September 9, 1986
Classis West of the Protestant Reformed Churches met in Houston, Texas, from Wednesday morning, September 3, until Friday evening, September 5. Twelve elders and eleven ministers represented the churches of the West. Rev. D. Kuiper led Classis in opening devotions, addressing the delegates from I Corinthians 9:7-14, concerning the financial support of the Gospel-ministry. Rev. G. Lanting presided over this Classis. Three delegates were present at Classis for the first time and signed the Formulas of Subscription—Rev. C. Haak (Lynden), Elder P. Howard (Lynden), and Elder B. Huizenga (Randolph).
In response to the request of Doon, Classis examined Mr. R. Dykstra, Pastor-elect of Doon, as required by Article 4 of the Church Order. Mr. Dykstra preached before the delegates at a special worship service of the Trinity, Houston Congregation on Tuesday evening, September 2. His text was Matthew 7:24-27. Classis approved Mr. Dykstra’s examination and advised Doon to proceed with his ordination. Three synodical delegates ad examina were present at the examination and concurred with the decision of Classis. By the time this article is published, Mr. Dykstra will have been installed in the office of the ministry in Doon, Iowa, leaving only one vacancy in Classis West.
This vacancy is Pella, Iowa. The Consistory of Pella brought to Classis a request for Classis’ approval of the emeritation of her Pastor, Rev. G. Lanting, because of age, according to Article 13 of the Church Order. Rev. Lanting had made this request of his Consistory. Classis approved Rev. Lanting’s emeritation and sent to the Emeritus Committee his request for support, with Classis’ approval. Classis expressed appreciation to Rev. Lanting for his labors as Pastor in Classis West and the desire that God will grant him and his wife His richest blessing in Rev. Lanting’s emeritation. Ordained in 1953, Rev. Lanting has served Christ in our churches for some 33 years. He has held pastorates in Grand Haven, Michigan; Holland, Michigan; Edgerton, Minnesota; Loveland, Colorado; and Pella, Iowa.
Classis gave Pella classical appointments, according to the following schedule: Sept. 14, 21—Cand. C. Terpstra; Oct. 5, 12—Engelsma; Nov. 16, 23—Moore; Dec. 14, 21—Dykstra; Jan. 11, 18—Slopsema; Feb. 8, 15—DeVries; March 1, 8—Kuiper. Rev. Slopsema was appointed moderator of Pella during her vacancy.
Much of Classis’ time was taken up with judging the appeal of a member against his Consistory’s decision to censure him. Classis sustained the appeal and advised the Consistory to retract publicly the charges of sin against the member; to apologize to him; and, thus, to lift the censure.
In part because of Classis’ concern that the right of appeal not be infringed upon, Classis decided not to adopt regulations limiting the size of appeals. Classis had appointed a special committee to study the matter and to propose such rules to Classis, because of a very large appeal that had been submitted to Classis. Classis did adopt the recommendation of the special committee that Classis:
declare that it reserves the right not to read lengthy documents in their entirety on the floor of Classis. Grounds: 1. The determination of the legality of an appeal or protest does not depend on its being read in its entirety on the floor of Classis. 2. We must assumethat all the delegates to Classis have read all the material in the Agenda thoroughly. 3. All the material of a case will be available to Classis and committees of Classis for study and discussion. 4. Occasionally, Classis receives a document the length and repetitiousness of which does not serve the understanding of Classis.
Taking cognizance of the acceptance by Synod, 1986, of Classis’ offer of the gift of the C. Vander Molen estate to Synod for use in the support of our emeriti ministers, Classis authorized the transfer of the money to Synod. By the time the money is transferred to Synod, it will amount to about $220,000.
The Church Visitors reported on two, special visitations made since the March Classis, to help a Consistory.
In view of the decision of Synod, 1986 that the Synodical Treasurer pay bills only upon proper authorization, Classis designated the Classical Committee of Classis West as the instrument of Classis to approve all expenses incurred on behalf of Classis in the interim of Classis.
Classis declined the invitation of Dordt College to appoint a minister to the Board of Trustees of the College, on the ground that such an action by Classis would violate the requirement of Article 30 of the Church Order, that “in these assemblies ecclesiastical matters only shall be transacted.”
A proposal by South Holland facilitating arrangements for lodging at Classis by the use of a form that the delegates will send to the host church prior to each Classis was adopted.
In closed session, Classis considered the requests of two Consistories for advice concerning discipline of members. In the one case, Classis advised the Consistory to proceed with the second step of censure; in the other, Classis advised the erasure of a baptized member.
Our sister in Houston, Texas has existed as a Protestant Reformed Church, and been a member of Classis West, for nine years. This was the first time that she was privileged to host the Classis. The members of the Congregation were warm and gracious hosts and hostesses. Because of the small size of the Congregation and because the church building lacks the facilities to serve meals at church, the hosting of Classis was demanding for the Congregation. Households lodged five or six men; a few women prepared meals for some twenty-five men; the entire Classis had the noon and evening meals in the homes of families of the Congregation. Such was the graciousness of the spirit in which al1 this was done that the delegates were made to feel that they did the Congregation a favor in allowing them to serve. The “Texans” spoke of the benefit of Classis’ meeting there for the Congregation; the fellowship with the Congregation at the meetings and in their homes was equally beneficial to the delegates from the other churches of the Classis. In many cases separated from each other by great distances and isolated, the churches of the West desire the expression and enjoyment of their unity afforded by the meeting of Classis.
The Spring, 1987 meeting of Classis will be held in Hull, Iowa, on March 4, the Lord willing.
Rev. David Engelsma, Stated Clerk