News from Covenant East Classis

The delegates of Covenant East Classis convened in Rogers, Arkansas at Grace Reformed Church February 28-March 2. Many years ago, Covenant East Classis established a practice of holding a pre-classis meeting in which we take up some subject touching on a current challenge for pastoral care. This year Rev. Steven Carr led the delegates in a review of Dr. Carl Trueman’s book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self.  In his book, Dr. Trueman explores the historical roots of “Expressive Individualism” and how it manifests itself in our times, and also how expressive individualism influences Christians as well. Delegates spent some time discussing how expressive individualism poses challenges to each of us in the churches, as well as ways in which we might address it. I came away from this discussion challenged and encouraged to be more mindful of this influence and to be more aware of how to address it in preaching and pastoral work.

In many respects, this classis meeting was fairly routine. We dealt with the matters of a typical classis meeting: pastors reported on their charges, their joys and their hardships, reviewed the work of Interchurch Relations with Fraternal churches, Youth Camp, Home Mission endeavors, financial reports. We spent time praying for each church after pastors and elders reported on and answered questions from delegates about matters that caught our attention. Classis approved the resignation of the Reverend Doctor Mark Larson from Peace Reformed Church, Garner, Iowa. Rev. Larson is retiring from the ministry for health reasons. Rev. Larson has served in the pastoral ministry in both the OPC and RCUS for over 30 years. Larson was elected Pastor Emeritus of Peace Reformed Church, which action the classis ap-proved. A letter of dismission for retired minister Rev. Jay Fluck to the South Central Classis was approved. Consent was given to Rev. Win Groseclose to labor outside the bounds of Classis in Light of the Resurrection Reformed Church in Zelienople, PA with the intent of starting the process of bringing this group into Covenant East Classis. A committee was appointed to serve as advisors to Light of the Resurrection Reformed Church and schedule a visit as they look forward to the process of affiliating with the RCUS. Classis ratified the Constitutional changes adopted by Synod 2021.

One fraternal delegate was present among us for our meeting. Rev. Paul Mourreale represented the Midwest Presbytery of the OPC. This brother was a wonderful encouragement and participant among us, and was commended with the “hair shirt award” for staying with us to adjournment. 

In another respect, this meeting was not “routine.” One pastor’s report required going into Executive Session. After a lengthy time of dealing with this report, and a time of prayer, classis ultimately appointed a special committee comprised of two ministers and two elders to advise the Consistory of the church this pastor serves. Sadly, two churches of classis, Peace Reformed Church in Garner, Iowa and Covenant Reformed Church in Gettysburg, PA, have experienced considerable inner turmoil over the past year. Both churches are now also vacant. Classis approved specific counsel for both churches for the year ahead.   

The hospitality of the members of Grace Reformed Church was delivered with excellence, generosity and love. Thank you again, sisters and brothers! In the atmosphere of that hospitality the delegates freely mingled, catching up on each other’s labors and lives. There is a remarkable camaraderie, respect and affection among the ministers and elders of Covenant East Classis. There is a true fellowship and unity in the Spirit. Such unity is a special favor of our Lord, for which we give Him all praise and glory. 

Submitted by Rev. Jim Sawtelle

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