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I got to go to Classis this week. Many of us don’t know what that means so I'd like to tell you. Every church in our denomination is part of a regional assembly of churches that meets together a few times each year for important church business. Sussex CRC is part of Classis Hudson, represented by churches in parts of Northern NJ, New York City, and Long Island. We meet at each others' churches. I've been to Queens, way out on Long Island, and lots of the churches in New Jersey. For a while we were meeting on Zoom through COVID. But being together is worth the drives. Each church gets to send a pastor, elder and deacon as a delegate so I hopped in the "Pake Bus" (Charlie's minivan) with Charlie and Don and headed down to Cedar Hill CRC in Wyckoff, NJ. As is typical, we arrived a little early, grabbed a tasty cup of coffee, made sure we had all our agendas and started chatting with other pastors and church leaders who arrived before our meeting began.

At Classis, we cover a lot of church business. We go through all the steps to ordain new pastors, we listen to financial reports and reports on some of the local ministries happening with our partner organizations. Sometimes we have to talk about business that is difficult. But for the most part it is an encouraging time to be together. And maybe most importantly, we share great food together (Korean food is always a hit). This meeting we covered some of the usual. We heard some of the reports, voted on people to serve on teams and stuff, and passed a couple motions. But something new was a lively conversation helping us to think about what Classis does well and what we can do better. Each church had different things to share about what they thought Classis does well. Some of what Classis already does well is creating helpful accountability and support. For example, one church is now without a pastor and is in need of pulpit supply. So we passed around a sheet and all signed up for the Sundays they'll need to cover for the next several months. Some of the newer churches were grateful for the structure and stability of church governance and our strong Reformed theology (something I took for granted!). Many were grateful for the camaraderie of fellow church leaders.

What I'm grateful for is the picture of the Kingdom of God at work in our region. We have churches in diverse places with unique ministries to connect with their own communities. One pastor shared that we have 23 total ministries. 14 are established churches, 8 are emerging church plants, and 1 campus ministry. 11 of those 23 ministries are Korean-speaking. This has been an incredibly blessing to us and I learn so much by speaking with them. In addition to their incredible taste for good food, these churches know how to recruit and train pastors and PRAY. To give you an idea of how much of a blessing that is, just twelve years ago our Classis was half this number of churches/ministries. Plus, we have several new pastors on the way to becoming ordained.

All this tells me that in spite of great challenges in our world and in the church, God is incredibly faithful to His Church and His plan for her. Some churches have seen declining numbers, yet are embracing their communities in new ways. Some churches have closed, but their closures have blessed others with incredible beginnings. Some churches have just begun, yet are seeing fruit and a bright future. Some churches are blessed to see continued growth. God's Spirit is at work through it all and it's a genuine delight to see. I'm reminded of all that in Classis.

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