Report on the meeting of Classis Michigan of the URCNA
Convening at Immanuel Fellowship URC of Kamalazoo — 8 March 2022
Delegates to Classis Michigan enjoyed a productive meeting on March 8 as they convened their first meeting of the year at Immanuel Fellowship United Reformed Church in Kalamazoo.
Prominent on the spring agenda were three overtures, along with numerous reports. Classis approved all three overtures, after careful discussion and with minor amendments.
The first overture, from Bethany URC of Wyoming, sought to revise the mandate and description of the Classis Michigan Missions and Church Plant Committee (CMMCPC). The revision was aimed at empowering the committee to proactively cultivate and encourage missions and church planting work. Previously, the CMMCPC guidelines made it largely a reactionary resource, providing information and assistance for those who sought its help.
The new guidelines empower the CMMCPC to investigate and recommend potential church plant opportunities, advising and consulting with involved parties to better facilitiate such works. Likewise, the committee is encouraged to more helpfully assist with the starting and care of foreign missions works. Details also were added regarding the use of a Classis Michigan Church Planting Financial Assistance Fund.
A second overture, sent by Grace URC of Alto, will call on Synod 2022 to amend the URCNA Church Order and the Regulations for Synodical Procedure in order to establish national synods, in addition to the general (international) synod currently employed.
By means of amendments to three articles of the Church Order and the addition of a new article, the changes of this overture would establish national synods to which each church would send delegates, while general synods would receive fewer delegates, appointed by each classis. These changes would provide a number of benefits. By reducing the number of delegates at the URC’s broadest assembly, the deliberative character of the assembly would be promoted. It is anticipated that this would help to ensure that decisions would be reached through careful consideration and debate, rather than through a party spirit. Meanwhile, the creation of national synods would ensure that each church has a voice in matters affecting it, while promoting the principle that matters are best addressed as closely as possible to the local level.
The third overture, also sent by Grace URC of Alto, will ask Synod 2022 to adopt pastoral advice regarding the relationship of church, state, and family. In URC polity, “Pastoral Advice” is “Synod’s application of the Scriptures, the Ecumenical Creeds, and the Three Forms of Unity to particular circumstances in the life of the churches” (Regulations for Synodical Procedure, Appendix D).
The pastoral advice sought by Classis Michigan includes nine “Affirmations Governing the Relationship of Church, State, and Family.” These were prompted by the societal changes currently afflicting the United States and Canada, including the infection of the American church by moral decline and broadening of civil government at the expense of citizens’ rights. The affirmations of this overture are intended, within that context, to help clarify and strengthen the churches’ commitments.
Along with these matters, the brothers received greetings from three fraternal visitors. Rev. Ken Kok brought greetings from Classis Ontario West of the Canadian Reformed Churches; Rev. Maarten Kuivenhoven spoke on behalf of the Heritage Reformed Congregations; and Rev. John St. Martin appeared for the Great Lakes Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America. The assembly was grateful for the greetings, responding with prayer for each of these church federations.
Time was spent hearing reports from a variety of functionaries and committees, enabling Classis Michigan to hold accountable those tasked with serving the churches. Time also was set apart for offering advice and prayer regarding discipline matters brought by three consistories.
Through all of this business, Classis was ably led by Rev. Talman Wagenmaker as Chairman and Rev. Jephthah Nobel as Vice-Chairman. The delegates also were blessed by the warm hospitality of their hosts at Immanuel Fellowship URC in Kalamazoo.
The next meeting of Classis Michigan was set for Tuesday, May 24, at Walker URC. The Consistory of Bethany URC is slated to serve as Convening Consistory for that meeting of Classis.
May the Lord richly bless the work of the churches, as they seek to serve and honor Him!
For further information, contact Rev. Doug Barnes, Stated Clerk of Classis Michigan,
by telephone at 269-331-7120 or via e-mail at [email protected]
Please note that this report is an unofficial summary.
For the official and complete summary of business transacted at classis, see the official minutes of classis.