2.4 The Classis

SECTION 4. The Classis

ARTICLE 76. A Classis consists of the ministers residing within a district designated by the Synod and of the elders delegated by the pastoral charges situated within these limits, and has jurisdiction over said ministers and pastoral charges.

ARTICLE 77. A Classis shall embrace at least three pastoral charges and as many ordained ministers. It shall meet regularly in the spring and may also meet regularly in the fall each year at such time and place as it may designate. Three ministers and two delegated elders regularly convened shall constitute a quorum.

ARTICLE 78. Each pastoral charge shall be represented in Classis by its pastor or pastors and one delegated elder; or, if the charge is without a pastor, by a delegated elder.

ARTICLE 79. 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.

ARTICLE 80. The President shall perform all the duties of his office as defined by the Rules of Order. Immediately after the election of officers, he shall define the Bar of the House, and appoint the Standing Committees of Classis, which shall present their reports as soon as possible. The reports of the Committees on Minutes of Classis, Minutes of Synod, and on Overtures shall exhibit those items which claim the attention of the Classis.

ARTICLE 81. 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 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 Statistical Report shall be prepared according to the form approved by the Synod. If a charge is without a pastor, the Consistory or Joint Consistory shall furnish the parochial and statistical reports. The President of the Executive Committee of Classis shall annually submit a report to the Classis on the state of the church, making use of the parochial reports.

At the fall meeting the Classis shall give special attention to the work of the denomination.

ARTICLE 82. In every Classis is vested the power to examine and license applicants for the ministry, to ordain licentiates, to constitute or dissolve pastoral relations, to receive and dismiss ministers and licentiates, to depose or otherwise discipline, according to his desert, a member of its own body, and to reinstate a minister whom it has suspended or deposed, when trustworthy evidence of repentance and reformation appears.

The Classis shall give necessary attention to the education of pious men for the Gospel ministry, and to the cause of missions; it shall diligently prosecute the work of missions through its Permanent Home Missions Committee, whose rules and procedures shall not conflict with those of Synod.

ARTICLE 83. Classis shall have access to all congregational records, according to the provisions of Articles 66 and 75 of this Constitution, and shall hear and decide all cases of reference, complaint and appeal, as well as all questions respecting ministers or their congregation which may arise within its jurisdiction and are regularly brought before it, such as organizing new congregations, determining boundaries of congregations and charges, deciding controversies between congregations or charges, forming, reconstructing, or dissolving charges, as may be requested or as Classis may deem expedient. Classis, however, shall exercise its right of dividing or reconstructing a charge or charges only after having counseled with the Consistories or Joint Consistories of the charges involved, and such action shall require a two-thirds vote of Classis.

ARTICLE 84. An ordained minister or a licentiate shall not be received by Classis until he has presented a regular certificate of dismission from the Classis to which he belongs. The reception of a minister from another denomination shall not be final until it is confirmed by Synod.

ARTICLE 85. An ordained minister or a licentiate shall be amenable to the Classis that dismissed him and his name shall be retained on its roll until he shall have been received by the Classis to which he has been dismissed. The dismission of an ordained minister at once annuls any previous appointment or election of him, by Classis, as a member of a committee, or as a delegate to Synod.

ARTICLE 86. A Classis dismissing an ordained minister or a licentiate shall specify in its minutes the particular Classis or other denomination to which he is dismissed; and in receiving a minister or a licentiate, it shall in like manner specify the particular Classis or other denomination from which he has been received. A certificate of dismission shall be valid for only one year from its date.

ARTICLE 87. A Classis shall not refuse to receive an ordained minister or a licentiate dismissed to it by another Classis unless there are manifest grounds of objection against his doctrine or morals, in which case the certificate of dismission shall be returned to the Classis, with a specific statement of the grounds of objection; whereupon, the Classis shall take these objections into consideration, and if it finds no sufficient reason to change its action the whole question shall be referred to Synod for decision. When an ordained minister or a licentiate is received by any Classis, it shall at once give official notice of his reception to the Classis that dismissed him.

ARTICLE 88. Whenever a minister or a licentiate willfully neglects to attend the annual meetings of his Classis and fails to report to it, he renders himself liable to suspension from office; and Classis shall at once cite him to trial and proceed in his case according to the Constitution of the Church. This article does not apply to honorably retired ministers.

ARTICLE 89. A Classis at its first meeting after the Minutes of the Synod have been distributed, shall take action on all matters referred; and also on all ordinances and constitutional amendments approved by the Synod and sent down to the Classis for adoption or rejection; and shall report its action to the next stated meeting of the Synod.

ARTICLE 90. A special meeting of Classis may be called at any time by the President; and at the written request of three ministers and three delegate elders, specifying the particular business to be transacted, he shall call such a meeting. The party or parties for whose benefit it is called, as determined by the Executive Committee prior to the call, shall pay the expenses incurred. At least two weeks before the time of such meeting the Stated Clerk shall notify the members by circular of the time and place of meeting, and the items of business properly before the body. In case of the death or removal of the President, or if the business to be transacted implicates him, the power of calling the meeting is vested in the Stated Clerk. If either of these contingencies should exist with respect to the Stated Clerk also, two ministers and two elders, members of the Classis, may call the meeting.

ARTICLE 91. A Classis at its spring meeting shall appoint its President, Stated Clerk and one other of its members an Executive Committee, of which the President shall be chairman. This Committee shall represent Classis during the interval between meetings; and in all cases when between the parties concerned there is no question at issue, and in which at least two weeks notice of the proposed action has been given in writing by the President to every member of Classis and written objection to said action has not been made to any member of the committee nor a special meeting of Classis demanded; the Committee shall have power to dissolve a pastoral relation, to dismiss or receive a minister or a licentiate, to confirm a call, to appoint a committee to ordain a licentiate and install a pastor; to permit a minister or a licentiate to minister as a regular supply of vacant congregations, and to authorize the organization of new congregations. It shall also be the duty of this Committee to counsel with and advise the Consistory and Spiritual Council of a vacant charge, to aid the Consistory in securing a pastor, and to assist a minister in obtaining a suitable field of labor. This Committee shall also serve as advisors in the amicable adjustment of disputes in the administration of the affairs of the congregations or charges. The Committee shall, at the close of the year, present a full report of its acts and proceedings to Classis for information and incorporation in its minutes. Classis shall pay the necessary expenses of this Committee.

ARTICLE 92. The Stated Clerk shall have charge of the books and papers of Classis, and shall issue all its official documents, signed by himself and the President, with the seal of Classis affixed. At least thirty days before the annual meeting of Classis he shall furnish every pastor with a copy of the blank form of the statistical report. He shall transmit to Synod at its annual meeting a certain copy of the minutes of all the meetings of Classis held during the year, in the form and order required by the rules of Synod. He shall furnish pastoral charges and individuals with a certified copy of any proceedings in which they are specially concerned. If Synod meets as a delegated body, he shall before its annual meeting furnish the Stated Clerk with credentials of the delegates, primarii and secundi, elected to represent Classis.

ARTICLE 93. On the dissolution of a Classis, the Synod shall have jurisdiction over its members and congregations, and shall transfer them to another Classis or other Classes. It shall have charge and control of the property of said dissolved Classis, if such charge and control does not conflict with the civil law, and shall determine any case of discipline begun by the Classis and not concluded.

ARTICLE 94. The Classes, through their respective Stated Clerks, shall make report at least annually to the Stated Clerk of the Synod of all licensures, ordinations, suspensions, depositions, dismissions, or erasures of names of ministers, together with the time and place; and in the case of the decease of a licentiate or a minister, his name and the time and place of decease.

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