Does a classis exist at the very moment that all the brothers who were delegated are assembled in the room where the classis is to be held? No, not at all. A classis has to be constituted first.
We speak of a "convening church." The churches of the classical region alternately have the task of convening a classis. The order in which they receive this mandate is alphabetical. To this convening church proposals and other documents for the next classis must be submitted so that it can send a provisional agenda to the churches well in advance. The consistories then have the opportunity, if necessary, to pay ample attention to the points which will be on the table of classis.
It is on behalf of the convening church that the meeting is called to order. Usually this is done by this church's minister or, in case a church has no minister, by the elder who chairs the consistory meetings. A vacant church sometimes asks its counsellor to do it on its behalf. Sometimes one can read in press releases that the opening of the meeting was in the hands of "the chairman of the convening church," whatever this strange bird may be. This is a misnomer, because no such phenomenon exists in the Reformed Churches.
Even the opening of the meeting with singing, prayer and Scripture reading does not mean that now there is a classis. Before a classis can come into existence the credentials have to be examined and the names of those officially delegated have to be checked against the attendance list which the brothers were requested to sign upon entering.
Examination of the credentials is not a matter of routine, but should be taken and carried out seriously. The credentials should be read by the broth-
 ers who were requested to examine them and to report to the meeting. These brothers are usually the delegates from the church which was convening church for the previous classis. They shall examine the credentials to see whether these contain any provisions which cannot be accepted, whether the brothers who signed the attendance list are indeed the ones who were appointed by their consistories, and whether the consistories mentioned anything that should receive the special attention of classis.
What is to be done if any discrepancies are found and who is to decide about any difficulties arising from them? Is it the committee formed by the two brothers from the previous convening church? Or is it the brother who called the meeting to order on behalf of the convening church? Or is it perhaps, the consistory of the convening church which was either aware of or anticipated difficulties?
None of the above has the authority to make a decision or a ruling about these difficulties. The decision is solely in the province of and rests with the meeting which has been called to order and opened.
The meeting itself has to decide whether the reasons adduced by a church for delegating a deacon or a non-office-bearer can be considered sufficient. The possibility also exists that, as a result of difficulties in a particular church, there are two delegations, both claiming to legitimately represent the Church at A.'Such a situation is not imaginary. The churches were faced with such a situation more than once. What should be done in this case?
The examining committee will report any irregularity or discrepancy to the meeting. Although all those present from other churches may know all about the situation and for themselves may have come to a conclusion, the question should be dealt with in a proper and ecclesiastical manner. No highhanded action or hasty decision should be permitted.
The question is to be put before the meeting and is to be discussed without participation by the four brothers from the church involved. If necessary, these brothers can be asked for clarification or further information, but the decision whom to admit as the legitimate degelates of the church at A. is to be made by the meeting on well-founded and clearly formulated grounds. One of the two delegations will have to be refused, and this is a serious matter which will have grave consequences for the church in A. These consequences are there also for the whole federation of churches. It is the meeting of delegates which is to decide about it.
We spoke of "the meeting of delegates," for this is its character before a classis has been constituted. As soon as classis has been constituted, there is no longer a "meeting of delegates" but a classis with members. After the constitution of classis it is wrong to refer to a brother as "the delegate from the church at A." In Parliament this may be proper, at a broader ecclesiastical assembly it is not. There he is addressed as "Brother A."
In almost all instances no difficulties have to be reported by the examining committee, and the constitution of classis can take place without delay. If no objections are raised, the brother who chaired the meeting until this moment requests the "suggested moderamen" to take up their respective positions, and once they have done so there is a classis.