at Redlands, California
The March meeting of Classis West was held at Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Redlands, California on March 3.
An officebearers’ conference was held the day before. The theme of the conference was “The Doctrines of Sovereign Predestination.” Not only was the conference attended by the delegates of classis, but by several members of our Redlands congregation and numerous visitors. Rev. Richard Moore gave the keynote address, the theme of which was “Predestination: The Heart of the Gospel.” Several pastors also presented papers on the general theme of the conference. There was healthy discussion throughout the day, with many visitors participating freely.
Tuesday night the Redlands congregation hosted an evening of fellowship at the church. Rev. Moore, who is preparing to move to the mission field in Ghana, spoke for a brief time Tuesday night concerning that calling and his preparations for those labors, also seeking the support and prayers of the churches for that work.
Rev. Richard Smit chaired the meeting of classis on Wednesday.
Classis West had a full agenda.
The agenda included a request from South Holland Protestant Reformed Church that classis approve the organization of a new daughter congregation in northwest Indiana. Making the request were 31 signatories from South Holland PRC, representing 25 families consisting of 102 souls. Classis West, together with the synodical deputies from Classis East, gave approval to this request. South Holland’s council is to oversee the organization.
Classis also gave approval to Rev. Gise VanBaren’s emeritation request and forwarded his request to synod for its approval. After nearly 43 years of faithful labors in the ministry of the Word and sacraments in the Protestant Reformed Churches, Rev. VanBaren will retire from the active ministry at the end of August, the Lord willing.
Loveland Protestant Reformed Church brought a supplemental report to classis, informing the delegates that it had just received a letter from Rev. Jon Smith, which informed them that he had not received any of several letters that had been sent him by Loveland since last September. Classis decided to continue Loveland’s mandate as given by Classis West last September, that they work with Rev. Smith toward the removal of all offenses committed in his departure from our churches several years ago, and to determine to what extent he seeks to be reconciled to the PRC.
Classis dealt with three matters in closed session. The first was a protest against a decision taken by classis last September in an ongoing discipline case. The protest was rejected, and the decision of the previous classis upheld. Classis also rejected an appeal which was illegally brought to classis, not having fulfilled the requirements of Article 30 of the Church Order. The appellant, who claimed a grievance against his consistory, did not notify his consistory of the grievance before attempting to bring the matter to classis. The third matter which classis treated in closed session involved a protest which classis rejected as illegal because of the improper involvement of an outside party in the case. A man claiming to be the “advocate” of another was found to be improperly involved in the case, having no right to the confidential material of the case. In connection with this matter, classis determined that “Article 31 of the Church Order gives a brother the right to personally protest a decision. It does not give another brother the right to protest for him.” In addition, classis upheld that which has long been recognized in Reformed church government, namely, that if a man finds himself incapable of protesting his own case, and desires an advocate or “mond” (Dutch for “mouth”) to help him present his case, he must request that of his consistory. “The church itself (whether consistory or major assembly) must make a decision to recognize, appoint or authorize a ‘mond,’ and such a request for a ‘mond’ must originate either with the appellant or by suggestion of the church.”
Among other business conducted, classis approved subsidy requests from four congregations and forwarded them to synod. Classical appointments were granted to Hull PRC as follows: Pastors Key (March 21 and 28), Houck (April 18 and 25), Bekkering (May 2 and 9), denHartog (June 20 and 27), R. Miersma (July 11 and 18), Joostens (August 22 and 29), and Smit (September 12 and 19).
Annual elections were also held. Elected as delegates to synod 1999 were Ministers: Primi: W. Bekkering, A. denHartog, C. Haak, R. Smit, G. VanBaren; Secundi: A. Brummel, M. DeVries, S. Houck, D. Kleyn, R. Miersma. Elders: Primi: Al Brummel (Edgerton), Henry Hoekstra (Hull), Jack Lenting (South Holland), James Regnerus (Doon), Chuck VanMeeteren (Redlands); Secundi: Jim Andringa (Hull), Melvin DeBoer (South Holland), John Mantel (Doon), Menno Poortenga (Peace), Bill Roetcisoender (Lynden).
Among other elections: Rev. A. Brummel was elected to a three-year term as a synodical deputy from Classis West. Revs. den Hartog and Haak were elected as church visitors, with Revs. Bekkering and Houck as alternates. Rev. S. Key was reappointed to another three-year term as stated clerk.
Classis West accepted the invitation of South Holland PRC to host the next meeting of classis on September 1, 1999. The March 2000 meeting is scheduled to be hosted by Bethel PRC.
Rev. Steven Key,