News

PRC Synod 2020 - Day 4 (Friday, June 12)

Aerial view Trinity PRC 1
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 2 2
Officers of synod: Revs.R. Kleyn (V.P), R. Van Overloop (Pres.), C. Spronk (1st clerk), J. Engelsma (2nd clerk)

Synod 2020 Highlights Friday, June 12

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.

Comm1 2
Committee I

Comm2 2
Committee II

Comm3 2
Committee III

 Comm4 2
Committee IV

Comm5 2
Committee V

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Seminary professors

Aerial view Trinity PRC 2

 Thanks to John Van Baren for all the "official" synod pics!

PRC Synod 2020 - Day 3 (Thursday, June 11)

Trinity building new part 1

The PRC Synod 2020 held its third session today, Thursday June 11, at Trinity PRC in Hudsonville, MI.

Singing 1

One of the great traditions of synod is the opening devotions, including the singing, sometimes accompanied, sometimes acapella.

It was photo day during coffee break this morning. Below is a couple of sample of the group picture.

Group pic 2

Group pic 1

Here is today's summary of synod's work:

This morning Synod dealt with the report of the Theological School Committee.

• Synod approved two men being admitted to our seminary this coming school year. Both are seeking the ministry in our churches.

• Synod approved the request of the TSC that Prof. Huizinga be granted an additional year in his transition to teaching full-time so that he can take a two-year course of theological Dutch.

• Synod expressed thanks for the work of the five professors, Mr. Chuck Terpstra, and Ms. Sharon Kleyn in our seminary.

• Prof. Cammenga was appointed to a three-year term as rector.

• Synod instructed the Stated Clerk in his letter to the churches to include a notice of the urgent need for seminary students.

Synod also approved the work and disbursements of the Student Aid Committee.

Synod appointed a PRC Psalter Revision Review Committee of nine members of our churches. They were tasked with evaluating all the proposed revisions to the Psalter and making recommendations to synod regarding adopting these proposed revisions.

Synod had before it two protests of decisions of Synod 2019. Synod decided not to sustain both protests.

Synod approved several new memory work schedules for Juniors and Seniors catechism classes, and mandated the Catechism Book Committee to propose to Synod 2021 the layout of new catechism books implementing the approved memory work schedules. Synod thanked Prof. Cammenga and Rev. den Hartog for their careful and diligent work on these memory work schedules.

And a few other candid photos taken.

RGritters BGritters

Elder R. Gritters and brother Prof. B. Gritters

Elder JRegnerus

Elder J. Regnerus (Doon, IA - Is the coffee as good as it is in NW Iowa?)

WLangerak NKleyn

Rev. W. Langerak (who's texting me now?!)

Elders JLenting BLooyenga

Elders J. Lenting (Crete PRC) and B. Looyenga (Zion PRC)

RBarnhill JEngelsma BGritters

Coffee-break chat: Revs. R. Barnhill and J. Engelsma, elder B. Gritters (Hull PRC)

PRC Synod 2020 - Day 2 (Wednesday, June 10)

TrinityPRC front 2

This morning the 2020 Synod of the PRC continued its sessions at Trinity PRC in Hudsonville, MI.

Officers 2
Synod's officers ready to work

The following is the clerk's summary of the day's actions and decisions:

Wednesday, June 10

  • Synod began the day today treating two protests of an individual against decisions of
    Classis East. Synod decided not to sustain both protests.
  • A protest against a decision of Synod 2019 was declared illegal.
  • Regarding the work of the Foreign Mission Committee synod:
    • approved the work of Doon PRC and the FMC in the Philippines
    • expressed gratitude to Rev. and Mrs. Holstege, Rev. and Mrs. Kleyn, & Rev. and Mrs. Smit and
      their families for their faithful service in the cause of the mission work in the Philippines
    • approved a six month furlough for the Holsteges
    • approved the work of the FMC in its work in Myanmar with Hope PRC (Walker, MI), and its work in
      India with Georgetown PRC
    • approved asking the churches to take 2 collections for foreign missions and 1 collection for the
      Philippine book fund in 2021
  • Synod approved the work of the Contact Committee in its work with the following
    contacts:
    • sister churches in Northern Ireland, Singapore, and the Philippines
    • the EPC in Australia
    • the BERG in Giessen Germany along with another congregation in Osnabruk Germany
    • the United Reformed Church in North America
    • in South Korea
    • in Mexico
    • in Namibia and South Africa
    • Synod approved the work of the Contact Committee in sending a delegation to the
      2019 meeting of NAPARC (North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council).
      Approval was also given to the recommendation to accept the invitation to send two
      observers to the meeting of NAPARC in 2020.

4 men CSRDRVOJE
Rev. C. Spronk, Prof. R. Dykstra, Rev. R. Van Overloop, Rev. J. Engelsma

four men SMBGGERK
Elder S. Miedema, Rev. G. Eriks, Rev. R. Kleyn, Prof. B. Gritters

DKregel GEriks
Elder D. Kregel and Rev. G. Eriks

PRC Synod 2020 - Day 1 (Tuesday June 9)

TrinityPRC front 1

This morning the 2020 Synod of the PRC convened in Trinity PRC in Hudsonville, MI.

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At the pre-synodical service Monday night, Rev. G. Eriks (Hudsonville PRC) preached from Micah 6:8, setting the theme for this year's body: "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

delegates seated 1

In the opening session the following officers were chosen: Rev. R. Van Overloop, President; Rev. R. Kleyn, Vice-president; Rev. C. Spronk, 1st clerk; Rev. J. Engelsma, 2nd clerk.

synod officers 1

The new chair then addressed the delegates.

RVO address delegates

The Committee of committees was appointed to divide and assign the work of synod.

Committees report

BLooyenga CGriess

Elder B. Looyenga and Rev. C. Griess

clerka Spronk Engelsma

The Clerks - Rev. J. Engelsma and Rev. C. Spronk

EGuichelaar RBarnhill

Revs. E. Guichelaar and R. Barnhill

GFeenstra JLaning

Elder G. Feenstra and Rev. J. Laning

 Here follows the report of the clerk on Day 1:

  • Rev. Garry Eriks, president of Synod 2019 led the pre-synodical service last night, preaching on Micah 6:6-8, “What Is Required of Synod 2020.” This morning he led synod in opening devotions and declared synod properly constituted, after the credentials of the delegates were read and approved.
  • Delegates of synod are Revs. Eriks, Griess, B. Langerak, Spronk, & Van Overloop and elders Rick Gritters, Nick Kleyn, Dave Kregel, Brendan Looyenga, and Sid Miedema from Classis East. Delegates from Classis West are Revs. Barnhill, J. Engelsma, Guichelaar, R. Kleyn, & Laning and elders Glenn Feenstra, Brian Gritters, Jim Lenting, Jim Regnerus, and Alan Van Bemmel.
  • The officers of Synod 2020 are President—Rev. Van Overloop; Vice President— Rodney Kleyn; 1st Clerk—Rev. Spronk; 2nd Clerk—Rev. Engelsma.
  • Present at synod as advisors are Profs. Cammenga, Dykstra, Gritters, Huizinga, and Kuiper.
  • Chairman Rev. Van Overloop noted with regret that because of the restrictions due to Covid-19 synod is not able to enjoy the fellowship and advice of delegates from sister churches.
  • Approval was given to the work of the Board of Trustees in assisting Trinity PRC in determining that synod should meet because “the meeting of the synod of the PRCA is essential for the execution of the business of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America as a denomination.” The ground given for this determination, which allows synod to meet even though the Executive Orders of Michigan’s governor only allows for meetings of 10 people or less, is that the By-Laws of the PRCA designate synod to be the only body which conducts the business of synod.
  • Synod also approved a recommendation to adopt restrictions proposed by Trinity PRC. One of the restrictions mandates that attendance in the facility is restricted to delegates, advisors, the staff of Trinity PRC, the appellants and protestants, numbering no more than 35 persons.
  • Synod declared the protests against decisions of Synod 2019 of two individuals regarding Psalter Revision to be legal.
  • Synod declared an appeal against Classis East to be legal.

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

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