Reformed Herald Report
Northern Plains Classis meeting, March 4-5, 2022
The 37th Annual Spring Meeting of the Northern Plains Classis of the Reformed Church in the United States was held at Grace Reformed Church in Dickinson, North Dakota on Friday and Saturday, March 4th and 5th, 2022. We began with prayer, a devotion from Revelation 21:1-27 entitled “Eternal Blessing Guaranteed,” and the singing of the hymn, “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say.”
Rev. Hank Bowen of Aberdeen, SD was elected President, Rev. Cody Schwichtenberg of Herried, SD as Vice President, Rev. James Grossmann of the Eureka church as Stated Clerk, and Elder Matt Fickbohm from Pierre as Treasurer of the Classis.
While concerns over the wintry weather kept some delegates away, we had five elders and five pastors present at the start of the meeting – enough to constitute a quorum and begin our business. Other delegates arrived later, delayed by snow and ice. The delegates from Watertown, SD were not able to make it in person, but participated in a limited form in our prayers and discussions over the internet via Zoom. It was refreshing to fellowship with the brothers who were able to make it. Among the brothers, we warmly welcomed Mr. Jacob Kuik as the Fraternal Delegate from Classis Manitoba of the Canadian Reformed Churches, and he was granted a seat in the bar of the house.
Rev. Bowen gave his President’s Report with the theme taken from Psalm 3, “The Lord Has Sustained Us.” He recounted the history of the old Eureka Classis as well as the challenges for the future that we face as the Northern Plains Classis. We have a particular need for new ministers to replace those who have been called to glory, such as Rev. Wesley Brice, whom the Lord called to glory on February 6.
Rev. Grossmann gave the Stated Clerk’s report, including the necrology for Elder Norman Schick of the Herried congregation. The Synod report was received and acted upon, with an unanimous vote to reject the proposed change to RCUS Constitution Article 79.
The pastors’ parochial reports were read, and the congregations were prayed for. A common theme in the parochial reports was the effort to return to “normal” in the aftermath of all the policies and reactions in our society due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus. There was a note of optimism for our continued work for the Lord in the new year. All of our ministers work hard, and there is still a need for a new minister to fill the pulpit in our Minot, ND congregation.
The parochial reports from our ministers were followed by a report from our Fraternal Delegate from the Manitoba Classis of the Canadian Reformed Churches, Mr. Jacob Kuik, which was followed by prayer for our brothers up north. We were informed that this would most likely be brother Kuik’s final visit to our Classis as a Fraternal Delegate. He has been a fixture at our Classis meetings for many years now, and his presence will be sorely missed.
After committee work, we enjoyed an delicious meal featuring BBQ pulled pork that served as an amazing foreshadowing of the full glory of the meals we would later enjoy at the Synod meeting in Kansas City. Our evening worship service was led by Rev. Hank Bowen, with the sermon delivered by Rev. Dave Irwin, “When the Wicked Invade” from Habakkuk 1:1-6 and 12-13.
The service was followed by more committee work, and a return to our hotel rooms. The next morning started with a gathering for breakfast, devotions from Rev. Schwichtenberg on Psalm 88, and the singing of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Then we got straight to work with committee reports, discussions, and voting on the issues before us. Of special note was a round table discussion we held during the standing Missions Committee report on the topic of “Classis Boundaries and Missions Strategy.” We also discussed how to implement a program of identifying, encouraging, and discipling young men in our own midst who show the potential of becoming future pastors, and as a result, we adopted the permanent Candidates and Credentials Committee’s proposed “Northern Plains Classis Philosophy on Internships.”
Rev. Bill Haddock stepped down from being the editor of our Classis newsletter, “The Northern Plains Chronicles,” a position he had held for fifteen years. Elder Matt Fickbohm was elected to take his place.
On Saturday, March 5th, the meeting finished up with eight ministers and six elders present to answer the roll call. Upon adjourning in the early afternoon, we heard a devotional reading of Luke 19:1-9 from Elder Dan Aune of the Dickinson congregation. We followed that with reciting the Apostles’ Creed, praying the Lord’s Prayer, receiving the Benediction, and singing the Doxology.
The Northern Plains Classis is due to hold their 38th Annual Spring Meeting at First Reformed Church in Herried, SD on March 2, 2023 at 1:00 pm. God be with you till we meet again!