Covenant East Classis President’s Report

Covenant East Classis President's Report

I begin this report with encouragement to all ministers, officers, members, and even the very young to pray for Covenant East Classis. An overwhelming request for prayer was reflected in the Parochial Reports and Committee Reports. The prayer requests were for situations where there was struggle, a need for counsel, and family concerns. There were also many requests for prayer that the Gospel would go out in our respective communities, nation, and world; and the RCUS congregations would grow in faith, love, and numbers to the glory of God. Pray also for the word to be faithfully preached, and to be lived out before an unbelieving world. 

Colossians 1:9-12 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and long suffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 

I am thankful to be able to serve as your President and your confidence that comes with it. 

Our Classis committees were active throughout the year. The Inter-church Relations Committee visited our fraternal church assemblies when possible. This included Elder Bob Foster’s attendance of the URCNA Classis and Mission Conference in NJ. The Church Camp experienced growth in attendees and had an encouraging time. The Candidates and Credentials have been working with a number of inquiries, some which have flowed from the Welcoming Committees efforts. The Missions Committee continues to support mission works by visiting, and making assessments to encourage them through recommendations. It is important that Classis closely follow these works to properly support them. 

Selective summaries of the parochial reports are offered below. 

For Grace Reformed, Rogers, Rev Steve Carr reports that the past year has been a challenge. Due to their loss of members and income both the Classis and Synod are providing funds to support the church’s continuing. Rev Carr reports that additional funds also came from other outside sources, which freed him from the need to take up tent making employment. Although the church will require continued funding in 2024, there is hope that it may not be needed afterward. Elder Steve Mankins retired due to health reasons. Chuck Barker recently accepted the office of elder. There still remains a need for an additional elder and several deacons. The ministries of the church continue in worship, various Sunday School classes studies, radio broadcast (KURM radio), men’s breakfast and Bible study, and a ladies fellowship. 

Elder John Larson reported for Peace Reformed Church, Garner, that there was progress made in seeking to fill their vacant pulpit. After a number of occasions of having retired minister, Rev. Stetler, minister to the Peace Congregation, Matthew Dawn was urged to come and help. Matthew had completed his seminary studies and student care, but had not yet obtained his licensure. After working with PRC for several months the church expressed interest in him completing the licensure requirements and if successful would consider calling him. Although PRC was without a pastor, they held regular services, bible studies, and VBS. 

For Covenant Reformed Gettysburg (CRCG), Rev Samuel Rodriguez reported coming to Gettysburg right after Christmas of 2022, was not an easy transition for him, his wife Amanda, and two twin children Catherine and Johannah. Leaving the land of Oklahoma, the Presbyterian Church of America, and many friends and relatives he ventured to move to the land of Pennsylvania and join the Gettysburg congregation as Pastor. Pastor Rodriguez has hit the ground running with meetings with members, reaching out to new and former members. He has sought to build relationships with other NAPARC churches in the area. Elder Don Buysee retired after serving prior to Covenant Reformed joining the RCUS in 2014. Elder Bob Foster has been added to the Spiritual Council. 

Covenant in Gettysburg continues to work with Immanuel Reformed Fellowship towards becoming an established congregation. A significant step forward is that a candidate is in training for the office of elder. Rev. Chuck Muether is reaching out to the community. He participates in a chaplaincy program that gives him access to senior residential communities, hospitals, addiction facilities, and other local organizations that provide care. The church’s outreach includes streaming services, participating in local community events, and keeping the doors of the church open. 

For Emmaus Road, now located in Edina, Rev. Ryan Kron reports a wonderfully fulfilling answer to prayer as the church was able to purchase their own building in Edina MN, which is only a couple of miles from where the Church previously met in Eden Prairie. With the move a new website was also established. Although these physical manifestations of God’s blessing were seen and realized, the true joy of the Church is experiencing the gospel going out. People are growing in faith, love and hope. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is being experienced in word and sacraments. Members are hungry to gather together to hear the preaching. Rev. Kron requested that we continue to pray for the Lord’s blessing on his word and on the administration of the sacraments. He stated, “What a joy it was this past year for the church to enjoy the Lord through the Lord’s Supper each month and also in the nine baptisms (including two adult baptisms). The sacraments are indeed the visible gospel as they build up our assurance of faith in Christ and his love for us.” 

For St. Paul’s Evangelical, Hamburg, Rev. Dan Schnabel reports some of the trials his family faced over the last year in dealing with a mold invasion and subsequent remediation. The Sunday School program struggles with a large gap in children’s ages. Lately, Rev Schnabel has had to conduct many counseling sessions, and he is also active in the community. One of his personal projects is to capture video recordings of interviews with retired RCUS pastors. 

Redeemer Reformed, Golden Valley, has begun a pulpit search with the resignation of Rev. Jim Sawtelle on September 27, 2023, to pursue local chaplaincy work. 

For Northland, Kansas City, Rev Christopher Campbell reports, “…having completed seven years of full-time pastoral ministry at Northland Reformed Church. It has been, and continues to be, both a privilege and a joy to serve.” This past year they have seen two weddings and two baptisms.” Rev Campbell reported that one of the greatest joys in pastoral ministry is to see God working in the lives of people. He sees that as he looks at God’s people at Northland. God is strengthening them by his word and Spirit. He witnessed God supernaturally bringing individuals through difficult circumstances. God is faithful. Sadly, they also saw losses in members. One to death, others that moved out of the area. Two families were drawn to Roman Catholicism. Even the impact of this was to lead to a greater trust in God to build his Church as he sees fit. Although the losses were sad occasions the reception of new members and an increase in those attending with interest in joining was of greater encouragement. 

For Peace Reformed Church, Napoleon, Rev. Steven R. Altman reports how the Consistory supported his need to take a three month sabbatical after 14 plus years of ministry and involvement with developing the congregation. This required Elders and Deacons to set up and take on roles of teaching, leading, and overseeing the Church. It is likely thought that it is never a good time to take a sabbatical, but it is often critical to the life of a pastor, his family, and the congregation. This same year saw four covenant Children baptized, addition of 5 members, regular ministry in times of fellowship, studies, and worship. 

Elder Dan Wright reports that Heritage Reformed Church, Waymart has had a year of change. He reports the congregation is thankful for the years of service that God has given to Rev. Ron Potter to serve the body at Heritage. Last June, Rev. Potter retired, but remains in our membership. He preaches once a month and serves the Lord’s Supper. They have recently begun to utilize a local minister without a charge who is enrolled at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary pursuing a doctorate degree in Homiletics. The church has also received inquiries from four potential candidates. 

For Salem Ebenezer in Manitowoc, Rev. James W. Grossmann reports being dependent on Jesus’ power and authority to make disciples of all people. Rev Grossmann was called and received to serve in Manitowoc in March of 2023. Ministry included having a vacation bible school and special meetings for the youth including participation in the Covenant East Church Camp. Many in the congregation joined together in reading the Bible over a two-year plan and it has been key to making disciples. In all of this and more is a request for prayer and healing for struggling members. Rev Grossmann concludes that every church is a mission work. Even those that have been established for over 100 years. 

2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” 

Elder Dennis Luquette 

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