URCNA Classis Pacific Northwest: New candidate, songbook overture

When Classis Pacific Northwest met on October 18, it unanimously sustained Angelo Contreras as a candidate for ministry in the URCNA and passed an overture of recommendations for the federation’s Songbook Committee.

Classis met at Trinity URC in Visalia, CA, with elder Paul Scharold (Grace URC; Kennewick, WA) serving as Chairman and Rev. Chris Gordon (Lynden URC; Lynden, WA) as Vice-Chairman.

Mr. Contreras is a 2011 graduate of Westminster Seminary California under the supervision of Zion URC in Ripon, CA, where he served a 12-week internship this summer. Rev. Kevin Efflandt reports that he “very capably served” the internship and was “very well-received” by the congregation.

“From personal experience, I know that taking a candidacy exam is a grueling process and one that is quite stressful, particularly in the days right before the exam,” says Rev. Efflandt. “But Angelo did fantastic and gave a wonderful account of himself.”

Although Angelo grew up in a Christian home, he rebelled during his high school years and stopped attending church. While in college, he was convicted of his sin and returned to church. He began leading Bible studies for small groups, high school youth, and young adults. Following his college graduation college, Angelo became a Bible teacher at a Christian high school. His regular study of God’s Word led him to question some things being taught in his church.

“During my studying of the Bible I came to see that some of the teachings of my Evangelical church did not compare well with the Bible,” he says. “This led me to seek another church.”

His search eventually led him to Zion URC, where he says he grew “in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.” Zion’s ministers and elders recognized his desire for scripture study and teaching as well as his love for God’s people. They advised him to attend seminary and rejoiced at Classis to see the fruition of his study.

“We were very thankful to witness the Lord’s work of grace in Angelo’s life and to see the fruit of his training at Westminster Seminary,” says Rev. Efflandt. “We believe that he has all the gifts needed to serve in the gospel ministry and pray that the Lord would direct him to where He would have Angelo serve.”

Angelo & Trista Contreras

Angelo and his wife, Trista, have been married for five years and are expecting their first child early in November. They also wait the Lord’s timing on a call to ministry.

“My prayer is that I would be called to a church where I can serve the congregation with my gifts and talents,” Angelo says.

As URCNA churches approached the October 31, 2011, deadline for submitting overtures to the Songbook Committee, many Classes dealt with such overtures and Classis Pacific Northwest was no exception.

New Covenant URC in Twin Falls, ID submitted a comprehensive five-part overture.

The first section of the overture included a list of hymns from the 1959 blue Psalter Hymnal as well as grounds for adding them to the URCNA Hymn Proposal (HP).

The second section listed hymns currently in the HP along with specific grounds for the removal of each one.

The third section listed grounds and suggested hymns, primarily from the new Trinity Hymnal, that should be added to the HP.

The fourth section proposed reverting to original language to avoid “troublesome” gender neutrality as well as significant “modernizations” that “have not only hindered our familiarity with the great hymns of our faith, but…have also inadvertently diminished the quality of the poetry.”

The fifth and final section of the overture asked that stanzas omitted from the HP be added back into it. This would avoid “gaps” in the expressed “thought or doctrine” as well as omissions of some “beautiful stanzas” known by the congregations. The ground concludes: “We find these omissions unnecessary and detrimental to the Hymn Proposal.”

The overture was adopted and sent on to the Songbook Committee for review.

The next meeting of Classis Pacific Northwest was set for April 10-11, 2012, in Kennewick, WA, with Grace URC as the convening consistory.

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on page 12 of the November 16, 2011 issue of Christian Renewal.

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