Classis Central US of the URCNA March 21, 2006

In just a shade more than eight hours, delegates to a recent meeting of Classis Central US approved the addition of one church and two ministers, as well as addressing requests for advice in more than a dozen discipline or pastoral matters.

On Tuesday, March 21, Classis Central US convened in the sanctuary of Grace URC of Waupun, Wisc. Topping the day’s agenda were two ordination exams for men called by churches of the classis.

Mr. James Sinke was called by a newly established congregation in Rock Valley, Iowa. AMid-America Reformed Seminary graduate, he was declared a candidate in Classis Southern Ontario.

Although he initially thought to enter a career in accounting, Mr. Sinke was convicted of the great need for the preaching of the Gospel while still an undergraduate. As a student at Mid-America, he served as an intern in the URC congregations in Thunder Bay, London and Strathroy, Ont.

James and his wife Andrea have two daughters: Leah, 3, and Rebekah, 1.

Mr. Talman Wagenmaker was on home ground for his examination, having been called to serve the Waupun congregation. He, too, is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, having been declared a candidate in Classis Michigan.

With two brothers in the ministry, Mr. Wagenmaker had considered the ministry before earning a degree in chemical engineering. However, he later reconsidered, earning an MA degree from Westminster Theological Seminary in California and an a Master of Divinity degree from Mid-America. During his time at the latter, Mr. Wagenmaker served as an intern at Covenant URC in Kalamazoo, Mich., and at a church in Momence, Ill., which recently left the CRC and joined the OPC.

Talman and his wife Sarah are expecting their first child.

Examined concurrently, the men demonstrated sound knowledge in every section of the examination, with each man testifying to the centrality of sound preaching, the importance of wise elders, and the need to rely on God’s Word and His Spirit. Each man was unanimously declared eligible for ordination.

Mr. Sinke was ordained on Friday, March 24, at Doon URC; and Mr. Wagenmaker’s ordination was Sunday, April 2, at Grace URC of Waupun.

With the examinations behind them, delegates turned their attention to a pair of overtures.

The first overture, submitted by Doon URC, sought concurring advice for the organization of the Rock Valley URC, in accordance with Church Order Art. 22. Primarily comprising individuals who recently left the Christian Reformed Church, the Rock Valley Church
of the URCNA was established in October 2005 under the leadership of Doon URC’s elders. Rev. Larry Johnson and Mr. Sinke have been working with the group to educate them about the Church Order and practices of the URC. The group currently includes 20 families comprising 45 communicant members and 30 children, with attendance ranging from 90 to 100 per service.

Well before Rev. Johnson brought the matter to the floor of classis, delegates had to opportunity to learn about the new congregation from its elders, who had traveled to Waupun with their wives for the meeting. After hearing the testimony of Rev. Johnson, delegates unanimously concurred with Doon’s decision to organize the group as a distinct congregation.

A second overture was less favorably received. Oak Glen URC wished to overture Synod 2007 to adopt changes to Church Order Art. 6 and Appendix 3 which would have allowed a calling church to waive the ordination examination of a man who was declared a candidate for the ministry in a different classis. The waiver would be allowable on the basis of the recommendation of the candidate’s consistory and the concurring advice of the classis where the man was declared a candidate.

Rev. John Vermeer of Oak Glen explained that the change would increase efficiency, would make for a more equitable system, and would promote trust among the churches. The measure presumes confessional unity among the churches, he said.

However, several delegates spoke against the motion, noting that it would create a rule from the exception currently permitted by our Church Order – namely, the waiving of ordination exams for those called to a church within their home classis. Others noted that ordination exams increase our trust in our ministers, allow us to get to know our young ministers better, and offer a system of checks and balances whereby the churches of different classes hold one another accountable.

After a time of discussion, delegates decided not to approve the overture.

One other matter which engendered much discussion was brought by Covenant Reformed Church of Kansas City and its church plant, Springfield United Reformed Fellowship. Those brothers requested discussion about the advisability of receiving into their membership those who profess Christ, but who continue to struggle with particular doctrines set forth in the Three Forms of Unity.

Delegates offered a number of insightful comments concerning this question. Noting that this question is one with which many of our churches must wrestle, several delegates suggested that our churches as a whole should begin to discuss this question.

In other matters, classis received fraternal greetings from Rev. Charles Brown of the Great Lakes-Gulf Presbytery of the RPCNA and from Rev. James Bosgraf, a home missionary of the OPC. Rev. Todd Joling updated delegates of the ongoing work of CERCU committees who are meeting with committees of the Canadian Reformed Churches. And the delegates offered concurring advice to proceed in nine discipline cases, along with feedback on pastorally approaching long-delinquent baptized members in one of our congregations.

Classis Central US plans to meet again at 1 PM. on Tuesday, June 13, for a two-day meeting to include four candidacy examinations. Redeemer URC of Orange City will serve as convening consistory, and delegates tentatively agreed to hold the meeting in Pella, Iowa, pending approval of the consistory of Covenant Reformed Church of Pella.

Classis wishes to express its sincere thanks to the Consistory and members of Grace URC in Waupun for their hospitality during our most recent meeting!

For further information, contact Rev. Doug Barnes, pastor of Hills URC & Stated Clerk of Classis, by telephone at 507-962-3254 or via e-mail at hillsurc@alliancecom.net

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