Classis East met in regular session on January 13, 1982 at the First Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. With the exception of Kalamazoo, each church was represented by two delegates. Rev. S. Houck, home missionary in Lansing, Michigan was also present. Rev. R. Flikkema chaired this session. The session was lengthy – adjournment came at 11:45 p.m.
A matter of central concern was the consideration of an appeal by a brother who came to Classis because he was not satisfied with his consistory’s decision relative to his protest against his pastor’s preaching. The issue at stake was “Does the regenerate man have a free will?” It was charged by this brother that his pastor taught the Arminian concept of the free will. This the pastor and consistory denied. The appellant, however, insisted that the regenerate man had no free will and that ultimately God, Who is sovereign in all things, was also the author of all good works. The Classis upheld the consistory in its decision. In its report, the committee of pre-advice succinctly showed from the scriptures and the confessions that the position of the pastor and consistory, viz., that the regenerate man’s will has been freed from the bondage of sin and therefore the regenerate man can choose the good, is a sound, Reformed position. A copy of the committee’s report is available from the clerk if anyone so chooses to read it.
Classis also dealt with the matter of discipline in approving the erasure of a baptized member.
Two overtures were treated by the Classis. The first, from Mr. Donald Lotterman, requested that the synodical Agenda be made public and available to all members of the churches. Discipline and personal matters—matters that would normally be treated in closed session—would be published separately and available only to officebearers. Classis forwarded this overture to Synod with its approval on the grounds that 1) historically we have always been in favor of open ecclesiastical meetings, and 2) the procedure gives recognition to the office of all-believers. The second overture to Synod was from First Church and dealt with the manner in which churches compute the number of families used for synodical assessment purposes. First Church requests that those not able to pay and those on benevolence not be used in the family count. Further, First consistory requests that Synod re-evaluate its formula for counting families. Classis sent this overture to Synod without its approval. With regard to the first part of this overture, viz., the request for exemption from the count of families those who can not pay, Classis argued that the number of retirees and older families does not per se establish inability to pay. Further, classis argued that sister church diaconates should be contacted for help in this matter. In regard to re-evaluation of the formula currently used for counting families, Classis cited the grounds that First. Church itself offered no suggestion for doing this and, further, that the present formula has served us well for many years.
Classis spent a good deal of its time voting. Revs. Van Baren and Flikkema were elected to primus and secundus terms, respectively, as delegates ad examina. Synodical delegates elected are as follows: MINISTERS: Primus: C. Haak, M. Joostens, G. Van Baren, B. Woudenberg; Secundus: W. Bruinsma, M. De Vries, R. Flikkema, R. Miersma. ELDERS:Primus: J. Kalsbeek, Sr., T. Newhof, Jr., H. Ophoff, R. Teitsma; Secundus: C. Kuiper, Hilbert Kuiper, E. Ophoff, R. Van Baren. Church visitors selected were Rev. C. Hanko and Rev. J.A. Heys, with Rev. M. Schipper as alternate.
The expenses for this classis amounted to $560.50. Subsidy requests for the year 1983 were approved for Kalamazoo ($12,000) and Covenant ($15,750).
The next meeting of classis will be held on May 12, 1982 at our Holland church.
Jon J. Huisken