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Classis Michigan

Report on the meeting of Classis Michigan of the URCNA

Convening at Sovereign Grace United Reformed Church of Comstock Park — 5 March 2024


Classis Michigan convened on the morning of March 5 for its Spring 2024 meeting at Sovereign Grace URC in Comstock Park. The meeting was productive, with the delegates deliberating carefully on the matters before them, while still completing their business by mid-afternoon.

Most prominent on the agenda were four overtures, three of which sought changes to the URC Church Order.

The overture garnering the greatest amount of discussion sought to amend Article 28 of the Church Order, along with two provisions in the Regulations for Synodical Procedure, in order to change the way the URCNA selects delegates for synods.

A synod in the URCNA is the broadest church assembly, with delegates from all of the churches gathering to address matters affecting the whole federation and business that could not be settled at narrower assemblies. The changes sought by an overture from Grace URC of Alto call for synodical delegates to be selected by the classes – regional assemblies of the churches – rather than being drawn from each church.

This measure was advanced in order to promote the deliberative character of synods. With the continued growth of the URCNA, synods are becoming quite large, which can negatively affect an assembly’s ability to carefully debate and consider the business before it. Larger synods also cost the churches substantially more.

In addition to changing how delegates are selected, changes sought by this overture would provide a means for consistories (the elders and ministers of a local church) to submit communications to synods, thereby directly influencing the deliberations of the broadest assembly.

This overture was adopted and will be sent for consideration by Synod Escondido 2024.

A second overture adopted and sent on to Synod Escondido seeks to amend Articles 20 and 26 of the Church Order. These changes would require the broader assemblies of the URCNA – including the classis (regional) and synod (bi-national) – to publicly distribute a record of all decisions of the assembly.

Broader assemblies have the option of handling sensitive business in “executive session,” which is a business session closed to the public. Currently, some classes record decisions made during executive session in a separate record, which is not publicly distributed.

This overture, also from Grace URC of Alto, calls on the churches to recognize that a significant purpose of the minutes of an assembly is accountability. Our Church Order requires clerks of classes to distribute minutes of each classis meeting to the clerks of the other classes, who then forward these minutes to the consistories of their classes. This allows the local churches to hold the broader assemblies accountable.

However, when classes decline to release a record of decisions made in portions of their meetings, this undermines that accountability. Classis Michigan recognized that matters handled during executive sessions generally are of a sensitive nature. But it was noted that fully half of the classes of the URCNA record decisions made during those times in a way that protects the privacy of individuals involved in the decisions.

A third overture seeking changes to the Church Order sought to narrow the scope of guests who are welcomed to the Lord’s Table.

Brought by Sovereign Grace URC of Comstock Park, this overture called for changing Church Order Article 28 to specify that visitors may be welcomed to partake of the sacrament only if the Consistory is assured of their proper profession of faith, their godly walk, and their membership in a Reformed Church adhering to the Three Forms of Unity or the Westminster Standards of Faith.

This overture promoted extensive deliberation. However, in the end, it was not adopted.

A fourth and final overture requested classis funds for the support of a seminarian under the supervision of Immanuel Fellowship URC in Kalamazoo.

This overture, too, prompted a substantial amount of discussion. While there were seemingly universal expressions of encouragement, with delegates desiring to find a way to assist their sister congregation in supporting a seminarian, concerns were raised about the fact that Classis Michigan does not have a procedure for doing this via classis funds.

In the end, the brothers declined to approve the request. However, they expressed strong support for assisting their brothers in this matter on a church-by-church basis, with many delegates promising to bring this matter to their deacons.

Overtures were not the only matter on the agenda for Classis Michigan.

The brothers heard reports from a variety of committees, at both the classis and the federation level. Reports were received from three local churches – Trinity URC of Caledonia, Sovereign Grace URC of Comstock Park, and Eastmanville URC of Coopersville – concerning how the Lord has been at work in their midst.

And in an unexpected treat, the delegates received greetings from Rev. Andrea Ferrari, a URC missionary and church planter who labors in Perugia, Italy.

Toward the end of their meeting, the brothers offered pastoral advice to four consistories, including three that sought advice related to discipline and one that sought information regarding livesteam options.

Finally, the men learned that URC missionary Rev. Cagdas Coskun, who labors in Turkey, plans to be in the area on June 24 through July 25 and will be available to speak to churches and missions committees. Those interested should contact the Clerk of the Walker URC Consistory, Elder Jeffrey Caspers.

Classis Michigan is slated to convene its next meeting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, October 8, at Eastmanville URC of Coopersville.

May the Lord bless the decisions made and counsel given by His servants in Classis Michigan; and may He receive glory for the unity of spirit and love that His servants showed.



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.