Sunday, April 25, 2010
We will keep the information and previous posts on this blog out there in cyber-space - so please stop back for reference. But any active discussions will be happening over at our facebook page - join us there. If you don't have facebook, join just for the Returning Church discussions. You control how sucked-in to the rest of facebook world you get.
Go to www.facebook.com, search for "Returning Church" and ask to join the group - you'll be in. You can also keep in touch by joining the email list - just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Speaking of keeping in touch - please do.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Below are two resources that will be beneficial to the discussion:
Belhar Overture - from Riverside CRC in Wellandport, ON
"Why Not Belhar?" - essay by Rev. Kevin De Young for Reformed Perspectives
Friday, December 04, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
We will be starting the process of planning for our spring event (yeah, summer's not even over yet and we're already thinking "spring" - we'll it's been cold here in West Michigan this summer). Any thoughts on speakers/topics would be appreciated. Our goal is help strength and encourage local CRC congregations to be Christ-adoring, lost-seeking, truth-loving, grace-extending, Word-centered, Bible-saturated and confessionally-Reformed. That's still pretty broad, but we've been encouraged by the results of our meetings over the past couple of years.
Most of the action in terms of events has been in West Michigan - but we would encourage congregations to meet together in other areas as well - to encourage one another and discuss the challenges and blessings facing us as a denomination and churches in general. If you're interested in networking in your area, let us know and we can try to help make some connections.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Kevin De Young in the RCA Church Herald
Richard Mouw of Fuller Seminary
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
We were greatly blessed through Kevin De Young at CTS on March 26, 2009. Not only did we get a good analysis of the emergent church movement but also a challenge to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our churches. The audio is here. You can go to www.sermon.net/returningchurch to get the podcast, etc. This is the cleaned up version. For some reason the entire Q&A was not recorded. We apologize and wish we had it to give to you. Enjoy and feel free to share this with your friends and collegues.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
For a copy of the IRC's report to Synod, click here.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Below is a letter from Rev. Jack Gray (Sully, IA, CRC) reporting on a small gathering of pastors during the Desiring God Pastors' Conference in Minneapolis at the beginning of February.
Most of us CRC pastors who attended the John Piper Pastors’ Conference were truly inspired and energized by the event. It was great to hear God’s word straight and clear without any nuance to what God says. It is great to be in a company where God’s word is held without reservation. No 'Did God say . . . ?', but 'This is what the Lord says...' In my view this is the defining issue among us in the CRCNA, what we do with the Bible.
Eleven us present at Piper’s Pastors’ Conference went to dinner together on Tuesday night and two ideas surfaced in our discussion.
First, we are aware of Reformed Churches and their leaders who do not like the drift they are seeing in their denominations. Perhaps this idea was spawned because of the next speakers coming to address the
Second, many of us find great support in events like Piper’s Pastors’ Conference, R. C. Sproul’s Conferences, the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, and others like them. We are looking outside the CRCNA for guidance, direction, and support. We can all cite reasons for the drift in the CRCNA, but one of them in my judgment was the immersion of pastors and leadership persons from congregations who were paid to attend events at the Crystal Cathedral or Willow Creek. This shifted focus from our great gift to the body of Christ—solid, Biblically Reformed thought— to other priorities that now drive the CRCNA agenda. Could we find some benefactors who would support pastors and church leaders to attend the conferences and events that are so encouraging and uplifting to us? I discovered on the last day of the Piper Pastors’ Conference from one of their staff people that the reason many churches have several people there is that they consider all elders to be pastors. Could we arrange for some persons to finance pastors and their church leaders to attend conferences like these that stress our Biblically Reformed theology and faith? If we could, we might significantly influence the atmosphere of our congregations and eventually our denomination.
We wish you
For the preachers have a great day Sunday as you bring God’s word, which is after all, what we really are—preachers of God’s great word. For you who listen Sunday, keep praying and working for the church to return to its historic Biblical Reformed roots.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Some of you may be asking, "What is the emergent church?" Others of you may be interacting with emergent Christians every day. The emergent church is a strong voice in today’s Christian community. And they’re talking about good things: caring for the poor, peace for all men, loving Jesus. They’re doing church a new way, not content to fit the mold. Again, all good. But there’s more to the movement than that. Much more.
The Returning Church has invited Rev. Kevin DeYoung (University RCA, East Lansing, MI) to speak the evening of THURSDAY, MARCH 26 (preceding the PCRT Conference in Grand Rapids area) at 7:00 p.m. in the auditorium of Calvin Theological Seminary. Watch for more details to come. Seating is first-come, first-served.
Kevin and Ted are two guys who, demographically, should be all over the emergent church movement. But they’re not. They've co-authored a book called "Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be)." They also have a web-site: http://www.notemergent.com/. Check that out for more information. We hope to see you there - and your young people. This event will be especially applicable for the younger generations - but something we all need to be aware of.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
We've chosen not to highlight conferences within the CRC - we all have access to that information through The Banner. The conferences listed below broadens our perspective throughout the Reformed, evangelical family.
Here are some great conferences that are coming up for both pastors and for layfolk. As you know, it would be impossible to attend all of them - so if you do get there, share your thoughts and observations in the comments below. Also, if you are attending any conference, please leave you name in the comments section along with the conference you're attending - it is always good to connect with other at these conferences.
GENERAL CONFERENCES:Ligonier National Conference
March 19-21 in Orlando, FL
Theme: The Holiness of God (pre-conference on Calvin's 500th birthday)
Speakers: Thabiti Anyabwile, Alistair Begg, D.A. Carson, Ligon Duncan, Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Steven Lawson, Albert Mohler, R.C. Sproul Jr., R.C. Sproul, Derek Thomas
Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology (Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals)
March 13-15 in Sacramento, CA
March 27-29 in Grand Rapids, MI*
April 17-19 in Greenville, SC
May 1-3 in Philadelphia, PA
Theme: "Right with God: the Doctrine of Justification"
Speakers: Jerry Bridges, Ligon Duncan, Michael Horton, Steven Lawson, Al Mohler, Richard Phillips and/or Philip Ryken.
*Hosted by 1st CRC, Byron Center. The Returning Church will also be holding pre-conference event again this year the evening of Thursday, March 26. Please watch for dedicated post coming for more information.
Ligonier West Coast Conference (& Cruise)
September 28-October 2 in Seattle, WA
Theme: The Resurrection of Christ
Speakers: R.C. Sproul
Desiring God Conference for Pastors*
February 2-4 in Minneapolis, MN
Theme: "Commending Christ: the Pastor, the Church and the Perishing"
Speakers: John Piper, Mark Dever, Michael Oh
*The Center for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is holding a pre-conference event with D.A. Carson in Minneapolis the morning of February 2. Click here for more information.
Workshops on Bibilical Exposition (The Simeon Trust)
February 4-6 in Philadelphia, PA
February 23-25 in Madison, WI
March 17-19 in Spokane, WA
March 24-26 in Calgary, AB
March 25-27 in Toronto, ON
March 31-April 2 in New Castle, PA
May 13-15 in Wheaton, IL
September 29-October 1 in McMinnville, OR*
Theme: Recovering the Centrality of God's Word, Preached Expositionally
Speakers: varies by location (Phil Ryken, David Helm, Kent Hughes, Barry Webb, D.A. Carson to name a few)
*Co-hosted by Sunrise CRC
Entrusted with the Gospel (The Gospel Coalition)
April 21-23 in Chicago, IL
Theme: "Living the Vision of II Timothy"
Speakers: Bryan Chapell, D.A. Carson, John Piper, K. Edward Copeland, Ligon Duncan, Mark Driscoll, Phil Ryken, Tim Keller, Ajith Fernando, etc.
Basics 2009 (Truth for Life)
May 11-13 in Cleveland, OH
Theme: Expository Preaching
Speakers: John Piper, Allistair Begg, John Lennox
Banner of Truth Ministers' Conference
May 26-28 in Grantham, PA
Speakers: Sinclair Ferguson, Alistar Begg, etc.
And just to dream a little... The Calvin Quincentenary in Paris, Strasbourg, Bern and Geneva... June 30-July 10, 2009 - celebrating John Calvin's 500th birthday.
If you know of others that would be good to recommend, please leave it in the comment's section.
Friday, November 28, 2008
If you would like to read more about what has happened - and even how God is already using this for His glory - you can go to one of the following links and search by name:
Drenthe CRC (includes information on memorial fund for family)
WXMI Fox 17 News (search "pastor," "Voorhees" and "Drenthe" in videos)
Grand Rapids Press
Monday, October 27, 2008
What are your thoughts and comments on the report specifically or on the whole topic in general?
Click here for a copy of the updated report.
Friday, August 15, 2008
"I guess I'm just wondering whether The Returning Church group (I realize it's not a very tightly knit organization) is going to have a somewhat lasting impact on the CRC or if you are just going to move on to greener fields when you can't stomach the direction of the CRC leadership anymore (like the URC folk)."
Those involved with the Returning Church discussions have stated their commitment to the CRC and bringing revitalization to the denomination. Being an unorganized "organization" the Returning Church has so far sought to be a forum for networking and sharing ideas as well as encouragement. How can this best be done in the CRC? What sort of "lasting impact" do you see the Returning Church discussions having... if any? Or are we just setting ourselves up to bolt from the CRC and form yet another Reformed denomination/federation/fellowship??
This discussion is open to anyone and given the looseness of the Returning Church organizationally, your thoughts and reflections are very important in determining where this should all go in the future.
Friday, August 01, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
We had a lot of business to cover, but the officers thought we could get it done by Thursday. We did a bunch of house-keeping items throughout the day - like ratifying the work of the synodical deputies. One interesting note - since last year 2 became ministers via article 7 (exceptional giftedness), 25 via article 8 (other denominations - mostly Korean) and 43 became ministry associates (which is a wide range from evangelists to youth pastors to music directors).
There was an overture requesting that an option be provided at the synodical worship service for delegates to receive the elements from males only. Interestingly, the first recommendation from the Advisory Committee was not to accede to the overture, yet their second recommendation was to urge the convening church to show sensitivity to both views on women-in-church-office - which, as the overture's author stated, was what they were asking for. I'll tell you, when an Advisory Committee does their work clearly and thoroughly, there is little discussion. But when they try to muddy things up - the flood gates open... which is what happened here. We spent much more time talking about the whole women-in-church-office issue than the agenda would have led us to believe. But it needed to be done during this "historic" synod. I believe the point came across that we still officially believe the historic biblical position on this is valid. It seems many people had forgotten that.
Other things we did were to adopt a resolution to challenge the president of Zimbabwe on his treatment of the people there. Both the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa and Reformed Church of Zambia representatives pleaded with us for our prayers and action. Sounds like just an awful situation there - so if you know any political representatives in the U.S. or Canada, give them a call.
We also recommitted the Abuse Victims Task Force report back for another year of fine tuning and further study. This issue is too big - spiritually, emotionally and legally - to rush into.
The most tenuous issue for the day was the revised recommendation from the Interchurch Relations Advisory Committee regarding our relationship with the Protestant Churches of the Netherlands (PCN). Like I said earlier, we, in what they thought would just be procedural housekeeping, ended up completely severing our relationship with the PCN and couldn't find a way to approve re-establishing it within our current ecumenical charter. So the Advisory Committee came with another muddy proposal - the PCN won't be in full ecclesiastical fellowship or in ecclesiastical dialogue (our only two categories currently) - it will be somewhere in between or something completely other or who knows. The recommendation kind of left it up to the Interchurch Relationships Committee and Peter Borgdorf. Many of us weren't comfortable with that, but I think the Synod was "smelling the barn" - to quote Jerry Dykstra - and didn't have the energy to go through another lengthy debate. This was approved - but I don't think many really know what it means.
We approved a new Form of Subscription revision committee - looks like a good slate. We'll just have to wait for what they come up with. Mark January 1, 2010 on your calendars!
The Advisory Committee for the Candidacy Committee responded to overtures regarding Article 8 and 23 by basically saying, "Let's wait and see how the new director of Candidacy does." I think this is probably a good approach. There is a tension between the centralization of the process and grassroots development of leaders. I received the impression that the new director, David Koll, has received this message. So nothing has changed in regard to these routes to ministry. Just a note - the Candidacy Committee is engaging in some discussions about article 23... so give them your input!
As I was walking back to the dorm to pack up my things and head home I bumped into the pastor of a Samoan congregation in California. He joined the CRC just a few years ago and is actively working on drawing ten other Samoan congregations into the CRC. He came to the CRC, he said, because He loved our theology, our creeds, our confessions - our love for the Word of God. He loved our high standards (and is insulted by the talk of minorities needing an easier route to ministry). He said, "Don't lower your standards and never give up on the truth." Of everything that happened at Synod I don't think God could have encouraged me more than with this wise man's words. Why is God blessing us by drawing men & women like him and congregations into the CRC? I don't dare presume to know God's eternal decrees, but could He through them be calling our attention back to our first love - Him... His Word... His Son, our Savior? Let's pray that He does.
delegate from Classis Holland - signing off...
Thursday, June 19, 2008
The Board of Trustees had recommended that only one name be required to be presented to Synod for the various board positions throughout the denomination. This would mean that a simple yes or no vote would happen rather than voting between two persons. The rationale was that it is difficult to get people to commit themselves to the long process of nomination. The Advisory Committee ended up actually going against the B.O.T. on this saying it would give the impression of more centralization (I would argue that it would actually be more centralization). I was glad to see they recognized that in principle at least. Synod passed the committee's recommendation and will be voting between two nominees in the future. Granted, just going through this yesterday, there were many individuals I did not know and had to make a prayerful decision based on what information had been given to me so far. But if the agencies, committees and B.O.T. give names of appropriately gifted, qualified persons to Synod, then it at least gives the churches input into which way they would want these agencies to go. The other related item of business was that Synod approved the B.O.T.'s recommendation to eliminate the alternate positions - just for the B.O.T. itself.
It's amazed me how just-below-the-surface the whole issue of women-in-church-office is. Now, I said this before, but personally I have found the tenor here to be very respectful - maybe even cautious. Particularly, women delegates have been gracious. Some of the men seem to think they need to be the knight in shining armor though. There was a recommendation from the B.O.T. to eliminate the Women Advisers now that women can be delegates directly. They gave a straight forward recommendation which the advisory committee felt compelled to amplify with celebratory language. This, of course, was binding on the consciouses of several delegates and led to another lengthy discussion - but one that continues to be needed. How can delegates who have a complementarian view vote that their classes should encourage the full participation of women at Synod. That was the first recommendation, which passed.
The next recommendation dealt specifically with eliminating the women advisers. Again, the committee added some unnecessary language - which this time was eliminated after the motion was defeated. A pared down version was approved, thereby eliminating the position of women advisers (by the way - 8 women advisers have served Synod for many years, en lieu of delegates - a compromise from years back). I spoke against the motion from a different angle. I know women from a complementarian perspective will never serve as elders and deacons - not because they are being held down, but because of their own godly, biblical convictions. Yet, I think in an advisory role, they could be a beautiful light for truth at Synod meetings. Interestingly, many came up to me afterwards and thanked me for that perspective. There seems to be an assumption that all women who are serious about their service to God's church aspire to be deacons and elders - oh, we have some wonderful ladies for them to meet! Maybe more on this as Synod approaches next year.
Well - off to another day... possibly the last, but those things can never be predicted.
delegate from Classis Holland
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Tonight we took up the issue of the Form of Subscription. We've written and posted quite a bit on this topic here (check older posts). There ended up being 10 overtures and 1 communication - all against the proposed changes. The Advisory Committee did a great job evaluating the complexity - and seriousness - of this issue. They identified it as a rock bed foundation of what holds us together. They recommended that the whole matter be re-committed to a new Synod appointed study committee (as opposed to the study task force which was appointed by the Board of Trustees that came up with the proposed Doctrinal Covenant). This passed overwhelming with little debate.
The Synod was then quite firm that it wanted to appoint the committee and whole-heartedly turned down a motion to have the B.O.T. appoint a new one. Anyway, the recommendation passed and the new study committee of 11 will be appointed tomorrow morning from suggestions we gave tonight (so if any of you get calls - say "yes"). That commmittee will present a revision - not a document that alters the meaning of the FOS - to the churches by January 1, 2010. They'll have 18 months to gather input before it has to be presented to Synod 2011. Sounds like a long time out, but this is how long the old committee wrestled with it - and still completely misread the denomination. We actually spent more time on trying to determine the make-up of the committee than we did debating the recommendation - so many were against what was being proposed - HALLELUJAH!
Earlier today we heard from fraternal delegates from the RCA, Associate Presbyterian Reformed Church and the CRC in Nigeria - all good reports, however, the APRC guy was just hillarious... had to be there. But I've said we need to do more church planting in the south! The APRC is centered in South Carolina.
There are some more things to mention, but check back tomorrow. Time for bed here.
delegate from Classis Holland
Since I reported late last night I'm reporting early today. The big topic of the day (all day in fact) has been our relationship to the Protestant Churches of the Netherlands. For many out there you may say, "Why would that be a big deal??" Well, there is a huge historical connection between the CRC and the PCN (which was formerly the GKN, our "mother" denomination, so to speak). Anyway, the Interchurch Relations Committee was asking that we establish full ecclesiastical fellowship with the PCN. When it was the GKN (which merged with two other denominations to form the PCN) we restricted our relationship because they began ordaining practicing homosexuals and there are some questins on how they view Christ (click here if you're interested in some of what they believe and practice on this). Now, under the CRC's new ecumenical charter which promotes broader and less restricted relationships, the IRC would like those restrictions removed.
With underlying practices such as those, you can imagine there was a ton of debate. That began in the Advisory Committee as they ended up with both a majority and minority report basically as follows:
- Majority Report: enter into full ecclesiastical fellowship with the PCN
- Minority Report: enter into a relationship of dialogue with the PCN
Full ecclesiastical fellowship is a deeper relationship which allows for fellowship at the Lord's Supper together and exchange of pulpits. Dialogue means just that - a talking relationship. So do we overlook these differences in the spirit of Christian unity or do we continue to send the message we've been sending them that their practice is sinful - but we're willing to maintain contact in the hopes that God's Word will prevail in the future.
Over the course of the debate, it came out from a poll done in the Netherlands that 14% of the pastors in the PCN consider themselves atheist or agnostic. Yes, you read that right. 39% of PCN pastors cannot deny the statement that God is a figment of human thought... eek!
But it was also reported that the percentage of atheist pastors is going DOWN (correction from earlier) and the number of orthodox pastors is rising - so God is bringing some hope there... Praise the Lord!
Procedurally, there were a couple of recommendations. The first was to declare the restricted relationship with the GKN moot with respect to the PCN because it was in effect a new denomination. That passed - so we didn't have any officially relationship with the PCN. Next the majority report to establish full fellowship was table almost immediately and the minority report taken up. That was debated for a long time but then defeated by less that 10 votes. The majority report was taken off the table and discussed for quite a while again, but that was also defeated, but a little more than 10 votes. So back to the drawing board - and for a few hours today we have no relationship with the PCN - the committee is meeting to come up with a third option - however, our new ecumenical charter doesn't have a third option... so what'll they come up with next???
More than the specific relationship to this church is what does this mean for the CRC. Does hopping in bed with the PCN give defacto credence to homosexual practice and loose Christology?? Or is it our opportunity to be a witness to them? I guess if we look back on the 20 or 30 years of strained relationship we've had - trying to be a witness to them - have we had more effect on them for orthodoxy or they on us for liberalism? An unrestricted relationship would only give us more of the same.
On top of that, what does our relationship with them convey to our local congregations?? To other denominations (the fraternal delegates from the CRC in Nigeria were fairly vocal about this in the gallery)... to our communities?? Lots of implications.
I won't go through all the debates, but the parallel I drew was to I Corinthians 5:9-13. If that doesn't speak here, it doesn't speak anywhere. Of course, we speak the truth in love... but we still speak the truth. But does God's Word mean that much to these kind of debates?? By now you know my answer to that question... maybe I should make that a motion on the floor to see what Synod thinks on that. More later....
delegate from Classis Holland
Yesterday was the first full day of plenary sessions. I'm not going to report on every detail or decision, but I'll describe the day the way I did to Roxanne VanFarowe from the Banner; "respectful." Particularly when it comes to the women-in-church-office issue there has been a good spirit. Joe VandenAkker from Classis Minnkota (the Classis that was sort of slapped on the wrist Monday night for sending a Communication as a classis that they were sending delegates in protest of the seating of women at Synod) set a motion to clarify that Church Order states classes may send Communications on pretty much anything. Synod doesn't have to act on them but may just receive them for information. That's what should have been done Monday evening. That led to some good discussion - rather lengthy - longer than it should have been had we acted correctly the night before. But basically the principle from Synod 2007 of making room was applied and the Advisory Committee that slapped the wrist had, as one delegate put it, "their noses smacked with the newspaper."
We spent yesterday rummaging through a whole bunch of business - probably the biggest thing was the proposed changes to the Contemporary Testimony. It was decided to not take amendments from the floor - which I guess happened back in 1986 and accounts for much of the cumbersome language for the now old CT. Some were concerned with what seemed like political statements toward the end of the document and also that the churches hadn't had much time to review the most recent revisions. Regardless, it passed.
We spent some time giving input to the Faith Formation Commmittee over lunch - particularly in regards to children at the Lord's Table and I Corinithians 11. We also interviewed and approved Mary VandenBerg as a new professor of systematic theology. I'd like to write more but my suitemate is breathing down my neck to go for breakfast. I'll be back!
delegate of Classis Holland
Monday, June 16, 2008
Plenary sessions began this evening - it felt good to get some business under our belts. Most items warranted little discussion. 53 candidates were approved for Minister of the Word and Sacrament. They explained that the number is artificially high because a recent change in the program. We will be welcoming them Tuesday morning. We also approved the retirement of 41 pastors - just imagine all the lives that have touched for Christ through all their years of ministry.
Two items did garner some chatter though. One was the overture from Classis Zeeland encouraging an evening worship service. They requested Synod to encourage the practice of an evening worship service. It was a very good discussion, although fairly brief. No one who spoke seemed to dismiss it as being antiquated or anything like that - although some informal chatter around Synod leaned that way. The point came across that we need to gather for worship and not neglect the means of grace. The recommendations from the advisory committee highlighted what Synod 1996 said:
a. "Synod affirms the rich tradition of assembling for worship twice on the Lord's Day and encourages existing congregations to continue and new congregations to embrace this tradition for the building up of the body of Christ."
b. "Where congregations are exploring alternatives to the second service, synod encourages those congregations to ensure that such alternatives are part of a strategic ministry plan with full accountability to their classis."
The Reporter from the advisory committee emphasized the last line of point b. above - the need to hold each other accountable in our classes. It was good to hear the Synod using those words - now it's up to us to encourage that among one anothers congregations.
The only other issue that caused some conversation was a Communication from Classis Minnkota that said they were sending their delegates in protest to the seating of women at Synod this year. The advisory committee basically said that this was the wrong way to go about it and that the individual delegates should have registered their protest on their credentials instead - point noted for the future. However, it did seem a bit dismissive since a Classis can really send a Communication about anything it wants - as serious or silly as the matter is.
Tomorrow will be a full day of plenary sessions... thank you for your prayers.
Delegate from Classis Holland
Sunday, June 15, 2008
The only signficant action was the election of officers. Several were nominated but Joel Boot from Ridgewood CRC in Jenison, MI, was elected president and Thea Leunk from Eastern Ave CRC in Grand Rapids, MI, was elected vice-president. Les Kuipers and Laryn Zoerhof were elected 1st and 2nd clerk respectively. Elections went quite smoothly - except the fact that there were cheers after Thea was elected V.P. I understand the "historic" nature of this synod, but it's always good to reverse situations like that to see how "rub-it-in-your-face" it can be. Suppose a staunch conservative who was vocally opposed to the ordination of women was elected an officer and there was cheering - more than a few would be hurt or even offended. Now I know, people are going to go on about how long they've waited for this moment. I understand that fully... but the fact is, we say there are two equally valid interpretations of Scripture on this issue. That fact that clapping only occurred after her election makes the motivation clear (I do have to take that back a bit - after Les Kuiper was elected 1st clerk there was some clapping... but that may be because his name was listed as Leslie Kuiper...hmmm). It is out of place, immature and rude to celebrate it knowing people are, as a matter of biblical principle, grieving this time. With that said, most of those who are not comfortable with this say they are making every effort to work with all of those who have been delegated to Synod and I've seen nothing contrary to that. It just makes for some awkward situations that we're going to have to learn to deal with.
The rest of the day was filled with advisory committee meetings - that will produce more action over the coming week. A few evangelical and more conservative delegates met Saturday after the day was concluded for mutual support and encouragement. This was a blessed time - as was this day of worship! It is good to be re-rooted in why we are here - to serve the Lord and His Church! So pray that we all sense the joy that surely comes with that task.
delegate for Classis Holland
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
All of the overtures that we have posted previously have been compiled, along with some others, in the Agenda for Synod 2008. Go to page 235 for the study committee report and 288 for the first of the overtures.
Additional overtures and communications have been submitted after the printing of the agenda. They can be seen by clicking here. The overtures begin on page 69.
Other updates and additions will probably be posted. Those can be found by periodically checking here. Also, for some of the other response letters sent by church councils, scroll through previous posts on this blog.
Friday, April 25, 2008
The whole discussion of the FOS was framed by the issue of truth; what place does truth have in our congregations - especially in light of the post-modern society in which we live. The panel included Dr. Swierenga and Revs. CJ denDulk (Trinity CRC, Sparta, MI) and Tom Groelsema (1st CRC, Byron Center, MI). They fielded a variety of questions from the audience of about 70 or so on the topic at hand. Although many things were discussed, it came down to the vital need we have for the truth of God's Word. The confessions offer to us a unity around Scripture that allows us to go about the work of Christ in His kingdom. There was a common concern that this unity would disipate if the proposed Doctrinal Covenant was adopted by Synod this summer.
It was also encouraging to have Rev. Duane Kelderman from Calvin Seminary present, as well as a number of seminarians. Rev. Kelderman was not an official representative of CTS, but he did offer words of encouragement and solidarity. He noted that the seminary is very concerned about watering down our confessional foundation (which can be seen in the most recent edition of the CTS Forum).
Friday, March 14, 2008
The purpose of this meeting is to discuss "The Vibrancy of Confessionalism" and the place of biblical truth in our local congregations. Dr. Robert Swierenga (Research History Professor at the VanRaalte Institute and CRC member) will be giving a brief background on the role of the Form of Subscription in the Reformed churches to set a starting point for maintaining biblical truth in a denomination. His speech will be followed by an open forum/panel discussion on the broader topic of the place of biblical truth in our local congregations and the role of our confessions. In light of rampant post-modernism - even an all-out assault on truth - in our society and even in our churches, this topic could not be more timely.
There is no need to preregister but PLEASE HELP US GET THE WORD OUT. You can cut and paste this posting and email it to your friends and fellow church members. You can also print off and copy a half-page bulletin insert/flier (MS Word) to be passed around by clicking here.
P.S. This conference is held on the eve of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology (see posting under "Conferences 2008!" below). So if you are from outside West Michigan, make it a weekend. You can find more information on the PCRT by going to www.alliancenet.org.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Classis Alberta North - overture requesting Synod to reject the proposed Covenant of Ordination (Scroll down through classis agenda)
NEW: Classis Columbia - overture rejecting the proposed Covenant of Ordination.
Classis Holland - overture re-emphasizing confessional unity in the denomination
Classis Minnkota - overture requesting Synod to reject the proposed Covenant of Ordination
Classis Zeeland - overture re-emphasizing the Form of Subscription (see Agenda below)
NEW: Also, there are also overtures and communications listed in the 2008 Agenda for Synod from Classes Northcentral Iowa, Iakota and Lake Superior and Erie. Click here for a PDF version of the agenda.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
- February 4-6 Desiring God (John Piper) National Pastors' Conference, Minneapolis, MN: "The Pastor as Father and Son"
- February 29-3/2 PCRT (Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology), Sacramento, CA: "Precious Blood: Christ's Atoning Work"
- March 13-15 Ligonier National Conference, Orlando, FL: "Evangelism According to Jesus"
- April 4-6 PCRT, Atlanta, GA: "Precious Blood: Christ's Atoning Work"
- April 15-17 T4G (Together for the Gospel), Louisville, KY
- April 18-20 PCRT, Grand Rapids, MI: "Precious Blood: Christ's Atoning Work" There will again be a Returning Church event the evening before the PCRT begins. Watch the blog for more details.
- April 25-27 PCRT, Philadelphia, PA: "Precious Blood: Christ's Atoning Work"
- May 27-29 Banner of Truth Ministers' Conference, Grantham, PA
Friday, November 23, 2007
Facebook? If you're older than 25 that's probably your first reaction. Facebook.com is an increasingly popular social networking site used primarily by our young people (but there are a few seniors poking around too!). A Returning Church facebook group was created and has become an active forum for discussing the issues facing the CRC and the broader evangelical, Christian church - especially among our seminarians. There is a link posted on the right-hand column of this blog. Feel free to check out the Discussion Board there and even join the group yourself.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
1st CRC, Muskegon, MI - Letter from Council
Dr. Randy Blacketer, Neederlandia, AB
Central Avenue CRC, Holland, MI - Letter from Council
1st Byron Center CRC, Byron Center, MI - Letter from Council
Transcona CRC, Winnipeg, MB - Letter from Council
Rev. Stan Scripps of Graafschap CRC, Holland, MI, highlighted some concerns with the FOS Revision Report. You can see them here.
For an OVERTURE regarding the Form of Subscription click here.
There are also some comments on CRConnect
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Rev. Leese opened the meeting with a mediation on John 17:20-23 and Jesus' prayer for unity in the church, followed by Rev. CJ denDulk (Trinity CRC, Sparta , MI) speaking on II Kings 22 and Josiah's reforms based on the discovery of God's Word. Unity and God's Word certainly were central themes for the evening.
There was also a Q&A time where various issues and topics were raised, including biblical complementarianism, nurturing our covenant youth, the "Form of Subscription" revisions (see below) and other challenges to ministry. It was noted that the CRC has always sought to be biblical, and that must be encouraged and insisted upon going forward.
The question was asked, "What are you 'returning' to?" That is a great questeion and one that needs to be brought up often. The reply went something like this - we are prone to wander - as individuals, as congregations and as denomination. And recognizing that fact we must return to God every day, seeking Him at His Word. This Returning Church movement is not issue-centered, as some have claimed, but focused on returning us back to God and living for His glory each and every day.
This meeting in Iowa was almost one year to the date of the first Returning Church meeting in Byron Center, MI. God has seen fit to draw many people into the discussion around both the U.S. and Canada . May God answer our prayers and bring genuine revival and reform to the CRC.
The following day, Rev. Henry Reyenga (Family of Faith CRC, Monee , IL ) and Rev. Ben Tol (1st CRC, South Holland , IL ) invited several pastors to meet at 1st CRC in South Holland , IL , to further the discussion about particular issues and to introduce others to the ideas behind this movement. Many expressed a growing need for theological classes – where churches can show their unity in working together without binding their consciences. Again, biblical complementarianism and the "Form of Subscription" were discussed.
We encourage the gathering of pastors and elders in your area and when you do, to stay in contact with us. We will advertise on this blog and also via email, if you'd like. In the meantime, keep our denomination a matter of your prayers. We certainly all need it as we tread these waters and seek to faithfully minister to the congregations and community in which God has placed us.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Click here for a copy of the report and proposed revision.
Click here for a copy of the current "FOS".
Dr. Raymond Blacketer wrote a response letter which you can find on the CRConnect blog by clicking here.
Friday, September 07, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
RCA Integrity (Reformed Church in America)
Confessing Church Movement (Presbyterian Church USA)
New Wineskins (PCUSA)
American Anglican Council (Episcopal Church USA)
Evangelical Lutheran Confessing Fellowship (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)
Biblical Witness Fellowship (United Church of Christ)
A Broader, Non-Denominational Effort:
Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals
*Note: We do not necessarily endorse any of these groups, but notice some similarities to the CRCNA. Pray that God's Spirit blows the wind of biblical renewal in His Church universally.
Friday, May 11, 2007
If you would like to be added to the email list, please send a message to email@example.com. Please include your name, church and town/city. Don't worry, you won't be barraged with emails. We send out messages maybe once a month with updates on up-coming various events related to this discussion or other items that may be beneficial for the edification of the church.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
First, Rev. CJ denDulk presented a copy of Trinity CRC’s (Sparta, MI) recently adopted “Position Paper” and then Rev. Tom Groelsema presented a draft of the “Elder Covenant” 1st CRC (Byron Center, MI) is considering (Trinity’s document can be found by clicking on this link: “Trinity’s Position Paper.” We hope to add 1st Byron’s “Elder Covenant” soon). Other churches at the meeting indicated that they’ve adopted similar statements and they have served to provide unity for the congregation. It is hoped that documents such as these can lead the congregation into biblical discussion and definition of issues facing our churches and denomination.
Since the CRCNA has declared the 2007/2008 church year to be a “Year of Faith Formation” in conjunction with the denominations 150th anniversary, several discussed how faith was being “formed” in their congregations as an encouragement to others. The importance of catechetical instruction was discussed. Rev. Chad Steenwyk of Central Ave CRC (Holland, MI) presented an after-school catechism program they are looking to implement next year for elementary-aged children. They will be using Great Commission Publications “Kid’s Quest Catechism Club.” While based on the First Catechism, they plan to integrate the Heidelberg Catechism/Compendium into the program. This will also be a program that will actively be opened to the whole community. Rev. denDulk spoke about the existing program at Trinity which includes grades 3-12 every other Wednesday. They catechize 65 kids and have great enthusiasm and support by the elders and congregation. They use various materials, with much of it coming from Inheritance Publications in Sioux Center, IA, as well as some from Faith Alive. For greater detail on their program, click here. Rev. Tyler Wagenmaker presented an “all-ages” catechism program that is being developed in-house at Beaverdam CRC (Hudsonville, MI) with the help of a seminary intern. The hope is to bring the whole community in to the development of faith through learning together. Contact Beaverdam CRC directly for more information.
Rev. Henry Reyenga also spoke about Home Discipleship Ministry which focuses on families and equipping them to be places of faith nurture through the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Scripture reading/memorization and worship. Rev. Reyenga is the pastor of Family of Faith Church in Monee, Illinois. If you’d like to know more about his ministry, go to www.homediscipleship.org.
During the open time of questions and comments, many who were in attendance expressed that they have been greatly encouraged by these meetings and the ability to connect with other members around the CRC. There was a desire to hold additional meetings like this one in places like Chicagoland and the Midwest. It is our prayer that pastors and office-bearers from those areas will step forward and beginning planning such events. We would be more than willing to help out in any way. If you are thinking along those lines, please contact one of us.
We would love for you to interact about things at this meeting or other items you’d like to discuss. Please leave a comment or two.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
To keep folks informed, two groups have formed to promote the deletion of the word "male" from Church Order Article 3 and the seating for women as delegates to synod. You can learn more about these groups by going to www.synodcloudofwitnesses.org and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hearts-aflame/. If you know of other developments on this or other issues for Synod 2007, please post them here to help us all stay up to date on what's happening. Also, any comments on the above are welcome as well.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
This meeting is being held just prior to the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology (PCRT) to be held at First Byron from April 20-22 (see next posting on this blog). We strongly encourage you to take in the conference as well.
Further, you would help us greatly by publicizing the event with those you know who might be interested in such a meeting.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Friday, February 02, 2007
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Part I http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=1800
Part II http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=2296
Here is the renewal effort’s discussion page:
We’d love to have your comments – not so much in regard to the RCA (we’ll respectfully and prayerfully let our brothers and sisters in the RCA work through the challenges they are facing in their denomination) – but in light of bringing renewal to the CRC.
[Thanks to the folks on CRC-Voices for drawing our attention here]
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
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