Report of Classis East

January 8, 1997

First (GR) Protestant Reformed Church

Classis East met in regular session on Wednesday, January 8, 1997 at the First Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. Rev. A. Spriensma chaired this session of classis. Each church was represented by two delegates. Special welcome was given to Rev, Charles Terpstra, who was attending Classis East for the first time, to Rev. Sungho Lee of the Koshin Presbyterian Church of South Korea, and to the church history class of Covenant Christian High School. 

The burden of this classis was to consider the future of Covenant PRC in Wyckoff, NJ. After hearing Covenant's response to the concerns raised by the September, 1996 classis and hearing the reports of the special committee to assist Covenant, Classis East decided to adopt the advice of its committee of pre-advice, namely, "to urge Covenant PRC to disband and report their decision to the May, 1997 meeting of classis." The grounds given for this decision are as follows: "1) There is no present possibility for addition to or rotation of elders. 2) The congregation experiences great financial strain which also affects our denomination. 3) After 23 years, the Lord has not given growth to the congregation. 4) There is a continued loss of membership over several years. 5) The congregation, because of its size, lacks, and has lacked for some time, the experience of a full-orbed congregational life. This has proved itself unhealthy for the congregation." The prayers of classis went with the delegates of Covenant as they returned home with this decision. 

An overture to synod from Southwest PRC concerning the funding of the Emeritus Fund was also considered. The overture consisted of two parts: 1) a proposal that synod urge each consistory whose pastors are not enrolled in social security to contribute to the Emeritus Fund an amount equal to FICA taxes that would be incurred. 2) a proposal to appoint a committee to study the advisability of investing a portion of the Emeritus Fund in mutual funds. Classis decided to forward the first part of this overture to synod with its disapproval on the grounds that the overture only "urges" and does not require payment and that the overture lacks specificity. Classis forwarded the second part to synod with its approval on the ground that this would show good stewardship of these resources. 

The report of the church visitors was received. The report noted that generally things are going well in the churches under the blessing of God. Reports were also received from the delegates and examina and the Classical Committee. 

Classical appointments were granted to Hope PRC and Covenant PRC. A schedule of appointments was sent to all the churches.' The following delegates to Synod 1997 were chosen: MINISTERS: Primi - R. Cammenga, B. Gritters, K. Koole, J. Slopsema, R. VanOverloop; Secundi - W. Bruinsma, M. Dick, Dale Kuiper, A. Spriensma, C. Terpstra; ELDERS: Primi - C. Jonker, L. Meulenberg, D. Ondersma, A. Rau, K. Schipper; Secundi - J. DeVries, D. Harbachi D. Lotterman, D. Moelker, J. Kalsbeek, Jr. In other voting, Rev. Spriensma was elected to a three-year term on the Classical Committee; Revs. Dale Kuiper and J. Slopsema were chosen as church visitors, with Rev. VanOverloop as alternate; Rev. Gritters was elected to a three-year term as primus delegate ad examina and Rev. Bruinsma to a three-year secundus delegate ad examina term.

Subsidy requests from Kalamazoo .for $19,000 for 1998 and from Covenant for $10,000 for 1998 (without a pastor) were approved. Covenant also requested that its subsidy for 1997 be reduced from $43,500 to $22,500. Kalamazoo was granted an additional $4,500 subsidy for 1997. 

Expenses of classis amounted to $1,466.74. Classis will meet next at-the Hope PRC (Walker) on May 14, 1997. Respectfully submitted, 

Jon J. Huisken, Stated Clerk