Classis anyone? For those of you new to the Christian Reformed Church this might be a new term. On one hand, “Classis” is the name of the meeting where pastors and elders governs a local group of churches. On the other hand, we use the term “Classis” to refer to the regional group of churches and focuses on ministry as well as governing. In this March 2016 meeting, included deacons along with pastors and elders for the first time. (We had 14 deacon delegates for the first time.)
We are part of Classis Lake Superior, an arrangement of 25 congregations within a circle ranging from Baldwin, Wisconsin to Bunde, Minnesota to Brandon, Manitoba back to Winnipeg then Thunder Bay, Ontario down to Princeton and Pease, Minnesota and back to the Twin Cities.
We meet twice per year, in March and September. At their invitation, in order to see their new facility, on March 6-7 we met at Rock of Life CRC in Willmar, MN. Some delegates who travel long distances arrive on Sunday evening in order to be fresh for the Monday afternoon pre-classis seminar. This year Rev Greg Sinclair educated us about the Salaam Project, a mission of reaching Muslim neighbors in North American with the gospel. On Monday evenings we spend time in worship and each year a third of the congregations share what the Lord has been doing in their congregations since their last report. This year we heard many good things from the Canadian congregations and East Grand Forks.
On Tuesday we addressed other matters. Highlights included:
- an examination and approval of Gary Wubben, a member of the Bunde CRC, for a license to exhort within classis. We presently have 5 persons with this license.
- a debate and approval of moving into phase two of a church planting project in the southwest corner of the Twin Cities. The Rev Arlan and Susan Koppendrayer will be heading up this initiative. Classis approved a $165,000 grant over a 5-year period pending the approval of the Finance Committee, with the specific location to be determined by the Classis Home Missions Committee in consultation with the Twin Cities CRC churches.
- saying farewell to the LDN, Leadership Development Network due to lack of students to carry its cost. Its goal was to train people to become more competent as church leaders by growing in knowledge and understanding of God’s word, theology, character and ministry skills. It started in September 2009, meeting at the Calvary CRC in Edina, then to better serve students it moved to the Bunde CRC for the last few years. In its place the Home Missions Committee is planning regional seminars in 2016-17 for, but not limited to, elders in three locations on the US side, East Cities, West Central, and the Pease/ Princeton area. The seminar would emphasize the changing culture and the richness of Reformed Theology to reflect God’s Word into those changes. It would have a leadership development component to it.
- adopting an overture to Synod. An overture is a request for something to be done. Synod is receiving 3 major study reports this year, one of them dealing with pastoral advice for how to respond to the new context in which same-sex marriages are legal. Six councils had been studying this report and together asked Classis to send an overture to Synod requesting that the report be sent back to the study committee to rewrite their advice more in line with the more conservative approach of study committee’s minority report. Classis adopted an overture requesting this kind of action indicating it felt the Synodical study was not clear enough about the Biblical understanding of marriage and had left, “unintentional and unnecessary gray areas for individualized interpretation.”
Classes are now also to send a deacon delegate to Synod, June 10-17, 2016 at Calvin College. Classis chose the following as delegates:
- Pastor Delegate: Brady Mulder (Bunde)
- Pastor Delegate: Al Postma (Thunder Bay)
- Elder Delegate: Drew Ryder (Willmar)
- Deacon Delegate: Mark Hubbard (Bridgewood)
As believers and churches we are all members of one another and called to help each other be the ministering, serving, worshipping body of Christ. May this brief account help you be more aware of and connected to and supportive of all your brothers and sisters throughout Classis Lake Superior.