September 7, 1994
Classis West met in Hull, IA, on Wednesday, September 7. For most of the delegates this was the first opportunity to see the beautiful new church building of our Hull congregation. Classis met all day Wednesday, finishing its business around 7:00 in the evening. Rev. Michael DeVries served ably as the chairman of this meeting of Classis.
Classis noted the absence of Rev. Steven Houck, who was recuperating from recent heart surgery, and extended its greetings to him and prayers on his behalf. Classis also extended its farewell and thanks to Pastor Ronald VanOverloop, who has already taken up his new labors in Georgetown Protestant Reformed Church. Pastor VanOverloop played an important role in Classis West in recent years, serving both as Church Visitor and Stated Clerk, His labors were much appreciated. With gladness Classis West received Rev. Gise VanBaren, now serving in Loveland, CO, into its fellowship once again, after an absence of some 29 years during which he served in Classis East.
Classis spent most of its time considering two overtures from the Doon consistory. The first overture seeks a change in the procedure for calling a seminary professor. Under the current system, synod elects and calls a professor for service in the seminary. Upon accepting the call to be a professor, the minister becomes emeritus from his congregation and serves in the seminary until retirement, when he is declared emeritus again, but as a professor. The overture seeks to establish a procedure by which the synod elects an appointment to the seminary, with an alternate. The synod would then designate a calling church in the Grand Rapids area, which church would then call the minister who was appointed to teach in the seminary. The man who accepts the call would then have his membership and ministerial credentials transferred to the calling church and be under the supervision of that consistory. Classis West considered the overture and decided to forward it to Synod with approval, recommending only some rather minor amendments.
The second overture, which Classis also forwarded to Synod with approval, seeks a change in the system by which emeritus ministers are supported and supervised. Under the current system the ministerial credentials of a pastor who “retires” remain with the congregation where he last served, even if he moves and transfers membership to another congregation. The supervision of the minister, together with the responsibility of seeing that his financial necessities are cared for by the churches also belongs to his last congregation, even if they are hundreds of miles from where he now lives. The overture of Doon proposes to give supervision of the emeritus minister’s work, support, and spiritual care to the local congregation where he is a member. This would be accomplished by allowing the minister’s credentials to transfer with his membership, rather than keeping the minister’s credentials in the last church he served. This change involves making a change in Church Order Article 13, as well as the Constitution of the Emeritus Committee.
In other business Classis gave approval to a request from Trinity PRC, Houston, TX, to approach the churches in Classis West for special offerings. These collections would be taken to help offset the cost of the Conference on Reformed Evangelism which is scheduled to be held in Houston, TX on April 3-5. The congregation of Trinity is promoting this conference heavily, both throughout the churches and in the Houston area. (Any who have not received brochures and registration forms for the Conference may receive such information by writing Trinity Protestant Reformed Church, 214 Barker- Clodine Road, Houston, TX 77094.)
Classis also heard a report from one of the consistories concerning their work in a discipline case. Classis granted approval for the consistory to proceed with the erasure of baptized membership of one who is walking impenitently in sin.
The departure of Rev. VanOverloop necessitated some elections. Rev. Steven Key was elected as Stated Clerk of Classis West, with Rev. Wayne Bekkering as Assistant Stated Clerk, and Rev. Gise VanBaren was elected to serve as an alternate Church Visitor.
The next meeting of Classis West is scheduled to be held in Loveland, CO on March 1, 1995.
Rev. Steven R. Key,