Church Government

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

Last modified on 10 November 2019

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