Delegates to the thirtieth meeting of Classis Eastern USA assembled in Wayne, NJ on Tuesday, October 16, 2012, to begin their deliberations with our third annual Semper Reformanda Conference. Under the theme, “What Does a Healthy Ministry Look Like?” delegates began with a panel discussion on maintaining sexual integrity both in ministry and in the church body. After lunch, provided by Preakness Valley URC, Dr. David Murray of Puritan Reformed Seminary put an excellent Scottish accent to work as he led four separate teaching sessions. His balanced and practical teaching covered such topics as faithful sermon preparation in a busy ministry, caring for our bodies, positive leadership skills, and counsel to the depressed. His heartfelt and experienced teaching led to thoughtful discussion and reflection throughout the two-day meeting.
Getting an early start the next morning, delegates completed the Semper Reformanda conference activities with a discussion on the challenges of Home Missions led by Rev. William Boekestein. He offered an evaluation of the practical changes that could help classis work with greater unity, coordination, and strength. Delegates went on to discuss how the body of churches in the East could take active steps to glorify Christ by planting confessionally Reformed churches in the populous cities of the East Coast region.
Immediately following the conference, Rev. Paul Murphy, chairman for the meeting, called the delegates to order for the official work of the day. The meeting began with the candidacy examination for Mr. Sam Perez, recent graduate of Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. Mr. Perez gave a strong performance in each examination category, and delegates gave unanimous concurring advice so that the consistory of Messiah’s Reformed Fellowship could declare Mr. Perez a candidate for ministry in the URCNA. Furthermore, his ordination examination requirement was waived among the churches of Classis Eastern US.
The thirtieth meeting of Classis Eastern US also showed breakthroughs in coordination both in classical procedures and finances. The delegates approved two overtures addressing these concerns. One overture updated, clarified, and strengthened the Classical Rules of Procedure to provide for better communication, coordination, and early preparation in the shared work of the churches. The second overture established a better system of oversight, budgeting, and duties of the classical treasurer. The most notable addition to the treasurer’s position established a system of classical askings that intends to provide a more stable approach to funding classical priorities.
Another critical aspect of the work involved reports from a number of classical committees and functionaries. These reports detailed work accomplished as well as identified future priorities. Classical church visitors reported on their work among the churches and noted their participation in the ordination of Rev. Stephen Wetmore at the Trinity Reformed Church in Cape Coral, FL, as a particularly joyful occasion.
The church planting committee remains active in identifying both the right men and harvest fields for the work of church planting. They were thankful for the summer work of Mr. Zachary Wyse, an intern who focused on evangelism and church planting under the direction of Dr. Brian Lee. The delegates approved a specific recommendation to provide funding to establish a church plant in Jersey City, NJ, in 2013, led by Mr. Perez. Lord willing, there will be additional openings as classis seeks to meet the goal to plant five new churches. The classis continues to seek the Lord’s will concerning the appointment of a classical church-planting coordinator as well as a synodical missions coordinator.
Along the way, Rev. Jay Fluck of the RCUS addressed the classis as a fraternal delegate. He encouraged the men to remain diligent and faithful. Our Fraternal Relations Committee continues to reach out to other Reformed denominations, and continues to seek a joint classis/presbytery meeting with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 2013. In terms of fraternal relations, the classis also moved to invite Rev. William Den Hollander as a representative of the Canadian Reformed Churches to address the classis and lead an extended discussion at the spring classis meeting.
Delegates exercised the advantage of belonging to a body of churches by gaining biblical counsel and insight from one another concerning various pastoral concerns in the churches. Through shared biblical discussion and exhortation, the churches achieve mutual wisdom and encouragement for carrying out the commands of Christ. After careful consideration, the classis gave concurring advice to the decision of Pompton Plains Reformed Bible Church to declare Rev. Dale Van Dyke eligible for call to the churches by way of URCNA church order article 11. Finally, after two very full days of education and deliberation, Rev. Murphy closed the meeting with thankful prayer.
Rev. Andrew Eenigenburg,
Stated Clerk, Classis Eastern USA