Classis Ontario East met at the Wellandport URC in Wellandport, Ontario, on March 20, 2014. The chairman was Rev. Joel Dykstra of Wellandport URC. Vice-chairman Rev. Norm Van Eeden Petersman opened the meeting with devotions taken from Psalm 51.
Fraternal delegate Rev. Huijgen from the Canadian Reformed Churches (CanRC) Classis Niagara was welcomed to the meeting. Rev. Huijgen encouraged the brothers in the pursuit of fostering the federation’s relationship toward the CanRC and toward the goal of a future merger.
Much of the day was taken up by the candidacy exam of Mr. Brian Zegers. Rev. Raymond Sikkema questioned Brother Zegers on the section of practica; Rev. John Bouwers questioned Brother Zegers on the section of Reformed doctrine; Rev. Joel Dykstra questioned Brother Zegers on the section of confessional knowledge; Rev. Norm Van Eeden Petersman questioned Brother Zegers on the section of Bible knowledge; Rev. Al Bezuyen questioned Brother Zegers in the area of biblical exegesis; Rev. Rand Lankheet questioned Brother Zegers in the area of church polity; Rev. Maurice Luimes questioned Brother Zegers on the section of ethics; and Rev. Richard Bultje questioned Brother Zegers in the area of church history.
After the executive session to discuss the examination, classis deemed that Brian Zegers has sustained his candidacy exam. The delegates from the Salem URC met and made the following announcement:
The consistory of Salem URC declares Brother Brian Zegers to be a candidate for the office of Minister of the Word and Sacrament, and they wholeheartedly commend him to the ministry.
Rev. Raymond Sikkema indicated that our federation will remain in phase 1 relationships with the GKV, dependent on their future direction. There will also be a proposal to enter into a phase 1 relationship with the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) at our next Synod meeting. There will also be a recommendation to pursue a phase 2 relationship with the United Reformed Church in the Congo presented at Synod.
Reports on mission activities included an update by Rev. Van Dyken and Rev. Bout, who reported that the work continues to go well in Tepic. There are many new families that continue to meet, and the Lord’s blessing has been seen in the addition of complete families.
Rev. Bultje updated the Classis on the continued church-planting work in the city of Niagara Falls. It was reported that a core group continues to develop. They have a central building which continues to function well to establish a presence in the community. They also hope to begin to hold formal worship services this spring.
The work of Wilf Bout and the migrant ministry among the Spanish-speaking people continues. These migrant people come to Ontario to work in the summer months. Mr. Bout visited some of these workers back in Mexico this past winter. Sunday night Bible studies are beginning again as some of these migrant workers are returning to Ontario for work this spring.
The Pathway of Peace is a new ministry begun under the supervision of Trinity URC. The focus of this work is to teach others how to reach out to Muslims and to present the gospel to them. A website has been launched and can be found at www.pathwayofpeace.ca. The churches are encouraged to consider using this resource.
Classis adopted an overture from Grace Reformed Church in Dunnville to appoint a consistory to coordinate, promote, and encourage the inter-church activities of the young people in our classis. Hope Reformed of Brampton was appointed to be this coordinating consistory.
Immanuel URC of Jordan asked classis to overture Synod Visalia to retain the words “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen” in every instance where the Lord’s Prayer is included in our liturgical forms. This overture was adopted and will be sent forward to the next Synod.
Classis also approved an overture from Immanuel URC that asks Synod to limit the production of liturgical forms to one form per liturgical event while maintaining the commitment to continuity with the historic Reformed forms.
The next meeting of classis is scheduled for September 25, 2014, and will be hosted by the Adoration URC in Vineland, Ontario.