News

Classis East Report - May 11, 2022

Classis East May 11 2022
Delegates from Classis East at the new facility of Redeemer Christian School, Zeeland, MI

May 11, 2022, Classis East Report

First PRC of Holland, MI hosted Classis East in the Redeemer Christian School building in Zeeland, MI.

After Rev. Bill Langerak declared classis properly constituted, Rev. Dennis Lee assumed the chair and presided over the business of the meeting. Recognizing the importance of making decisions in harmony with Scripture as set forth in our Reformed confessions, classis requires every first-time delegate to sign the Formula of Subscription. Two delegates attended classis for the first time and therefore signed the Formula. Classis exercises mutual oversight by receiving answers from each member church to the questions found in Article 41 of our Church Order. Rev. Lee asked these questions and received satisfactory answers from the delegates representing the nineteen churches of Classis East. The stated clerk gave his report regarding his work over the last four months; classis approved his work. The reporter for the Classical Committee fell sick and was absent, which means the committee will have an extended report at the September meeting of Classis East.

Classis adopted a pulpit supply schedule for the two vacant congregations in the East, Grace PRC and Hudsonville PRC.  At its March, 2022, meeting, Classis West requested that Classis East assist in providing pulpit supply for one of its vacant churches. In light of a positive change in circumstances (Classis West has one less vacancy due to Rev. Marcus’s acceptance of the call to Peace PRC), the Classical Committee of Classis West sent a letter to Classis East withdrawing this request.

In previous sessions Classis East has appointed two special committees. One committee reported that it did not have a report on its mandate to propose changes to the rules of classis regarding the distribution of its agenda. The second committee brought a report regarding its study of how to handle sexual abuse cases to classis that was received for information. Classis thanked the committee for its work so far, encouraged the committee to continue its work, and looks forward to acting upon recommendations from the committee in the future.

Two consistories asked for the advice of classis before continuing in the work of Christian discipline applied to members of their congregations. Classis advised one consistory to proceed to the announcement of the name of an impenitent confessing member per Articles 76 and 77 of the Church Order. Classis advised the other consistory to proceed with the erasure of a baptized member who, though often admonished by the elders, continues to walk in sin.

Classis approved of the request of Rev. Carl Haak to retire from the active ministry after forty-three years of faithful service. Classis marked the occasion by giving opportunity for several delegates to speak appropriate words about Rev. Haak’s service to the churches, singing the doxology, and pausing from its business to allow the delegates to speak individually to Rev. Haak and his wife, Mary. By an official decision Classis East formally and sincerely “expressed its deep appreciation and thanks to God for the 43 years of Rev. Haak’s humble and godly leadership and active ministry in our churches.” Contingent upon the approval of Synod 2022, Rev. Haak’s retirement will become official on September 1, 2022.

The catering committee of First Holland PRC did an excellent job of taking care of the delegates during various breaks and lunch. The women well deserved the thanks expressed by the Chairman, Rev. Lee, on behalf of classis.

The expenses of the meeting totaled $1,161.56. For its next meeting Classis will convene on September 14 at Byron Center PRC. After the vote to adjourn the meeting, Rev. Lee closed with prayer. The delegates began leaving for home around 3:15 p.m.

We thank God for the unity of our churches expressed in the meeting and pray for God’s blessing upon the decisions.

Rev. C. Spronk
Stated Clerk, Classis East

Classis West Report - March 2-3, 2022 (Hope PRC - Redlands, CA)

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News Report of Classis West of the PRCA Meeting March 2-3, 2022

Classis West of the Protestant Reformed Churches met on March 2-3, 2022, in Hope PRC (Redlands, CA). This isolated congregation did an outstanding job of hosting the delegates.

The day before the meeting, an officebearers’ conference was held on the timely subject of the church of Christ. The first two speeches dealt with the government of the church, with Rev. M. Kortus speaking on “A Delicate Balance: The Relationship between Office of Believer and the Special Offices in the Church of Christ” and Rev. E. Guichelaar speaking on“The Autonomy of the Local Congregation and the Authority of the Broader Assemblies.” The two other speeches dealt with a proper view of the church’s sinfulness, with Rev. R. Hanko speaking on “A Proper View of the Church - Mother or Whore?” and Rev. J. Langerak speaking on “The Church’s Self-Reflective Response to Chastening.” Between the last two speeches the male chorus of Hope congregation sang several beautiful numbers. A very enjoyable day of instruction and fellowship was had by all!

The following day, Classis began with opening devotions led by the chairman of the previous meeting, Rev. E. Guichelaar. After Classis was legally constituted, Rev. S. Key assumed the chair.

Routine reports of the stated clerk, classical committee, and reading sermon committee were read and approved. The church visitors also reported on their work over the last year and the presence of unity, peace, and love prevailing in the churches in spite of the hardships of the last year.

After recessing for the committees of pre-advice to prepare advice, Classis addressed matters brought from First PRC Edmonton relating to Rev. J. Marcus. Classis concurred with the decision of First Edmonton to approve Rev. Marcus’ request to remain eligible for a call in our churches, concurred with the decision of First Edmonton to approve Rev. Marcus’ request for partial support for the next year, and concurred with the decision of First Edmonton to grant Rev. Marcus’ request to transfer his credentials to Grace PRC where he is currently a member.

Classis made a schedule of pulpit supply for the vacant congregations of Doon (IA) PRC, First PRC Edmonton, and Peace PRC (Dyer, IN). Due to the number of vacancies in Classis West, it was decided to ask Classis East for assistance in providing three 2- week classical appointments to Edmonton for the months of June through October.

Classis had before it a protest of decisions taken at the last meeting of Classis regarding not seating delegates from the former consistory of First PRC Edmonton and regarding the approval of the work of the church visitors with respect to First PRC Edmonton. Classis did not sustain the protest.

Having met until about 8:00 PM on Wednesday, Classis decided to reconvene until the following morning to give several committees of pre-advice time to work.

The next day, Thursday, March 3, Classis met at length, not finishing its work until 9:30 PM.

Classis treated in closed session an appeal of the discipline work of a consistory. After lengthy, careful deliberation, Classis did not sustain the appeal.

Classis also treated in closed session another appeal of the discipline work of a different consistory. After lengthy, careful deliberation, Classis did not sustain the appeal.

Classis approved the subsidy requests for 2023 for three churches and forwarded them on to Synod for its approval.

Classis also voted for various classical functionaries. Rev. A. Brummel was reappointed to a three-year term on the Classical Committee. Rev. J. Engelsma was appointed to a three-year term as a primus synodical deputy, Rev. E. Guichelaar was reappointed to a three-year term as a secundus synodical deputy, and Rev. M. De Boer was appointed to a one-year term as a secundus synodical deputy to fill a vacant position. Classis appointed Revs. A. Brummel, R. Hanko, S. Key, and J. Laning as church visitors, with Revs. H. Bleyenberg and J. Engelsma as alternates.

Ministers delegated to Synod 2022 were Revs. R. Barnhill, A. Brummel, J. Engelsma, S. Key, and J. Laning. Alternates are Revs. H. Bleyenberg, E. Guichelaar, M. Kortus, J. Langerak, and S. Regnerus. Elders delegated to Synod 2022 were Keith Bruinsma (Peace), Loren Gritters (Hull), Chester Hunter, Jr. (Edgerton), Peter Smit (Hope), and Phil E. Van Baren (Crete). Alternates are Robert Brands (Loveland), Luke Griess (Loveland), David Poortinga (Loveland), Keith Van Drunen (Crete), and Ryan Van Overloop (Crete).

The expenses of this meeting totaled $18,052.18.

Classis will meet next in Doon PRC on September 28, 2022, the Lord willing.

Rev. Joshua Engelsma
Stated Clerk, Classis West

PRC Synod 2021 - Day 7 - Thursday June 17 *(Updated with Report)

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The delegates of the 2021 PRC Synod gathered again this morning in Georgetown PRC (Hudsonville, MI) for their seventh day of discussion and deliberation. We pray for them as they hope to complete their work today.

preparing to start work

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Preparing to start the work this morning.

The body returned to some recommitted advice from Committee 2 this morning. Commmittee 5 material was also to be dealt with.

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Synod stands to sing each morning for devotions.

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Pres RKleyn final remarks
Synod president, Rev. R. Kleyn, makes closing remarks Thursday afternoon as synod ends its work.

 And here is the final public report of the day's decisions, per the second clerk of synod:

Report of Day 7 - Synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America
June 17, 2021
After opening devotions, Synod treated reformulated advice on a protest of an individual who objected to Synod 2020’s decision regarding a sermon (entitled “Dealing Rightly With Our Sins”) preached by a former minister in the denomination. The individual’s main contention is that Synod’s decision contradicts Scripture and the confessions and brings Synod 2020 into contradiction with decisions of Synods 2018 and 2019. Synod did not sustain the protest.

Synod then dealt with reformulated advice on a protest of a decision of Synod 2020 related to the release of that former minister from the ministry under Article 12 of the Church Order. The protestant contended that Articles 79 and 80 of the Church Order ought to have been applied instead. Synod voted not to sustain the protest.

Synod treated reformulated advice on another protest that objected on procedural grounds to Classis East’s concurrence to depose a minister according to Articles 79 and 80 of the Church Order. Synod did not sustain the protest.

Synod approved the work of the synodical deputies from Classis West in their concurrence with the decision of Classis East to proceed with the deposition of that minister according to Articles 79 and 80 of the Church Order. Synod judged that Classis East’s grounds, on the basis of which the synodical deputies concurred, demonstrate that the minister was guilty of sin that warranted deposition. In addition, although synod granted some points made by those who protested, synod did not sustain the protests against the work of the synodical deputies.

Synod took a decision to express the churches’ deep gratitude to God for the work that Prof. R. Dykstra has performed on our behalf over the past 25 years in faithfully training our pastors in the seminary. Over half of our present pastors were formed, in part, by Prof. Dykstra’s instruction and example. May the Lord continue to bless the instruction Prof. Dykstra gives, and strengthen him for his work as pastor of Byron Center PRC.

Synod approved publishing and distributing an open letter to those who have recently left the PRCA, gave specific direction on how that distribution would take place, and approved the letter that would be sent. It did so believing that seeking reconciliation is the solemn duty of the church with those who have left because reconciliation is the very heart of the gospel (2 Cor. 5:18-21); because seeking reconciliation is expected of those who are members of the church, as Jesus says in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”; and because seeking reconciliation is consistent with the high priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17:21, “That they all may be one; as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”

Synod declared not legally before it two pieces of correspondence.

Synod approved the recommendations made by the Catechism Book Committee regarding memory work schedules for the Juniors Bible History classes.

Synod concurred with the decision of Bethel PRC to declare Rev. Dennis Lee temporarily emeritus since, by this coming July, through no fault of his own, he will have been left without a fixed charge due to the disbanding of the congregation. Synod also approved the financial support of Rev. Lee. May the Lord be pleased soon to open up a place of labor for Rev. Lee in our churches.

Synod approved the requests of four congregations for financial subsidy for 2022.

Synod adopted the overtures of two congregations to schedule a denominational commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the PRC for the summer of A.D. 2025, and appointed a steering committee to present concrete proposals for implementing these overtures.

Synod adopted the budget for 2022 of $2,534,463, which is adjusted to $1,415,729 because of surplus funds, collections, and monies from the “endowment” funds. Synod approved assessing each family $675 for 2022, a decrease of $75 from 2021.

Synod appointed Zion PRC as the host church of Synod 2022 to convene Tuesday, June 14, 2022, at 8:00 AM. The Lord willing, Sem. Marcus Wee, a member of Zion, will be examined by that Synod.

Having completed all the matters on its agenda, Synod adjourned at about 4:00 PM. May the Lord bless the decisions of Synod and cause them to serve for the good of our churches.

A special word of appreciation to Georgetown PRC for the outstanding job they did in hosting the delegates for nearly two weeks. The comfortable accommodations, the good food, the warm hospitality, and the colorful posters made by the children were greatly appreciated!

In Christ’s Service,
Rev. Joshua Engelsma Second Clerk of Synod 2021

PRC Synod 2021 - Day 6 - Wednesday, June 16

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Here follows the public report of the sixth day of meetings for the 2021 PRC Synod being hosted by Georgetown PRC in Hudsonville, MI.

Synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America
June 16, 2021
After opening devotions, Rev. Cory Griess read a letter of acknowledgment to the call he has received to serve in our seminary as Professor of Practical Theology and New Testament Studies (see photo below). He plans to answer the call on or before July 4. Continue to remember him in your prayers as he considers this weighty call.
CGriess acknowl June16
Synod treated another protest that objected on procedural grounds to Classis East’s concurrence to depose a minister according to Articles 79 and 80 of the Church Order. The matter was recommitted to the committee of pre-advice for reformulation.

Synod treated a protest of an individual who objected to Synod 2020’s decision regarding a sermon (entitled “Dealing Rightly With Our Sins”) preached by a former minister in the denomination. The individual’s main contention is that Synod’s decision contradicts Scripture and the confessions and brings Synod 2020 into contradiction with decisions of Synods 2018 and 2019. This matter was recommitted to the committee of pre-advice for reformulation.

A different individual brought a protest against that same decision of Synod 2020. Synod voted not to sustain his protest, judging that the individual had failed to prove his contention that the sermon militated against Synod 2018 by making repentance an instrument to obtain blessings of salvation.

Two individuals protested another decision of Synod 2020 related to another sermon of that former minister (a sermon entitled “The Reward of Grace”). Synod did not sustain either of the protests, judging that the individuals failed to prove that the former minister militated against the decision of Synod 2018 in the sermon.

Synod dealt with a protest of a decision of Synod 2020 related to the release of that former minister from the ministry under Article 12 of the Church Order. The matter was recommitted to the committee of pre-advice for reformulation.

Synod took up reformulated advice regarding a protest of a decision of Synod 2020 not to publish a report from a special committee appointed to assist a congregation. Synod did not sustain the protest, but judged that Synod 2020 had acted within its rules by not including in the printed Acts a report regarding a mandate that synod gave to a committee in closed session and that synod treated in closed session.

Synod also considered reformulated advice regarding a protest that objected to Synod 2020 giving instruction to an appellant regarding the form of his appeals after treating those appeals. Synod did not sustain the protest.

Synod approved the dispersing of funds for the financial support of our seminary students. It also approved changes to the constitution of the Student Aid Committee which make clear the uses of the two main funds it oversees.

Synod had before it an appeal of an individual whose objections to a sermon were not upheld by his consistory or Classis. Synod voted not to sustain the appeal, but expressed its agreement with the judgment of the Classis that the sermon did not promote the wisdom of the world; did not promote the Pelagian heresy; did not violate the first commandment; and did not teach the false gospel concerning God, hope, Christ, sin, and the covenant.

Synod approved the work of the Board of Trustees during the past year, including its work with the Investment Subcommittee concerning the synodical investments. The synodical treasurer and stated clerk were reappointed to three-year terms.

Synod approved the financial support of fifteen emeritus ministers and their wives for 2022.

The Stated Clerk was instructed in his letter to the churches to include a notice of the urgent need for seminary students. “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:37-28).

Synod finished for the day at 5:00 PM, and will meet again tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM, the Lord willing. It’s possible that Synod will conclude its business tomorrow.
In Christ’s service,
Rev. Joshua Engelsma Second Clerk of Synod 2021

PRC Synod 2021 - Day 5 - Tuesday June 15 *(Updated with Report)

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After allowing extra time for her committees to draft advice, the 2021 PRC Synod returned to its work on Tuesday June 15 at noon (not at 8 a.m. as previously decided).

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The delegates and visitors (now a maximum of 60) are now meeting in the fellowship room of Georgetown PRC.

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Much of the work today involves treating protests and appeals. May the Lord give wisdom to the delegates as they discuss and decide on these matters.

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Let us remember to pray for the body in all its work, asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and faithfulness to the Word of the Head of the church, Jesus Christ.

Here is the public report to the churches on today's work:

Report of Day 5
Synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America June 15, 2021

Synod had initially planned to assemble again this morning, but, due to committees of pre-advice needing more time to prepare advice, it did not begin meeting until noon.

Synod began the work of the day by rescinding a previous decision to declare a letter from a consistory not legally before it. Synod declared the letter legally before it because the letter addresses several slanderous allegations made against the consistory by a protest included in the agenda. Synod decided to publish the letter in the printed Acts to set the record straight in a matter that has been made public even beyond the realm of our churches.

Synod spent most of the day treating the substance of five protests that objected to the concurrence of the synodical deputies of Classis West with the decision of Classis East in the deposition of a minister. Synod voted not to sustain the five protests in their objections to Ground A of Classis East (the minister’s making public accusations of sin), with regard to Ground B (the minister’s sins against the 9th commandment), with regard to Ground C (the minister’s sins against the 5th commandment), and with regard to the charge against the minister of the sin of public schism, believing that there was clear and sufficient evidence of these sins.

Synod also treated the protest of an individual who objected on procedural grounds to Classis East’s concurrence to depose this minister. The protestant argued that the work was not finished at the level of the consistory, that another consistory called in to render judgment on the case was not the nearest consistory, and that officebearers he believed to be conflicted were permitted to advise, deliberate, and render judgment in the case. Synod did not sustain the individual’s protest.

Synod worked until around 8:30 tonight, and will meet again tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM, the Lord willing.

In Christ’s Service,
Rev. Joshua Engelsma Second Clerk of Synod 2021

PRC Synod 2021 - Day 4 - Friday June 11

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One of the delegates did some drone pictures of Georgetown PRC today. Can you guess who?

The 2021 PRC Synod gathered for a new day and a new session in Georgetown PRC on Friday June 11. With the examination of Sem. J. Tan completed, she could dig into her regular business and begin trearting committee report recommendations right away. The delegates and visitors are back meeting back in the fellowship room of the church.

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The summary report of today's deliberations and decisions follows:

Protestant Reformed Churches in America June 11, 2021
Synod began the day by continuing to deal with material from the Theological School Commitee (TSC). The TSC had received a request from a congregation to delay calling a replacement for Prof. Gritters for a year. The TSC did not approve this request, and synod concurred with the TSC’s action. Synod then proceeded to calling a man to replace Prof. Gritters as Professor of Practical Theology and New Testament Studies. The result of the voting was that Rev. Cory Griess was chosen to receive the call. We pray that the Lord would make his will known clearly to Rev. Griess over the next weeks, and, if it be his will, that he would accept this call. In the event that he is led to decline the call, Rev. Engelsma was chosen as an alternate to receive the call.
Before Synod was a protest of a decision taken by Synod 2020 not to include a report in the printed Acts. After deliberations, the matter was recommitted to the committee of pre-advice for reformulation.
Another protest objected to Synod 2020 giving instruction to an appellant regarding the form of his appeals after treating those appeals. This matter was also recommitted to the committee of pre-advice for reformulation.
Synod treated an appeal from an individual who objected to a decision of Classis West to declare a protest of his not legally before it. Synod rejected the appeal and upheld the decision of Classis West, declaring that Classis West correctly ruled that the individual may not appeal to Classis without bringing a protest of the consistory’s decision to the consistory.
Synod approved the appointment of synodical deputies from Classis East and West, recommitted advice from a committee of pre-advice regarding a letter of correspondence, and approved the work of the stated clerk.
At around 2:00 PM, Synod moved to recess until Tuesday morning in order to give committees of pre-advice time to work.
In Christ’s Service,
Rev. Joshua Engelsma Second Clerk of Synod 2021
*UPDATE on Tuesday Start time: Synod now plans to begin at NOON on Tuesday, June 15.
CGriess JEngelsma
Revs. C Griess (l) and J. Engelsma (r)

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PRC Seminary professors and advisors to synod: R.Dykstra, B.Gritters, R.Cammenga (back); D.Kuiper, B.Huizinga (front)

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Audience singing Thursday night at the commencement program for Josiah Tan (in front with his wife)

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