This report has been prepared for the upcoming Classis Ontario West of the CanRC, March 21, 2012.
I was asked to attend the RCUS Classis Covenant East meeting of March 5-7, 2012 held in Waymart, PA (a short distance from Scranton). It was my distinct pleasure to do so. I was warmly welcomed by our brothers and was again treated to their friendly fellowship.
As is their tradition, there was a pre-classis meeting on the evening of Monday March 5. The delegates gathered for a discussion on church planting. This discussion was led by Rev. Ryan Kron, an RCUS church planter in the Minneapolis area. The lively discussion was based on several chapters of Planting, Watering, Growing: Planting Confessionally Reformed Churches in the 21st Century.
The next morning the classis was called to order and the business began. Of special interest was the parochial reports from all the local churches in the classis. This classis stretches from Pennsylvania to Minnesota and includes seven instituted churches. This is up by one from last year – the church plant in north west Arkansas became an instituted church and Rev. Wes Brice was installed as their pastor. In addition, there is one church plant in Minneapolis and another in Waymart, PA. Also, Rev. Jay Fluck is working “out of bounds” in a congregation seeking affiliation with the RCUS in Gettysburg, PA.
From the parochial reports, it was readily evident that these churches are striving to be faithful to our Lord Jesus. There are active efforts throughout to spread the gospel far and wide. Some of the churches are making effective use of the Internet and especially social media such as Facebook for this purpose. The parochial reports also gave updates on developments in some of the churches. For instance, one church reversed a long standing decision to prohibit funerals in their church building when the deceased had committed suicide. The church made a careful study of the matter and when the reversal of the decision was adopted, there was no dissent from the congregation.
I was given the opportunity to address the body on behalf of the churches in our classical region. I extended greetings and informed the Classis of some recent developments in our churches. I made special mention of the fact that our seminary is actively searching for a fifth professor and asked them to please inform us if they knew of any suitable men from within their midst.
There were also fraternal delegates in attendance from the URCNA (Rev. Kevin Hossink) and RPCNA (Rev. Paul Brace). They also addressed the body and informed them of recent and upcoming developments in their churches. Mr. Ray Schnabel was present on behalf of Heidelberg Theological Seminary. He spoke a few words about the seminary and its labours for the RCUS. As you may know, Heidelberg is affiliated with the RCUS. They have a current enrollment of sixteen students, with eight in the M.Div. program. The RCUS does have other men studying for the ministry at other institutions, most notably at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in South Carolina.
On the evening of March 6, a worship service was held. All the members of the Waymart church were invited to attend and many, if not all, did. Rev. Kyle Sorensen conducted the service and Rev. Jay Fluck preached a sermon on Hebrews 11:23-29. The sermon was a faithful, Christ-centered exposition of God’s Word.
In informal conversation, I asked some of our RCUS brothers about the matter of Bible translation. Most of their churches use either the NKJV or ESV. The disappearance of the 1984 NIV is not a problem for their churches – it was never received very well among them.
In summary, I can report that God’s blessings continue to be in evidence among the RCUS churches of Classis Covenant East. Moreover, the gospel continues to be faithfully preached, the sacraments are administered faithfully, and discipline is carried out according to the teachings of our Saviour. We can praise God for the gracious work of his Spirit amongst them.
Rev. Wes Bredenhof