Rules of Procedure for Classis Atlantic Northeast of the Christian Reformed Church

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I. Convening and Constituting of Classis

  1. Classis shall convene and be constituted as prescribed by the Church Order and by the classical and synodical rulings governing its meetings.
  2. The convening of Classis:
    1. Classis shall convene at least twice a year, ordinarily in March and October, at times and locations set by the Classis Interim Team [CIT] or by the decision of Classis itself. The October session shall begin with a time of mutual sharing and prayer for one another.
    2. Classis shall be specially convened when:
      1. Classis by its previous decision has so determined it;
      2. the CIT has determined the need;
      3. two or more churches have requested such a meeting.
    3. All matters of business shall be placed on the Classical Agenda and submitted to the Councils at least three weeks prior to the meeting. Overtures, and other matters for the agenda requiring action shall be in the hands of the Stated Clerk at least 30 days prior to the meeting.  Matters not appearing on the Agenda can be considered only by specific decision of Classis.
    4. At the time appointed for the meeting the chair shall receive the credentials of the delegates, thus establishing the roster, and in the presence of a quorum (2/3 of councils represented) shall declare that Classis is constituted. Before a meeting adjourns, a chair shall be designated for the subsequent Classis meeting, according to the rotation established by the Stated Clerk.

II. The Officers and their Duties

A. The Chair

  1. Ministers of the Word and Commissioned Pastors who are regular delegates and who wish to serve as the chair shall be placed in a rotation managed and announced by the Stated Clerk.
  2. The chair shall request those delegated to Classis for the first time to sign the Covenant for Officebearers in the CRCNA.
  3. As presiding officer, he or she shall see to it that all business is transacted in the proper order and expedited as much as possible, using the approved rules of order, and that the members observe the rules of order and decorum.
  4. The chair shall welcome ecumenical delegates and other guests of Classis, and shall respond to greetings received, or appoint a member of Classis for this purpose.
  5. With the advice of other officers of the day the chair shall be responsible for appointing the committees of the day to serve Classis with advice.
  6. The chair shall place before Classis every motion that is made and seconded according to the rules of order and shall clearly state every motion before a vote is taken.
  7. The chair shall conduct his duties impartially. Should the chair desire to speak to a pending question, he or she shall relinquish the chair to the Stated Clerk until the disposition of that question. The chair may speak, while holding the chair, to state matters of fact or to inform Classis regarding points of order.
  8. The chair shall recognize for debate only those who address the chair, and in the order in which they do so.
  9. The chair shall have and duly exercise the prerogative of declaring a motion or a person out of order. In case that ruling is disputed, Classis shall sustain or reject the ruling by a majority vote.
  10. As a member of Classis the Chair shall retain the right to vote on any question, and when that right is exercised, shall vote with the other delegates.
  11. The chair shall not preside on any matter that poses a potential conflict of interest personally, or concerns the Church Council of which he or she is a member.
  12. When a point of order is made, the chair must make a ruling at once. If any member is dissatisfied with the ruling of the chair and appeals to the floor, that ruling may be reversed by a majority decision of Classis.
  13. The chair shall close the Classical assembly with appropriate remarks, acknowledgements and prayer.

B. The Recording Clerk

  1. The chair of the previous meeting shall serve as Recording Clerk.
  2. The recording clerk shall keep an exact record of the proceedings of Classis:
    1. This record shall contain:
      1. Opening and closing of the Classical meeting;
      2. Roll call;
      3. All main motions, whether carried or lost;
      4. All appeals, whether sustained or not sustained;
      5. A summary of all reports of committees and all decisions of Classis relating thereto;
      6. The names of all those, other than regular delegates, who address Classis;
      7. Any document, any phase of discussion on the floor of Classis, or any address that Classis by majority vote decides to insert in the minutes.
    2. This record shall not contain:
      1. Any rejected motion except it be a main motion;
      2. Any motion that is withdrawn;
      3. Any procedural motion.

C. The Stated Clerk

  1. The Stated Clerk shall be elected for a term of three years, renewable upon the decision of Classis. An alternate shall be elected for a similar term, and shall assume the duties of the office when the Stated Clerk is incapacitated.  If the Stated Clerk shall remove from Classis, the alternate shall fill the office until the date of expiration of the term as alternate.  The newly elected alternate will fulfill the former alternate’s term.
  2. The Stated Clerk shall serve as an ex officio member of the CIT and shall work with the CIT to compile and prepare the Agenda for each meeting, and shall send copies of the Agenda and other documents to each Council at least three weeks in advance. In preparing the Agenda, the Stated Clerk shall give precedence to what is likely to demand considerable discussion.
  3. The Stated Clerk shall give proper notification of each meeting of Classis in the denominational papers.
  4. The Stated Clerk shall transcribe the concept minutes which have been approved by Classis, and shall send the churches copies.
  5. The Stated Clerk shall conduct all correspondence of Classis, and shall give proper notifications of all assignments to all persons appointed by Classis.
  6. The Stated Clerk shall keep the files of Classis complete and in order.
  7. The Stated Clerk shall work together with the CIT to arrange for a time of spiritual refreshing and stimulation at the beginning of each meeting.
  8. The Stated Clerk shall be remunerated for his or her services.

D. The Treasurer

  1. The Treasurer shall be elected for a term of three years, renewable upon the decision of Classis. An alternate shall be elected for a similar term, and shall assume the duties of the office when the Treasurer is incapacitated, filling the office until the date of expiration of the term as alternate.  The newly elected alternate will fulfill the former alternate’s term.
  2. The Treasurer shall receive and disburse funds in payment of synodical and classical ministry shares, and receive and disburse contributions of the churches for approved causes.
  3. The Treasurer shall place all funds in a depository approved by Classis, and shall make all disbursements by check.
  4. The Treasurer shall furnish an adequate surety bond, the premium to be paid by Classis.
  5. The Treasurer shall keep an accurate record of all funds received and disbursed, shall report to each session of Classis (ordinarily in person), and shall submit a complete financial report at the March meeting.
  6. The Treasurer shall ensure that the financial records of Classis are reviewed each year by another unrelated individual, and that this is formally reported to Classis.
  7. At the October meeting the treasurer shall propose the Classical budget for the ensuing year.
  8. The treasurer shall be remunerated for his or her services.

III. Matters Legally Before Classis

The following shall constitute matters legally before Classis:

  1. Reports of the committees and officers of Classis.
  2. Reports of synodical delegates and denominational functionaries representing Classis.
  3. Overtures from Councils submitted in accordance with Article 1, C of these rules.
  4. Appeals or protests by individual members who cannot yield to council decisions. Such appeals or protests shall be considered only if due notice and duplicate copies thereof have been given to the Council concerned sufficiently early to allow time for preparing answers to them in accordance with Article 30 of the Church Order and with the Judicial Code.
  5. Matters of advice and discipline arising out of questions prescribed in Article 41 of the Church Order.
  6. Examination of candidates for ordination as Minister of the Word, for ordination as Commissioned Pastor, of applicants for Classical licensure, and of applicants for Colloquium Doctum.
  7. Any other matters in harmony with the Church Order which Classis by majority vote may decide to consider.

IV. Committees

A. General Provisions Guiding Committees

  1. The terms of the delegates of the following committees (listed under B-H) shall begin January 1.
  2. An elder or deacon chosen to any committee shall serve out a full term even though the term of office may expire. All active Ministers of the Word and Commissioned Pastors are encouraged to serve in some ministry team or other leadership role within Classis.
  3. An alternate delegate shall fulfill the unexpired term of the regular delegate whose office he or she assumes.
  4. Standing committees shall be responsible for selecting their own officers.
  5. Standing committees shall furnish the Stated Clerk with a written report for each meeting of Classis.
  6. . At least every three years, Classis should encourage conversation and evaluation of each ministry team member’s continued service.  Ministry team members are encouraged to serve no more than six consecutive years.
  7. For certain purposes stated below, Classis is organized into four districts: Western New York, Central New York, Southern New England, and Northern New England. Whenever possible, ministry teams are encouraged to include members from each geographic region.

B.  Classis Interim Team (CIT)

  1. The Classis Interim Team shall consist of at least three members and aim to include at least one lay leader. The Stated Clerk serves as an ex officio member of the CIT.
  2. The CIT shall perform all the duties which Classis entrusts to it, and shall tend to matters which should not be deferred until the next meeting of Classis. Among these are:
    1. Approving Consistorial credentials for ministers entering or leaving Classis;
    2. Appointing counselors for vacant churches;
    3. Supervising Classical nominations and elections.
    4. Assisting the Stated Clerk in the preparation of the Agenda.
  3. The CIT shall have the power to call a special meeting of Classis when matters of great importance cannot be postponed until the next stated meeting, and it shall be required to do so when at least two Councils request such a meeting.
  4. The CIT, with the Stated Clerk, shall work together to arrange for a time of spiritual refreshment and stimulation at the opening of the October meeting.
  5. The CIT shall render a report at each meeting of Classis.

C. Church Multiplication Team (CMT)

  1. The Church Multiplication Team shall consist of at least six members and aim to include at least two lay leaders. The team shall also aim to ensure representation from each of the four geographical districts of Classis.
  2. The responsibilities of this committee shall be:
    1. To serve the Classis with information and recommendations regarding new fields of labor within the bounds of Classis.
    2. To function as liaison between Classis and the denominational mission agency regarding present or potential fields.
    3. To supervise, direct, and control any work assigned to the Committee by Classis.
    4. To administer special funds designated by Classis for church planting efforts, and publish opportunities for the use of its monies annually.
    5. To submit a written report to each session of Classis.

D. Church Renewal Team (CRT)

  1. The Church Renewal Team shall be composed of at least three members and shall aim to include at least one lay leader.
  2. The CRT shall foster the ongoing growth and vitality of Classis congregations, and connect churches to denominational and other resources which strengthen local church renewal.
  3. The CRT shall work with the CIT to handle ecclesiastical matters related to church renewal, such as the appointment of regional pastors, church visitors and church counselors.
  4. The CRT shall advocate for the work of the Classical Safe Church Team and for the work of Disability Concerns within the Classis, and shall ensure that proper support is given to these tasks.

E. Leadership Development Team (LDT)

  1. The Leadership Development Team shall consist of at least three members and aim to include at least one member who is a lay leader
  2. The LDT facilitates and resources leadership development for all levels of ministry leadership: pastors, elders, deacons, ministry staff and volunteers within and among Classis churches. The LDT shall serve the role commonly designated as the CLMT (Classis Ministry Leadership Team) across the CRCNA as it works with denominational committees.
  3. The LDT shall guide all those pursuing candidacy within the CRCNA according to the requirements given to classical CLMTs in the document “The Journey Toward Ordination in the CRCNA” written and updated by the denomination’s Candidacy Committee.  The LDT will also align its work within any other regulations adopted by Synod.
  4. The LDT shall oversee the financial assistance Classis offers students training for ministry in the CRCNA which takes the form of a forgivable loan. When a person completes 7 years of ministry within the CRCNA following graduation, his or her the loan shall be considered forgiven. Anyone who does not remain in ministry within the CRCNA for 7 years following graduation will be asked to begin paying back the loan. The following rules shall guide the LDT as it supports students with financial assistance:
    1. Eligibility:

The student is eligible who:

  • has successfully completed two years of college and has maintained an academic average of not less than a B-, barring extenuating circumstances;
  • is studying in preparation for pastoral or educational ministry within the CRCNA.
  • is or has been a member in good standing of a member church of Classis prior to enrollment in college;
  • completes the initial application and fulfills his or her responsibilities to the LDT as outlined below.
  1. Initial Application Requirements a student must supply to the LDT:
    • complete the application form for a forgivable loan from Classis Atlantic Northeast which includes:
      1. personal contact information
      2. educational goals and plans
  • estimated personal/family budget
  • submit a personal statement of intent to serve in pastoral or educational ministry within the Christian Reformed Church;
  • submit a letter of recommendation from one’s home church leaders;
  • provide a copy of transcripts from all educational institutions where one has studied;
  1. Responsibilities of the LDT:
    • provide application materials to students, informthem of deadlines, and coach them through the application process;
    • review all applications and make recommendations to Classis; ;
    • ;
    • communicate Classis decisions to each applicant;
    • contact each student at least once a year to review his or her educational plans and financial situation
    • arrange to disburse funds at least once per semester, according to the schedule agreed upon with the student;
  2. Responsibilities of the Student:
    • fulfill all application requirements outlined in ‘b’ above;
    • submit a copy of updated academic transcripts to the LDT at least once a year;
    • supply the LDT with a one paragraph summary of one’s studies and formation the past year to be shared with Classis delegates;
    • promptly communicate any changes in one’s financial situation or academic status to the LDT;
  3. The LDT shall work with the CIT to handle ecclesiastical matters related to leadership development, including admission to ministry, examinations of candidates, and release of ministers.

F. Committees of the Day

At each session of Classis the Chair shall appoint the following committees from the delegates according to the alphabetical listing of the churches:

  1. Committee to Examine Minutes

The delegates of one of the churches shall be appointed to examine the concept minutes of the preceding Classis, compare the same with the redacted minutes and other documents, and render their reports before the adjournment of Classis.

  1. Committee to Examine Credentials

The delegates of one of the churches shall be appointed to examine the credentials of each Council represented, and to report on the answers to the questions of Church Order Article 41, and to report on all matters needing the attention of Classis.

            G. Study Committees

  1. In order to facilitate its work, Classis may appoint committees to consider questions which require special study. They shall serve only for the period of time designated by Classis.
  2. The first person named at the appointment of the committee shall be its chairman and act as convener. The committee shall select its own reporter.
  3. Reports shall be furnished in sufficient quantities to supply all Classical delegates in time for distribution with the Agenda.

V. Denominational Functionaries

  1. At the March meeting of Classis the allotted number of delegates to Synod shall be chosen by ballot. All active ministers and commissioned pastors serving as solo pastor of an organized congregation of Classis shall be eligible for election as minister delegates to Synod.  Whenever possible, each Council shall nominate one elder or deacon from its membership.  Elder or deacon delegates who suffer loss of wages or income shall be reimbursed by Classis at the rate it specifies.
  2. Delegates to the denominational Council of Delegates, the Boards of Calvin College and of Calvin Theological Seminary, , the Board of World Renew, and the Synodical Deputies, shall be chosen for a term of three years at the March meeting of Classis. No delegate shall be eligible for re-election who, at the expiration of his or her term of office, has served six or more consecutive years.  No delegate shall hold more than one of these offices simultaneously.
  3. The written reports from denominational boards and agencies should be submitted to the Stated Clerk and will be sent to the churches along with the Agenda.

VI. Examination of Candidates for Ministry

  1. As soon as a candidate has accepted a call of one of the churches of Classis, the Council shall notify the Stated Clerk.
  2. Upon acceptance of a call the candidate shall sent the Stated Clerk the following credentials; or copies of the same:
    1. A seminary diploma;
    2. The letter of call;
    3. The letter of acceptance;
  3. The examiners and the sermon critics shall be selected by the LDT. This committee shall also be responsible for informing the candidate of all requirements and arrangements, and shall communicate with the Stated Clerk to ensure that all documentation is in place before arranging an examination.
  4. The sermon critics will observe the candidate preach at least one sermon in a congregational setting, review all sermon manuscripts provided by the candidate, and submit their evaluative report to classis as part of the candidate’s examination. The candidate will be examined at a Classis meeting according to the rules of synod.
  5. If the credentials and the sermon manuscript are satisfactory the candidate shall preach and be examined by Classis according to the rules of Synod.
  6. If the vote of Classis is favorable to admit the candidate, and the Synodical Deputies concur, the Chair shall present to the candidate a certificate of admittance to the ministry, and shall speak appropriate words.

VII. Classis Appointed Advisors

A. Counselors of Vacant Churches

  1. A minister of Classis shall be chosen by Classis or the CIT to serve as counselor to each church having no pastor.
  2. The Counselor shall serve until a pastor is installed.
  3. The counselor shall have the following duties:
    1. The Counselor shall see to it that the Synodical regulations are observed in the process of selecting nominees for call.
    2. The Counselor shall determine whether the necessary requirements for ordination or installation of a pastor have been met.
    3. The Counselor shall render advice and assistance as appropriate.
    4. The Counselor shall render a report at each meeting of Classis.

B. Church Visitors

  1. Classis shall be served by teams of Church Visitors and their respective alternates. They shall be appointed by the CIT and shall serve three-year terms.
  2. There shall be four teams composed of two or more of the more experienced and competent officebearers. Each team shall be appointed from within the geographic district of Classis which it serves (see IV.A.7).
  3. The Church Visitors shall function according to the regulations of the Church Order and the pertinent synodical decisions.
  4. They shall file a separate report in writing on each church visited to the meeting of the Classis immediately following each visit made.

C. Regional Pastors

  1. The regional pastor’s task is to support and encourage all pastors within their region of the Classis, in coordination with the CRT.
  2. Regional pastors will also work with the LDT to ensure that all newly ordained pastors in the CRC are engaged in a mentoring relationship.

VIII. Rules of Order

            A Use of Various Motions

  • Main Motions
    1. A main motion presents to Classis a matter for consideration or action.
    2. The mover shall obtain recognition by the chair and then present the motion.
    3. The chair may ask for the motion in written form.
    4. The chair shall rule the motion out of order if there is another motion before the Classis, if it conflicts with a previous decision taken during the same session of Classis, or if it conflicts with Scripture, the Forms of Unity, or the Church Order.
    5. Recommendations by committees shall be considered main motions.
  • Motions to Amend
    1. A motion to amend is a proposal to alter a main motion before final action is taken on the motion.
    2. A motion to amend may propose any of the following: to strike out, to insert, or to substitute certain words, phrases, sentences, or paragraphs.
    3. A motion to amend is not a proper motion if it nullifies the main motion or is not germane to it.
    4. A motion to amend an amendment is permissible and is called a secondary motion.
    5. Motions not amendable are listed under II.
  • Motions to suppress debate or hasten action
    1. Call for the question. This motion may be moved to terminate discussion of any debatable motion by calling for an immediate vote.  If adopted, the previous question (main motion) must be voted on without further debate.  If rejected, debate continues.
    2. Suspend rules. This motion may be made in order to facilitate the business of Classis with respect to some specific purpose.  The purpose must be stated by the mover.
    3. Limit debate. This motion proposes to restrict the time available for debate on a specific subject, and requires the chair to call for a vote at a specified time.
    4. Make special order of business. This motion would direct the chair to interrupt pending business at a specified time in order to consider the special matter proposed.
  • Motions to delay or prevent action
    1. Postpone to a definite time. A motion to postpone action on a given matter may be made, which shall propose a specific time when the matter shall again become the order of the day.
    2. Lay on the table. This motion allows Classis to delay consideration of a matter in order to deal with more urgent business first.  Matters thus tabled shall either be taken from the table before Classis adjourns, or, if left on the table, shall be regarded as never having appeared before Classis.
    3. Refer to committee. Classis may assign consideration or study of any motion to a committee for recommendation, and may recommit matters so referred.
    4. Withhold action. Classis may decide to withhold action on a matter by passing a motion to withhold action, postpone indefinitely, or be leaving a matter tabled.
    5. Object to consideration. A delegate may state an objection to considering a proposed matter.  The chair shall immediately either sustain or overrule the objector, stating the reason for so deciding.  The objector, if not satisfied, may appeal the ruling to Classis.  The objection then becomes debatable, and requires a majority vote to be sustained.
  • Motions regarding actions once decided
    1. Motions to reconsider propose a new discussion and a new vote on a matter already decided.  A motion to reconsider must be made during the same meeting of Classis in which the motion in question was passed.
    2. For weighty reasons, a delegate may move to rescind a previous decision taken at the same meeting of Classis, but only if that delegate voted on the prevailing side when the original decision was taken.  Action taken at a previous meeting of Classis can be rescinded only when the Classis is overtured to do so and reasons are judged to be weighty.
  • Privileged Motions
    1. Call for the order of the day. When a delegate believes that the regular business of Classis is being obstructed, he or she may call for the order of the day.  If passed, the chair is required to call for presentation of the next business listed on the Agenda.
    2. Point of order. If a delegate is persuaded that the parliamentary rules of Classis have been ignored or misapplied, he or she may make a point of order.  The chair must make an immediate ruling.
    3. Division of the question. At the request of any delegate a motion consisting of plural parts must be divided into its component parts and each part must be voted on separately.
    4. Non-scheduled recesses may be proposed, in which case the motion shall specify time and duration.
    5. Classis normally does not adjourn until all matters legally upon the table have been acted upon.  This motion has precedence over all other motions.

B. Discussion

  1. A delegate who wishes to speak in discussion of a matter must be properly recognized by the chair. He or she must address all remarks to the chair.
  2. A speaker may be interrupted by a call to order by the chair or by those motions listed under F.2 as permissible interruptions.
  3. The chair may hasten discussion by calling upon speakers to be brief and to the point.
  4. If a delegate has spoken twice on a matter, others who have not yet spoken twice shall ordinarily be given priority by the chair.
  5. After adequate discussion of the matter, the chair may propose cessation of debate. A majority vote sustains the proposal.

C. Voting

  1. The chair shall call upon those voting affirmatively to say, “yes,” those voting against the motion to say “no.”
  2. Raising right hand. If the chair cannot determine the outcome of a voice vote, or if a delegate questions the chair’s judgment as to the outcome of such a voice vote, the chair shall ask the delegates to vote by raising their right hands thus indicating their vote.
  3. Roll call. Voting shall be done by this method only when Classis so decides by majority vote.  A record of the vote shall be entered into the minutes of Classis.
  4. Classis may decide by majority vote to use the ballot in important matters.  The following matters must always be voted by ballot:
    1. Elections
    2. Admission to the ministry
    3. Granting licensure to exhort.
    4. Discipline of a person whose name is known to Classis.
  5. The right to vote on any matter is the prerogative of the chair.

D. Classification of Motions According to Precedence

  1. Privileged Motions                Second                Amend-                Debat-                                  Interrupt                                                             Needed                able                      able                Vote                     Speaker
    1. Call for the order of the day no                     no                         no                         chm               no
    2. Fix time of next meeting    yes                     yes                        no                         ½                    no
    3. Recess   yes                      yes                        yes                        ½                    no
    4. Adjourn   yes                      no                         no                         ½                    no
  2. Subsidiary Motions
  3. Lay on the table yes                        no                         no                         ½                  no
  4. Call for the question yes                        no                         no                         ½                    no
  5. Limit debate yes                        no                         no                         ½                    no
  6. Postpone to a certain time yes                        yes                        yes                        ½                    no
  7. Refer to committee yes                        yes                        yes                        ½                    no
  8. Amend yes                        yes                        (1)                         ½                    yes
  9. Postpone indefinitely yes                        no                         yes                        ½                    no

(or withhold action)

  1. Main Motions (no order of precedence)
  2. Main motion yes                        yes                        yes                        ½                    no

for general business

  1. Take from the table yes                        no                         no                         ½                    no
  2. Reconsider yes                        no                         (1)                         ½                    yes
  3. Rescind yes                        yes                        yes                        ½                    no
  4. Make special order yes                        yes                        yes                        ½                    no

of business

  1. Incidental Motions (no order of precedence)
  2. Point of order no                         no                         no                         chm                yes
  3. Appeal from decision yes                        no                         (1)                         ½                     yes

of chair

  1. Suspend rules yes                        no                         no                         ½                     no
  2. Object to consideration no                         no                         no                         ½                     yes
  3. Parliamentary inquiry no                         no                         no                         chm                yes
  4. Request for information no                         no                         no                         chm                yes
  5. Withdraw motion no                         no                         no                         ½                     no

(1) only debatable when the motion to which it is applied is debatable

½ means one more than one half of those voting (simple majority)