URCNA Classis Western Canada welcomes two pastors

greetingsClassis Western Canada met in a special session on April 7, 2017, in order to conduct colloquium doctums for two ministers. The consistory of Trinity Reformed Church of Lethbridge, AB, desired to call the two men to serve its congregation.

“This classis meeting was truly a joy to witness,” reported Stated Clerk Rev. James Roosma (Grace Reformed Church, Kelowna). “We thankfully moved quickly through the ordinary mandatory classis business in order to devote the vast majority of our time having a very good doctrinal conversation with the two brothers.”

The two examinees were Rev. John van Eyk, who has been serving the Tain/Fearn Associated Presbyterian Church (APC) in Scotland since September of 2008, and Rev. Thomas Albaugh, who recently retired after serving five years at the Redeemer OPC mission work in Pittsburgh, PA. Since September of 2016, Rev. Albaugh has been ministering to the Trinity congregation in Lethbridge.

Rev. Keith Davis (Bethel URC, Calgary) conducted the first half of the exam, questioning the ministers in the areas of practica, church polity, and ethics. Rev. Bill Pols (Orthodox Reformed Church, Edmonton) presided over the second half, examining the men regarding Reformed Doctrine and Confessional Knowledge.

“It was absolutely clear during the course of the these examinations,” wrote Rev. Roosma, ‘Rev. van Eyk and Rev. Albaugh’s commitment to the Christian faith and the 3 Forms of Unity was unwavering and their desire to serve Christ’s church in Lethbridge was for His glory alone.”

Each man successfully sustained his examination and will now serve Trinity as a Minister of the Word and Sacraments; however, according to Council Chairman, Lloyd Van Eeden Petersma, their roles will be different. Rev. van Eyk will function as the Senior Pastor and Rev. Albaugh will serve part-time as the Pastor of Congregational Life.

“As we are a large congregation with many older members, widows and widowers,” he explains, “Rev. Albaugh will focus much of his time visiting with these members as well as an active group of families and young people. This was something he did a great deal of as he served as an interim pastor and something that was very much appreciated.”

Rev. Albaugh and his wife, Martha, anticipated moving their household goods from Pittsburg to Lethbridge early in May. Rev. Albaugh, who was in the Christian Reformed Church for 12 years, believes the transition back to the continental confessions complements his ministry of the last few years and propels him into future service in the Lord’s kingdom.

“As an OPC minister, I have found the Dutch Reformed tradition to be a wonderful expression of the biblical faith,” he said. “The OPC and the URCNA have a fine working relationship together and a commitment to the preaching of a ‘Christ-centered Gospel’.” He described the move from the OPC’s Presbytery of Ohio to the URCNA’s Classis Western Canada as “smooth” and noted that “the leadership of both denominations has been a great encouragement to me and my family.”

Rev. van Eyk taught in Turkey at the beginning of May and planned to move in mid-June with his wife, Lucy, and six of their seven children. A married son, whose wife is expecting their first child, will remain with his family in Scotland for at least another year to finish his university education.

“I leave dear Christians in the Associated Presbyterian Church in Scotland, but I am excited to be ministering in the URCNA,” Rev. van Eyk said. “I was welcomed so warmly by the brothers at Classis Western Canada and the colloquium doctum demonstrated their commitment to the Word of God and their love for the Confessions. I am especially humbled and thrilled to be serving Trinity and have a real desire to proclaim Christ from his Word so that God might be glorified and enjoyed.”

Both pastors anticipated preaching for their first official Sunday at Trinity on June 25. Rev. Albaugh is a graduate of Westminster Seminary California, and Rev. van Eyk graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Prior to serving in Scotland, Rev. van Eyk pastored the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Cambridge, ON.

Classis Chairman Rev. Rich Anjema (Providence Reformed Church, Winnipeg), who now serves Providence Reformed Church in Winnipeg, became acquainted with Rev. van Eyk during the decade Rev. Anjema pastored Hope Reformed Church in Brampton.

“During those years, Rev. van Eyk was pastor of Riverside ARP in Cambridge. I don’t know the exact dates of his time there, but it overlapped my time in Ontario,” he said. “We had some natural connections since members of Hope Reformed and Riverside ARP were involved with what formerly was known as Cornerstone Bible Institute, which is now Redemption Prison Ministries.”

Trinity Reformed Church has been vacant since September of 2015. During that time, a variety of pastors provided pulpit supply. Mr. Van Eeden Petersma said, “In 2016 alone, we had 16 different ministers and four seminarians on our pulpit. We look back and quickly can see how the Lord has blessed us.”

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on pages 6 & 7 of the May 31, 2017, issue of Christian Renewal.

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Medicine Hat preaching station closes

Picture from Medicine Hat Community Profile at http://www.albertacommunityprofiles.com

After a six-month trial period, the consistory of Trinity Reformed Church (URCNA) in Lethbridge, AB, has decided to discontinue its preaching station effort in Medicine Hat.

The work began in September of 2012, primarily out of consideration for four families from the Medicine Hat area, who regularly drove two hours to worship in Lethbridge. It was identified as a “preaching station” because it duplicated Trinity’s worship services in another location. Trinity’s two ministers, Rev. Hank Van der Woerd and Rev. Wybren Oord, took turns preaching on most alternate Sundays with an elder reading a sermon once per month.

Newspaper and radio advertising, including broadcasts of R.C. Sproul’s Renewing Your Mind, failed to garner any additional members long-term.

“The original intent was to try this for six months,” explains Rev. Oord. “Three people came for a brief time, but didn’t come back.”

“After six months,” he adds, “it seemed the lack of response didn’t justify either continuing this format or going to the next level of installing a church planter.”

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared in the May 1, 2013, issue of Christian Renewal.

Lethbridge URC begins “preaching station”

On September 30, 2012, about 30 people attended the first worship service Trinity Reformed Church (URCNA) of Lethbridge, AB, held at a preaching station in Medicine Hat.

The term “preaching station” may be unfamiliar within United Reformed parlance, but it’s more familiar in Free Reformed dialogue. Trinity’s Rev. Hank Van der Woerd, who was in charge of three preaching stations at one time during his service as an elder in the Free Reformed Church (FRC) prior to attending seminary, explains “preaching station.”

“It means the consistory declaring a worship service in another town,” he says. “That’s what we call the model simply because we’re preaching there.”

“It’s distinctive from a church plant in that it duplicates Trinity’s services,” he adds. “We have a fairly thick umbilical cord to this thing.”

He and Trinity’s other pastor, Rev. Wybren Oord, travel alternate Sundays to Medicine Hat, usually with two elders but sometimes with a deacon and an elder. Medicine Hat is located east northeast of Lethbridge and the round trip consists of 368 km, nearly 230 miles.

“It’s about a two-hour drive one way,” says Rev. Oord. “We have just enough time to make it back to Lethbridge for the evening service.”

Trinity’s services in Lethbridge are at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. The services at 2080 Saamis Dr. NW in Medicine Hat are at 11:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Coffee for all and a lunch for travelers are served between services. About 20-25 people usually attend, primarily Trinity members up to this point.

The preaching station began at the request of four Trinity families, who live in the Medicine Hat area and have driven the distance to Lethbridge for as many as 12 years.

“After driving the long journey from Medicine Hat to Lethbridge for over a dozen years,” says Rev. Oord, “the families thought it was time to begin efforts for a solid Reformed church for the next generation.”

Rev. Van der Woerd explains that the cost of travel, rent, and advertising is far less than the expense of hiring a full-time church planter. Ads run in local newspapers. About a quarter of the monthly budget funds local broadcasts of R.C. Sproul’s Renewing Your Mind weekend radio program, with a tag inviting listeners to attend Trinity’s services at the Medicine Hat location. Multiple daily radio spots are planned to alert listeners to the services.

Trinity has made a six-month commitment to the preaching station.

“We hope the Spirit will send people our way,” says Rev. Van der Woerd. He reflects that these “full-blown worship services” seem “viable,” and if the work progresses past the trial period, Trinity has the “flexibility” of calling a minister or hiring a candidate to intern temporarily.

“Our desire is to bring the good news of the Gospel to a major city in Southern Alberta,” says Rev. Oord. “We are not trying to steal sheep from other churches, but trusting that the Lord will use this instrument to draw a people unto Himself—people who have wandered away from the church and may not know how to return; people who have questions about God, religion, and the Reformed faith; people who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness. It is our hope that we may be used by the Holy Spirit to tell them about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.”

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on page 8 of the January 16, 2013, issue of Christian RenewalPhotos of the Saamis Tepee appear on the City of Medicine Hat website.