Classis West of the Protestant Reformed Churches met from March 4 through 6 in South Holland, Illinois. Twenty-one ministers and elders represented the twelve churches in Classis West. At this Classis, for the first time, the opening devotions included the exposition of a passage of Scripture. Rev. Dale H. Kuiper, president of the previous Classis, expounded Matthew 10:16: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” This proved to be an excellent beginning for the Classis. After the devotions and the acceptance of the credentials, Rev. George Laming presided over the Classis.
The Reading Sermon Committee reported that some churches, both in Classis East and in Classis West, are holding reading sermons from as long ago as 1962. The Churches should check to see whether they have reading sermons and, if they do, they should return them to the library of Classis West. In charge of this library is Mr. Gerhart Broekhuis, Box 393, 341 Maple St. W, Edgerton, Minn. 56128. The committee also requested that consistories return reading sermons as soon as they have used them. The Taped Sermon Committee of Classis West (supervised by the South Holland consistory) reported that it is now working on a series of sermons on the Heidelberg Catechism.
A Classical Appointment schedule was adopted.Hull: March 15 & 22—Lanting; April 19 & 26—Engelsma; May 17—Kuiper; May 24 & 31—Hanko; June 7—Moore. Doon: March 15—Kuiper; April 5 & 12—Decker; May 3 & 10—Vanden Berg; May 24 & 31—Woudenberg; June 14—Moore. Forbes: March 22—Moore; April 5—Moore; April 19 & 26—Kuiper; May 10 & 17—Lanting; May 31 & June 7—Engelsma. Randolph: April 12—Vanden Berg; May 17—Decker. We asked Classis East to help by supplying Randolph. The vacant churches are counting on supply this summer from our Seminary. Pella expressed her gratitude for the pulpit supply given her in the past years by the sister congregations. She now rejoices in a minister of her own, after many years of vacancy:
The Church Visitors, Rev. C. Hanko and Rev. G. Lanting, gave a good report of faithfulness and peace in the congregations of Classis West.
Classis adopted a report of a committee appointed last fall, in connection with a request of a consistory for advice on discipline. The mandate of the committee was to investigate past decisions of our churches regarding membership in labor unions as well as the instruction of Scripture on this matter: The committee pointed Classis to the condemnation of union membership made by the Synod of 1946 in a letter to the President of the United States (Acts of Synod, 1946, Article 20). The committee analyzed this letter as asserting “that membership in the godless unions and church membership are incompatible on the following grounds: 1) because we believe that the principles of the class-struggle, dividing society into the two opposing camps of capital and labor, are contrary to Holy Writ and to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; 2) because we cannot agree with the materialistic motives and purposes that so manifestly actuate the unions, but believe that we should first seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness; 3) because we believe that unionism in often defying authority and taking the law in its own hands, is in conflict with the Word of God which enjoins us to honor those that are in authority over us; 4) because the union seeks its own end through the employment of force and coercion, which militates against the principles and spirit of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; 5) because we refuse to affiliate ourselves with any organization whose principles and practices are so plainly in conflict with the teaching of Holy Writ.”
The committee cited many texts that condemn union membership, e.g., I John 2:15-17; Ephesians 6:5-9; Titus 2:9;I Peter. 2:18, 19. The conclusion of the committee, adopted by Classis, was “that it is the stand of our churches and the position of Scripture that impenitence for the sin of real membership affiliation in a godless union is a valid ground for the (discipline of a member of the’ church).” A “caution” was given “that, in each particular case dealt with, a firm determination must be made by the consistory that one is a ‘real’ member of a union that in principle, practice or both is godless.”
The Classis treated an appeal by a consistory of a decision of another consistory. It also treated a protest by a consistory against a former decision of Classis West. It gave advice to a consistory to proceed with discipline.
The Redlands Hope Protestant Reformed Church overtured Classis to request Synod “to change their date of meeting from the 1st Wednesday in June to the 3rd Wednesday in June. Ground: Present date conflicts with school activities.” Classis adopted this overture.
Classis approved subsidy requests from eight churches. The amount of subsidy asked for 1971 is $31,070. This is a decrease from the $40,421.50 asked for 1970. The Doon congregation makes no request for subsidy in 1971.
Results of voting for various functionaries were as follows. Classical Committee of Classis West—Rev. G. Laming, Elder W. Buys and Elder E. Van Egdom. Delegates ad examina—Rev. R. Decker (primus) and Rev. R. Moore (secundus). Church Visitors—Rev. C. Hanko and Rev. G. Lanting. Delegates to the 1970 Synod: Ministers—D. Engelsma, C. Hanko, D. Kuiper, G. Lanting (Alternates—R. Decker, R. Moore, G. Vanden Berg, B. Woudenberg); Elders—J. Haak Jr., G. Huber, H. Huisken, L. Nelson (Alternates—T. Feenstra, E. Hauck, B. Menninga, C. VanDerMolen).
The cost of this Classis was $2119.61.
Classis West will meet next in Hull, Iowa on September 2, 1970, the Lord willing.
Rev. David Engelsma, Stated Clerk