Dr. Jeffrey Weima in Thunder Bay (Apr. 28-29)

 

Dr. Jeffrey Weima is Professor of New Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary, where he has taught for the past 25 years. He is a sought-after speaker who is able to communicate well the truths of the Bible in an interesting, contemporary and practical manner.

Jeff has published five books and is the author of numerous scholarly articles and academic essays. He lectures widely around the world and regularly leads biblical study tours to Greece, Turkey, Israel/Jordan, and Italy. He also conducts intensive preaching seminars for pastors, and preaches often in churches in both the USA and Canada.

First CRC in Thunder Bay has organized for Jeff to speak on:

  • Same-Sex Activity: What does the New Testament Say? (Apr. 28)
  • How To Read The Bible for All It’s Worth (Apr. 29)

Both of these events are open to anyone and everyone! It’s First’s hope that congregations, pastors, and the broader community will be able to engage in these seminars/discussions. They are certainly relevant to our every day life and walk of faith!

In addition to these, The Center for Excellence in Preaching, has sponsored a third presentation by Jeff on:

  • How to Read a Pauline Letter: The Test Case of Philemon (Apr. 28)

This presentation is directed at pastor and preachers. The specifics are yet to be finalized by a minimal cost will cover your lunch and give you a discounted copy of Jeff’s newest book: Paul the Ancient Letter Writer.

Contact Pastor Joe Hamilton with any questions. He’s happy to assist in whatever way he can! pastorjoe@fcrctbay.ca

 

Posters to print and share:

Ministry Shares for 2017

Ministry Shares have in some places been inappropriately labelled a “membership fee” or “CRC tax”. They’re not.

Ministry Shares represent a shared mission of all Christian Reformed Churches to be affecting the world – locally and globally – through the gifts that we’ve been given either in talent, time, or finances. Simply put: They help all churches (large and small) to do the work that Christ has called us to do whether it be in Gospel Proclamation & Worship, Faith Formation, Servant Leadership, Mercy & Justice, or Missions.

Together we share the load and join in on the work. Some agencies like World Renew (as just one example) exemplify this. Leaving room for churches to send members with talent and time to help rebuild communities and/or to give some of their finances through Ministry Shares and other avenues if they want to give more.

So, while Ministry Shares aren’t a “tax” or a “fee” they are a crucial piece to how the Christian Reformed Churches strive to live out their calling in the world and it only runs well with everyone’s help! Check out the document provided. Share it with your congregation. Teach them about everything your church supports – guaranteed it’s more than most realize!

Here is the link to your 2017 Classical Ministry Shares document:

2017 Classical Ministry Shares

Deacons: As you lead your congregations in stewarding all their gifts, you might consider contacting some of the agencies that receive ministry shares. Maybe it’s time your church invites someone to tell the story of what Christ has been doing through them with your offerings. There are countless stories, especially when you speak to our classically supported agencies! You just need to ask for them!

Highlights: September 2016 Meeting

“Classis” is the name given to the regional expression of fellowship, ministry and organization of the Body of Christ within the Christian Reformed Church in North America.  It consists locally of 25 congregations and 2 ministries reaching from Brandon, Manitoba to Baldwin, Wisconsin. Each community is asked to send 3 delegates (deacon, elder, pastor) to deliberate at our meetings held each September and March. At our most recent meeting 51 delegates were present – 16 for the first time.

Our September meeting was held in Thunder Bay, ON at The Gathering Place – a ministry supported prayerfully and financially by classis. They had obtained new facilities in Thunder Bay and invited delegates (representatives from each church) to come, see, and celebrate this gift of God first hand.

The Gathering Place’s new location on Amelia St. W in Thunder Bay, ON is tangible reminder of God’s redeeming work. The building, formerly a Jehovah’s Witness facility, has been transformed into a life giving, functional, and attractive hub of encouragement, prayer, and assistance for those that utilize this ministry. By God’s grace and faithful leadership of both its board and director, Yvonne Schenk, this community ministry is shaping a love for Christ each day.

Below are some highlights of the work done during this gathering:

  • As part of an ongoing effort to offer a time of learning and encouragement classis invited Mark Hilbelink, pastor of the “Weirdest Little Church in Texas” and a member of YALT (Young Adult Leadership Team), to speak to “the gaps” in our church communities. He spoke powerfully of the church’s need for those that are missing and the need of those missing for the church. This mutual need drives both groups to maturity in life and faith together. The hard part of the message is that reaching those in the gaps requires communities to be true to themselves and yet willing to create space (change) for those who don’t yet belong.
  • Classis heard testimony of the CRCNA’s considerable efforts to support and encourage local ministry and initiatives. This calls classis to be a vital part of this support for local worshipping communities too. Darren Roorda, the Director of Ministries in Canada, unpacked this and more as he shared, “Our Journey 2020”. This is a long-range goal for growing into this call to serving the local church.
  • Classis was also briefed on a new initiative called “Connections” that addresses the need for resources and coaching for leaders of local congregations. For example, your church wants to install a carpet, but you’re not sure who to hire, what funding might be available, or if carpet is even an appropriate direction. Rather than asking a willing but unequipped person in your church to do the initial 10-20hrs of investigating, why not just have them call one person – Trudy. Trudy Ash, a regional resource catalyzer from Princeton, MN, and her helping pilot this new support structure to churches! Although this is currently focused on our US churches, in time it should become available to the CAN churches also. So, if you’re stuck – give Trudy a call!
  • Before starting with the “work” of classis time was spent in prayer after hearing the stories and testimonies of churches and ministries. Classis gave thanks to God for his faithfulness through the struggles, failures, delights, and new milestones!
  • Classis began its work by drawing on God’s faithfulness as they discussed a council’s request to have their formerly deposed pastor be declared eligible for a call to ministry within the CRCNA. As expected, there were several hours of careful testimony, interview, and deliberation. Delegates although not ready to grant the request, expressed a desire to see classis (through the CIC) to provide assistance on this road of healing and reconciliation. Classis began this work by laying hands on the individual and asking for God’s Spirit to continue its work of restoring what becomes so easily broken by our sinfulness.
  • Classis was encouraged to hear of ongoing developments to plant a new church in the Southwest corner of the Twin Cities. Classis endorsed Chapel Hill Academy in Chanhassen as the place where it would be located.
  • Classis thanked John and Linda Parsons (CAN) and Rosanne Van Marion (US) – a.k.a. “Prayer Mobilizers” – for their years of faithful service to classis. We look forward to new chapters in prayer ministry as new mobilizers join the Classis Home Mission Committees: Sonya Cahais (CAN) and Lowel Schwitters & Norma Baas (US).
  • Classis endorsed the continued licensure to exhort for 4 members: Doug Shank, Redeeming Love, East Grand Forks; Carol Veldman Rudie, Calvary, Edina; Marlin Breems, Unity, Prinsburg; and Jerry Van Someren, Baldwin, WI. Classis also added to those licensed to exhort: Rob Braun from Bethel, CRC of Princeton.
  • Classis rallied behind Grace CRC of Inver Grove Heights in granting their elders the right to administer the sacraments of Lord Supper and Baptism throughout the season their pastor serves in Egypt as a military chaplain.
  • A final highlight of classis is the informal time spent together over lunch, coffee breaks, dinners, and while commuting to and from the meeting (even if its on a bus). It is always such a blessing to hear stories of God’s grace and goodness. Classis is truly an enriching and humbling experience. Maybe you will find yourself here in the near future!

May the Lord keep us faithful as we each contribute our small part where he has placed us and to which he has called us within the body of Christ.

Highlights: March 2016 Meeting

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

 

Paid Ministry Positions Available

photo10303_4Through the Sustaining Congregational Excellence ministry of the CRC, there are two part-time positions that have become available within our region (US side of the classis only). For more detailed information and how to apply, follow the links.

Note: The application deadlines are approaching very soon.


Position Title: Resource Coach (8-16hrs/wk)

https://re21.ultipro.com/CHR1005/JobBoard/JobDetails.aspx?__ID=*E40BEA7CC06448F8

“This position will develop relationships with, walk alongside, coach, and resource congregational leaders.  Two (2) Resource Coaches are needed in each of the following regions: Southern California; the Midwest (Iowa, Wisconsin & Minnesota); and Southern Ontario, Canada. Successful applicant can reside anywhere in the respective regions.”


Position Title: Resource Catalyzer (16hr/wk)

https://re21.ultipro.com/CHR1005/JobBoard/JobDetails.aspx?__ID=*2C73F25C33AD95E5

“This position will develop relationships with, connect, and resource congregational leaders. One (1) Resource Catalyzer is needed in each of the following regions: Southern California; the Midwest (Iowa, Wisconsin & Minnesota); and Southern Ontario, Canada. Successful applicant can reside anywhere in the respective regions.”

Highlights: September 2015 meeting

Classis Lake Superior, Sept 14-15, 2015 Highlights—Yes, highlights. Someone once told me they looked forward to such meetings as much as to having a root canal. Not me, I really do enjoy these meetings. For the first time this year we met in the brand new facilities at Lake Geneva Christian Center near Alexandria – they were amazing. A dining hall big enough perhaps for 500 or more people with stunning views of Lake Geneva, and great food and fellowship with other CRC pastors, delegates, and ministry leaders. Hard not to like!

On Monday afternoon Rolf Bouma led us through the history and background of the legal changes that have taken place re gay marriage in North America. How do we minister in this context? Christian scholars are suggesting we may need to distinguish between civil marriage and religious marriage to move forward. The religious liberty aspect of this issue is not clear yet in the US. Our 73 report is good but the language is dated and leaves the impression that the homosexual person is a problem. We had good conversation and look forward to the 2016 report next month.

Monday evenings are worship, sharing, and prayer times. Reps of central Minnesota churches as well as The Gathering Place and Hope Center, in Thunder Bay spoke. It’s always uplifting to hear how the Lord is working and being honored in all these places, e.g. A new facility in Willmar under construction, a new facility at the Gathering Place, new staff at Hope Center – often beyond expectations.

Tuesday’s highlight was the admission of 3 persons into the ministry of the Word in the CRCNA. Perrin Werner for Grace, Inver Grove Heights, based on his previous exam in March, David Zigterman and Robert Hoekstra based on their exam at this classis, for Emden CRC in Renville, and for Hope CRC, Thunder Bay. A 4th pastor was also introduced, Paw Ter, a KaRen refugee, comes with 4 languages before English and with musical gifts. He is an answer to prayer as he helps Phonh in the New Life South East Asian congregation after his night job.

Finally, we are a binational classis. That may be tested in the near future as we explore what we may need to do to comply with new Canadian laws and regulations. Yet we showed are willing to pay the price of such unity by accepting the invitation, the Lord willing, to come/go meet at the Gathering Place in Thunder Bay in September 2016. Next March we get to meet in Willmar’s new facility. It will be a highlight to meet you there and expand the circle of good Christian fellowship.

Agenda & Information for September Meeting of Classis

Brothers and sisters, council chairs,

Please read this carefully, as email receivers often skim and miss things.
1. Attached is the initial agenda for the September 14-15, 2015 meeting of Classis (find them online by clicking here).  An addendum is sure to follow as several reports are yet missing.
2. Despite Synods ruling that deacons are now to be seated at classis meetings, effective immediately, CIC has decided we are not able to implement that yet as we had not budgeted for it and we might not have enough lodging space at Alexandria.  We will work on this for next March and September.
3. You will also find attached promotional information for the Monday afternoon special presentation. We will be the first persons to receive the report of the synodical committee to report in 2016 re how we ought to respond to and minister in the changed context re gay marriage, etc.
   We are opening this presentation to any congregation members who might wish to listen in.  However, due to the intense nature of the topic we will limit speaking privileges to delegates only.  Make sure those who choose to attend are aware of this so as not to come expecting to speak out and be disappointed.
Invitation is also given to stay for supper.  However, as is noted in the agenda, guests must give advance notice so that the Center can provide the right amount of food.  We request that those wishing to stay for supper give their names to you, your council, or secretary by September 4th, so that they in turn can inform the stated clerk before September 7th (preferably by email  henry.gunnink@gmail.com) when the center requires that information.  It will cost $10 for each person we say will be staying.
4. Special diets– if any delegate requires a special diet, there should also be attached a form they can fill out and return at least 10 days in advance to the center.  If you cannot open one attachment, try the word document it also has contact info in it.
You can scan and email to jkensinger@lakegenevacamp.com or mail of fax to
Joanne Kensinger
Guest Services Coordinator
Lake Geneva Christian Center
605 Birch Avenue, Alexandria, MN 56308
5. Meeting location has changed  —  We will now be meeting in the lower level of the Event Center.  This is the new facility to the south of the Lakeview Center and Cafeteria where we used to meet.
6. Lodging — see instructions in the agenda.
     There is a line that says lodging requests are to be emailed to the clerk.   That means special requests only, eg. if you wish to have a single room reserved (for which you pay $30 extra) let me know.  Otherwise, as per usual there will be a register in the Kingsriter building where you sign in, 2 persons to a room, and take your key.  Simple as that.
7.  There is  no usage of alcohol or drugs  allowed,  and no smoking in any building.
8. Feel free to contact me with any questions.
In His Service,
Henry Gunnink
clerk

Addendum to the Agenda

All,

Please take note of this document [the Addendum to the Agenda, found by clicking here]. There are reports that include recommendations.

Also, watch you emails for the sermon of Perrin Warner which hopefully you’ll receive before you leave.

May the Lord give you safety on your travels and may you come well prepared.

Together in His service,

Henry Gunnink,