Peace PRC in Dyer, IN, host of Classis West meeting this week
News Report of Classis West of the PRCA Meeting March 3-4, 2021
Stated Clerk, Classis West
Peace PRC in Dyer, IN, host of Classis West meeting this week
Classis East convened in Grace PRC (Standale, MI) at 8:00 am on Wednesday, January 13, and adjourned around 12:30 am early Saturday morning, Jan.16.
Classis mandated that the stated clerk prepare (Rev. C.Spronk) a report summarizing the decisions of the meeting and submit it to the Classical Committee of Classis East for approval. The reason for this mandate is that Classis East understands the importance of providing a helpful summary for the churches. This summary will be published as soon as possible, but it may take a few days due to the length of the meeting, the weightiness and amount of material treated by classis, and the need of the pastors mandated to make and approve this summary to preach sermons tomorrow (Sunday, Jan.17).
We thank the Lord of the church for sustaining the delegates during these long and difficult sessions. May the Lord bless the decisions reached for the glory of His name and the good of the churches of Classis East and the entire PRC.
Let's be in prayer for the PRC and for Classis East as the delegates meet these days at Grace PRC (Jan.13,14), with a heavy work load and serious matters to debate and decide.
As we stand together for the cause of God's covenant and kingdom, may we be consoled by the words of these Psalter numbers, which are prayers as well as praise.
Psalter 60 (Psalm 25)
1. To Thee I lift my soul,
In Thee my trust repose;
My God, O put me not to shame
Before triumphant foes.
2. None shall be put to shame
That humbly wait for Thee,
But those that willfully transgress,
On them the shame shall be.
3. Show me Thy paths, O Lord,
Teach me Thy perfect way,
O guide me in Thy truth divine,
And lead me day by day.
4. For Thou art God that dost
To me salvation send,
And patiently through all the day
Upon Thee I attend.
5. Recall Thy mercies, Lord,
Their tenderness untold,
And all Thy lovingkindnesses,
For they have been of old.
Psalter 160 (Psalm 62)
1. O God, give ear unto my cry,
And to my voice attend;
Though far from home and from Thy house,
To Thee my prayers ascend.
2. When troubles overwhelm my heart,
Then Thou wilt hear my cry,
For safety lead me to the Rock
That higher is than I.
3. A refuge Thou hast been for me
When storms of trouble lower;
When foes assail, then Thou hast been
My strong defense and tower.
4. Within Thy holy temple, Lord,
I ever will abide;
Beneath the covert of Thy wings
In confidence I hide.
These words from the final Reformed Witness Hour message of 2020 by Rev. W. Bruinsma may also give us confidence in these difficult times:
But there is an even more amazing wonder in this preservation of the church. That is actually the one expressed by Malachi in the verse we consider. It is of God’s mercy that we are not consumed. Malachi calls our attention to the truth that it is a wonder of all wonders that we have not been consumed by God Himself! Countless times throughout the ages the church has turned away from God and began to follow after the gods of this world. Think of the time when Israel stood before God at Mt. Sinai and worshiped the golden calf in His sight. God was filled with wrath. He told Moses to step aside and He would destroy the entire nation. It was a wonder that God did not consume the sons of Jacob in His wrath! And how about during the many years that the judges ruled in Israel? How often Israel did that which was right in her own eyes. How often did God send her enemies to come and devour her and her land. Yet, even when Israel most deserved destruction, God preserved her. How often Israel turned from the truth and worshiped other gods while in the land of Canaan. God could very well have consumed her, destroyed her by the hands of the Assyrian and Chaldean Empires. Instead, the church was taken captive and then later brought back to the land of Canaan.
Now, having returned to the promised land, Israel again sinned greatly against Jehovah. Throughout this book the prophet Malachi rebukes her sharply for her sin. Yet, God continued to preserve His church throughout the 400 years of silence between the Old and New Testaments. Though times were dark, God preserved His church unto the very birth of Jesus Christ. Even then, when the Jews turned their backs on the Savior Himself and crucified Him, the Lord preserved His faithful few out of this nation. God has never destroyed or even forsaken His church!
But did not God in His anger consume many in the church? Maybe God did not destroy the entire nation of Israel, but many in Israel were destroyed by the hand of God, for example, in the wilderness. How many fell by the wayside in the wilderness and never did see the land of Canaan, and that because of their sins? How many hundreds of thousands of Israel and Judah were killed when taken captive by Assyria and Babylon? Did not God consume these sons of Jacob in His wrath against sin? Ah, this is where we must keep in mind the distinction between true Israel and those of Israel in name only. Surely, God in His wrath consumed many in the nation of Israel, but these were not His elect people. They were not true Israel. God never destroys His faithful people. Never are they consumed, even when they sin against Him.
In this we as believers rejoice at the end of another year. In this past year, you and I have not been consumed in God’s wrath. Even though we have deserved it. God has been faithful and has not destroyed us in anger for the sins we have committed against Him. That is an amazing act of God’s mercy in itself. God gathers His church everywhere in this world. That church universal has again been kept safe. The gates of hell have not prevailed against the church.
News Report of Classis West of the PRCA
Meeting September 23, 2020
Classis West of the Protestant Reformed Churches met on September 23, 2020, in Edgerton PRC (Edgerton, MN). The meeting was capably chaired by Rev. Matt De Boer (pastor of Edgerton PRC), who was serving in this capacity for the first time in his ministry.
Noticeably absent from the meeting were elder delegates from Immanuel PRC (Lacombe, AB) and First PRC (Edmonton, AB). These consistories were not able to attend the meeting due to the restrictions of the Canadian government with respect to COVID-19.
Routine reports from the stated clerk, the classical committee, and the reading sermon library committee were read and approved. A report from a special committee to assist a consistory was also received, their work approved, and the committee discontinued.
In closed session, a consistory sought the advice of Classis to increase the censure of two confessing members. Another consistory sought the advice of Classis to proceed with the erasure of a baptized member. After hearing of the impenitence of these individuals and the careful labors of these consistories, Classis took decisions to advise the consistories to proceed to further steps of Christian discipline.
Classis treated an appeal from an individual that objected to a statement in a sermon by his minister. Classis declared the appeal not legally before it on the grounds that the matter was not finished at the consistory level, that the individual had not researched and interacted with the decisions of recent PRCA synods that may touch on the matter, and that the individual gave evidence of not understanding the necessary function of the Three Forms of Unity in the process of protest and appeal.
In closed session, Classis treated an appeal regarding the work of a consistory. Classis ruled the appeal not legally before it because the requirements of Articles 30 and 31 of the Church Order had not been met.
Worth noting is that the Classis did not need to adopt a pulpit supply schedule, since at this time there are no vacancies in the Classis.
The expenses of this meeting totaled $5,897.52.
The next meeting of Classis is scheduled for March 3, 2021, in Hope (Redlands) PRC. The consistory of Hope (Redlands) PRC did inform Classis that they are located in a state with some of the tightest restrictions on gatherings due to COVID-19, and asked Classis either to appoint a different host church or to appoint an alternate host church in case they believe it is not possible for them to host. Classis appointed Peace PRC as an alternate host, and authorized the Classical Committee to make the necessary arrangements in consultation with the consistory of Hope (Redlands) PRC. All this, the Lord willing.
Rev. Joshua Engelsma
Stated Clerk, Classis West
Byron Center PRC, host of this week's meeting of Classis East
We give thanks to God that Classis East was able to convene on Wednesday, September 9, 2020. Sincere thanks is also directed to Byron Center Protestant Reformed Church for graciously and capably hosting the meeting of classis. In order to meet legally and safely classis declared that its meeting is “essential to execute the business of Classis East,” and it adopted restrictions about who was able to be present at classis. Unfortunately, it was not possible for visitors to observe the public deliberations of classis in person.
Rev. Eriks served as chairman of the meeting, appointing the committees of pre-advice, and presiding over the deliberations of the delegates.
Some of the routine business of classis included approving reports of the Stated Clerk, Classical Committee, and Church Visitors.
A classical appointment schedule was adopted for four vacant churches in Classis East: Cornerstone, Hudsonville, Kalamazoo, and Providence. This brings to mind the need to remember in our prayers to ask God to send forth more preachers into our churches. Let us also remember in our prayers the Wingham congregation, a fifth vacant church in Classis East, whose pastor will soon be moving to the First PRC of Edmonton. Border restrictions between the US and Canada will likely complicate providing pulpit supply for our sister congregation.
Rev. Cory Griess was appointed to serve as the Moderator for Wingham during itsvacancy.
Questions were asked of the delegates of each consistory to make sure that the consistories are properly governing the churches and to offer the assistance of classis to any consistory that might have a need (see Art. 41 of the Church Order).
Classis approved the expenses of the meeting totaling $1,941.
Other matters classis treated included:
• Classis received two overtures to Synod 2021 (from two churches) to plan a celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the PRCA in 2025. Classis approved the overtures and forwarded themon to Synod 2021.
• One protest against a ground of a decision was sustained. Classis agreed with the protestant that the two points of explanation supporting the particular ground were in error.
• One protest was declared legal but not sustained by classis.
• Three protests were declared illegal because they were against decisions that have been treated by synod.
• One letter asked classis to reconsider an appeal that had declared illegal at an earlier classis.Classis ruled that the letter was not legally before it because it was not a protest against adecision, nor an appeal, nor an overture.
Classis accepted an invitation from the delegates of Grace PRC to host the next meetingof Classis at 8:00am on January 13, 2021.
Rev. Eriks thanked the delegates for their work and for their cooperation in doing the work of classis and closed the meeting in prayer.
Classis adjourned around noon on Thursday, September 10.
In Christ’s Service,
Rev. C. Spronk
Stated Clerk, Classis East
Aerial view of the host church, Trinity PRC (thanks to Nick Kleyn's drone!)
The PRC Synod of 2020 held its fourth and final session today at Trinity PRC in Hudsonville, MI.
Officers of synod: Revs.R. Kleyn (V.P), R. Van Overloop (Pres.), C. Spronk (1st clerk), J. Engelsma (2nd clerk)
Synod spent a large part of the day treating an individual’s appeal which contained several different parts. One part was declared not legally before synod, and after careful deliberation the other legal parts were not sustained.
Synod approved the work of the Special Synodical Committee to Assist Hope PRC, declared that they had fulﬁlled their mandate, and disbanded the Committee.
Regarding the work of the Domestic Mission Committee, Synod did the following:
• Approved the work of Byron Center PRC Council and the DMC, and expressed appreciation for the work of our home missionary, Rev. Spriensma.
• Mandated the DMC to report to Synod next year with ways that it has increased their efforts to establish a concrete ﬁeld of labor for the missionary.
• Expressed thanks for the work of Chuck Terpstra and Alex Postma on the website.
• Mandated the DMC to report to Synod 2021 with concrete plans and budget for professionally updating and maintaining our website.
Synod approved “Afﬁrmations Regarding Marriage, Sexuality, and Gender Identity” for the greater legal protection of our denomination.
Synod approved the work of the Stated Clerk, Rev. Van Overloop, and thanked him for his work.
Synod approved the emeritation requests of our emeritus ministers and the widows of ministers.
Synod approved subsidy requests from 7 congregations.
Synod expressed thanks to our Synodical Treasurer, Don Offringa, and Bookkeeper, Pamela Bos, for their labors.
Synod adopted a budget for 2021 and set synodical assessments at $750 per family, down $25 from 2020. Synod carried out annual elections for various committees. Synod set June 8, 2021, as the date for next year’s synod, to be held at Georgetown PRC.
The President, Rev. Van Overloop, concluded by expressing appreciation for the exemplary way in which the delegates worked together on behalf of the churches, and the Vice-President, Rev. R. Kleyn, led the delegates in prayer, thanking God for the strength to do the work and asking for his blessing upon it.
Thanks to John Van Baren for all the "official" synod pics!