January 13-14, 2010
Classis East met in regular session on January 13-14, 2010 at First PRC-Grand Rapids. Each church was represented by two delegates; Rev. J. Slopsema chaired this session of Classis. This was a busy session of Classis, which required two days of deliberations.
Classis received a protest from a consistory in Classis West regarding the decisions Classis took in the matter of the resignation and dismissal of Rev. Nathan Brummel.
Classis upheld this protest in most of its aspects. Classis declared that in the decisions taken at its September 2009 meeting it erred in the following matters (grounds are summarized): 1) Classis erred in informing the churches that Rev. N. Brummel was “dismissed per his request.” The ground given was that this was not factually correct inasmuch as Cornerstone PRC transferred the ministerial certificate to another denomination; 2) Classis erred in receiving without admonition the decision of Cornerstone PRC to transfer the membership papers of Rev. N. Brummel and his family to another denomination. The ground given was that it is long-standing practice of the PRC not to transfer papers to another denomination but to send dismissal papers; 3) Classis erred in receiving without admonition the decision of Cornerstone PRC to transfer the ministerial certificate of Rev. N. Brummel to another denomination, on the grounds that there is no evidence that this has ever been done and that the ministerial certificate of dismissal and testimonial applies only to the transfer of ministers within the denomination or sister churches; 4) Classis erred in receiving the decision of Cornerstone PRC to transfer the ministerial credentials and membership to another denomination without Classis inquiring into whether this was done with the appropriate admonition. The grounds given were that Rev. N. Brummel should have been admonished about his responsibility to uphold the vows he made in the PRC at his confession of faith, at the time of accepting the call to Cornerstone PRC, and at his subsequent installation into office. Further, as a member of the PRC, Rev. N. Brummel should have been admonished about the dangers to himself and his family by the doctrinal errors officially held by the denomination to which he requested transfer.
Classis dealt further with this protest by declaring that Classis East did not err when treated the matter of Rev. N. Brummel without the advice and concurrence of the delegates ad examina from Classis West. There is no historical precedent for requiring their presence, nor is there an article in the Church Order that explicitly requires their approbation. In the case of Rev. N. Brummel, the change of ministerial status was effected by Rev. Brummel, not the denomination, when he requested transfer of his credentials. Classis further decided not to admonish Rev. Brummel nor send a notice of the errors recorded above to Rev. Brummel, since he is no longer under Classis’ jurisdiction. The consistories of Classis East and Classis West have been notified of these decisions.
Grace PRC informed the Classis of its decisions regarding the ministerial status of Rev. Mitchell Dick. Grace had informed the churches of his leaving the denomination. His membership, and that of his family, were sent to his home. The Grace consistory then drew up a “Ministerial Certificate of Dismissal,” which was sent to his home. Classis approved the actions of Grace’s consistory relative their decisions to acknowledge that Rev. Dick’s request for transfer was in fact a resignation from the ministry in the PRC, to handle this matter immediately without waiting for a meeting of Classis, and to approve the Ministerial Certificate of Dismissal that was sent to Rev. Dick’s home. Classis expressed its disapproval of Grace’s decision to treat this matter without the advice and approval of the Classical Committee of Classis East. Dismissal and transfer of ministers within the denomination require classis’ approval; therefore, it is reasonable to assume that this would also be done for a minister who is dismissed from the denomination. This was the procedure followed in prior cases involving dismissal. The present cases before the Classis demonstrate the wisdom of following this practice. Classis further decided to instruct its Classical Committee to inquire into whether Grace gave appropriate admonition to Rev. Dick.
Grace PRC also requested that Classis issue an apology to Rev. Dick for dealing publicly with his ineffectiveness as the pastor of Grace. An apology was approved with the request that the Stated Clerk send the apology of Classis to Rev. Dick.
Classis did not treat the report of the Study Committee regarding the proper procedure to follow when a Protestant Reformed minister leaves the denomination for another denomination. Rather, it appointed a new study committee to give advice on this matter in light of the decisions taken by this Classis. This new committee is to report at the May 2010 session of Classis.
Classis adopted the recommendation of its Study Committee to express disapproval of the overture of Faith PRC to reorganize the denomination into three classes, on the ground that the situation in our churches makes restructuring inadvisable at this time. The Study Committee gave statistics about the current and future availability of pastors and the potential of higher costs for three classes.
Voting for synodical delegates to Synod 2010 resulted in the following: MINISTERS: Primi: G. Eriks, C. Haak, K. Koole, J. Slopsema, R. VanOverloop; Secundi: A. denHartog, W. Langerak, J. Laning, A. Lanning, A. Spriensma; ELDERS: Primi: D. Doezema, D. Kregel, W. Koops, G. Kuiper, W. Pipe; Secundi: N. Brower, J. Engelsma, R. Faber, J. Kalsbeek, D. Schipper.
Rev. J. Slopsema was elected to a three-year term as primus delegate ad examina, Rev. W. Langerak to a three-year term as a secundus delegate, and Rev. A. denHartog to a one-year secundus term to finish the term of Rev. R. Kleyn. Rev. K. Koole was elected to serve a three-year term on the Classical Committee; church visitors selected were Revs. K. Koole and R. VanOverloop, with Revs. C. Haak and J. Laning as alternates.
Classical appointments were approved for Byron Center, Cornerstone, Holland, and Trinity. Classis West has been asked to help with the supply to Cornerstone.
Classis also is requesting Southeast PRC, the calling church for Synod 2010, to seek the approval of Classis West for changing the starting dates of the synod from June 8, 2010 to June 15, 2010.
Subsidy requests for 2011 were approved for Cornerstone, Kalamazoo, and Wingham, and for 2010 for Cornerstone. Expenses for Classis amounted to $1,472.78.
Classis will meet next on Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at the Hope PRC.
Rev. J. Slopsema closed the session with prayer.
Jon J. Huisken