Report of the 38th Annual Meeting of the South Central Classis
The delegates of the South Central Classis of the RCUS descended on Christ Reformed Church in Casper, WY March 27, 2023 for the 38th annual meeting of classis. The meeting was called to order at 3:00pm by President Matt Powell and the roll was called with nine ministers and nine elders present constituting a quorum. After defining the bar of the house and appointing tellers, elections were held for classis officers. Revs. Matt Powell, Randall Klynsma, and Michael McGee were all unanimously elected to serve as president, vice-president, and stated clerk respectively. This marks the 3rd year for both Powell and McGee and the 2nd year for Klynsma in those roles.
After adopting the agenda for the meeting and the orders of the day, business began in earnest as President Powell presented the state of the church report before the delegates. His report noted that the state of the church in 2022-23 was one of “relative peace and building in the South Central Classis.” Coming out of the “plague years,” as Powell notes, the church continues to engage in the ordinary means of grace through word and sacrament. Powell encouraged the body to continue to pursue gospel ministry while trusting in the Lord of the harvest to provide the growth.
After the presentation of the other officer’s reports and the executive committee reports, the meeting turned to the parochial reports from the several churches that make up the South Central Classis. The reports reflected the faithful service of the ministers and consistories of the South Central Classis in shepherding the flock of God entrusted to them. There were wonderful reports of the grace and work of the Holy Spirit in our congregations as well as some of the struggles of ministering in a post-modern culture. Overall, the picture painted by these parochial reports showed how our gracious God works through the ordinary means of grace in the church that He has promised to build.
The order of the day was called at 5:15pm for supper, and the meeting was in recess as the delegates were treated to the wonderful hospitality of the saints at Christ Reformed Church. After supper was finished, the delegates and saints of Christ Reformed Church gathered for worship at 6:30pm as Rev. Joe Vusich presided and Mr. Chris Bradley, an elder at Providence Reformed Church in Limon, CO and a student under care at New Geneva Theological Seminary, exhorted the congregation from Matthew 18:1-5. It should be noted that Mr. Bradley is a candidate for licensure in the classis and would be examined the following day. Following worship, the meeting resumed as the remaining parochial reports were read and ministers and congregations were prayed for by the delegates. After the parochial reports were read, the meeting was recessed until the next morning.
On Tuesday, March 28, 2023, the meeting was called to order at 8:00 and the body was led in a devotion from Psalm 119 by Mr. Dave Johnson, a student under care at Heidelberg Theological Seminary in Sioux Falls, SD. Then, according to article 81 of the RCUS constitution, the elder delegates of each charge were asked to ensure that the pure doctrine of the gospel was being taught, that the sacraments were being properly administered, that the temporal needs of the minster was being met, and whether visitation was being carried out. There were some elders who expressed the need to do better in the area of visitation, but Rev. McGee encouraged those elders that their desire to see to the care of the congregation was commendable and that they should take that to heart.
There was a short recess so that the standing committees of classis could conduct their business and after the recess, some of those committees began presenting their reports. The order of the day was called for lunch and the delegates were again treated to a fine meal of sandwiches and soup. After lunch, there was a special order of the day to begin the examination of licentiate candidate, Chris Bradley. Mr. Bradley was examined in sixteen areas of personal piety, theology, RCUS confessions and constitution, RCUS history, and ministerial practica. After intense examination by members of the Candidates and Credentials committee as well as fielding questions from the body, Mr. Bradley acquitted himself well and his examination was found satisfactory.
After the examination, the meeting was in recess for a delicious supper of brisket with the fixings, and then the remaining business was conducted following supper. Of particular note was the fact that there are currently seven men under care in the South Central Classis as well as one, newly minted licentiate. It was noted that this is the largest number of men under care in the classis in quite some time. Rev. Dr. Maynard Koerner even noted that this is the most men under care that he’s seen in his 50 years of ministry. This is a testament that the Lord does work in raising laborers for His harvest. At a time when there are a number of vacant pulpits in the South Central Classis as well as the RCUS as a whole, it is amazing to see the Lord work to raise men who might fill these vacancies.
Also of particular note was the fact that at this meeting, Christ Reformed Church (our host church) was rolling off of classical and synodical support and would no longer be considered a mission work of the RCUS, but a fully, self-supporting church of the RCUS. This was a praise worthy milestone for Christ Reformed as only three years ago they became a particularized church. Again a testament of the grace of God in not only providing godly men to serve as elders and deacons alongside Pastor Powell, but also of His provision for the financial and material needs of the church. As a result of Christ Reformed Church no longer needing financial assistance as a mission work, this prompted the body to approve a significant sum of money to support the latest mission work in Manhattan, MT, Covenant Reformed Chapel. This was a mission work that was identified only three years ago, and since then the saints of Covenant Reformed Chapel have shown an incredible zeal to pursue the work in Manhattan MT. The need for a mission pastor continues to be pressing, and this should be an item of prayer for the classis and the RCUS as a whole.
Among other items of business, Revs. Lee Johnson (St. John’s Reformed Church, Lincoln, NE) and Jon Blair (Grace Reformed Church, Greeley, CO) were admitted into pastor emeritus status. Also, Elder Scott Velgersdyk (Trinity Reformed Church, Sioux Falls, SD), who had served the classis faithfully as its treasurer for ten years, stepped down from that roll. The body expressed its great appreciation for the work Elder Velgersdyk has done over the years. Elder Fred Hofmann (Emmanuel Reformed Church, Sutton, NE) was elected to replace him.
As business was concluding late Tuesday evening, Elder Marty Scott of the host congregation, led the body in a closing devotion from Psalm 51. It was a stirring reminder of how the grace of God forgives even the chief of sinners, of whom we were all once members. The body expressed its immense gratitude to the saints of Christ Reformed Church for their abundant love and hospitality. Following formal adjournment, the roll call showed twelve ministers and twelve elders, and the delegates closed with reciting the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the singing of the Doxology. Rev. Powell dismissed the body with the Trinitarian benediction of 2 Corinthians 13:14. The next meeting of the South Central Classis will be on March 18-19, 2024 at Emmanuel Reformed Church in Sutton, NE.
Rev. Carl F. Gobelman is pastor of Emmanuel Reformed Church in Sutton, NE.