RCA and CRC Classes Meet Together
The RCA and CRC Classes of Central California met together in March for a historic joint classis meeting.
More than 150 delegates from the two classes gathered in Ripon, California. The event began at Calvary Reformed Church with a leadership seminar on "organic outreach" led by pastor Kevin Harney.
That evening, more than 300 people attended a joint worship service, held two blocks away at Almond Valley Christian Reformed Church. The sermon was delivered by Joel Boot, interim executive director of the CRC, and Tom De Vries, the RCA's general secretary. Communion was administered by three seminary presidents: Jul Medenblik, president of Calvin Theological Seminary; Tim Brown, president of Western Theological Seminary; and Scot Sherman, president of Newbigin House of Studies.
"It was a great experience on Thursday evening to worship together, and then be able to share the preaching responsibility with Joel Boot," De Vries says. "These times of joint worship have been rare since 1857, the year the Christian Reformed Church started out of the RCA."
"I valued the opportunity to remind us that we are not two denominations, but one body."
Worship continued the next morning, followed by two roundtable discussions. Brown, Medenblik, and Sherman spoke about seminary education programs, and De Vries, Medenblik, and Paul VanderKlay spoke about Kingdom Enterprise Zones and joint efforts in planting Hispanic churches. Central California is one of four "Kingdom Enterprise Zones" where the RCA and CRC are already collaborating on church planting, with financial support provided by a grant from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation.
"Our similar traditions, connected histories, common roots and relationships, and comparable convictions and commitments allow us to engage together in collaborative mission," De Vries says. "We are seeing this happen in church multiplication efforts in central California; Phoenix; Wyoming, Michigan; and Florida. There may also be ways we can more effectively equip and train pastors as Western Seminary and Calvin Seminary cooperate in the launching of the Newbigin House of Studies in San Francisco. Additional opportunities may be discovered in leadership development, church revitalization, pastoral clusters, and disaster response."
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