The weather outside was freezing but the welcome and hospitality provided to the delegates of the 29th Classis Meeting of Covenant East Classis by the congregation at Peace Reformed Church in Garner, Iowa, could not have been warmer or of better quality and kindness. We were well-fed, greeted with kindness, and treated as royalty. We do once again want to express our deep appreciation to the host church.
It has become our custom to meet on the evening before our Classis meets for a time of fellowship. This year we met together on Monday evening with an informative lecture entitled, “Lessons from Titus on how to Connect Faith and Faithfulness” given by Reverend Jeff DeBoer, a former pastor at Garner. This was followed by a time of discussion which proved to be most helpful and encouraging to all in attendance. We would also point out that not only were the delegates in attendance but we were most pleased that several members from the congregation joined with us for this discussion.
The next morning, our Classis began with a devotional brought to us by Rev. Klynsma, pastor at Northland Reformed Church in Kansas City, MO. He spoke from Psalm 91, asking, “Is This Too Good To Be True?, or Is This What True Faith Believes?”. The message brought to our hearts and minds the joy we have in God who is our refuge and strength at all times.
Roll call showed nineministers present with Pastor Kron not able to attend and eight elders present with the elder from Northwest Arkansas not able to attend due to an ice storm. As a side note, I would point out that it can be noted that last year Rev. Kron was absent due to the upcoming birth of a child to be born to them and this year we missed his presence due to a death in the congregation. I could not help but to think how Job gave witness that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, but at all times we are to say with Job, blessed be the name of the Lord.
We had as a guest the fraternal delegate from Classis Niagara of the Canadian Reformed Churches, the Reverend John VanWoudenberg who was seated in the bar of the house and given the privilege of the floor. Later in the day we were blessed, at the appropriate time, when he gave greetings from his church and shared with us words of encouragement. Also we had the privilege of having a fellow minister from South Central Classis, Rev. Mike McGee, who is now living in Grand Rapids, present with us who was seated in the Bar of the House and given the privilege of the floor.
Election of officers followed with Rev. Randall Klynsma being re-elected to serve as president, Rev. Dan Schnabel was re-elected to serve as vice president. Rev. Kyle Sorensen was re-elected as clerk, notifying us that this would be his last year to serve in this capacity, in which he has done an excellent job. Then with thankfulness for all the faithful work he does for our classis, Elder Jim Drewswas re-elected to serve as Classis Treasurer.
During the morning session a special order of the day was called in which we met with the elders of the Sovereign Grace Church of Gettysburg, PA, where Pastor Jay Fluck is filling the pulpit. They are, as a congregation, considering becoming a member church in the RCUS. There are still some issues that have kept this from taking place. Elder Les Morton read a prepared statement to enlighten us with their concerns. The purpose of our time of discussion with them was to see if these issues could be resolved. The discussion was frank and friendly. We responded to their concerns expressing our appreciation for their ruling elders taking time to come to our Classis meeting and expressing their desires and concerns. We assured them that our desire is that such differences may in the near future be fully dealt with and that in time they may become a part of the RCUS.
The Parochial reports were given by our pastors. It was encouraging to hear of the blessing and challenges that come to us our ministries. Some of the reports included problems that we as God’s people face. All of which made us all aware that we are the church victorious and at the same time the church militant, that is, the church that is also engaged in a continuous warfare. Interspersed between the reports was a time of prayer wherein we offered up fervent petitions to God for one another in our several ministries and for the congregations of our several churches that God might bless by granting growth and encouragement by bestowing His continued grace, mercy and blessings upon our churches.
Reverend Klynsma gave the President’s Report reflecting on the blessings and issues that have affected our churches over the past year, which report may be read in full in this issue of the Reformed Herald.
We received the report of the installation of Reverend Ryan Kron as pastor of Emmaus Road Reformed Church of Eden Prairie, Minnesota. We rejoiced together that God has blessed this recently received mission work as a church of Covenant East Classis.
Worship Service was held Tuesday evening with the Peace Reformed congregation of Garner, Iowa. Rev. Wes Brice led the service with Rev. Ronald Potter bringing a message from Matthew 7:13-29 entitled, “The Peril of Self-Deception”, challenging us to make our calling and election sure.
Business was resumed the next morning with the reports of the standing committees with their recommendations as they were read and approved. Regarding Examination and Licensure, a motion was passed asking that the permanent committee be more proactive in proving oversight for our students under care. Also the standing committees for the coming year were approved.
For the morning devotion, Reverend Jim Sawtelle, filling in for Reverend Kron who was not able to attend, brought a devotional study from Ecclesiastes 7:13-18 titled, “Consider the Work of God in Crooked Things”, which gave encouragement to all who are undergoing conflicts and trials in life situations.
All of us, your writer included, were hoping to be done before noon, but one order of business brought a good amount of discussion, and after a motion to adjourn to the completion of business we were able to be on our ways by soon after the lunch hour. A closing devotion was brought by Elder Anderson of the Garner congregation. In all it was a fruitful and blessed time of business and fellowship. We were well-hosted by the Garner church with good food and lodging. So I close this report with special thanks to the members of Peace Reformed Church of Garner Iowa in behalf of all the delegates who enjoyed their kind hospitality.
Rev. Wesley Brice, Rogers, AR