Mr. Sugg is an elder in the Trinity Protestant Reformed Church in Houston, Texas.
An officebearers’ conference was held in Randolph, Wisconsin on March 5, 1991. For a number of years now, such a conference has, with only occasional exceptions, been an annual event associated with the meeting of Classis West. It came about first through the organizing initiative of a few ministers from the west. Their efforts were aided by various ministers from both east and west and from the seminary, many of whom have presented papers for discussion. Of great encouragement also is the good attendance on the part of delegates to Classis West, members of the host church and other nearby congregations, visitors from Classis East, and local ministers from other denominations.
While not an official part of the meeting of Classis West, the conference takes advantage of this assembly by scheduling its work on the day before and at the place where classis meets. Set as an officebearers’ conference because of its principal value to these men, it is yet open to anyone who is interested. Its limited expenses (including a mid-day meal prepared by the ladies of the host congregation) are defrayed by passing the hat among those present.
Such conferences have particular value to the elders in attendance, especially to those who come as classical delegates only at extended intervals. Not only is the subject matter pertinent to their calling, but discussion of the subject, both during the conference proper and afterward during individual conversations, gives them additional depth and breadth.
Delegates to Classis West have an unusual fellowship because that assembly takes most of them many miles from home and their daily routine. In addition, many of the congregations in the west are geographically isolated in terms of convenient fellowship with other congregations. This brief detachment in time and distance, along with personal contact with others in like situation, provides a fertile soil both for quiet mutual reflection and for animated discussion. The additional opportunity for fellowship which the conference provides is coveted by many elders because they attend classis much less frequently than some others and far less frequently than their pastors. This opportunity not only expands the elders’ knowledge of the truth and its application, but also encourages the development of friendships with other elders and the ministers.
The conference in Randolph was unusual in two respects. First, its subject, “Preaching,” was divided into nine separate presentations. Those sectionals were offered three at the same time in each of three individual schedule-periods. Those attending were therefore able to select a total of three presentations out of the nine offered. The conference was also unusual in that it was a continuation of last year’s program at South Holland. A number of the sectionals were in fact repeats of those given last year. Of the topics which were repeated, about half were introduced by men different from those who served a year ago. So there was a fresh approach even in the “old” topics. But repetition of sectionals is a practical expediency, too, from this point of view, that it enables one to select topics the second time around which he could not get in during the first.
Both the quality of the presentations and the active participation of ministers and elders alike during the lively discussions which followed were a clear indication of the appreciation that there is in Classis West for the importance of these events. Further indication of enthusiasm for it all came in the offering of suggestions for subjects to be treated in later conferences. A topic which was especially encouraged, incidentally, was “‘The Conduct of Censura Morum.”
All present were thankful for the efforts of those who contributed to the success of brethren studying together the doctrines of truth. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship . ..” (Acts 2:42).