CLASSIS ASSESSMENT: WHAT AND WHY
Your Stewardship and Finance Committee have been placing “special envelopes” in our offering envelope boxes resulting in many of our congregation choosing to pay their own Classis Assessment for the year. It has come to our attention that there are many folks who are interested in an explanation and clarification of just what the Classis Assessment is and how do we as an individual church or as individuals benefit?
In order to do God’s work as members of the Reformed Church in America, each church is asked to contribute to administrative costs. The areas supported by our assessments are such things as the cost of the Annual Meeting of General Synod, a portion of the cost for the staff and office operations of General Synod and General Synod’s Ministry Office, Operations and Support Services, Finance Services and Communication and Production Services.
Pretty dry stuff so far to the average RCA member but let’s think for a moment about some specific examples to which we can better relate. How is our RCA theological education (Western Seminary, New Brunswick Seminary and the Ministerial Formation Coordinating agency) covered? Part of our assessment! How are the gift and estate planning services funded? Again, part of our assessment!
At the Classis level, each time a committee meets and undertakes an activity on behalf of our congregations, a portion of our assessment is at work. The same can be said for the Regional and General Synod. Congregations experience the results of this stewardship when the Classis assists in a pastoral search or any time the Classis is asked to assist in congregational concerns.
Looking at the Regional Synod, we see the resources that are offered for workshops and training sessions for leadership development and the administration of Camp Fowler, a place dear to all our hearts. To make an analogy, the Albany Synod Office has numerous resources available for the asking much as does a public library. They are there for the asking. It is simply a matter of when we need them and more importantly, whether we choose to use them.
In a similar way, the General Synod provides support, resources and direction. The fact that it’s part of the wider church makes it less obvious but nonetheless important and helpful. A fairly obvious example is the availability of worship and Christian education resources.
A direct activity of the General Synod is its involvement in Seminary student preparation. Again, part of our assessment goes to help in the cost of theological instruction. We, at Pitcher Hill, can relate to that activity in a very real way since we have, in past years, had the experience of becoming a ‘teaching church’.
The contribution we make when we pay our own Classis Assessment frees money in our own church budget for outreach and mission both locally and in the wider church and communities around us while supporting in some small way the areas touched on above.
If you have any questions about this information or would like more detail, please feel free to speak to Bill Johnson, Karl Carey, Peggy Dunnewold, or Hugh Canham.