Calvary Chapel in Oregon transitions to the Reformed faith

family-0ceanA former Calvary Chapel church has called a Reformed minister and hopes to move toward affiliation with the URCNA.

Cornerstone Community Church will install Dr. Quentin Falkena (currently of First URC in Chino, CA) as its Teaching Pastor at the Sunday morning service on September 16, 2018. Rev. Danny Hyde (Oceanside URC, CA), who has been instrumental in bringing Dr. Falkena and Cornerstone together, will preach at the installation service. Cornerstone’s current pastors Stan Way (Senior Teaching Pastor) and Mark Delladio (Christian Education and Music Pastor) will also participate in the service, using the installation form from the new URCNA Forms and Prayers book.

Cornerstone also has a Children and Youth Ministry pastor, Mike Mayben. Both Pastors Mayben and Way plan to retire in the near future, although they will remain in the congregation and help as needed.

“I’m now 72, it’s time for a younger man and a new voice in the pulpit,” Pastor Way says. “I’ll retire from the church at the end of this year, but the Lord willing not from ministry. I hope to remain active in the life of the church in any way Quentin would like me to. Also, I hope to be more involved in our local Bible college (Pacific Bible College) and write more.”

Dr. Falkena’s primary responsibilities will focus on preaching the Word and administering the sacraments, but he’ll also be teaching, visiting, counseling, and performing other pastoral duties. He and his family planned to move to Medford at the end of August.

“After ten years, two doctorate degrees (Amanda’s and mine), and three kids, we have a lot to weed through,” he says. “To begin, we’ll be renting a home about 15 minutes south of the church. Our home is on the grounds of what used to be a retreat center situated next to a vineyard, which is adjacent to a beautiful garden that serves as a wedding venue. It’s picturesque!”

After the move, Dr. Falkena will return to Chino for a few days, to function for his final time as Clerk for Classis Southwest US and to conduct a wedding ceremony. He’ll be back in Medford before the installation on September 16 and begin preaching on September 23.

Cornerstone Community Church is currently independent, but hopes to be provisionally accepted into the URCNA by Classis PNW within 18 months with ratification at Synod 2020.

Pastor Way explains that when he arrived at the church in 1997, he and the elders “shared the same convictions regarding the Doctrines of Grace,” which “were new to us but very compelling.” For the next four or five years, they studied the Reformed faith: reading and discussing Reformed confessions, attending conferences (hosted by Ligonier, The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and Westminster Seminary California), and listening to Reformed and Presbyterian ministers online.

“We also invited Reformed teachers to be guest lecturers at our Spring and Fall lecture series,” he says. “Dr. Derek Thomas, Dr. Michael Horton, Dr. Carl Trueman, Dr. John Fesko and many others came and ministered to us. Having men like these with us for a weekend allowed us to have very helpful private conversations and receive wise counsel.”

In 2009, Cornerstone’s elders decided to subscribe to the Three Forms of Unity as their confessional standards. For the next two years, two of the church’s pastors taught through the confessions on Wednesday and Sunday evenings.

“Becoming Reformed has touched and reshaped every area of the church’s life: liturgy, pastor-led worship, the administration of the sacraments (we’re now paedobaptists!), and the establishment of church membership in 2014,” says Pastor Way. “It’s been a challenging, yet rewarding, transition. The Lord has been extremely gracious to us. The church is spiritually stronger than ever before. Now it’s time for us to affiliate with a like-minded denomination (or federation of churches). The URC seems to be a ‘good fit’ for us, and we believe Quentin will be able to help us move successfully in this direction.”

On the recommendation of Dr. Trueman, Rev. Danny Hyde was invited to speak at the church in 2016. Rev. Hyde explains, “Since it’s a former Calvary Chapel that has become Reformed over the years, these are my ‘peeps!’” He maintained regular contact with Cornerstone’s leaders about what it means to be Reformed as well as the church’s plan for Pastor Way’s retirement and a new minister.

“In January of 2018, the staff was down at Westminster Seminary for its annual conference, and we met to discuss further,” Rev. Hyde says. “They asked me to vet a list of men, but instead I gave my recommendation of Quentin. They wanted a seminary-trained man, and Quentin has recently finished his DMin from Reformation Bible College. They wanted a man with a young family, and Quentin and Amanda are that. And they wanted a man who could lead them into the future and especially into affiliation with a Reformed ecclesiastical body. Quentin had other inquiries, but I persisted he and CCC continue down a mutual path, and the Lord brought them all together.”

While the Cornerstone congregation is excited about this new chapter in the church’s life, First URC in Chino will miss the Falkenas. And it is a bittersweet farewell for the Quentin and Amanda, who have been part of the First Chino fellowship since Quentin accepted that call as his first.

“Amanda and I arrived ten years ago, just a couple months after we were married,” Dr. Falkena says. “We’ve grown as a family, having three children in the last seven years, but we’ve also become a part of the church family. I’ve had the privilege of working with Rev. Scheuers for many years and with Rev. Nymeyer for just over a year. It’s been a great joy being part of Classis SWUS. These things are hard to leave behind.”

He adds, “However, the opportunity in Medford is a remarkable one, with a unique story. It’s not every day that a church, which began as arminian and dispensationalist, comes to the point of desiring to join a Reformed federation. It is a privilege to take up that task. I’m looking forward to settling into a more routine position in which I can focus more on preaching regularly. As a family, we’re looking forward to what southern Oregon has to offer in terms of its beauty and outdoor pursuits.”

For more information about Cornerstone Community Church, check out its website: cccm.org.

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on pages 12 & 13 of the September 14, 2018, issue of Christian Renewal.

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Rev. Ronald Scheuers: epitome of servant leadership

Artist
Rev. and Mrs. Scheuers (photo by Richard Docter)

The retirement of Rev. Ronald Scheuers may be his and his family’s gain, but it is certainly a loss within the URCNA. In decades of denominational conflict and as the new federation felt its way forward, Rev. Scheuers provided humble, servant leadership.

“During the early, growing years of the URCNA as a fledgling federation, Rev. Scheuers proved again and again to be a special gift of the Lord to the churches,” says Dr. Cornel P. Venema, President of Mid-America Reformed Seminary. “In a period of history marked by conflict and distress, immaturity and growing pains, Rev. Scheuers was steady at the helm—gentle in manner, solid in conviction, wise through experience, fair with others, and firm in his leadership. Lest you think I exaggerate, I am confident that delegates to assemblies at which Rev. Scheuers was elected chairman will agree with me.”

Rev. Bradd Nymeyer, who served many years as the URCNA’s Stated Clerk, concurs with that assessment. He says about Rev. Scheuers, “His service to the federation cannot be over-stated. His gentle, pastoral approach to difficult issues gave many great reassurance in times of uncertainty.” He adds, “His calm demeanor served him well in the three times that he served as chairman of synod. He is a churchman, a pastor, and a preacher, and excels at all three. His retirement will be felt by the entire federation, as well as his local congregation.”

The congregation of First URC in Chino, CA, marked the retirement of its senior pastor with a special celebration on Friday, January 6. The retirement committee decorated the fellowship hall, where attendees enjoyed a catered meal of tri-tip sirloin, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. About 200 people gathered for the meal, and many more arrived later for a program in the sanctuary, which seats 600 and seemed nearly full. Guests went beyond members of the congregation to include friends, former staff members, fellow ministers, and surprise appearances by relatives from Wisconsin.

The program featured a slideshow and video clips, a skit, and singing. The church presented Rev. Scheuers and his wife, Faye, with a gift of appreciation for his years of faithful service. Rev. Scheuers spent 39 years in full-time ministry, more than 23 of them in Chino.

“Our church family has been so good to us through the years,” says Rev. Scheuers. “We are grateful that we can retire in this area and continue to live among the people of the congregation of First Chino.”

Weavers-Scheuers
The Scheuers with the Rev. Joel Weaver family

On January 8, Rev. Scheuers preached his farewell sermon on the theme, “Let No One Take Your Crown,” based on Revelation 3:11. He noted three points: The Lord’s Coming, The Church’s Calling, and The Believer’s Crown.

First Chino has called Rev. Bradd Nymeyer, scheduled to be installed on May 14. He has considered Rev. Scheuers his friend and mentor for over 20 years. “He personally stood up for me when I was being dismissed from the ministry in the CRC, even though it was costly to his name and reputation in that denomination,” says Rev. Nymeyer.

While the congregation awaits its new senior minister, Pastor of Youth Quentin Falkena is doing what he can to help make the transition smooth. And he’s thankful for the excellent working relationship he enjoyed with Rev. Scheuers.

“I have had the unique and unparalleled privilege of working with Pastor Scheuers for over eight years,” he says. “I’m grateful for the opportunity that I have had to work beside him and learn from him what it means to be a faithful servant of God’s people and a dedicated churchman. His diligence, dedication, carefulness and compassion have made a significant mark on my own approach to pastoral ministry.”

He notes, “For most of eight years, Pastor Scheuers and I would meet every Tuesday. We addressed the particular needs of the week, and talked about who needed to be visited, or other matters that needed to be addressed. But it was also a time during which I could pick his brain. Our meetings concluded by reading Scripture and praying. I’ll miss the opportunity those meetings provided to spend time with Pastor Scheuers.”

The Scheuers family, however, anticipates spending more time with a husband and father whose health is gradually decreasing due to Parkinson’s disease.

“Right now, Faye and I are enjoying more time together, more opportunities to enjoy our family, which also includes our first precious granddaughter, as well as life with less stress,” Rev. Scheuers says. “If my health permits, I would like to do some writing and, perhaps, some traveling.”

Rev. Scheuers and Faye are originally from Waupun, WI, and both attended Dordt College in Sioux Center, IA. Faye taught for six years in the Philadelphia area, while Rev. Scheuers attended Westminster Theological Seminary and fulfilled the CRC’s extra year requirement at Calvin Seminary. The two were married in Waupun on August 19, 1977.

The Scheuers have three adult children. Bethany is married to George Hoekstra and they have a toddler daughter, Kenna. Andrea, who has multiple handicaps, lives at home with her parents. Tim graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary and is pursuing his Ph.D. at Fuller Theological Seminary with a goal of teaching at the college or seminary level.

“We are so blessed to have all our children living near us,” Rev. Scheuers says.

A minister’s interest kindled the internal call Rev. Scheuers felt as a young man. He says, “In my teenage years, my pastor, Rev. Clarence Werkema, deeply influenced and encouraged me to consider entering the ministry.”

In 1977, Rev. Scheuers was ordained in the CRC at Baldwin, WI.  He went on to serve churches in Luverne, MN, and Kalamazoo, MI, prior to accepting the call to First Chino in 1993.

Reflecting on the highlights of his ministry, he says, “I was especially blessed to see a good number of adults come to faith in Christ through the years. We are greatly encouraged by the usage of the series of instructional material for young people, Life in Christ, which we edited and partially wrote. Some volumes have been translated into several foreign languages. I am also grateful to have been used of the Lord to give leadership on the classical and synodical level to our young federation.”

He concludes, “It has given me much joy and fulfillment to be used by the Lord to preach His Word and minister to His people.”

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on pages 10 & 11 of the April 12, 2017, issue of Christian Renewal. Rev. Bradd Nymeyer has since been installed as the Senior Pastor at First URC in Chino, CA.

Chino conference explores money matters

group-cFew topics generate more feeling than money, but it seems few churches offer regular direction on biblical stewardship.

On March 20-21, 2015, First United Reformed Church of Chino addressed this important subject in its annual Growing Reformed Churches Conference under the theme, “Financial Freedom: Liberated From the Love of Money.”

Chino’s Youth Pastor, Rev. Quentin Falkena, explains the theme choice: “Every year we strive to pick topics that bear on the Christian life. Some years they are more theological in nature, other years they deal with more practical issues. [This year] we picked a topic that always stirs interest: money. The title was a collaborative effort, tying together terms from the financial realm, the graphic from the brochure, where the words ‘liberty’ and ‘In God We Trust’ are visible on the dime, and Hebrews 13:5-6.”

In the ESV, that text says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not fear; what can man do to me?’ ”

Featured speakers were Dr. W. Robert Godfrey (Professor of Church History at Westminster Seminary California), Rev. Mark Vander Hart (Associate Professor of Old Testament Studies at Mid-America Reformed Seminary), Dr. J. V. Fesko (Professor of Systematic Theology and Historical Theology at Westminster Seminary California), and Rev. Chris Gordon (Preaching Pastor at Escondido URC).

Pastor Quentin says, “The speakers were pastors and theologians, rather than financial experts, so the content was largely biblical and spiritual in nature. Each speaker also has a different field or specialty, which helped round out the material. Dr. Godfrey shed some light on this topic from an historical perspective. Rev. Vander Hart explained a lot of the Old Testament materials and drew out some implications for the church today. Dr. Fesko addressed the biblical connection between idolatry and greed, and spoke to the matter of sanctification in the midst of consumerism. Rev. Gordon, coming specifically from a pastoral perspective, spoke to the heart issue of giving in light of how much we’ve been given in Christ.”

About 100 people attended the conference, one of whom was Rev. Andrew Compton (Associate Pastor at Christ URC in Anaheim, CA). He said other members of his church who attended either work in the finance industry or are involved in financial stewardship programs.

“They voiced on Sunday that they would have liked to hear more black-and-white ‘do-this-don’t-do-that’ advice from Scripture, but all appreciated the fact that God’s word doesn’t always speak directly to many of the same financial questions we have these days. They all recognized that the best tactic was to spell out the theology of money and giving and draw some more modest advisory conclusions.”

He added, “Most of us want an answer specifying that God desires at least 10%, but not necessarily more than 18% of our gross (or net) income, not including what we earned from investments and not including what we received via tax refund the previous year and yet making provision for yada yada yada…. Of course, I am getting silly here, but my point is that our questions about giving are usually too pragmatic and wrongly prioritized whereas they need to be better rooted in a broader understanding of God’s mercy in Christ and of proper gratitude. Too often we draw this connection too quickly and sound as though we are just ordering people to give more and guilting them for not being grateful enough to God for his mercy. But the speakers didn’t hurry us along this path. Instead, they led us on the journey and unfolded the glories of God’s grace, patiently helping us to see the relationship between our giving and God’s grace to miserable sinners. This enabled everyone to be in a better position to then even ask the question: how much do I give each week to my local church?”

Many attendees related how much they appreciated the speakers and their practical presentations, which were Christ-centered rather than money-centered. Several mentioned how they valued the opportunity for fellowship with other Reformed believers in southern California.

This year’s conference was the 17th hosted by First URC of Chino. Pastor Quention emphasizes that the church secretary, Mrs. Joan Dundon, deserves credit for the design of printed materials and many other church members voluntarily assisted with registration, the sound system, in the kitchen, and in many other areas. Gary Anderson chaired the committee and developed the list for a book table.

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on pages 12 & 13 of the April 29, 2015, issue of Christian Renewal.