The March meeting of Classis West was held just west of Houston, Texas on Wednesday, March 4. This classis was noteworthy not only for the business conducted, but for the unusual lodging arrangements. Because of the small size of the host congregation, Trinity PRC, the delegates stayed at the J-Bar-J Ranch, the guest ranch where Trinity PRC hosted an evangelism conference a couple years ago.
With delegates staying in close quarters, with bunk beds and common facilities, they enjoyed a great time of fellowship, and no little humor.
The customary Officebearers’ Conference was held the day before. The theme of the conference was “Denominational Unity.” Pastor Jai Mahtani gave the keynote address, the theme of which was “The Indispensability of Denominational Unity.” Pastor Arie denHartog gave a presentation on the importance of denominational unity to missions. Rev. Gise VanBaren spoke on the dangers of independentism. The conference concluded with a panel discussion on several matters pertaining to the theme of the conference. Tuesday evening, although not part of the conference, Pastors Brummel and denHartog gave a brief slide presentation of their recent trip to the Philippines.
Pastor Rodney Miersma chaired the meeting of classis on Wednesday.
The focus of classis’ agenda was the matter of the disbanding of the congregation of Trinity PRC in Houston, Texas. Classis gave approval to Trinity’s decision to disband. After over 25 years of faithful witness to the truth and extensive evangelism labors, they decided that the Lord had revealed to them that they ought not continue. With three significant grounds for disbanding, Trinity presented their case to the classis for approval. The grounds reflected upon the small size of the congregation, the growing subsidy demands from the denomination, and the inability to maintain an ongoing consistory. The light of Trinity’s witness will be extinguished with a final worship service on Sunday, June 7, the Lord willing.
The difficulty of disbanding was complicated by the concerns for Pastor Jai Mahtani, Trinity’s minister. In compliance with Article 13 of the Church Order, Trinity sought approval for Pastor Mahtani’s temporary emeritation after the dissolution of Trinity Church. Although it is the prayer of all that Pastor Mahtani soon receive another call, classis approved his temporary emeritation, recognizing that by June, through no fault of his own, he will have been left without a fixed charge. The synodical deputies of Classis East concurred in that decision. Pastor Mahtani’s financial needs during this temporary emeritation will be provided for by the Churches. The assets of Trinity PRC will be forwarded to the Synod after the disposition of the church property.
Such an occasion is necessarily a solemn one. We believe, however, that the will of the Lord has been accomplished, also in the many labors performed in Houston by Trinity’s congregation and the various pastors who have served them. Steadfast is our confession: “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world.” His Word never returns void, but accomplishes the purpose whereunto He sends it. We commend Pastor Mahtani and his family, as well as the members of Trinity, to the care of our heavenly Father.
Among other business conducted, Classis gave advice in one discipline case, giving approval to the actions of the consistory involved. Subsidy requests from four congregations were treated and will be forwarded to synod. Classis acknowledged with thanksgiving to God that the congregation in Edgerton, Minnesota no longer requires subsidy.
Classis granted classical appointments to South Holland PRC as follows: Rev. Joostens (April 19 and 26); Rev. denHartog (May 10 and 17); Rev. Mahtani (June 21 and 28); Rev. Brummel (July 19 and 26); Rev. Moore (August 9 and 16); and Rev. R. Miersma (September 6 and 13).
Voting for delegates to synod 1998 resulted in the following elections: Ministers: Primi: A. denHartog, C. Haak, S. Houck, S. Key, G. VanBaren; Secundi: W. Bekkering, A. Brummel, M. DeVries, M. Joostens, R. Moore. Elders: Primi: E. Gritters (Hull), R. Kelley (Lynden), A. Kooiker (Hull), L. Nelson (Loveland), E. VanVoorthuysen (Redlands); Secundi: R. Campbell (Loveland), A. Hendriks (Edgerton), John Hilton (Edgerton), J. Hoksbergen (Lynden), L. Regnerus Jr. (Randolph).
Among other elections: Rev. C. Haak was re-elected to a three-year term as a Synodical Deputy from Classis West. Revs. R. Moore and G. VanBaren were elected as church visitors, with Revs. A. denHartog and S. Houck as alternates.
Classis West accepted the invitation of Loveland PRC to host the next meeting of classis on September 2, 1998. The March 1999 meeting is scheduled to be held in Redlands, California at the invitation of Hope PRC, Redlands.
Rev. Steven Key, Stated Clerk