URCNA Classis Central US: Church planting–good news, bad news

For Classis Central US of the URCNA, the second half of September contained church planting good news and bad news. Classis Central rejoiced as it took a step forward in church planting with the establishment of its official Church Planting Advice Committee at its meeting on September 10-11, 2012, at Oak Glen URC in Lansing, IL. But Classis grieved an apparent step backward during the following week, when the Covenant URC church plant in Prinsburg, MN, dissolved.

Classis designated Immanuel URC in DeMotte, IN, as overseeing consistory for its newly established Church Planting Advice Committee and appointed the following five men to the Committee: Rev. Spencer Aalsburg (Chairman; Hills URC, Hills, MN), Rev. Jody Lucero (Clerk; Providence URC, Des Moines, IA), Elder Dave Buursma (Redeemer URC, Dyer, IN), Elder Grant Diekevers (Cornerstone URC, Sanborn, IA), and Rev. Tom Wetselaar (Immanuel URC, DeMotte, IN).

The decision to dissolve the Covenant URC church plant in Prinsburg was made subsequent to this meeting of Classis and related to matters discussed at it.

Covenant URC’s minister, Rev. Larry Johnson, had accepted a teaching position at a school in Michigan only a few days prior to Classis. Due to the short amount of time the supervising consistory, Cornerstone URC in Sanborn, IA, had to deal with the matter, Classis did not grant concurring advice regarding the handling of his ministerial credentials. After extensive discussion, Classis encouraged Cornerstone to continue working with Rev. Johnson toward a pastoral and procedurally appropriate solution.

On September 12 (one day after Classis had concluded), the congregation of the Covenant church plant in Prinsburg met to discuss options regarding their future. The Steering Committee proposed the church plant’s dissolution. The congregation agreed by vote with that proposal. The consistory of Cornerstone URC in Sanborn then voted to proceed with the decision to dissolve. Rev. Dan Donovan led the final worship service for the Covenant group on September 16. The approximately 25 members of the former church plant now must find new church homes.

The Prinsburg group began meeting in the fall of 2008 and Rev. Larry Johnson was called to the work that November. The group’s first worship service was held on January 18, 2009. The group met for worship at Central Minnesota Christian School in Prinsburg, a small rural community of approximately 450 people, located about 120 miles straight west of Minneapolis.

During Classis Central’s September meeting, delegates also discussed an overture from Oak Glen URC to add a new article to the Church Order regarding lapsed members. Because there were differences of opinion regarding the issue and how to deal with it, the overture was tabled indefinitely.

Classis Central US appointed an alternate to the federational Mission Committee and appointed both a representative and an alternate to the URCNA Songbook Committee. Delegates additionally provided advice to four churches regarding discipline matters.

Representatives reported on the work of CERCU, CECCA, the URCNA Missions Committee, and the Classis Website Oversight Consistory. Rev. John Vermeer reported on his church’s ecumenical efforts, noting his plans for a teaching trip to Latvia and Rev. Mark Vander Hart’s work among Reformed churches there. Classis also heard updates on church plants and the work of Chaplain Andrew Sprinsma, currently in Germany. Rev. Nathan Brummel reported on his work with Divine Hope Reformed Seminary in the Danville Correctional Institution. Fraternal delegates Rev. George Horner of the RCUS and Rev. Alan Strange of the OPC were present at Classis Central.

Lynwood URC is scheduled to host the next meeting of Classis on April 15, 2013.

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on page 12 of the October 2, 2012, issue of Christian Renewal.

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