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Northern Plains Classis

Northern Plains Classis

Beloved saints in Christ Jesus, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:2).  Although it was cold and snowy outside, it did not match the warmth of love and fellowship inside as the Northern Plains Classis (NPC) held their 39th annual spring meeting at Christ Reformed Church (CRC), in Minot, ND.  The delegates trickled in, hung up their winter coats, and prepared to have a feast of hot food and Christian fellowship. The ladies of CRC had prepared a wonderful meal of casseroles, salads, garlic bread, and lots of fresh fruit and delightful desserts.

With our stomachs full and our souls refreshed the 39th annual spring meeting of the NPC was called to order. After singing hymn #164, “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”, Rev. Dave Irwin gave a devotion from Isa. 66:1-2 where the LORD asks the question “Where is the house that you will build me?”.  Rev. Irwin shared about the importance of laying all our plans of “church building” at the feet of Jesus and to take up our cross and follow Him. He closed with prayer and committed the meeting into God’s hand.

After the preliminary organization of the meeting, Rev. Hank Bowen of Aberdeen, SD was elected as President, Rev. Cody Schwichtenberg of Herried, SD was elected as Vice-President and Rev, Jimmy John Hall of Eureka, SD was elected the Stated Clerk. Matt Fickbohm of Pierre, SD was also elected (thankfully) to be the Treasurer of the NPC (and later, the editor of the NPC Chronicles).  

Elder John Hoogerdijk of Grace Reformed Church of Winnipeg, Manitoba, with the Canadian Reformed Churches, was welcomed and seated as a fraternal delegate.  Rev. Kevin Pulliam, of CRC, Minot, ND, was received as a new minister into the NPC with a prayer of thanksgiving. The standing committee assignments were handed out and the officers shared their various reports.  The President of the NPC read his report of the classis which highlighted many of the trials and tribulations that many of the pastors of the classis had experienced in this past year.  Rev. Michael Lassley suffered a stroke around the Thanksgiving holiday.  Rev. Cody Schwichtenberg had gall bladder surgery and Rev. Hank Bowen suffered a painful back injury.  In the midst of these dark Providences there were also gracious ones from the hand of our Heavenly Father.  Rev. Cody and his wife Angie welcomed a little boy, Ezra, into their lives.  David Voytek, who was a student under care in the NPC was ordained and installed as the pastor of Grace Reformed Church in Willows, CA with his father, Rev. Michael Voytek participating in that installation service. All of these things remind us that, “all things come not by chance but by His Fatherly hand”. (H.Cat. Q/A #27).

All the ministers read their parochial reports, and although there were trials and tribulations, it was good to hear of our gracious God’s “multitude of mercies” (Lam. 3:32), that has blessed each congregation as well.  Each of the churches were prayed for with thanksgiving to our God.

After that we had another scrumptious meal and a devotion by Rev. Michael Voytek from John 12 regarding those who “did not believe” because they “could not believe.” And those who believed must walk in the light before others. 

Our evening service was led by Rev. Cody Schwichtenberg and Rev. Jimmy John Hall preached from Rom. 13:11-14 on “Provisions for Honesty”.  He exhorted that those who had received Christ’s provisions in His finished work must draw upon those provisions to live godly lives before a wicked world. After the service we continued with our committee work until we recessed for the day.

On Friday morning, Rev. Michael Lassley gave the morning devotion from an overview of Mark, chapters 1-6, which he had been preaching on in his church in Watertown. He commented that Christ called His disciples to be with Him and do what he did –preach the gospel.  Our fraternal delegate, Elder John Hoogerjidk shared news about the Canadian Reformed Churches and their struggles with the Canadian government and how Christian bodies have to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves”.  Also, encouragingly, he shared that there are two new church plants in Manitoba and expressed the desire of the Manitoba Classis to have a closer relationship with the NPC, either in person or by Zoom meetings on line. He also mentioned, sadly, that the work of the Canadian Reformed Churches in Denver, CO had closed.

The Special Order of the Day was a report from Rev. Michael Voytek and Rev. Michael Lassley, who had attended a conference on church planting at the Center for Missions and Evangelism at Mid-America Reformed Seminary in October of 2023. It was titled “Beyond the Walls”.  Rev. Voytek stated that a key verse of the conference was the Great Commission of Matt. 28:19 and commented that the phrase “make disciples” is the main verb in the verse with the other statements being supportive of that. From that he shared the importance of evangelism, prayer and recruitment. He said that we should be training our children in our churches so that they would know that missions is an ordinary activity in a local church.  Another idea from the conference was to see home missions as something we do within our families and churches and foreign missions is what we do “beyond the walls” of our families and churches. He suggested that we all listen to the conference lectures on the Mid-America Reformed Seminary web site.  Rev. Lassley echoed all that Rev. Voytek had shared and again stressed that we listen to those lectures.

We recessed for another delicious meal for lunch and Elder Matt Fickbohm gave a devotion from Ps. 100 and the importance of entering into God’s presence with thanksgiving.  After lunch we finished our committee work and then all of the chairmen of the standing committees gave their reports for adoption. We finished by reading through the minutes and made corrections. Elder James Snyder gave a closing devotion from 2 Thess. 1:2-3 with a description of a local church. A little after 4:00pm we adjourned to our 40th Annual Spring Classis meeting in 2025.  It was truly a delight to host this 39th Annual meeting of the NPC (since we haven’t hosted one for about 20 years!) and we are thankful to our gracious Heavenly Father for providing our building facility enabling us to do so!

James B. Snyder, Elder,
Christ Reformed Church
Minot, ND

Northern Plains Classis President’s Report

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