About our classis

 

 

Our mission

In alignment with the mission and vision of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America and the Far West Region/RCA, the Central California Classis is a fellowship of congregations called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be the very presence of Jesus Christ in this region of His Kingdom.

Our shared purpose is to cultivate and nurture an environment where prayer, innovative ministry and leadership development produces healthy and reproducing churches that thrive in living out their God-ordained call to follow Christ in mission in a lost and broken world so loved by God.

Our shared goal is to assist churches within our region to become healthy, growing and reproducing congregations dedicated to making disciples for Jesus Christ.

Our STORY

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The Classis was officially incorporated by the State of California as a non-profit organization on Dec. 31, 1954 for the purpose of “promoting Christianity in conformity with the doctrine of the Holy Bible and the Constitution of the Reformed Church in America.”  

The first session of the Central California Classis was held at the Calvary Reformed Church in Ripon on April 7-8, 1953.  The Rev. Edward Fikse was the presiding officer with the Rev. Nicholas Gosselink serving as Stated Clerk.

The fledging classis consisted of the following six churches: Calvary Reformed, Ripon; Chinese Community, Sacramento; Grace Reformed Church (later named Miraloma Community Church, San Francisco); Sonoma Valley Community Church; Community Reformed Church, Oakland and Paradise Community Reformed Church, Modesto (now Church of the Cross).  Later churches were organized in Castro Valley, Twain Harte, Sacramento, San Jose, Carmichael, Elk Grove, Fremont, Petaluma and San Mateo.  

In 1982 Tulare Community Church was received into the Classis when the Synod of the West re-defined the southern boundary of the classis as the Tehachapi Mountains.  In the mid-1990’s a church multiplication movement began with new churches being planted in East Modesto, Chowchilla, Elk Grove, Tulare, Lathrop, Brentwood and Clovis.  As the new century opened, opportunities for multi-cultural ministries emerged throughout the southern half of the classis region, including: Chowchilla, Delano Dinuba, Fresno, Merced, Riverbank, Shafter, Tipton and Visalia.  In addition, five new churches were organized: Oak Hills Church, Clovis; Iglesia Cristiana Emmanuel, Sacramento; New Hope Church, Shafter, Grace Gospel Community Church, San Mateo and Sequoia Community Church, Fresno.  In 2015, 21 organized congregations and 12 developing churches comprise the classis.

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Our BELIEFS

 

 

The Basics
We believe that God created a perfect world and everything in it, including human beings.  In the beginning there was no sin, no hatred, no disunity and no death. But God also allowed humans to make their own choices.

The first humans, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God which allowed sin to enter God’s perfect world. From then on every human has been born with a sinful nature that leads to separation from God.  But the story doesn’t end there. God loves the world and the people in it–so much, in fact, that he made a plan to take away the guilt of our sin.  God sent his son, Jesus, into the world as a human. Jesus gave his life to pay the price for sins he didn’t commit. Jesus accepted the punishment for our sins which allows us to be reunited with God.

Three days after Jesus was killed, God brought Jesus to life again, defeating the power of death and evil. Jesus still lives today, eternally in heaven with God the Father. One day he will come back to earth to put an end to evil–sin, death, and pain–and renew all things. He will gather all who have believed in him from every time and place to live with him forever.

Our faith is centered in God’s love for us demonstrated in Jesus Christ, his son.  When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice for us and commit our lives to following him, God sees us as perfect, the way we were first created to be. We cannot manufacture such faith on our own; it is the result of God’s Spirit working within us.

To connect with this new life and hope, we need to recognize that we have big issues that we can’t fix ourselves, accept Christ’s claim that he is the Son of God and the way to new life, and allow God to lead us into a new relationship with him.

HOW WE'RE ORGANIZED

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The Reformed Church in America (RCA) follows a presbyterial or representative form of church government.

Each congregation is governed by a body called a consistory; which is made up of elders and deacons, elected by the congregation and the congregation’s installed minister(s).

Elders maintain order, exercise Christian discipline, and assist in pastoral care. They are responsible for the spiritual life of the congregation. They receive individuals into the membership of a church and plan and participate in the observance of the sacraments. 

Deacons lead in ministries of mercy, justice, service, and outreach. They care for the needs of people within the congregation, in the surrounding community, and around the world.

Ministers serve as pastors and teachers of the congregation. They are called by God to preach the Word of God, administer the sacraments, and care for the members of the congregation, build up and equipp the church for its ministry in the world.

A consistory is in turn governed by its classis.  A classis gathers minister and elder representatives from a group of congregations, usually according to their geographical proximity. Each classis supervises the congregations and ministers within its bounds. It exercises judicial power over the decisions of individual consistories; receives new congregations into the denomination; ordains, installs, and dismisses ministers; and oversees students of theology.

For more infomation on the next levels of RCA organization (Regional and General Synod), click here.

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REFORMED FAITH

 

 

In the Reformed view, the final authority is the Bible–known as the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God.
The Reformed perspective is centered in the overwhelming love of God toward us. We believe that God is three in one–God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit.

We believe that we are saved by grace alone through faith, not by what we think or do to earn God’s favor. Our good works don’t earn our salvation, but are a way to thank God for this free gift of salvation.

We believe Jesus, the Son of God, entered our broken world and lived a life that reveals who God is and tells us who we are: beings created by God in God’s image who suffer in a lost and broken world, separated from God because of sin.  Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to God and suffered and died on a cross to create the way for people to be reconnected to God, as we were created to be. God brought Jesus to life again—defeating death—and Jesus returned to his Father in heaven.  Because Jesus died and rose again, we can live in hope for a better life in this world and in eternity with God.

In this constantly changing world, we like to say we’re “reformed and reforming according to the Word of God,” earnestly seeking to know the mind of Christ as it strives to be faithful in a changing, complex and troubled world. 

The Reformed Church in America (RCA) is confessional, which means that together we have statements of belief, called creeds and confessions (Apostle Creed, Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, Canons of Dort and Belhar Confession). These statements guide our understanding of faith and shape its practice. 

The RCA celebrates two sacraments: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. They remind us of God’s promises to us and help us to claim those promises as our own.

In summary, the Reformed Church in America holds to these essential beliefs of Christianity:

  • Deity of Christ... Jesus is God.

  • Original Sin... Everyone is born in a sinful state.

  • The Canon... The collection of sixty-six books that comprise the Bible.

  • Trinity... One God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

  • Resurrection... The resurrection of Jesus and our future resurrection after death.

  • Incarnation... Jesus: Fully God and fully man.

  • New Life... Spiritual rebirth at the time anyone gives their life to Jesus.

  • End Times... Jesus is coming again.