Prof. Decker is professor of Practical Theology in the Protestant Reformed Seminary.
Classis Hudson of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) at its regular meeting, May 13, deposed Rev. Steven Schlissel, pastor of Messiah’s Congregation Christian Reformed Church in Brooklyn, New York. This means Schlissel no longer holds the office of the ministry of the Word and Sacraments in the CRC. Schlissel was suspended by a special meeting of the Classis on April 2. The vote to suspend was 22 – 5, the vote to depose was 16 – 12. The four basic grounds for deposition were the same as used to suspend Schlissel. Ground one is Schlissel’s refusal to heed the admonition of the Classis regarding his written and public statements, “whose tone and approach to correction in the body of the Lord are scripturally unacceptable.” Schlissel “persisted in making statements characterized by abrasive and accusatory language that in sweeping generalizations questions the Christian integrity of fellow officebearers in the CRC.” Schlissel called professors at Calvin Theological Seminary “whores” and “stinking heretics” and labelled others who disagreed with him “blasphemous bums,” “feminist maniacs,” “schizophrenics,” “worms, vermin, and dogs.”
Ground two charges Schlissel with conduct unbecoming a minister of the gospel. Schlissel, said Classis, “publicly slanders our denomination and its leaders on a number of occasions without first addressing them personally and through their consistory, classis, or synod.” The third ground charges Schlissel with a lack of integrity in promoting division in the denomination. The fourth ground charges that Schlissel and his congregation broke the covenant the church made with the CRC in November 1986 “to be faithful to the gospel as expressed in our common confessions and to work for the upbuilding of the CRC in Brooklyn, in Classis Hudson, and throughout the denomination.”
Schlissel and Messiah’s council are appealing the decision to depose him to the 1992 Synod of the CRC. The synod’s Judicial Code Committee will recommend action to the synod. Dr. Nelson D. Kloosterman, professor at Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Orange City, Iowa, will act as counsel to Schlissel and his council before the Judical Code Committee.
Schlissel has indicated that he will continue to “be in the pulpit as an exhorter” during the appeal process.
Leakage or Hemorrhage?
In a recent interview with The Grand Rapids Press, Dr. Melvin Hugen, professor at Calvin Seminary, downplayed the exodus from the Christian Reformed Church (CRC), calling it “leakage,” a normal occurrence in most, if not all denominations. Judging by the numbers, this may be wishful thinking on Hugen’s part. Here are the statistics to date:
* Trinity CRC in St. Catherines, Ontario seceded with 415 of 616 members. This church is now called Trinity Orthodox Reformed Church.
* First CRC in Lethbridge, Alberta seceded to form Trinity Reformed Church with 513 of 685 members.
* Riverside CRC Wellandport, Ontario seceded with 300 of 527 members.
* Pompton Plains CRC (New Jersey) seceded with approximately 280 or 295 members. This church is now called Pompton Plains Reformed Bible Church.
* The council of Telkwa CRC (British Columbia) seceded with 122 of 222 members to form the Reformed Church of Telkwa.
* The council of Washington, Pennsylvania seceded to form Christ Presbyterian Church of Washington with approximately 20 of 63 members.
* A majority of the council joined three deposed elders of Sunnyslope CRC in Salem, Oregon to form the Independent Reformed Church of Salem with approximately 120 of 375 members.
* 132 members of the 500-member Maranatha CRC in St. Catherines, Ontario seceded to form Immanuel Orthodox Reformed Church.
* 100 members of the 827-member Aylmer, Ontario CRC seceded to form the Independent Christian Reformed Church of Aylmer.
* 201 CRC members in the Flamborough, Ontario area seceded to form the Independent Reformed Church of Sheffield. Rev. Jerome Julien is pastor of this congregation.
* 85 CRC members in Winnipeg, Manitoba seceded to form the Independent Reformed Church of Winnipeg.
* 127 CRC members of Edmonton, Alberta seceded to form the Orthodox Reformed Church of Edmonton.
This represents nearly 2,700 individual members or 670 families who have seceded from the CRC to form independent congregations between February 1991 and February 1992.
In addition 15 Orthodox Christian Reformed Churches have been formed over the last ten years for similar reasons. Meanwhile small groups of members in various churches are pre paring to organize independent In addition a number of CRC families have left that denomination churches and joined the Canadian Reformed Churches, the Free Reformed Churches, the Protestant Reformed Churches, and other Reformed denominations because of the troubles in the CRC.
Estimating conservatively the CRC has lost over a thousand families and about 3,500 to 4,000 members because of the creation/science and women-in-office issues.
Is this leakage or hemorrhage? You decide. The CRC has about 310,000 total members.
The Reformed Witness
Banner Editor Resigns
The Rev. Galen Meyer has re- signed as Editor of the Banner, the weekly magazine of the Christian Reformed Church. Meyer will return to the classroom at South Christian High School in Cutlerville, Michigan.
The CRC Board of Publications has appointed Dr. John H. Krommenga and Dr. Harvey Smit as Interim Editors. According to Rev. Douglas Kamstra, who chaired the sub-committee charged with developing an interim plan for the editorship of the Banner, Krommenga and Smit were selected because of “their reputations as churchmen, who had clear name recognition in the CRC, had earned the trust of the people, and could lead the church through troubled times.”
Krommenga, 73, served as president of Calvin Seminary from 1953 until his retirement in 1983. Since that time he has served as president of International Theological Seminary in Los Angeles. Smit, 64, currently serves as editor-in-chief of the Education Department of CRC Publications.
These men will co-edit the Banner from August 1, 1992 to August 1, 1993. Krommenga will do most of the writing and Smit will do the administrative work. Both will be involved with the Banner’s staff in planning issues.
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