classis will meet next in Hope PRC (Redlands, CA) on March 2, 2022, the Lord willing.
Rev. Joshua Engelsma,
Stated Clerk, Classis West