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News from Classis West - Sept.25-27, 2019 & November 5, 2019 **(Updated)

Calvary Hull 2019

Classis West met today (Sept.25) in Calvary PRC in Hull, IA. The focus of Wednesday's work was the examination of pastor-elect Matt Kortus, whom Hope PRC (Redlands, CA) has called.

CW Sept25 19 officers
Classiscal officers - Rev. R. Barnhill (left - president) and Rev. S. Regnerus (right - clerk)

Last evening during a call to worship at Calvary PRC, pastor-elect Kortus delivered his sermon specimen, which was approved, and thus, the classical examination proceeded on Wednesday.

MKortus exam CW Sept2519 1
Pastor-elect M. Kortus being examined in Reformed doctrine and practice.

By the strengthening grace of God, pastor-elect Kortus sustained his examination and was approved for ordination, with Hope PRC being instructed to proceed with that. That will take place, Lord willing, on Sunday, October 6, with Rev. N. Decker officiating.

MKortus CW diploma Sept25 19
Pastor-elect Kortus (with his wife, Sarah) receiving his classical diploma and congratulations from Rev. R. Barnhill, president of Classis.

CW exam congrats 1
Pastor-elect Kortus and his wife Sarah being congratulated by delegates of Classis.

 We rejoice with the brother and his family, as well as with Hope PRC in God's good provision. May the Lord now give abundant grace as  he prepares to take up his labors in the gospel ministry.

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The following is the official, public report of this meeting of classis provided by the stated clerk: (also attached in pdf form)

News Report of Classis West of the PRCA

Meeting September 25-27, 2019

Classis West of the Protestant Reformed Churches met from September 25-27, 2019, in Calvary PRC (Hull, IA). The meeting was capably chaired by Rev. Ryan Barnhill (pastor of Peace PRC), who was serving in this capacity for the first time in his ministry.

Noticeably absent from the meeting was one of the elder delegates from Immanuel PRC (Lacombe, AB), who remained home to support a family in the congregation whose teenage son had recently died in an automobile accident.

The night before Classis convened, the delegates gathered with the Calvary congregation to worship God and to hear the specimen sermon of Mr. Matt Kortus, pastor-elect of Hope PRC (Redlands, CA). He preached on Philippians 4:6-7 and displayed clearly the gifts that God has entrusted to him for the proclamation of the gospel.

The following day was largely taken up by the joyful work of examining Mr. Kortus. Throughout the exam he gave a good account of the intellectual and spiritual gifts necessary for the ministry. Classis unanimously approved his examination, and the synodical deputies from Classis East heartily concurred. The brother plans to be ordained and installed into the ministry on October 6, with Rev. Nate Decker (pastor of Grandville PRC) officiating. We give thanks to the Lord of the harvest for supplying another faithful laborer.

In closed session, a consistory sought the advice of Classis to proceed with the erasure of a baptized member. After hearing of the individual’s impenitence and the labors of the consistory to this point, Classis took the sad decision to advise the consistory to proceed with erasure.

Also in closed session, Classis treated an appeal from an individual regarding the discipline work of a consistory. Classis ruled the appeal not legally before it.

Classis also had before it four protests against decisions taken at its March meeting in closed session. After much deliberation, Classis decided not to sustain the protests in several matters and to sustain them in certain other matters.

Following a question that arose with the report of the stated clerk, Classis approved a number of guidelines that the stated clerk can follow when he receives requests for confidential material from an individual who is not an officebearer.

Classis adopted a pulpit supply schedule for Immanuel PRC: Rev. Engelsma (November 10 and 17), Rev. Barnhill (December 8 and 15), Rev. Guichelaar (January 5 and 12), Rev. Laning (January 26 and February 2), Rev. N. Langerak (February 23 and March 1), and Rev. J. Langerak (March 15 and 22). Classis also adopted a pulpit supply schedule for First Edmonton PRC: Rev. Lee (October 20 and 27), Rev. Regnerus (November 10 and 17), Rev. Kortus (December 8 and 15), Rev. R. Kleyn (January 5 and 12), Rev. De Boer (January 26 and February 2), Rev. Key (February 23 and March 1), and Rev. Brummel (March 15 and 22).

Classis sustained the protests of five protestants with regard to their objections to Classis’ decisions in March 2019 and declared those decisions to be in error. The decisions which were declared to be in error were 1) to sustain an appeal against a consistory’s decision to read an apology in response to the member’s protest of Rev. Marcus’ preaching concerning providence, and 2) to advise the consistory to proceed to his suspension. Classis did so with the following grounds:

      1. Although Rev. Marcus’ teaching on providence was erroneous, suspension according to Arts. 79-80 of the Church Order was not the proper way of addressing it.
      2. Classis erred in its judgment that Rev. Marcus’ proposed apology was not adequate.
      3. Nowhere in its grounds did Classis demonstrate that the statements of Rev. Marcus were explicitly contrary to the teachings of Scripture and the confessions.
      4. Classis erred in giving as a ground for suspension that “such a suspension would give the consistory time to do an investigation into the extent of his teaching in the congregation, especially with regard to the instruction of the catechism students.”
      5. Classis erred in giving as a ground for suspension that Rev. Marcus “cannot labor effectively in the congregation with a cloud of suspicion hanging over his orthodoxy.”
      6. Classis erred in giving as a ground of suspension that certain statements of Rev. Marcus were “suspicious,” which statements are not inherently wrong.

Classis made apology to First Edmonton consistory and to Rev. Marcus for the advice given in March. Classis will continue to address matters that pertain to this case when they reconvene on Tuesday, November 5. Please remember the Classis in your prayers as they take up this important work again in a month.

The expenses of this part of the meeting totaled $12,447.28.

Rev. Joshua Engelsma, Stated Clerk, Classis West

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News Report of Classis West of the PRCA, Meeting November 5, 2019

Classis West of the Protestant Reformed Churches met in a reconvened session on November 5, 2019, in Calvary PRC (Hull, IA). Rev. Ryan Barnhill again chaired the meeting. The reconvened session was due to the fact that Classis was not able to finish its agenda in September and more time was needed by a committee of pre-advice to prepare its advice.

Classis had before it a request from a consistory for the concurrence of Classis in deposing its minister according to Arts. 79-80 of the Church Order for his teachings on providence and sanctification, and an appeal of the consistory’s decision to do so. Classis sustained the appeal and declared that the consistory erred in seeking the deposition of its minister.

Classis also took a decision to advise the consistory to lift the suspension of its minister with regards to his teaching on providence, since Classis had already judged in September that suspension was not the proper way to address the minister’s error, that the minister demonstrated he understood the error and was repentant of it, and that the minister’s submitted confession on providence is orthodox.

Classis also advised the consistory to lift the suspension of the minister with regards to his teaching on sanctification. Classis judged that in some instances the consistory had wrongly charged the minister with error. In addition, Classis judged that, although the consistory rightly identified erroneous statements made by the minister, suspension was not the proper way to address the matter. Classis stated that, in order to suspend a man for teaching false doctrine or heresy, it must be demonstrated that a man’s teaching is characterized by consciousness and deliberateness as well as persistence after having been admonished, which was not true of the minister.

The March 2019 meeting of Classis had appointed a special committee to assist the consistory as they worked through these matters, and the committee reported to this Classis on its labors over the last months. Classis acknowledged the work of the committee in implementing its decisions from March, although Classis has now declared those decisions to be in error. Classis also noted several aspects of the special committee’s labors that it did not approve. Classis appointed a new special committee to assist the pastor, consistory, and congregation, should the consistory request such help.

Classis also treated an appeal against the consistory’s initial suspension of the minister without seeking the advice of a neighboring consistory. The consistory believed that the advice of the March Classis to suspend served in the place of a neighboring consistory’s concurrence. The appellant argued this was not proper. Classis upheld the appeal, citing the plain reading of Art. 79 as well as the fact that the concurrence of another body is required after the decision of the consistory to suspend, not before.

The expenses of this part of the meeting totaled $11,965.97.

Classis will meet next in Peace PRC (Dyer, IN) on March 4, 2020, the Lord willing.

Rev. Joshua Engelsma, Stated Clerk, Classis West

Classis East News - Wednesday, Sept.11, 2019 *(Updated)

JMaatman exam sermon Sept 2019
Pastor-elect Jacob Maatman delivering his sermon before delegates of and visitors to classis at Southwest PRC (Wyoming, MI).

JMaatman exam Sept 2019
Pastor-elect J. Maatman being examined by Rev. C. Spronk in Soteriology.

Here is one unofficial summary of today's activities and decisions at the meeting of Classis East at Southwest PRC.

Classis met today at Southwest PRC and examined Pastor-elect Jacob Maatman as requested by Southeast PRC. His specimen sermon and examination went very well and Classis approved his examination. In the afternoon, Classis handled the request to form Unity PRC, daughter church of Byron Center PRC. This request was approved. The Emeritation of Rev. Michael DeVries was also approved. He was ordained in October of 1978 in the same room Classis was meeting in today. He served in our Southwest, First Edgerton [MN], First Edmonton [AB], Wingham [ON] and Kalamazoo churches. Classis recessed for the day to give time for the committees to work. Classis will reconvene on Thursday (9/12) at 8 AM. 

JMaatman exam decision Sept 2019

Pastor-elect J. Maatman and his wife Rachel receiving the news of classis' approval of his examination and instructions to Southeast PRC (Grand Rapids, MI) to proceed with his ordination and installation (from president of classis, Rev.H. Bleyenberg). That will take place, D.V., on Friday evening, Sept.27 in Southwest PRC.

We rejoice with Pastor-elect J. Maatman and his family and with Southeast PRC in this decisive step toward the ministry of the Word in our churches, and we thank God for His bountiful grace to the churches.

The following is the official public report of the stated clerk of Classis East:

Classis East of the Protestant Reformed Churches met on September 11 and 12 this year at Southwest PRC. This meeting was chaired by Rev. H. Bleyenberg.

Wednesday morning was filled with the examination of Candidate Jacob Maatman, Pastor-elect of Southeast PRC, Grand Rapids. He preached his specimen sermon on Mark 8: 34-35. The sermon critic committee stated it well, “Jacob demonstrated a good ability to expound and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to do so in such a way that a Protestant Reformed congregation would be edified. Jacob’s sermon was faithful and Reformed in the exposition of the text, well-grounded in the biblical and historical context, and included appropriate applications for all of us as God’s disciples.” This was unanimously adopted by the classis and received the concurrence of the synodical deputies.

Candidate Maatman then proceeded to his examination. Throughout he displayed knowledge of God’s Word, a love for the truth, and a willingness to live a life dedicated to service to God’s church. Classis unanimously approved his examination to which the attending synodical deputies concurred. Southeast PRC was advised to proceed to his ordination to the ministry of the Word and sacraments. That ordination took place on September 27, with Rev. Maatman’s grandfather, Professor David Engelsma, officiating.

Byron Center PRC came to Classis requesting approval for the organization of a daughter congregation, Unity Protestant Reformed Church in the Byron Center/Jamestown area. There are 139 confessing members and 90 non-confessing members that intend to become charter members. This was passed unanimously with the concurrence of the synodical deputies. Rev. A. Lanning was appointed as their Moderator. Pulpit supply for the evenings was granted by classis.

Kalamazoo PRC forwarded with their approval the request of Rev. M. DeVries for emeritation, effective January 1, 2020. Classis East approved this request with the concurrence of the synodical deputies. Rev. H. Bleyenberg expressed thanksgiving to our God for the faithful labors of Rev. DeVries. Rev. DeVries labored in the congregations of Southwest, First Edgerton, First Edmonton, Wingham, and Kalamazoo over the course of 41 years. Kalamazoo PRC was also granted pulpit supply for the evening services in January 2020. Rev. D. Noorman was appointed Kalamazoo’s moderator.

In closed session, a consistory sought the advice of Classis to proceed to the second announcement of discipline according to Art. 77 of the Church Order. After hearing evidence of the impenitence of the individual and of the labors of the consistory, classis advised the consistory to proceed.

Thursday was dedicated to the treatment of several protests, appeals and an overture. One appeal was declared legally before classis; however, classis did not agree with the appellant that his consistory was required to respond to or prove wrong every ground or contention if they had already rescinded the decision being appealed. A protest was declared illegally before classis because the requirements of Art. 30 and 31 of the Church Order were not met. Another protest was declared illegal due to the fact classis at a previous meeting did not sustain the same charge, nor the brother’s subsequent protest of that decision. An appeal was sustained with regard to the consistory’s manner of dealing with a complaint and the consistory was advised to deal with the protest in without causing undue delay. Another appeal was judged not legal because Article 30 of the Church Order had not been met. A protest regarding a decision of the May meeting of Classis was not sustained. And classis declared an overture illegal because it did not satisfy Article 46 of the Church Order and it did not meet the definition of an overture in the “Explanation of the rules for Protests, Appeals, and Overtures.”

Classis approved the payment of this meeting’s expenses amounting to $2,859.39.

Zion PRC will host the January 8, 2020 meeting of Classis East.

Gary Boverhof, Stated Clerk

Spring 2019 Issue of PRC Seminary Journal Now Available!

The Spring 2019 issue of the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal is now available!

The print copies just arrived from the printer and will be mailed next week, while the pdf is available here (cf. the attachment) and on the seminary's website. Watch for the ePub format in the weeks to come.

If you would like to receive a print copy and/or be added to our mailing list, please call the seminary or email us at the contact information provided on this webpage.

Spring 2019 PRTJ cover 2

Prof. R. Cammenga includes these comments on the contents in his "Editor's Notes":

This issue includes a number of articles that we are confident you will find edifying, instructive, and thought-provoking. Our lead article is by the Reverend Martyn McGeown and is entitled “Faith: A Bond, a Gift, and an Activity, but Not a Condition for Salvation.” Rev. McGeown focuses on how we are to understand the activity of faith, while at the same time rejecting any teaching that makes faith a condition for salvation, or denies the activity of faith. With appeal to Scripture, the Reformed confessions, and the Reformed tradition, he demonstrates how properly Reformed Christians are to view the activity of faith.

The undersigned contributes to this issue an article on the Old Testament judge, Jephthah. The article focuses on the vow that Jephthah made to offer up to the Lord whatever came out of his house to greet him, when he returned victorious from the battle against the Ammonites. On his return, his daughter came out of the house to meet him “with timbrels and with dances” (Judges 11:34). Controversy swirls around whether or not Jephthah actually offered his daughter up as a human sacrifice, and whether, therefore, his vow was righteous or rash. Read the article to discover my viewpoint and the grounds for the support of the position that I take.

The Reverend Garrett J. Eriks, pastor of the Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church in Hudsonville, Michigan, contributes an article entitled, “The Needed Light of Biblical Counseling.” Pastor Eriks is doing advanced degree work in the area of pastoral counseling. His contribution is a revised form of a paper that he submitted for one of his courses. In the article, he demonstrates the need for sound, biblical counseling for the people of God in their distresses, burdens, and sins. The article is a call for truly biblical counseling, as opposed to unbiblical, Freudian psychology, which is the basis for much of what passes for counseling in our day.

This issue of PRTJ also includes two entries that bring to a conclusion two bibliographies that we have been publishing in installments. My colleague, Prof. Douglas J. Kuiper, concludes his bibliography of the writings of George M. Ophoff, one of the original faculty members of the Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary. Our readers should know that Prof. Kuiper has recently been awarded his Master in Theology degree from Calvin Theological Seminary. Congratulations to Prof. Kuiper on this achievement! I also bring to a close my “John Calvin Research Bibliography.” The last two entries are sections #17 and #18: “Calvin’s Doctrine of the Last Things,” and “Calvin’s Views on Worship.” It is possible that in the future the entire “John Calvin Research Bibliography” and the George Martin Ophoff bibliography will be published in some form or other, and made available by our seminary.

And there are our book reviews. We are able to include eight reviews in this issue. The reviews are always an enjoyable and worthwhile part of PRTJ. Thanks to all our reviewers, but special thanks to Prof. David Engelsma, who, although emeritus, continues to write and to produce. His book reviews are always insightful and worthwhile.

Read and enjoy!

Soli Deo Gloria!

PRC Synod 2019: Day 5 - Monday, June 17 *Updated with Report

session pic 2

The PRC Synod reconvened Monday morning at 10 a.m. in First PRC (Grand Rapids, MI).

The main item on the agenda was consideration of two protests involving Synod 2018's decision on the relation between faith and good works. Synod unanimously adopted the advice of its committee of pre-advice (Committee 4), that neither protest be sustained. Synod 2019 gave detailed grounds to both parties, which will become available in the published Acts of Synod.

In other business, Synod voted for members of its standing committees (Contact Committee, Domestic Mission Commitee, Foreign Mission Committee, Theological School Commmittee, etc.) and officers. These too will be published in the summary report and in the Acts.

Synod concluded its work a little after 2:00 p.m.

The expenses for synod totaled $11,524.83.

Let us pray for God's blessing to rest upon the decisions reached, for the good of the PRC, her sister churches, and her mission endeavors - and above all, for the glory of God and the King of the church, Jesus Christ.

coffee wed 1
One of the coffee-time breaks at Synod 2019

coffee grad 1
Coffee and cake time after seminary graduation Thursday night (at Eastside Christian School next door)

RevGVB exam thurs
Rev. G. Van Baren was able to attend the end of the seminary student examination on Thursday.

PRC Synod 2019: Day 4 - Friday, June 14 *Updated with Report

sem grads 1a
The PRC Seminary graduates are introduced by Prof. B. Gritters, rector of the seminary.

sem graduation 2019 1

After a wonderful seminary commencement program Thursday night in First PRC (Grand Rapids, MI), (see pics above)

sem grad cake

the PRC Synod 2019 returned to its regular business at 8 am Friday morning.

synod fri 2

Much of the work was based on the report of Committee 3 dealing with the protests concerning Psalter revision and Contact Committee work.

synod fri 1

That included addresses from the three foreign men representing our sister churches:

JFlores address fri
Rev. John Flores from the PRC in the Philippines

LeeM Hsien CEREC address fri
Deacon Lee Meng Hsien from Covenant ERC, Singapore

MMcgeown address fri
and Rev. M. McGeown representing Covenant PRC, N. Ireland (he is her missionary-pastor in Limerick, Ireland)

*The summary report on today's decisions has now been attached to this news post. Included in that are these words:

Delegates from our sister churches were given an opportunity to address synod on behalf of their churches. Deacon Lee Meng Hsien spoke on behalf of the CERCS, Rev. McGeown spoke on behalf of Covenant PRC in Northern Ireland. and Rev. John Flores spoke on behalf of the PRC in the Philippines. These delegates spoke of the work that God was doing in their churches and expressed thanks to God for our sister church relationship. The chairman of synod responded by express to these delegates our thanks to God for them and for the fellowship that we have them.
Synod expressed to the PRCP and CERCS that the PRCA has no objections to their entering into a sister-church relationship with each other, and expressed to our sister churches our joy and our thankfulness to God for opening the way for this manifestation of the unity and catholicity of the church and our prayer for God’s richest blessings upon this relationship.

Synod plans to reconvene at 10 am Monday morning.

PRC Synod 2019: Day 3 - Thursday, June 13 *Updated with Report

rdykstra exam 1
Prof. R. Dykstra examining the seminarians in church history (early church focus).

This morning synod returns to the oral examination of Sems. M. Kortus and J. Maatman. The seniors will be examined in O.T. History, N.T. History, Church History, Church Polity, and Practica (a practical exam). These portions of the exam will also be live-streamed on First PRC's Sermonaudio channel.

bgritters exam polity
Prof. B. Gritters examining the men in Reformed Church Polity (government) and OT history.

RC NT exam Thurs 1
Prof. R. Cammenga examining in NT history.

exam audience thurs
Audience observing the examination in First PRC sanctuary

Following the exam, synod will make a decision to approve these men and declare them candidates for the ministry of the Word in the PRCA.

*Update: That decision has now been made. Both M. Kortus and J. Maatman have been unanimously approved and declared to be candidates for the ministry of the Word in the PRC, eligible for a call beginning July 13. We rejoice with these brothers and their wives and families, and thank God for the gift of two more eligible pastor-teachers for the churches.

student approval thurs 1
Rev. G. Eriks, president of Synod 2019, informs the students and their wives and the audience of synod's decision.

synod congrats 1
synod congrats 2
Following the singing of the doxology and prayer, the students received the congratulations of the professors, delegates, family, and friends.

This afternoon synod will return to its regular work, considering the advice of its various committees.

First church

Seminary graduation will take place this evening in First PRC, at 7:30 P.M.  Prof. R. Dykstra will give the address from 1 Timothy 4:16, "Take Heed to Thyself and to the Doctrine." The choir of First PRC, Holland, MI will provide the special music. All are welcome to join us in celebrating the goodness of God in providing two graduates this year.

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