Beloved saints of the Reformed Church in the United States,
The Elder and Pastor Delegates of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Northern Plains Classis, as well as our host church, First Reformed of Herreid SD, greet you all in the matchless name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
At approximately 3:00 PM on Thursday, March second (2), the delegates of the N.P.C. met to conduct the business of our churches from Dickenson, and Ashley, ND to Herreid, Eureka, Aberdeen, Watertown, Pierre, and Mitchell, SD, as we reviewed our labors of the year 2022, and as we discussed and decided upon our plans for 2023. Our brothers from Minot were not able to attend, though they have been without a Pastor for now going on 20+ months. Lord willing He will send them a man soon to be their under-shepherd. We commend Elders Jim Snyder and Ethan Dockter for their continued labor and oversight!
Our meeting began with a devotion from John 14:1ff, by Rev. Michael Lassley. Then, as the Roll Call was made, it showed eight ministers and eight elders present. Then acting President, Rev. Hank Bowen began the work and was duly elected to serve as President, Rev. Paul Henderson as V.P., and Rev. Michael Lassley as our new Stated Clerk! He is replacing Rev. James Grossmann who has served our Classis
faithfully for many, many years. Rev. Grossmann and his family are moving to Manitowoc, WI immediately after our Classis meeting to serve the saints of Salem-Ebenezer as their new pastor! He will be truly missed. Both Ashley and Eureka expressed their love for him and his years of faithful service! Tally ho dear brother! May all your labors be filled with the blessings of our Lord! Elder Matt Fickbohm was elected to be our Treasurer, as he has pretty much secured a place for himself for the next 50 years or so!!
We were also pleased at this Classis to welcome one new Church, two new ministers, and one first-time Elder. Elder Mark Strong from Grace Reformed in Mitchell, as well as his Pastor, the Rev. Doctor Kevin Carroll of Grace Reformed at Mitchell, SD (our newest church family). We also welcomed the Rev. Jimmy John Hall, as he has accepted the call in Eureka with duties to begin in July. We were pleased as well to have in our midst and addressing us, our fraternal brother from the Canadian and American Reformed Churches, and
the Manitoba Classis – Elm Creek Church, Elder Ron Vanderzwaag, and his dear wife Peggy. We were very privileged to have with us for all of our sessions, our Synod President, Elder Roger Gallimore. Indeed, as you can see, we were ready for the business at hand!
So as usual, the Standing Committee assignments were handed out and we proceeded with the business. As the Reports continued, the body not only soundly defeated the two Constitutional Amendments that were sent by the RCUS Synod for ratification, but they also were able to get to work on their reports, as the day continued. Our President, Rev. Hank Bowen gave a stirring report on the State of the Church in which he set before us a vision of the need for continued growth and evangelistic fervor! The Body responded later on in the meeting to this call. Also, the Classis body approved of and rejoiced in the continued work of Mr. Matt Fickbohm as he continues to lead the Heidelberg Youth Camp. This year we look to be focusing on our callings as those who are, by faith, members of Christ, and thus partakers of His anointing, as ‘prophets, priests, and kings.’
We, of course, all enjoyed the meals and delicious snacks provided for us by the ladies of First Reformed, as there has never been a Classis where the delegates walk away hungry!
In the evening we were able to hear all of the parochial reports of the labors of our ministers. Indeed, we heard of their labors in the valleys of tears, fears, dears, and thankfully, of ‘the meres’ of mercy, grace, and lovingkindness! Prayers were offered on behalf of each & every minister and church family.
On Friday morning after the ’table of plenty’ which was set before us, the body was blessed to hear from the Rev. Jimmy John Hall, as he rightly divided the scripture from Psalm 51:16-17, Heb. 12:17, and Q’s & A’s 12 and 18! We all were encouraged and reminded that we must ‘betake’ to the mercies of God in Christ, as our only hope of salvation and help!
The Questions to the Elder/Overseers were asked and answered in the affirmative as to the ministry of the church. We were then addressed by our beloved brother, and fellow servant of the Lord, Elder Vanderzwaag, as he gave a most encouraging report of the labors in the Manitoba Classis of the Canadian and American Reformed Churches. They are dealing with many of the same issues, sins, and possible persecution times as we here in the United States, though they are now operating under a law that restricts their ability/freedom to counsel any who may want to seek out “de-transitioning”, back to their God-created make-up or fashioning, as a man or a woman. Our response was given by Rev. Henderson and prayer was offered up for our brethren as well.
Of note, the Rev. Hank Bowen and his wife will be traveling up to Manitoba to attend their upcoming Classis meeting. It has been a long, long time since we have been able to do this!
As we moved to the Special order of the day, we as a body reviewed, discussed and proposed the entire topic of Church Planting with a particular focus on the need for a man appointed solely to this endeavor. Such that when considering our discussion, the NPC Classis has humbly, yet boldly decided to seek out an “Evangelist” – “Church Planter” to begin the business of expanding the Kingdom of God in our region. The Home Missions Committee has been directed to prayerfully find a man, decide upon a city, organize the funds needed, and then bring back recommendations to the 2024 Classis meeting.
The Judicial Committee brought to the floor a recommendation that we, as the Northern Plains Classis, and our congregations, set aside the first Sunday in April as a time for prayer and fasting, that we might remain faithful to our Lord and Savior, and for Him to bless us in our endeavors that His way may be known upon the earth, and His salvation among all nations (Psalm 67). Pray for us brethren.
So also then our business was completed, and the finances of the Classis were handled judiciously, carefully, and with much hope for our future labors here in the Classis. Our Guideline was set at $65.00 per communicant member.
As we concluded our business, a motion was made expressing our love for Rev. James Grossmann, by commending him for his many years of service as our Stated Clerk, and minister here in the NPC; as well as committing he and his family to God’s care and His richest blessings. We’ll miss you bro!
Once again, the delegates and their wives, all enjoyed the company and fellowship around the table, in worship, and on the floor of Classis, even as we heard from Elder Matthew Beck, as he closed out our meeting with a reading from Mark 4:30–32.
Rev. Paul H. Henderson