Article 77 of the RCUS Constitution requires that each Classis of the RCUS Synod “meet regularly in the spring” to conduct the business of the church. Article 79 goes on to read: “The annual meeting of a Classis shall be opened with religious services, including the preaching of a sermon by the President, or by one of its members designated by him or by the Classis, after which the roll shall be called; if a quorum is present, the officers for the ensuing year shall be elected, and the business shall proceed according to the Rules of Order prescribed by the Synod.”
In accordance with the RCUS Constitution, the South Central Classis (SCC) convened for its annual spring meeting at Grace Reformed Church, Rapid City, SD, on March 28-29, 2016. However, this year the SCC Meeting unofficially began Monday afternoon with an informal gathering of ministers and elders to discuss the Biblical principles regarding the working relationship between the local Consistory and the Classis. Elder Gary Maassen, who serves at Trinity RCUS, Sioux Falls, led the discussion and moderated the give-and-take exchange between the men. The meeting concluded and an excellent supper was served.
Delegates, visitors, and members of Grace Reformed Church then gathered for the Monday evening worship service with Rev. Randy Klynsma preaching and Dr. Robert Grossmann conducting the service. The sermon text was Joshua 19:49-51, from which Rev. Klynsma encouraged the congregation to be faithful and steadfast in the faith knowing that our sovereign God is the One who gives “The Distribution of the Land.”
Shortly after the worship service roll call was taken, which revealed fourteen Ministers of the Word and eleven Elders, and then two and a half hours of business was conducted. Rev. Travis Grassmid (pastor at Zion RCUS, Menno, SD) was elected as President of the SCC for the second year; Rev. Matthew Powell (pastor at Christ Reformed RCUS, Casper, WY) was elected as Vice-President; Rev. George Horner (pastor at Providence RCUS, Rock Springs, WY) was elected as Stated Clerk; Elder Scott Velgersdyk, who serves at Trinity RCUS, Sioux Falls, SD, was elected as Treasurer, and Elder Robert Korn (Zion RCUS, Menno, SD), Elder Ted Schieffelin (Providence RCUS, Limon, CO), and Rev. Mike McGee (Trinity RCUS, Sioux Falls) were appointed by the president as tellers. President Grassmid then defined the bar of the house as the first eight pews on both sides of the aisle.
After adoption of the agenda, services, and order of the day, Rev. Matt Powell introduced the Fraternal Delegate from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (Presbytery of the Dakotas), Rev. Brad Irick, who was then welcomed by Classis, seated in the bar of the house and given the privilege of the floor. This means he was given the privilege to address any issue being discussed at Classis, but since he was not an RCUS delegate he was not entitled to cast a vote. This is a standard privilege we share with all the specific Reformed and Presbyterian denominations that the RCUS has established fraternal relations with. Rev. Irick brought greetings from our brethren in the OPC who commended the ministers and elders of the RCUS for their faithfulness to the Scriptures, the Confessions, and encouraged the RCUS to continue steadfast in holding to and defending the Truth. Rev. Irick also expressed his personal appreciation for Heidelberg Theological Seminary. Rev. Matt Powell then introduced Rev. Bob Hemphill, the Fraternal Delegate from the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. Rev. Hemphill brought greetings from the RPCNA and spoke of enjoying the doctrinal unity with the RCUS. Classis also welcomed many non-delegated RCUS Elders who came to observe the proceedings into the bar of the house and they were given the privilege to speak from the floor.
God has richly blessed the RCUS with faithful ministers and elders who are unwilling to compromise in any area of the Scriptures or the Confessions of the Church. And this uncompromising spirit can be solely attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of men whom He has chosen, gifted, and called to the work of the church. Understanding this should cause every member of the RCUS to daily drop to their knees in humble thanksgiving to our covenant God for His abundant grace, mercy, and faithfulness toward us in Christ Jesus. You see, God continues to demonstrate His love for His church by giving faithful men (Eph. 4:11-16) who diligently shepherd and feed the flock of God with the Word of God (1 Peter 5:1-4; John 21:15-17). The Word spoken through Isaiah should ever be upon our lips: “O LORD, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, for You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.” (Isaiah 25:1)
It was with great joy that President Grassmid welcomed one new minister into the SCC. Rev. Randy Klynsma, former pastor at Northland RCUS, Kansas City, MO (Covenant East Classis), was received by the SCC. Rev. Klynsma received a call from St. John’s RCUS, Lincoln, NE, earlier this year to serve as missionary to the newly formed Omaha Reformed Church, Omaha, NE. Rev. Klynsma accepted their call and was installed on March 20, 2016, as associate pastor at St. John’s, serving as missionary to the Omaha area.
The next item on the agenda was the reading of Parochial Reports by each Minister of the Word. Article 81 of the RCUS Constitution reads as follows: “At the spring meeting every pastor shall present a written parochial and full statistical report, and every minister, though without a charge, a report of his labors. If unable to be present, he shall forward his report to the Stated Clerk three days before the meeting. The parochial report shall contain a full account of the spiritual and temporal condition of the charge and of the labors of the pastor, the President or any member of the Classis shall ask the pastor and the elder such questions as may be requisite to elicit additional information.”
The reading of Parochial Reports was a time of reflection upon the faithfulness of our covenant God as we heard how the ministers and elders of the SCC are being faithful in their respective congregations to ensure that “the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein;” and that “it maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ;” that “church discipline is exercised in chastening of sin;” and “all things are managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto rejected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the Church” (Belgic Confession, Article 29).
The number of communicant members within the bounds of the SCC has increased this past year by 1%, and giving has also increased from last year. May the Lord be pleased to continue building His church as represented in the RCUS, and may the people of God grow in their desire to honor the Lord with all of their possessions, which they have received from our benevolent God to steward for His honor, glory, and praise. Order of the day was called by the president at 10:30 PM.
Business resumed at 8:00 AM on Tuesday morning with Scripture reading, singing a hymn (“Jesus with Thy Church Abide”), and prayer offered to the Lord. The next item on the agenda was the continuation of Parochial Reports. Due to cancer treatment, Dr. C.W. Powell was not physically able to attend the SCC meeting. However, his son, Rev. Matthew Powell, was asked to read Dr. Powell’s report. The things that stood out in the mind of this writer as regards Dr. Powell’s report were the following: his faithfulness to Christ, the Gospel, the Church, his wife, his family, his brothers in the RCUS, the Three Forms of Unity, New Geneva Seminary, his congregation, and his uncompromising zeal for the Word of God. The Lord has granted Dr. Powell a great mind and a hearty faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, which exudes in godly assurance, faithful living, joyful fellowship, and loving devotion to God and men. I think the verse that so encapsulated Dr. Powell’s report was Romans 14:7-9: “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.”
After the morning coffee break, Rev. Darrell Kingswood gave an excellent devotion entitled, “The Devotional Life of one Pastor.” Rev. Kingswood simply described the method he uses in his daily devotion and how he incorporates the Word of God, the Three Forms of Unity, hymns from the Trinity Hymnal, and New Morning Mercies by Dr. Paul David Tripp. By the way, let me commend Dr. Tripp’s book to all those who read this report. It is Biblical, lucid, and a heart stirring daily devotional.
The next item on the agenda was the constitutional questions asked of each delegate elder concerning the particular church in which he serves. Article 81 of the RCUS Constitution states that “The President shall then address the following questions to each elder:
1. Are the doctrines of the Gospel preached in your charge in their purity, agreeably to the Word of God?
2. Is careful attention given to the instruction of the youth for confirmation, the reception of members into the Church, and the Christian nurture of the members?
3. In providing spiritual nurture for the congregation:
a. Is visitation faithfully performed?
b. Is Christian discipline faithfully exercised according to the Constitution?
4. Are the sacraments of Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper properly administered in accordance with the Constitution?
5. In providing for the furtherance of Christian stewardship:
a. Are the apportionments for the Classis paid according to the Guidelines for Giving?
b. Are these monies sent promptly to the Classis treasurer?
c. Are the apportionments for the Synod paid according to the Guidelines for Giving?
d. Are these monies sent promptly to the Synod treasurer?
6. Are the Church records properly kept?
7a. Is the temporal contract between minister and people fulfilled in your charge?
7b. Is the temporal contract between minister and people adequate to meet his temporal needs?”
The word “yes” was the predominant answer given by each of the elder delegates to the constitutional questions at this year’s SCC Meeting. It was very encouraging to hear that the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ is being carried on in a faithful manner in the churches within the bounds of the SCC. Nevertheless, there’s always room for improvement as we continue in this pilgrimage to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us never forget the slogan of the Reformation: Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda (The Church Reformed, Always Reforming).
The Standing Committees of the SCC conducted their particular business. As is usual, at the reporting of each particular committee, there was dialog back and forth by the delegates in order to be as precise and accurate as possible regarding the wording and the decision made. This is an important aspect of the work of Classis since words have meaning. Therefore, it’s important to choose the most accurate words in order to convey the most accurate thought regarding the decisions of the Classis. Our God is a precise God and, therefore, as those who reflect His image we ought to strive to be as precise and accurate as possible for God’s glory and the good of the church. Ambiguity in doctrine is the playground of Satan. As Dr. Michael Horton once stated: “Evangelicalism as a movement is rushing headlong toward theological ambiguity, which is another way of saying apostasy.”
Dr. Maynard Koerner then gave his report concerning the professor’s labors at Heidelberg Theological Seminary, Sioux Falls, SD. He also reported on the present status of HTS students, those auditing classes, distant learning students, and future guest speakers at HTS.
In Dr. C.W. Powell’s parochial report, he made mention of his ongoing labors and the progress of New Geneva Seminary at Colorado Springs, CO. Dr. Powell occupies his time with a very busy teaching schedule even as he deals with declining health issues. Praise God for the professors at Heidelberg and New Geneva Seminaries for their unwavering commitment to Reformed Theology and their earnest desire to faithfully train up another army of faithful Reformed ministers to boldly take the Word of God to the ends of the earth, calling all men everywhere to repent of their sins and trust in the ONLY Savior, Jesus Christ! May God give us more men with the passionate desire to see Christ rule “as far as the curse is found.”
The 2016 South Central Classis Guideline for Giving is $96.39 per communicant member. The breakdown of expenses, per communicant, is listed below:
• Classical Expenses — $7.60
• Missions — $75.29
• Heidelberg Seminary — $7.50
• New Geneva Seminary — $6.00
The 2016 SCC was a great time of fellowship with God’s people. The hospitality of all the saints at Grace RCUS was wonderful and all the meals were excellent! Thank you very much to Rev. David Fagrey, the Consistory of Grace Reformed Church, and the Grace congregation who blessed us by hosting the SCC Classis Meeting. Their diligent service and loving hospitality made this year’s SCC Meeting a joyful event.
“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). May God continue to richly bless the RCUS with Ministers, Elders, and members who are faithful, above all things, to the Word of the Lord, and who also hold steadfast to the Three Forms of Unity so that we all might continually confess the same thing.
Rev. Scott Henry
Box. God has richly blessed the RCUS with faithful ministers and elders who are unwilling to compromise in any area of the Scriptures or the Confessions of the Church.