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Oak Hills Church is affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church in North America, a small, protestant denomination of roughly 200,000 members, based in Grand Rapids, MI, and rooted in a confessional Reformed tradition.  Established by Dutch immigrants in 1857, we have expanded to truly reflect our North American context with churches and ministries worshipping in Korean, Chinese, Hmong, Navajo, Zuni, and Spanish-speaking communities, throughout the US and Canada.

As members of a denomination, we benefit from the mutual accountability and support offered by our denomination and regional group (known as a "Classis"), with just the right amount of autonomy to "do church" in a way that reflects the needs and values of our community without the heavy-handed mandates or demands that can sometimes characterize denominational life.  If you're curious about how exactly we are structured, how decisions are made, who leads, and what does accountability look like, you've come to the right place!


Biblical accountability was never meant to be one-directional; we hold each other accountable, as equals.  Although our denomination has various levels of government (Synod, Classis, Council, Elders & Deacons), each level only has the authority granted to it by a "lower" level group that has voluntarily chosen to submit to the "higher" group's authority.  Denominational executives only have authority because Synod has granted it to them (and only as long as Synod does so), Synod only has authority because the Classes have granted it, Classes only have authority because Councils have granted it, and Councils only have authority because the congregation has granted it. In reverse, the congregation commits to submit to the Council, which submits to the Classis, which submits to Synod.  Denominational executives fill a purely administrative role to serve the needs of the denomination.  Likewise, at no point, is one single person granted sole authority to make decisions.

Speaking of denominational
                  govenment & hierarchies...


Churches are organisms, not organizations.  A church is a local gathering of people committed to being in Holy Spirit-driven community with one another for the purpose of worshipping God and serving the world.  The institution of the church exists for the benefit of the people, not vice versa.  Our church is Council-led, which works out like this...

Council members serve 3-year terms and are selected by lot, from a pool of nominees compiled by both the current Council and church members.  The Council is the combined group of both Elders and Deacons, plus pastoral staff.

Elders are charged with overseeing the administrative and spiritual needs of the church, and are further divided into Admin Elders and Pastoral Elders.  NOTE: All pastoral staff are permanent members of the Pastoral Elders, and are mutually accountable to them.

Deacons are charged with addressing the physical and material needs of the congregation, such as outreach efforts, benevolence, financial support, and community service.

Administrative Elders are tasked with managing facility needs, church budget, and other misc. administrative needs.

Pastoral Elders assist the pastoral staff in visiting, counseling, prayer, teaching, and related spiritual needs.

...and Classis?

We call our regional group of churches a Classis.  Oak Hills Church is officially a member of Classis Columbia, which contains approximately 15 churches stretching from Salem, OR all the way to Grangeville, ID.  Twice a year, each church sends a pastor, an elder, and a deacon to gather with the same from each of the other churches in our Classis for worship and prayer, to discuss ways we can continue to work together in ministry to our region, encourage one another in our specific ministry contexts, examine new candidates for ordination, and to hear reports from various denominational and local representatives.


What about this Synod thing?

Once a year, each Classis sends a pastor, an elder, a deacon, and an at-large delegate to our denominational annual meeting.  Synod is the highest governing body within our denomination.  Meetings generally look and are conducted in the same manner as the bi-annual Classis meetings, but are focused on the needs and topics that are vital to the denomination as a whole.  This can include the work of denominational agencies (ministries), doctrinal and policy positions...anything that affects us as a denomination.  It is worth noting that while Synod does have authority to determine and establish over-arching policies that help to define what it means to be Christian Reformed, Synod is limited in it's ability to legally mandate what each Classis or congregation absolutely must do, or how it is to do it.


We understand if this may sound confusing or complicated; we don't expect anyone to fully wrap their head around all the inner workings of the entire denomination.  But know this: each layer of our denominational structure is designed ultimately to support the next layer below it.  Synod works for the benefit of Classis, Classis works for the benefit of the Council, the Council (and pastoral staff) work for the benefit of the church members, and the church members work for the benefit of the community and world where God has placed and called them to serve.

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