According to Classis Eastern US Stated Clerk, Rev. Drew Eenigenburg, the effort culminated “three years of invitations and preparation by our fraternal relations committees.”
The cooperative effort began with the October 14, 2014, Semper Reformada Conference, “Practicing Biblical Ecumenicity: The Demand for Ecumenicity.” Speakers Rev. John Bouwers and Rev. Bill Boekestein represented the URCNA, while Dr. Alan Strange and Rev. Bill Shishko represented the OPC.
Rev. Shishko said, “One point made at the conference is that the increasing secularization of our culture, and the increasing opposition to the Christian faith will have its way of forcing us to work more closely together (just as it has done in Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt). God has his ways of bringing us together.”
The morning of October 15 began with a combined devotional service. Rev. Ross Graham, the OPC’s Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, and Rev. Richard J. Kuiken, Pompton Plains Reformed Bible Church (URCNA), led the service.
Rev. Jon W. Stevenson, Stated Clerk for the Presbytery of New Jersey, said, “The conference and the joint devotional are events that I hope can be duplicated in the not too distant future across the US.”
Delegates from the two federations conducted business in separate spaces within the same building, joining together for fellowship during breaks and meals.
“We conducted our business meetings under one roof to show our desire for close cooperation and even eventual organizational unity, but (for now) those meetings still take place in separate rooms,” explained Rev. Eenigenburg. “We hope this will be the first of many such coordinated meetings with the OPC.”
The initial item of business for Classis Eastern US was the candidacy examination of Mr. Andrew Knott. Andrew attended Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Mr. Knott sustained his exam and was declared a candidate for ministry in the URCNA. For some months, he has been serving the New Haven URC in Vermont.
“At this point we are waiting on the congregational vote to extend a call,” he said. “It seems as though God has been confirming me in this road to ministry, allowing me to graduate from Mid-America and then sustaining my candidacy exam. Now I wait for the external call. It has been a blessing to me to serve the people here in Vermont who go out of their way to love me and my family.”
Delegates also spent a significant amount of time discussing the work of the church planting committee, and re-affirmed Rev. Boekestein as the interim church planting coordinator for 2015. Classis agreed to support five seminarians. It also mandated the Fraternal Relations Committee to continue working with NAPARC denominations to plan joint meetings.
“I am very thankful to the Lord for the events of this past week,” Rev. Eenigenburg said. “There was serious discussion about how to join our two bodies into one church.”
The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on page 14 of the November 26, 2014, issue of Christian Renewal.