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Classis

Classis

March can be a busy month for the RCUS, as all four of the Classes have their annual meetings.

The RCUS Constitution deals with the nature and duties of the Classis in Articles 76-94.  First of all, there is a definition:

ARTICLE 76 A Classis consists of the ministers residing within a district designated by the Synod and of the elders delegated by the pastoral charges situated within these limits, and has jurisdiction over said ministers and pastoral charges. 

In other words, the Classis is a regional judicatory of the church.  Any region has to include at least three different charges in order to quality to become a Classis (Article 77).  At their meetings, the Classis has several functions to discharge.  

One of the most important responsibilities is that of examining men for licensure or ordination (Article 82).  When there is such an occasion, the gathered ministers and elders will review written work, like essays or tests.  They will hear a sermon.  They will ask questions and evaluate the answers to make sure that the person seeking a license to preach or hoping to be ordained is in fact suitable and equipped for that calling.  This is a critical function to preserve the orthodoxy of the denomination, as well as to promote the well-being of the congregations.

During the Classis meeting there will be parochial reports to share information about the condition of each congregation over the preceding year.  This is further investigated when the elder delegates for each charge are asked to respond to a set of questions contained in Article 81.  These have to do with the conduct of the ministry and provision for that, as well as the ability of each church to contribute to the Classis and Synod guidelines for giving.  

Permanent Committees will report on what they accomplished during the year, and as a general rule Standing Committees will bring recommendations about how to proceed with the information presented in the reports, as well as responses to any overtures that have come in.

One important area of oversight that the Classis exercises has to do with requests for ministerial relief funds.  Those requests come from the Consistory of a particular congregation, where the deacons have met with the minister or minister’s widow to determine need.  The Classis considers those requests and passes those which are approved on to Synod for a final determination about the disbursement of funds.  A related process covers requesting support from Synod for seminary students who are under care of the Classis. 

Since each Classis is a deliberative body that engages in parliamentary style debates, officers are needed who are elected each year.  The President is responsible for the conduct of the meeting and to ensure that everything takes place in keeping with our rules of order (Article 80).  The Clerk is responsible for taking minutes throughout, and to prepare an Abstract of those minutes that also includes the text of submitted reports.

The Classis is more than just a business meeting.  The Church of Christ exists in this world, and practical questions definitely have to be addressed.  Because of that there is a Treasurer and a financial report.  As would happen in a secular assembly, there are motions that pass or fail (unless they die for lack of a second, of course).  There is work to be done to prepare for Classis, at Classis, and work that comes out of the decisions of Classis. But the Classis is a gathering of representatives from the congregations in a region in the name and for the glory of Christ.

For this reason, the regular meetings of a Classis are to include religious services, including the preaching of a sermon (Article 79).  There are also frequent pauses for prayer during the course of the meeting, along with opening and table devotions.  All of this is not meant to slow down business, but to seek God’s help and remind us of our dependence on Jesus Christ, the great Head of the Church, in order to carry out our responsibilities in a truly godly way.

In other words, proper procedure and diligent attention to business are only two of the ingredients we need for a Classis meeting to really go well.  The other needed ingredient is to act according to the Word of God and in the Spirit of Christ.  Prayers from all the congregations for all three ingredients to be present in all the Classis meetings are much appreciated!

Another thing that happens at Classis meetings are the opportunities for fellowship and mutual encouragement.  We work together in establishing new mission works, in educating students for the ministry, in verifying God’s calling to the ministry, as well as in maintaining good doctrine and practical godliness.  That communion of the congregations with one another has a very visible and practical expression at the Classis meetings.

Unless a meeting enters executive session, it is open to the public.  If you’ve never been to a Classis meeting, stopping by to see what it is like and to meet people from other RCUS churches may help to remind you that we are not alone in our isolated congregations, but are joined to many others who can be a blessing to us, and whom we can encourage. 

Reformed Fellowship Church of Kenya | Synod: Reformed Herald Report

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