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BY LAWS -- CLASSIS OF DELAWARE-RARITAN
(revised January 30, 2016)

ARTICLE I – Definition

1. The Classis is an ecclesiastical assembly and judicatory consisting of all the enrolled ministers of that body and the elder delegates who represent all the congregations within its bounds. The Classis is a permanent, continuing body which functions between stated sessions through committees. The purpose of the Classis is to carry out its function as mandated by the Book of Church Order (BCO) of the Reformed Church in America. The Classis exercises its authority by virtue of the powers granted to it by the BCO. 

ARTICLE II – Membership and Duties


1. The membership of Classis is composed of all its enrolled ministers and all the elder delegates, as determined by the guidelines of the BCO.

2. Voting rights shall be limited to elder delegates and those enrolled ministers who are actively serving as ministers either under the jurisdiction of or with the approval of Classis.

3. Each consistory shall annually designate its elder delegate(s) and elder alternate delegate(s) to attend stated sessions and special sessions of Classis. The elder alternate delegate(s) shall vote in the absence of the normally appointed elder delegate(s). Inability to attend a particular session or special session of Classis does not relieve an elder delegate of their charge in this office on behalf of their congregation, including the fulfilling of their responsibilities to Classis and its committees. Elder alternate delegate(s) are given vote only to ensure the proper representation of their congregation at stated and special sessions of Classis as intended by the BCO. By attending and voting at a stated or special session of Classis an elder alternate delegate has not assumed the office of elder delegate.

4. Congregations without an installed pastor shall designate one additional elder delegate.

5. Delegates shall attend all stated and special sessions of Classis unless an excuse has been submitted to the Stated Clerk and approved by the Classis. Attendance at stated and special sessions of Classis shall take priority over congregational meetings and programs.

6. Elder delegates unable to attend a stated or special session shall make every effort to have the Elder alternate attend in his/her place.

7. It is the duty of all members, unless excused by Classis, to accept and fulfill all delegated and/or elected responsibilities, including the answering of the annual ‘constitutional inquiries’ (where applicable).

8. It is the duty of all ministers designated as ‘specialized’ or ‘without charge’ to report annually to Classis or its designated committee.

9. Every member shall observe proper parliamentary decorum at all stated and special sessions of Classis.

ARTICLE III – Stated Sessions and Special Sessions


1. Stated sessions of Classis shall be held on the last Saturday of January and the 2nd Tuesday in May and October. Each session shall be opened with devotions and concluded with prayer. The Lord’s Supper shall be celebrated annually.

2. The Stated Clerk shall give 10 days notice of stated sessions, including the time, place, and agenda of the meeting, together with all committee reports and recommendations to be discussed.

3. The quorum for a stated session of Classis is a majority of the elder delegates and a majority of those ministers who are actively serving as ministers either under the jurisdiction of or with the approval of Classis.

4. The parliamentary rules contained in Roberts’ Rules of Order Newly Revised shall govern Classis whenever applicable and insofar as they are not inconsistent with these by-laws and the BCO, R.C.A.

5. Stated sessions are held in each of the several congregations in rotation, with consideration for parking and accessibility, according to the organizational date of the congregations unless otherwise agreed upon by the Classis. The host pastor will lead opening worship at each stated session unless other arrangements are required.

6. At stated sessions the President establishes the bounds of the house, within which only members may sit and have the right to vote. The president seats students under care, visiting Reformed Church ministers and elders, and other guests as corresponding members. Corresponding members may address Classis though they may not vote.

7. Stated sessions held on a Saturday shall begin at 9 a.m. and adjourn no later than 1 p.m. Stated sessions held on Tuesday evenings shall begin at 7 p.m. and adjourn no later than 9:30 p.m.

8. While stated sessions will follow a standard agenda allowing for committees to report (as needed) each of our three stated sessions shall also include the following:

i. January:
  • state of religion report
  • seating of new Stated Clerk and Treasurer (as required)
  • report on congregations with no installed clergy and on church plants.
  • vote on Proposed Amendments to the BCO
  • appointment of delegates to Regional Synod
  • Celebration of Lord’s Supper

ii.May:
  • report on clergy who are retired, without charge or in specialized ministry

iii. October: 
  • seating of new President and Vice-President
  • student under care to lead worship
  • report on students under care
  • election of Classis officers
  • appointment of General Synod delegates
  • presentation of annual budget
  • presentation of Classis salary guide

9. The President may call a special session of Classis as provided by the BCO. The Clerk shall give ten days notice of the time, place, and specific reason(s) for the special session; only stated business may be transacted. The quorum shall be three ministers and three elder delegates. Special sessions will open and close with prayer. The President will determine the location of the special session and arrange for opening and closing prayer. Special sessions of Classis include, but are not limited to, those for Ordinations and Installations of Ministers of Word and Sacrament.

ARTICLE IV – Officers, Trustees, and Staff


1. The officers of Classis are: President, Vice-President, Stated Clerk, Treasurer and Parliamentarian.

2. The President serves a one-year term that begins with the closing gavel of the fall stated session (October). The office of President is not determined by a separate election in that the current Vice-President, at the conclusion of his/her one year term, automatically accedes to the office of President at the closing gavel of the fall stated session (October).

3. The Vice-President shall be elected at the stated session (October). He/she shall serve for a term of one year and shall begin the term of service at the closing gavel of the stated session during which the election took place.

4. Nominations for the office of Vice-President shall be brought to the floor by the Administration Committee at the fall stated session (October). Additional nominations may also be received from the floor. A nominating ballot will follow. Those nominated must be available for presentation at the fall stated session (October) and willing to have their names placed in nomination. The two candidates with the majority of votes on the nominating ballot will be placed before Classis for the electing ballot. The candidate with the majority of votes on the electing ballot shall be chosen Vice-President.

5. Any Minister of the Word or Elder delegate of a member congregation shall be eligible for nomination and election. It is suggested that Ministers of the Word and Elders be nominated on alternate years.

6. If a vacancy shall occur in the office of President, the Vice-President shall assume the office of President. The vacancy in the office of Vice-President shall be filled by election at the next regularly scheduled stated session.

7. The Stated Clerk, Treasurer and Parliamentarian shall each serve five year terms and shall be elected at the fall stated session (October) in years ending in ‘4’ or ‘9”. Nominations for each of these three positions will be brought to the floor by the Administration Committee. Additional nominations may also be received from the floor. A nominating ballot will follow. Those nominated must be present at the fall stated session (October) and willing to have their names placed in nomination. In each instance the two candidates with the majority of votes on the nominating ballot will be placed before the Classis for the electing ballot. In each instance the candidate with the majority of votes on the electing ballot shall be elected for the position being determined. The terms of each of these three positions shall begin at the winter stated session (January) in years ending with ‘5’ or ‘0.’

8. A vacancy in the office of Stated Clerk, Treasurer or Parliamentarian shall be filled with a special election at the next stated session of Classis using the election guidelines previously established. The election shall be for the balance of the unexpired term.

PRESIDENT

9. The President presides at all stated and special sessions, states and explains the business to be transacted, decides on questions of order with due regard for the parliamentarian's advice, enforces the rules of order, and, in general, maintains the decorum and dignity belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ. The President conducts the meeting of Classis according to the Constitution of the RCA, these bylaws, and where not in conflict, Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.

10. The President has the authority to execute contracts on behalf of Classis as may be required.

11. The President presides over services of Ordination and/or Installation and represents Classis at all events that call for official representation.

12. The President presides at the meetings of the Executive Committee.

13. The President shall make such appointments, incuding interim appointments, as are not otherwise provided for in the by-laws of the Classis.

14. Following his/her term in office the now most recent past-President shall give a ‘State of Religion’ report at the winter stated session (January), as reflected in the annual consistorial reports of the most recent calendar year.

VICE PRESIDENT

15. The Vice President assumes the duties of President in the absence of, or at the request of, the President.

STATED CLERK

16. The Clerk, in accordance with the BCO, keeps a faithful record of all the proceedings of the body, furnishes official notices in writing to all who are directly affected by judicial decisions of Classis, and forwards to the denominational archives copies of the minutes of Classis and subsidiary corporations, as well as all papers pertaining to disbanded congregations.

17. The Clerk handles all the correspondence of Classis, keeps a logbook thereof, receives all correspondence and directs necessary matters of business to the appropriate officer or committee. The Clerk oversees correspondence with the Regional Synod and General Synod and furnishes necessary information as required.

18. The Clerk is charged with the appropriate and timely communcation with the various committees of Classis on items of committee responsibility and action. In particular, items that impact the formation and dissolution of calls and contracts must be communicated to those of Congregational Care, Pastoral Care, and Executive Committee.

19. The Clerk gives proper notice of all stated and special sessions of Classis.

20. The Clerk arranges for secretarial services.

21. The Clerk preserves a record of all the activities of Classis, arranged and recorded with the Minutes of Classis, and stores documents of permanent value in a secure place.

22. The Clerk distributes and receives the ‘Annual Consisistorial Reports’, the constitutional inquiries, elders’ credentials, and other report forms that are deemed to assist the witness and work of the Classis or may be required by the Regional Synod or General Synod (RCA).

23. The Clerk records the minutes of every session and will maintain a hard copy of these minutes in a minute book. Any electronic version should also be backed up on secure media separate from the original host electronic device. The Clerk will circulate copies of the minutes to Ministers and elder delegates within three (3) weeks of each session.

24. The Clerk furnishes the credentials of enrolled ministers and Elder delegates to other ecclesiastical bodies when required.

25. At each stated session the Clerk lays on the table copies of the minutes of Classis for the past two years, of the minutes of the most recent general and regional synods, of the bylaws of Classis, of the Constitution of the Reformed Church (Book of Church Order, Liturgy, Confessions) and of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.

26. The Clerk notes two successive unexcused absences from stated sessions by an elder or minister and notifies the appropriate committee.

27. The Clerk maintains a list of the ministers and of the member congregations for the purposes of rotation and delegate election. (See Article VI – Delegation to Regional and General Synod).

28. The Clerk shall be remunerated not less than 20% of the Classis minimum salary. The exact amount shall be reviewed annually by the Finance Committee.

TREASURER

29. The Treasurer is responsible for the day to day management of the funds and financial accounts of Classis, secures necessary insurance coverage, receives assessments and all other Classis income, makes all Classis disbursements, provides a current written financial report at each stated session and Executive Committee meeting, assists the Finance Committee in preparing and presenting an annual budget and provides an audited account of the Classis funds on an annual basis.

30. The Stated Clerk shall be an additional authorized signatory on all accounts.

31. The Treasurer shall be remunerated not less than 5% of the Classis minimum salary. The exact amount shall be reviewed annually by the Finance Committee.

PARLIAMENTARIAN

32. The Parliamentarian shall advise Classis regarding all questions of parliamentary procedure, by-laws, and BCO rules at the request of the Chair or a member of Classis.

33. The Parliamentarian shall call to the attention of the chair any errors in the procedures of Classis.

TRUSTEES

34. The Board of Trustees shall be composed of three (3) members who are elected from the roster of enrolled ministers of Classis and all the elder delegates who represent all the congregations within its bounds. At least one of the Trustees shall be a Minister of the Word. Each Trustee shall serve a one year term.

35. Nominations for each of these three positions will be brought to the floor by the Administration Committee at the fall stated session (October). Additional nominations may also be received from the floor. Election will comply with the requirements of the laws of the State of New Jersey and follow the established procedures of Classis. Those elected will begin their duties at the winter stated session (January).

36. The Board of Trustees will discharge the function set out in the NJ Statute N.J.S.A. 15A:1-5 et seq., which statute is relied upon for administrative purposes only.

CLASSIS MINISTER

37. The Classis Minister, as a paid Classis Staff person, is a resource facilitator and coordinator for Ministers of Word and Sacrament and Congregations within Classis.

38. The Classis Minister is required to be an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament in the RCA. The position, by its nature, requires recognized spiritual authority and pastoral abilities.

39. The Classis Minister may be asked to provide particular resources to pastors and congregations by the Pastoral Care Committee and the Congregational Care Committee as a result of their team visitation of consistories and pastors within the care of the Classis.

40. The responsibility of defining the position, writing a job description, and hiring to fill the position of Classis Minister falls to the Program Committee. The Program Committee, by its nature, should be particularly aware of denominational tools, programs, and contacts for pastoral and congregational development, making both their evaluation of potential Classis Ministers and the description of such a position a natural extension of their committee work.

41. The Classis Minister is amenable to the Executive Committee of Classis. As the work of the Classis Minister may serve to act in the support of many Classis Committees, oversight of performance and evaluation of such performance is best done by the committee with similar overarching responsibilities.

42. As paid staff, it is not appropriate for the Classis Minister to have a vote on any committee, though the insight and resources the Classis Minister may provide should prove helpful to the work of any Classis Committee.

43. The Classis Minister serves as a non-voting member of the Pastoral Care Committee, Congregational Care Committee, and the Executive Committee. These memberships are crucial to the Classis Minister’s knowledge and understanding of issues and potential resource requirements by pastors and congregations within the Classis.

44. It is desired that the Classis Minister nurture their knowledge and understanding of Classis congregations through a pattern of regular visitation of these congregations.

ARTICLE V - Committee composition and responsibilities

Committee Composition and Duties

1. All ministers and Elder delegates from the congregations will be assigned to a Classis committee of their choosing under the direction of the Program Committee.

2. A chairperson and scribe will be selected from within the committee. The chairperson must be a minister of or an elder delegate to Classis and serves as the committee’s representative to the Executive Committee. In as much as possible, committees are urged to regularly rotate these responsibilities thereby supporting a greater collegial sharing of leadership within the Classis.

3. Standing Committees have power to act for the Classis in matters within their purview, which do not require the expenditure of funds beyond those budgeted to the committee, and which do not commit the Classis to a theological, ecclesiological, or public policy position. Weighty matters such as approval and dissolution of calls, matters of theological, ecclesiological or public policy, and unbudgeted expenditures are referred to the Classis with recommendations and supporting information.

4. Special Ad Hoc Committees, with the exception of that for overtures, disciplinary or judicial matters, may be appointed by the President. Special Ad Hoc Committees shall report at each stated session of Classis.

5. All committee reports shall be in written form and shall be submitted to the stated clerk no later than 14 days prior to the stated session of Classis at which time the report is to be given.

6. Committee membership will be of sufficient number to fulfill its stated duties. Inasmuch as possible, each committee shall be composed of an equal number of clergy and elder delegates.

7. The Standing Committees of Classis are:

a. Executive
b. Administration
c. Congregational Care
d. Pastoral Care
e. Candidate Care
f. Church Multiplication and Evangelism
g. Multicultural Ministry
h. Finance
i. Program

Executive Committee

8. The Executive Committee shall consist of the President, Vice-President, Stated Clerk, Treasurer, immediate Past-President, Parliamentarian, Classis Minister (non-voting), and the Chairpersons of Standing Committees along with an appropriate number of Elder or Minister delegates with the intention that one-half (1/2) of the membership of the Executive Committee will consist of Elder delegates and one-half (1/2) will consist of Ministers of the Word.

9. The Executive Committee acts on behalf of Classis between stated sessions, helps coordinate the work of the committees, and oversees the agenda for stated and special sessions of Classis.

10. The Executive Committee shall oversee the work of the Classis Minister and provide for the annual review of the Minister’s performance. Report shall be made to the May stated session of Classis that the annual review has been accomplished.

11. Upon the recommendation of the Administration Committee, the Executive Committee may appoint classical representatives when necessary and fill vacancies on an interim basis until a special election at the next stated session

12. When an Overture is brought before Classis, or matters of a disciplinary or judicial matter arise, the Executive Committee shall appoint a special Overtures and Judicial Business Committee of sufficient size and expertise to handle such matters and proceed along the guidelines established by the BCO.

13. The Executive Committee shall provide to the stated session of Classis full minutes of any of its meetings, provided that the content of such minutes do not violate any provisions of privacy. Such minutes will be submitted for distribution to Classis at Classis' next stated session following an Executive Committee Meeting.

14. Provision shall be made in the Agenda of Classis Meetings for any inquiries arising from the Executive Committee Minutes to be addressed.

Administration Committee

15. The Committee on Administration shall bring before Classis all proposed by-law and constitutional changes of Classis, Regional Synod, and General Synod along with recommendations for appropriate action.

16. The Committee on Administration shall present a slate of nominees for all vacancies and oversee the election of same. Additional nominations may be made from the floor.

17. The Committee on Administration shall be responsible for the annual review of the Elders’ Minutes of member congregations. These minutes shall be reviewed on a rotating schedule as determined by the committee.

Congregational Care Committee

18. The Congregational Care Committee oversees the member congregations to fulfill The Government, BCO 1.I.2: Responsibilities of the Consistory and BCO 1.II.7: Superintendence of the Churches.

19. The Committee shall recommend to Classis or to the Executive Committee action on requests for the dissolution of pastoral relationships or the issuance of calls or contracts with the understanding that no public announcements of same shall be made prior to the committee’s recommendation and approval by Classis.

20. The Committee shall work in unison with the Pastoral Care Committee creating visitation teams of two members to meet with the consistory and pastor of each congregation over a revolving three-year period. The visit will consist of a meeting with the full consistory of the particular congregation and/or, if required by a known condition or desired by the Minister(s) or the consistory, separate meetings with the consistory and the Minister(s). The visitation team is intended to provide and expressly charged with offering to the consistories and Minister(s) the support and encouragement of Classis for ministry issues before them.

21. The Committee member in the visitation team will follow up with the Vice president of Consistory of the visited congregation by letter or personal telephone call to allow for a period of reflection and open exchange between the committee member and the Consistory.

22. The Committee shall work in unison with the Pastoral Care Committee when a problem arises in a member congregation that is brought to the attention of Classis.

23. The Committee shall do the preliminary work when the potential for superceding a Consistory becomes apparent and shall make the recommendations to Classis.

24. The Committee shall recommend to Classis the names of an Elder and a minister to form the Supervision Team of a congregation without an installed minister, and shall oversee the work of said team. The responsibilities of the Supervisory team shall include, but not be limited to:
a. Attendance at all meetings of the congregation and consistory, due notice given.
b. Oversee the administration of the sacraments.
c. Assist the consistory in obtaining a minister, making use of various RCA resources.
d. Assist the consistory in completing the congregational profile form.
e. Be certain the consistory understands the differences between ‘call’ and ‘contract.’
f. Witness the ‘call’ or ‘contract’ by a consistory upon a prospective minister, keeping the consistory aware of current salary and benefits requirements as established by Classis. Calls or contracts containing exceptions to the salary and benefit requirements as established by Classis must be approved by Classis.

Pastoral Care Committee

25. The Pastoral Care Committee oversees enrolled Ministers of Word and Sacrament to fulfill The Government, BCO, 1.II.12: Supervision of Ministers of Word and Sacrament.

26. The Committee shall provide a pastoral mentor for all newly enrolled Minister of the Classis, such mentoring to continue for a period of not less than two years. Mentors so assigned need not be members of the Committee but will be accountable to it.

27. The Committee shall maintain contact with all Ministers of Classis who are retired, without charge, or engaged in specialized ministry and report on their status annually. In situations where a Minister of the Classis faces a personal or professional problem, the Committee shall take whatever steps are appropriate to address the situation, reporting same to the Classis as may be warranted.

28. The Committee shall maintain contact with all installed and contracted Ministers of the Word and report to Classis as may be appropriate. In situations where a Minister of the Classis faces a personal or professional problem, the Committee shall take whatever steps are appropriate to address the situation, reporting same to the Classis as may be warranted while honoring confidentiality requirements.

29. The Committee shall work in unison with the Congregational Care Committee creating visitation teams of two members to meet with the pastor and consistory of each congregation over a revolving three-year period. The visit will consist of a meeting with the full consistory of the particular congregation and/or, if required by a known condition or desired by the Minister(s) or the consistory, separate meetings with the consistory and the Minister(s). The visitation team is intended to provide and expressly charged with offering to the consistories and Minister(s) the support and encouragement of Classis for ministry issues before them.

30. The Committee member in the visitation team will follow up with the Minister(s) of the visited congregation by letter or personal telephone call to allow for a period of reflection and open exchange between the committee member and the Minister(s).

31. The Committee shall work in unison with the Congregational Care Committee when a problem arises in a member congregation that is brought to the attention of Classis

32. The Committee shall encourage enrolled ministers of Classis to develop a pastoral relationship for self and family and inquire annually as to the effectiveness of this program.

33. The Committee shall consider the requests of Ministers of the Word seeking secular employment or occupation and shall recommend to Classis approval or denial of same.

34. The Committee shall monitor participation in ‘Clergy Cluster Support Groups.’

Candidate Care Committee

35. The Committee oversees a number of duties to fulfill The Government (BCO), specifically:
a. Students of Theology (BCO 1.II.11)
b. Certificate of Fitness for Ministry (BCO 1.II.12)
c. Supervision of Licensure and Ordination (BCO 1.II.13)
d. Reception of Ministers & Licensed Candidates from Other Denominations (BCO 1.II.14)
e. Commissioning and Supervision of Preaching Elders (BCO 1.II.16)
f. Commissioned Pastors (BCO 1.II.17)

36. The Committee shall receive and recommend to Classis all requests from Boards of Elders to take prospective candidates for ordained ministry under the care of Classis.

37. The Committee shall oversee each candidate’s attendance in a professional assessment of the candidate’s fitness for ministry.  This will be done at Classis’ expense and will precede the candidate being taken under care.

38. The Committee, using Classis funds, will provide a stipend each year for each full-time student under care. Part-time students will receive a pro-rated payment based upon the credit-hour requirements of the student’s part-time course load. 

39. The financial support provided to a student by Classis shall be reviewed annually by the Committee and can be changed by vote of the Classis.

40. A local Board of Elders recommending a student for Classis care will be expected to provide financial support to said student in an amount equal or greater than the Classis portion.

41. Each student taken under care will be assigned a committee member as his/her mentor or pastor. The mentor will inquire quarterly about the student’s well-being and report to the committee.

42. The Committee will present all students under its care to the Classis at the fall stated session (October) along with a report on the students progress.

43. The Committee will conduct, on behalf of Classis, those examinations other than those for licensure or ordination as outlined in the BCO.

44. The Committee will conduct, at a special or stated session of Classis, examinations for licensure and ordination.

45. The Committee will conduct, at a special or stated session of Classis, examinations of students from other classes or denominations seeking ministry opportunities within our boundaries.

46. The Committee will conduct, at a special or stated session of Classis, examinations of ordained clergy from other denominations seeking ministry opportunities within our boundaries.

Church Multiplication and Evangelism Committee

47. The Committee shall strengthen and equip faithful Christian witness throughout and beyond the present bounds of Classis.

48. Special tasks assigned to this Committee are:
a. To identify and celebrate the present Christian witness among our congregations, recognizing God’s gifts.
b. To identify and recommend opportunities for expanding Christian witness in both church starts and new church plants.
c. To evaluate applications for Regional Synod Multiplication Funds and to bring such recommendations to Classis. 
d. To represent Classis on the Regional Synod’s Multiplication Team.
e. To cast a vision for a church multiplication movement within our Classis.

Multicultural Ministry Committee

49. The Committee shall assist the Classis by educating and providing resources, lectures, seminars, and other media that raise awareness of the needs and concerns of racial/ethnics.

50. The Committee shall work in partnership with the Church Multiplication and Evangelism Committee on the identification of specific areas for potential multicultural ministries and opportunities.

51. The Committee shall develop methods and procedures that include mentoring and coaching for the welcoming, receiving, and integrating of congregations and pastors that are ethnic and connecting them to denominational resources.

52. The Committee shall advocate and be a prophetic voice for unity, reconciliation, and justice in our communities and congregations.

53. The Committee shall be accessible to other Classis committees when those committees encounter multicultural concerns.

54. The Committee shall create and encourage the implementation of action plans to address multicultural trends for change within the Classis.

55. The Committee shall assist the Congregational Care Committee in evaluating potential multicultural ministries as beneficial to congregational renewal and refocus.

56. The Committee shall develop linkages, networks, and points of contact with other structures both within and without the RCA that can be helpful in providing tools and resources for the growth of multicultural ministries within the Classis.

Finance Committee

57. The Committee shall prepare and present, with the assistance of the Treasurer, an annual budget at the fall stated session (October).

58. The Committee shall prepare and present at the fall stated session (October) a mandatory minimum salary schedule and benefits requirements for all installed Ministers of the Word and those serving under contract (full or part-time).

59. The Committee shall audit congregations’ compliance with salary and benefits requirement and take steps to insure compliance where necessary.

60. The Committee shall develop, along with the Congregational Care Committee, a protocol for assisting congregations which claim inability to adhere to the salary and benefits requirements of Classis. Such protocol shall include:
a. Thorough evaluation of the congregation’s financial health.
b. A mechanism for assistance in managing the congregation’s financial affairs.
c. A means to accumulate and administer funds to supplement the congregation’s resources.
d. With evidence of steady financial decline, to assess the congregation’s continued viability.

61. The Committee shall provide for an annual audit of the Classis Treasurer’s books.

62. The Committee shall inform Classis of all matters pertaining to the RCA’s Board of Benefits Services.

63. The Committee shall review each congregation’s audit report, debt report and bond certification, oversee any necessary corrective action and keep Classis advised of unresolved matters.

64. The Committee shall recommend annually to Classis the salaries of the Stated Clerk and Treasurer as per established guidelines.

65. The Committee on Finance will lay before Classis or the Executive Committee its recommendation concerning all requests from consistories for:
a. permission to sell, transfer, lease, mortgage or otherwise alienate or encumber any real property of the congregation on which there stands a building designed for worship or religious instruction, or a residence for the minister
b. all requests from consistories to borrow funds exceeding the denominational threshold.  ["The consistory shall not incur a total indebtedness which exceeds two-thirds of the prior year’s expenditures for congregational purposes, as reported to the General Synod, without the approval of classis." Book of Church Order 1.I.2 Sec. 13]

66. All such requests (as per #65) must be made in writing by a consistory to Classis at least 30 days prior to the Classis meeting or Executive meeting at which time the matter is to be considered. In making any of these applications a consistory shall furnish:
a. For buying or selling real estate, appraisals certified by two professional real estate appraisers (not members of the congregation) as to the fair market value of the property.
b. The proposed buying price (with maximum to be borrowed) or selling price of property.
c. Evidence of a congregational meeting at which time the congregation was fully informed as to the proposed buying or selling, the reasons for it, the indebtedness incurred, and the use to which the newly acquired properties, monies or proceeds shall be put. The matter shall be subject to an advisory vote by secret ballot with the results of that ballot tabulated and included in the report to Classis or the Finance Committee.
d. A financial plan, including the most recent and current congregation budgets, clearly showing how the additional costs of a newly acquired indebtedness shall be repaid. 

67. When Classis has given permission for a consistory to sell a residence for the minister, the Finance Committee shall be satisfied that the following requirements are completed and adhered to:
a. The Consistory shall invest the proceeds from the sale in a separate housing fund not co-mingled with other congregational funds, unless otherwise approved by the Classis.
b. The Consistory may use the income from this housing fund to pay the minister’s housing allowance.
c. The Consistory may use the housing fund to purchase a new parsonage but cannot otherwise borrow from the principal or use it as collateral for other purposes without prior approval of Classis (with the exception of item 67 d.).
dThe Consistory may submit a detailed plan to Congregational Care for recommendation to classis to use funds received through the sale of a Parsonage for paying a Housing Allowance.  If the plan is approved by Congregational Care, the endorsed plan will then be forwarded to the Finance Committee for its endorsement and submission to Classis.  Classis must then approve the plan prior to implementation. If time is critical, the Executive Committee is authorized to act for the Classis.
e. The Consistory shall provide a financial accounting of the housing fund when asked to do so by Classis or its Finance Committee.

68. The Committee shall determine that the financial officers of each congregation in Classis (such as Treasurer, Financial Secretary, Ministers or others so designated by consistory) shall be bonded for at least $100,000.00. The Stated Clerk shall inquire from the congregations certification that this is done. Negative replies to this inquiry will be referred to the Finance Committee for investigation and compliance.

69. The Committee shall determine that all major financial accounts of the congregations in Classis are audited or reviewed annually by someone other than the existing financial officers of the congregation, either from within or outside the congregation, and who are knowledgeable in accounting. The individual conducting the audit or review shall submit a written financial report on their work which shall be submitted to the Finance Committee.

Program Committee

70. The Committee shall take recommendations from the Congregational Care and Pastoral Care Committees as well as the Classis Minister for the purpose of assessing congregational needs within Classis and encouraging ministry and mission in the community and beyond.

71. The Committee shall support and affirm congregations towards growth in spiritually healthy ways though special events and/or workshops such as Consistory training, NCD, conflict resolution, long range planning, Unbinding the Gospel, Fresh Start and Alpha (among others). The Committee will make certain the congregations are aware of these tools and direct them to personnel who can assist in their implementation.

72. The Committee shall form ‘interest based clusters’ to address specific ministry opportunities (i.e. Youth Ministries, Mission projects, Soup Kitchen, Worship resources, etc.) and similar collaborative ventures across the Classis.

73. The Committee shall monitor the membership of Classis committees with the goal of full participation by enrolled elder delegates and ministers.

74. The Committee shall strongly encourage the participation of our enrolled ministers in programs of Continuing Education and shall impress upon consistories the BCO requirement of a minimum of one week and a stipend equal to not less than the equivalent of 1/52 of the minimum cash salary established by the Classis for a study program mutually agreed upon by the pastor and consistory for professional development.

75. The Committee shall promote the cause of Christian higher education at the institutions affiliated with the RCA, and furthermore, shall promote the cause of ecumenical relationships through local, regional, state and national agencies and programs.

76. The responsibility of defining the position of Classis Minister, writing the job description, and hiring to fill the position falls to the Program Committee. The Committee, by its nature, should be particularly aware of denominational tools, programs, and contacts for pastoral and congregational development, making both their evaluation of potential Classis Ministers and the description of such a position a natural extension of their committee work.

77. Understanding that the review of the performance of the Classis Minister is the responsibility of the Executive Committee, the Committee shall undertake regular review of the position and its job description to ensure that the position and its stated responsibilities are in keeping with the needs and goals of the Classis. A report shall be made of the review to the Classis.

Article VI – Delegates to General and Regional Synods

Delegates to General Synod

1. Minister and Elder delegates to General Synod are appointed at the October stated session of Classis. 

2. Minister delegates to General Synod are chosen from the list of clergy actively serving under the jurisdiction or with the approval of Classis.

3. Elder and Minister delegates to General Synod are appointed to one year terms unless the requirements of the General Synod or Regional Synod state otherwise.

4. The following selection process will be used to select minister delegates:
a. Minister delegates to General Synod shall be appointed from the roster of Ministers in active service in the order that he/she last served as a delegate from this Classis.
b. A minister must have attended at least one stated session (not counting the October stated session) of the calendar year in which the election is held in order to be an eligible delegate to the next meeting of General Synod.
c. Those ministers coming into the Classis henceforth will we counted as if their date of signing the Formula was their last ‘turn’ to serve as a delegate.
d. failing to accept a turn as delegate shall forfeit and the rotation shall continue unless he/she is prevented from attending by an excuse accepted by the Classis or Executive Committee.
e. If a Primary Delegate is unable to attend, then an excusal (or one year deferment) of the appointment may be granted by the Classis or Executive Committee. Requests for excusal (or deferment) must be received no later than the January session of Classis. After that time, only reasons categorized as “emergencies” will be considered as valid reasons for granting an excusal (or deferment.) “Schedule conflict” will not be accepted as a valid reason.
f. If an Alternate Delegate is unable to attend:
I.  Alternates are expected to reserve the dates for General Synod as if they can expect to attend. If the alternate is unable to reserve the date, the alternate must report this to the classis stated clerk no later than the fall session of Classis. The Alternate will then be excused from serving as an alternate for the coming session of synod.
ii.  If an Alternate is appointed as a Delegate on or before the January session of classis, the policy for excusing a delegate (above) will apply.
iii.  If the Alternate is asked to attend after the January session of classis, the Alternate may decline the appointment and will remain eligible for appointment as a Delegate for the next year.

5. Elder delegates to General Synod are chosen from each congregation in historical rotation according to the date of organization. Elders of the Greater Consistory are also eligible.

6. A congregation that declines to forward the name of an Elder forfeits its turn and the rotation shall continue.

Delegates to Regional Synod

7. Minister and Elder delegates to the Regional Synod are appointed at the January stated session of Classis.

8. Terms of service for Minister and Elder delegates to the Regional Synod are one year in length and begin the day of annual meeting of the Regional Synod and conclude on the day prior to the following year’s annual meeting of the Regional Synod.

9. The following process will be used to select minister delegates:
a. Ministerial delegates to Regional Synod shall be appointed from the roster of Ministers in active service in the order that he/she last served as a delegate from this Classis.
b. A minister must have attended at least one stated session (not counting the October stated session) of the calendar year in which the appointment is made in order to be an eligible delegate to the next meeting of Regional Synod.
c. Those Ministers coming into the Classis henceforth will be counted as if their date of signing the Formula was their last ‘turn’ to serve as a delegate.
d. A Minister failing to accept a turn as delegate shall forfeit and the rotation shall continue unless he/she is prevented from attending by an excuse accepted by the Classis or Executive Committee.

10. Elder delegates to Regional Synod are chosen from each congregation in historical rotation according to the date of organization. Elders of the Greater Consistory are also eligible.

11. A congregation that declines to forward the name of an Elder forfeits its turn and the rotation shall continue. 

12. Classis will elect one member to serve on the Executive Committee of the Regional Synod as specified by the By-Laws of the Regional Synod of the Mid-Atlantics. When needed, the Delaware-Raritan Executive Committee shall be empowered to appoint an alternate. If the position becomes vacant, an election will be held at the next regularly scheduled meeting of Classis.

ARTICLE VII – Order of Business


1. The agenda for all stated sessions of Classis shall be as follows:
  • Call to Order 
  • Devotions 
  • Roll Call 
  • Presentation of Minutes 
  • Unreferred Communications 
  • President’s Report (when appropriate) 
  • Treasurer’s Report 
  • Committee Reports: 
    • Executive
    • Administration
    • Candidate Care
    • Finance
    • Church Multiplication and Evangelism
    • Congregational Care
    • Pastoral Care
    • Program
  • Report of Classis Minister 
  • Special Committees 
  • Other business 
  • Adjournment with Prayer
This Agenda may be suspended at any stated session that has a quorum by three-fourths majority of the members present.

2. The Agenda for all special sessions shall be as follows:
  • Call to Order
  • Devotions 
  • Roll Call 
  • Statement of Purpose of Special Session 
  • Action on the Purpose of Special Session 
  • Adjournment with Prayer 

ARTICLE VIII Electronic Participation at Meetings

1Only delegates to classis who are physically present at a regularly scheduled Session of Classis are eligible to vote on matters brought before the Classis. 

2. Committees, including the Executive Committee, may use on-line / interactive communications to conduct business, to include voting conducted as part of the meeting. Minutes of the meeting must include the results of votes cast during the meeting. 

ARTICLE IX – Miscellaneous

1. With the advice and consultation of the President, the Clerk shall have the authority to fill unexpected and unplanned vacancies in all Synod delegations. 

2. Framers of motions must submit written copies of their motions upon the request of the clerk.

3. Consistories are considered delinquent if they fail to be represented at Classis by an elder or minister for two successive sessions without excuse, or if they fail to pay their assessments in a timely manner, or if they fail to submit their consistorial reports. Delinquent consistories will be contacted by a member of the Congregational Care Committee.

4. Ministers are considered delinquent who fail to attend two successive stated sessions without an excused absence that has been approved by Classis. Delinquent ministers will be contacted by a member of the Pastoral Care Committee.

5. Any of these by-laws not made obligatory by the Constitution of the Reformed Church in America may be temporarily suspended by three-fourths majority of the members present that has a quorum.

6. These by-laws may be revised and amended in keeping with the Constitution.

7. Proposed amendments must be moved and submitted in writing at a stated session that has a quorum, receive the approval of a simple majority; be referred to the Administration Committee for review, editing and resubmission for second reading at the next stated session at which there is a quorum, and receive approval by a two-thirds vote at that meeting.
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