Classis Michigan declares URCNA candidate

Arjen Vreugdenil
Arjen Vreugdenhil

When Classis Michigan of the URCNA met on October 11, 2016, the primary item on the agenda was the candidacy examination of Arjen Vreugdenhil. According to Classis Clerk Greg Lubbers, delegates took most of the day to conduct a through exam before determining “without dissent” that Mr. Vreugdenhil had sustained all sections of the examination.

“I questioned Arjen in Bible Knowledge, and he was exceptional,” said Rev. Matthew Nuiver, pastor of Faith URC in West Olive, MI, “and he was just that through the rest of the exam as well.”

Because Vreugdenhil graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary, Mike Deckinga (representing the Seminary at Classis as its Vice-President of Advancement) was an interested observer. “Arjen readily provided answers to the many questions that were asked of him, making evident his love for Christ and his desire to serve him as a minister of the Word,” he said. “I was thankful to witness this event and I join, with many others, in prayer that God will make clear His will for Arjen and his family.”

While the Vreugdenhil family awaits God’s will regarding a pastoral call, they remain living in Lansing, IL, where Arjen is teaching at Lansing Christian School.

“This period of waiting is exciting, as we look forward to what the Lord has in store,” he said. “It is also a bit unsatisfactory to just sit tight and wait. I am glad I have work for the next few months; but even though I enjoy teaching, I am looking forward to fulfill my calling in the ministry, for which I have been preparing in the past several years.”

Arjen taught at the middle and high school levels in the Netherlands prior to arriving in the US to marry Jodi in 2001. He taught physics at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI, for nine years before attending Mid-America.

Rev. Tuinstra questions Arjen

During his seminary years, the family grew to include three young sons and the Vreugdenhils’ membership remained at Bethel URC in Jenison, MI (the church that requested his candidacy exam). Pastor Wm. Jason Tuinstra explained that the distance between church and seminary was not that great and didn’t preclude continuing supervision and support.

“Early on in Arjen’s seminary education, the consistory stayed in contact with the professors at Mid-America to give their input about his progress,” he said. Elders visited with Arjen at the Seminary and in his home as well as when he returned to the Grand Rapids area. “He also provided pulpit supply for us on numerous occasions, which has given the consistory a chance to observe his progress. Besides this encouragement and oversight, our council was very faithful to make sure that his physical needs were met.”

At its October meeting, Classis Michigan also conducted routine matters and offered advice on discipline cases. Delegates heard reports from Trinity, Dutton, and Eastmanville URCs, evidencing what Clerk Lubbers called “the on-going work of the Lord” in those churches.

“The reports emphasized the continual building of the Kingdom of God through the faithful preaching of the gospel and the proper administration of the sacraments,” he wrote. “In addition, the healthy organic life of these respective congregations was noted as displayed in the various societies, studies, and activities.”

Bethany URC in Wyoming, MI, hosted the 48th meeting of Classis, with Rev. Casey Freswick serving as chairman and Rev. Mike Schout as vice-chairman. Grace URC was scheduled to convene the next meeting on March 14, 2017.

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on page 11 of the November 30, 2016, issue of Christian Renewal


Candidacy exams dominate the agenda at URCNA’s Classis Central US

church interiorAttending the September meeting of Classis Central US of the URCNA was a genuine blast from the past. It reminded many older folks of childhood Sundays, when summer services were made more comfortable with whirling wall fans. But the past was only a memory as office-bearers looked to the future by examining two men as prospective ministers in Christ’s church.

Those two examinations were the primary matters of business when delegates met at First URC in Oak Lawn, IL, on September 9 & 10, 2013. It was the first time Classis Central US met in the historic and beautiful (if not air-conditioned) building.

Although from very different backgrounds, Pablo Landázuri and Robert Van der Woerd are both graduates of Mid-America Reformed Seminary (Robert in 2012 and Pablo in 2013) who share a burden to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Pablo grew up in a nominal Roman Catholic home, but first heard the gospel when he began attending a Presbyterian church. He said, “One particular day I had a huge conviction of sin and I knew my only hope was the Lord Jesus Christ.” He eventually felt compelled to enter the ministry, but it was almost five years before God paved the way for him to attend Mid-America.

Robert was raised in a Reformed home, but his faith didn’t become real to him until late in his teen years. “I came more and more to realize it was time to confess sin and take my faith seriously,” he said. While pursuing a business degree, he felt a strong sense that he would not be content doing anything other than preaching. He entered seminary after his college graduation.

Pablo and Verenisse and their three sons are members of Faith URC in Beecher, IL, but currently live in Pella where he is serving a one-year internship at Covenant Reformed Church (URC). He hopes to return to Ecuador next year to work with his former pastor in preaching the Word and establishing Reformed congregations.

Robert and Rachel and their two sons are members of Lynwood URC in Lynwood, IL, but have been living in Sioux Falls, SD, where he served a summer internship with Rev. Spencer Aalsburg at the Sioux Falls URC Fellowship. Robert hopes for a call to a congregation within the URCNA.

exam-IpemaOn Monday evening, delegates evaluated sermons of each man during executive session, open only to office-bearers. Then Rev. Paul Ipema examined the men concurrently in the area of Practica, dealing with their Christian commitment and personal life.

The exams continued on Tuesday morning when Rev. Jody Lucero quizzed the men regarding Bible Knowledge. Prior to Rev. Bradd Nymeyer examining them in Biblical Exegesis (translating original languages), a motion was made to suspend classical rules in order to question the men individually. Following that section, Rev. Dan Donovan conducted the portion of the exam on Church Polity, which deals with ecclesiastical rules and procedures.

Before the lunch break, a motion was passed to reduce the length of the Confessional Knowledge and Church History sections from 60 minutes to 45 minutes in order to allow the exams to conclude by approximately 5:30.

After the lunch break, a motion was made to suspend the classical rules in order to schedule the spring meeting in early March rather than in April of 2014. The rationale was that this would allow Classis to table the four overtures on this meeting’s docket and discuss them at the next meeting, which would still be prior to the deadline for Synod 2014. The motion to suspend passed.

The first part of the afternoon was devoted to Confessional Knowledge with Rev. Todd De Rooy and Reformed Doctrine with Rev. Paul Ipema. In the second part of the afternoon, Rev. Spencer Aalsburg questioned the men regarding their knowledge of Church History. The exams concluded with Rev. Matthew Nuiver examining the men on the important subject of Ethics.

All delegates discussed the examinations in executive session, and the consistories of Faith URC in Beecher, IL, and Lynwood URC in Lynwood, IL, met for discussion during the evening break. Again in executive session, the consistories reported their determinations to the entire assembly, which then voted on each area by ballot. Later it was announced that Mr. Landázuri had sustained his examinations in six and Mr. Van der Woerd in two of the eight areas. The men need undergo exams in only the unsustained areas and will have to opportunity to do so at a future Classis meeting.

Gray-church exteriorLate in the evening, delegates provided pastoral advice to three churches seeking counsel and elected several men to serve in various classical and federational roles. The four overtures on the agenda were tabled indefinitely. Redeemer URC of Orange City, IA, will serve as the convening consistory for Classis Central’s March 3 & 4, 2014, meeting.

Although the heat was a key feature of meeting during days of record-breaking temperatures, the members of First URC overcame the high temperature with their warm hospitality. They worked hard to provide delicious food and plenty of cool water to refresh delegates and promote the fellowship that transcends physical discomfort.

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on pages 14 & 15 of the October 2, 2013, issue of Christian Renewal.