IN SESSION MARCH 7-8, 1951 at HULL, IOWA
The Rev. L. Vermeer calls the meeting to order, reads Eph. 4, and has the brethren sing Psalter 403 and offers prayer. The eleven churches of this Classis are respresented, twenty-one delegates being present. Rev. P. Vis becomes chairman for the day and Rev. Vermeer keeps minutes of the proceedings. Previous minutes are read and their recording approved. The Sermon Committee (Revs. Howerzyl and Gritters) report that the Sermon Books have been made. Each minister of Classis West is to receive a sermon book gratis and it is decided sell them in the churches for five dollars per copy. The Stated Clerk of this Classis is to handle the sale of them. Any consistory or anybody in our churches, East as well as West, or anybody anywhere wanting one of these Sermon Books, please send up five dollars to Rev. M. Gritters, Pella, Iowa and the Book will be sent.
Referred to us from the last Classis was an Instruction from Rock Valley about Meditation Booklets for the Servicemen. Classis decided to have such a Booklet drawn up* and the committee is appointed to carry it out. This committee will in due time, ask a collection in the churches to cover the cost of this project. Next comes the matter of Deputaten Ad Examina and Classis passes a motion to inform Stated Clerk of Classis East that we have at present no Deputaten Ad Examina. Church Visitors give their report, Revs. Doezema and Vermeer for the far West, and Revs, De Jong and De Boer for the Iowa-Minn. territory. The Reports are encouraging. The Classical Committee renders its report and this is accepted. The Orange City church requests Classical Appointments and a committee is named to arrange the schedule. Their report comes later, which see.
Classis next turns its attention to the matter of the Declaration of Principles as drawn up by Synod of 1950. There are communications from the consistories in re this Declaration and Classis decides that they shall be read in alphabetical order and after all the communications have been read further action taken. The Protest and Overture from Bellflower is read first. It protests “that Synod accepted the document of the committee of pre-advice or even instructed its committee to draw up any such document which is an interpretation of the Confessions, without having a proper occasion for such action, the proper instruction to do so” and then follows six reasons for this protest plus an Overture for positive action. Next an Instruction and Overture from Do on is read urging to adopt the Declaration and presenting six grounds for same. This is followed by a protest from a member of Do on church against the Declaration together with an answer from the Consistory. Edgerton follows with its advice in re the Declaration, advising not to adopt this document at the forthcoming Synod and gives two reasons. Then follows a Protest of Rev. J. De Jong against the Declaration giving three main divisions and several subdivisions elucidated point by point and this is followed by four individual protests from so many members of the Hull Church. The Hull Consistory next renders its advice, objecting to the Declaration and states twelve reasons. Identical documents from four individuals of the Hull church are read next, favoring the adoption of the Declaration and giving six reasons. Manhattan Church comes next; this Church overtures Synod not to adopt the Declaration and gives three reasons. Orange City follows suit, declaring that it does not approve of the Declaration and urges not to adopt, giving three main consideration for their action. The Oskaloosa Church likewise advises Classis to overture Synod not to adopt the Declaration and gives two main reasons and numerous subdivisional reasons for such advice. The Pella Church advises Classis not to adopt the Declaration and brings its four objections together with a concluding statement. Likewise, three members of the Pella Church legally present their protest against the Declaration. Redlands is next; this Church advises and requests that Classis overture Synod not to adopt the Declaration and gives four grounds for such advice. The Rock Valley consistory protests the Declaration on five grounds and requests that their protest be carried to Synod also. This is followed by a communication from Rock Valley’s pastor. Rev. S. Cammenga, giving reasons why he does not completely agree with his consistory in re the matter of their having rejected the Declaration and giving three reasons why he would have the Declaration modified. Follows next a writing from a member of the Rock Valley Church objecting to the Declaration and giving his various reasons. Sioux Center Church advises Synod not to adopt the Declaration, giving three motivations for such action. A letter of three brethren against the Hull consistory is read but a motion prevails to declare it illegal since the Consistory could not have received nor treated it. A letter of Information is read by the Rev. J. De Jong and a committee appointed to give pre-advice in re the matter.
A motion comes to the floor of Classis to approve and adopt the Protest and Overture from the Bellflower church as its own and to so protest and overture Synod. The Bellflower document is re-read and classis decides to treat it point by point. At this time Classis decides to declare irrelevant the material appendaged to Rev. De Jong’s Protest and this material is struck out of the records. A motion prevails to adopt Point I of the Bellflower Document, the gist of which is: “The Mission Committee should not have come with the question they did present. If they did come with such a request they should have been referred to the same basis that we have used previously and the basis which is still the basis for the unity of all our churches.” Rev. H. C. Hoeksema protests this adoption and reserves the right to motivate his protest on the Synod flood. Classis adopts Point II of the Bellflower Protest, the sum of which is: “Un the second place it follows that Synod should not have answered the Mission Committee as it did. It should not have allowed itself to become involved in the questions without proper preparation and occasion, nor have drawn up such a document, but should have very clearly pointed the committee to its task to proclaim our truth unequivocally. It may have cautioned not to condemn views of others if not called upon to do so under our Confessions, or views which are compatible with ours, in order to keep our positive teaching clearly before the minds of the hearers.” Classis adopts Point III, the essence of which is: “Looking at this action to interpret Confessions as such, we believe that Synod forgot that any interpretation of the Confessions which becomes the official statement of the Churches should have a specific occasion and statement of the problem or error which it seeks to combat, clearly before its mind and stated in definite language for the Churches.”
Classis proceeds now to adopt Point IV the theme sentence of which it: “It also follows that this specific statement of error can only be presented by way of protest or request from the churches.”…. “Confessions are not made to prevent error. Confessions combat error”. Point V is adopted which reads in its heading as follows: “Our fifth objection is against Synod’s submitting this document for the approval of the churches. The first wrong action of initiating something outside of a proper request and mandate resulted we feel in this regrettable situation.” Classis adopts Point VI, “Finally we wish to protest against Point IV of the Brief Declaration, particularly point A,” and, “we question the right of Synod to sit in judgment over another church with whom we do not have correspondence and offhand express an official condemnation of action without having been officially called to do so and without having been presented with material to study for the delegates and the churches.” Next the Overture comes up for action. Classis moves to adopt Point I of the Overture, which reads, in its heading, as follows: “To repudiate the action of Synod of 1950 as found In the Acts page 54, art. 64 and page 90 art. 117.” Point II of that same Overture is also adopted which reads, in its heading, “To instruct our Committee for correspondence with other churches to submit a documental report of the confession and teaching with their criticism or approval of . . . .” Point III of the Overture is adopted which reads: “To take no further reaction until this has been presented.”
Next comes a motion, passed by the Classis, which reads as follows: “In view of the overwhelming documentary criticisms presented by the various consistories in re the proposed Declaration of Principles, Classis overtures Synod to declare that as churches we are not at all ripe and ready to compose a Declaration and that the need for it has not been proven.” Rev. H. C. Hoeksema and elder H. J. Blankespoor record opposition to the document of (Bellflower and the motion immediately following it, and reserve the right of protest.
Committee in re the letter of Information (referred to above) gives its report and Classis adopts the advice.
Committee for Classical appointments gives us the following schedule for Orange City: March 11, P. Vis; 18, De Jong; April 1, Gritters; 15, De Boer; 29, Howerzyl; May 18, Hoeksema; 27, Van Weelden; June 17, S. Cammenga; 24, De Boer; July 8, De Jong; 22, Gritters; Aug. 5, Howerzyl; 19, Hoeksema, Sept. 2, Van Weelden; Sept. 9, Vermeer.
Delegated to the Synod as follows: M. Gritters, L. Vermeer, J. Howerzyl, L. Doezema; 1st alternate, J. Van Weelden; 2nd alternate, P. De Boer; 3rd alternate, J. De Jong; 4th alternate, P. Vis. Elder delegations: W. De Vries, G. Rijken, J. Broek, M. Flikkema; 1st alternate, N. Bnyert; 2nd, J. Bekendam; 3rd, A. Wassenaar; 4th, R. Brunsting.
Rev. J. Van Weelden is voted to fill in the vacancy created by Rev. Petter’s leaving the Deputaten Ad Examina West. Two year term.
Requests for subsidy approved. Next Classis meeting in Edgerton Sept. 5, 1951. Classis raises remuneration of the Stated Clerk to one hundred dollars per year. Questions of DKO 41 asked and answered. The minutes were read and approved.
Rev. De Boer closes the session with prayer.
M. GRITTERS (Stated Clerk).