Report on the Meeting of South Central Classis

Elder Earl Starks

The spring meeting of South Central Classis was called to order by President Rev. Jon Blair in Limon, CO, on March 18. Due to space considerations the classis met in the United Methodist building. In order to make time for an examination the meeting time on Monday began at 3:00 pm. Roll call showed a quorum of 13 ministers and 11 elders present.

President Blair gave a brief meditation on Romans 1:1–17. Election of officers proceeded with the following results: President: Rev. Jon Blair, Vice-President: Rev. Matt Powell, Clerk: Rev. George Horner, Treasurer: Elder Scott Velgersdyk.

Visitors to classis included Elders Kevin Schnabel, John Frey, and Dennis Schnabel of Grace Reformed Church in Mitchell, South Dakota; OPC delegate Rev. Leonard Coppes from the Presbytery of the Dakotas; Rev. Ryan Kampen of the Canadian and American Reformed Churches; and Rev. David Reese and Elder Shawn Stickel, fraternal delegates from the Midwest Presbytery of the RPCNA. Rev. Scott Henry was welcomed back into the SCC as he begins his labors in the Omaha, NE, mission work.

President Blair prefaced his report with a quote from Ecclesiastes 3:1. “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” In light of this scripture he spoke of how last year had been a time of relative peace and calm and that this year had brought more challenges. Several of our classis churches have lost families from their rolls. Though some were due to work-related moves, some apparently were out of a sense of dissatisfaction. In contrast we heard expressions of the joy of new members in discovering the Reformed faith. President Blair also reported that giving to the Lord’s work is up by about 11 percent over last year, and that there is a slight increase in baptized membership. He spoke of his concern for the relatively small number of adult baptisms over the past 20 years and suggested that we think, pray about, and discuss the possible reasons. The president also reported that Heidelberg and New Geneva Theological Seminaries continue to train men for the ministry including Tim Marinelli and Jim Connelly. Prayer was requested for the Marinelli’s son who recently suffered a prolonged high fever. Rev. Blair gave thanks for God’s sustaining of Rev. Bud Powell, Rev. Howard Hart, and Rev. George Syms in their physical afflictions. Rev. Syms is now “unretired” and pastoring at Covenant Reformed Church in Watertown, SD. President Blair closed his report with the reading of Heidelberg Catechism Q28.

The classis has approved two new mission works. Christ Reformed Church (chapel) in Casper, WY, under Rev. Matt Powell, is up and running. Attendance has been averaging about 40 and the work seems to be going well. Installation of Rev. Matt Powell and RCUS Elder Greg Hager is planned for April 5 in Casper. The other new mission work is Heritage Reformed Church (chapel) in Omaha, NE under Rev. Scott Henry. They have been averaging 30 to 40 in attendance. The Limon, CO, mission has called Rev. Kevin Carroll to its pulpit. Rev. Carroll was sustained in his exam at classis and will be placed on the roll pending his dismission from the PCA.

The parochial reports reminded us of our similar challenges and affirmed our one common faith. The marks of the true church are still being proclaimed and practiced with church discipline being necessary and important, but difficult to do well. A continuing love for God’s people was evidenced by the pastors in their reports, and they expressed thanksgiving to God for His faithfulness.

The worship service on Monday evening was conducted by Rev. Maynard Koerner. Rev. Kevin Carroll, candidate for licensure, preached a sermon on Exodus 2:11–22 entitled “Faithfully Serving God Means¼“ Rev. Robert Grossmann led a devotional on Tuesday morning using the text of 1 Corinthians 1:1–9.

The Classis, by way of Executive Circular, had earlier approved the resignation that was mutually agreed upon by Rev. McGee and the Grace Reformed, Mitchell, SD, Consistory and had dissolved that pastoral relationship. Reconciliation following this trying situation between the involved parties was affirmed at Classis. At the Classis meeting, after discussion in executive session, a Special Committee on Pastoral Relations was established with a mandate to study and answer the following questions in a report to the 2013 Classis meeting:

1. Does a minister have the right to refuse to perform a service/vow/job based on an objection of conscience?

2. Does Article 31 allow for a spiritual council to ask for another minister to officiate in the charge, or can it only be done with the permission of the minister?

3. What responsibility do minsters who are officiating in another man’s charge have to insure peace and tranquility in said charge?

4. When a spiritual council and a minister reach an “irreconcilable incompatibility,” what Constitutional options are available to them in addition to the Article 30 resignation?

In other business, classis approved the call of Rev. Ron Morris to Grace Reformed Church in Mitchell, SD. Rev. Morris will be leaving Trinity Reformed Church in Sioux Falls, SD. Classis also approved Rev. Michael McGee’s request to labor outside the boundaries of classis.

Rev. Matt Powell read his interchurch relations report and encouraged the fostering of these relations as they are enriching and helpful in communications between Reformed churches. The recent efforts in Casper, WY, were an example of harmonious working together to bring the gospel to that community.

The Heidelberg Youth Camp committee asked the churches in the classis to consider donating food and other items to the camp to help keep the cost down. The theme for the camp this year is “Called to Worship,” and teaching will include the various aspects of the worship service.

A word about the hospitality and food at Limon: “Outstanding!” starting with the delicious beef brisket right down to the huge variety of yummy pies. We were fed and cared for with the kind of Christian hospitality that God’s Word commends. Thanks to all the saints in Limon, CO, for the Christian love shown to the body.

Elder Earl Starks, Providence RCUS, Rock Springs, WY
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