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Letter by Cornelius van Til

The following letter was written by Dr. Cornelius Van Til


May 13, 1958

Eureka Classis met at Eureka, South Dakota last week, May 7th to 11th. The Committee on Inter-Church Relationship asked me to attend the meetings of the Classis.

I arrived in Aberdeen, South Dakota, by plane on Wednesday afternoon. There, two brothers, Stuebbe by name, both ministers of the Classis, met me. Their father is also a minister in that Classis. We drove to Eureka, which is about 80 miles west of Aberdeen, for the evening meeting. Rev. Melvin Nonhof of Shafter, Cal., is a neighbor of the younger of the two Stuebbe brothers. This younger Stuebbe is a pastor in Bakersfield, Cal.

The opening of the Classis was on Wednesday evening. Rev. Buehrer, one of the older ministers, gave the sermon. After the service I went with Rev. Hoeflinger and stayed over­night at his home. Hoeflinger is one of our graduates.

The Business Meetings began on Thursday morning. I was given an opportunity to address the Classis on Thursday afternoon. Rev. Bosma was the President, Mr. Hoeflinger the Clerk and Rev. John Cooper, also one of our graduates, was Vice President.

I spoke on the condition of the Church in general in relation to the modern situation and on the need of all of us who love the Reformed Faith in cooperating to bring the message of God’s grace to the world. In the evening there was a large public meeting. Rev. Klaudt, an older minister, preached a sermon in German. It was delightful to listen to him. I was given an opportunity to address this public audience for 15 min. after Mr. Klaudt was through speaking. There were approximately 500 people present. After the service I went with Rev. Cooper and stayed overnight at his home. Rev. Bernie Haan of Sioux City, together with another Christian Reformed Minister, arrived Friday morning. He wants me to come for a two-day retreat with the Faculty of Dordt College next fall. Rev. Korn, also a minister of Eureka Classis, asked me to come to Menno, South Dakota next fall also. I should be able to do those two things in one trip.

I left Eureka Friday afternoon. The parents of one of our students, Lloyd Gross, took me to their home for a brief visit and after that Mr. Gross took me to the plane in Aberdeen.

I was very much impressed by the solidity of the Reformed tradition among the people of Eureka Classis. But their problem is to communicate the truths of the Reformed Faith to the next generation. The situation is similar apparently to that which obtained in the Christian Reformed Church a number of years ago. The situation is perhaps more difficult than it was in the Christian Reformed Church. The hope for the future seems to lie in the fact that Rev. Cooper and Rev. Hoeflinger, together with Rev. Nonhof and the younger Stuebbe, are very much aware of the need of a positive and aggressive presentation of the Reformed Faith in the English language. Another hopeful feature is the fact that Lloyd Gross graduates this spring and will enter the Eureka Classis. Then too there is here another student from the Eureka Classis. His name is Peter Grossman. Both of these young men are very able and enthusiastic fellows. When these two men join the others I mentioned they ought to be able to carry forward the Reformed Faith in that Classis. Perhaps they will be able to initiate a positive program of missions and of Christian education. They have every intention of trying to do so. When this happens the Eureka Classis may be of great strength and of great power for the Reformed Faith in this country.

An interesting thing about the whole situation is the fact that the theology that controls most of the older men in the Classis is that of Kohlbrügge. If there were to be a discus­sion of union with another Reformed body the matter of theology might have to be taken up.

The Classis is very small. It consists of about nine ministers, but I think there are about 1.7 or 18 churches. Even so their strength is far beyond their numbers. At their meetings they have a good elder representation. All in all, it was, I think, helpful as well as pleasant and profitable to visit the meetings of the Classis.

Cornelius Van Til