The delegates of Northern Plains Classis gathered on Monday, March 9th for the annual meeting at First Reformed Church, Aberdeen, SD. The meeting officially began at 1:00 PM. However, prior to the official start, the delegates were treated to a delicious lunch in the church’s fellowship hall.
Classis President, Rev. David Dawn, the host pastor, opened the meeting with prayer and devotions. Rev. Dawn informed us that this was the 30th meeting of the NPC. He revealed a note of concern in the fact that our mostly rural and small town Classis has declined in membership by 50% over the past 30 years. This is not due to unfaithfulness or schism but to the hard fact of a declining and aging population in most of these areas. Some good news is the NPC actually grew by one member during the past year. Rev. Dawn exhorted us to stay faithful in our service to our Lord and for His kingdom. God will find ways to bless our labor even if we do not immediately see the fruits. This devotion was much appreciated.
Next came the President’s “State of the Classis” address. This followed well on his previous devotional. God’s Word is being preached, the Reformed faith is being taught, mission giving is increasing, covenant children are being prepared for Confirmation, and efforts at outreach are being put forth. Our congregation in Ashley, ND, now has a pastor, Licentiate Thomas Walters. The church in Herreid, SD, has a pastoral candidate lined up. Last summer, the Eureka, SD, church conducted a successful VBS with an attendance of 18 children. In many ways, God is continuing to work through the Northern Plains Classis. We were reminded that the Head of the Church does not reckon success in terms of current cultural evaluations.
The officers elected for the next year were as follows: Rev. David Dawn, President; Rev. George Syms, Vice-President; Rev. James Grossmann, Stated Clerk; and ElderMatt Fickbohm, Treasurer. This, of course, was a heartily approved re-election of all. These servants of the Classis next gave their reports.
This was followed by the ministers’ parochial reports. The reports certainly affected faith, hope, and love. One concern expressed was how we can better teach our Confirmation classes. Working with children of varying abilities is a challenge for all of us. Another concern was pastoral care for families who live far away from where the church meets. Each minister’s report was followed up with prayer, led by a brother servant. Prayer was offered for Elder Aaron Rau of the Kassel Reformed Church now meeting in Anamoose, ND. Brother Rau is afflicted with a brain tumor. His faith remains strong. Our prayers went up to the throne of grace for Brother Rau and his family.
Monday night, after a fine dinner of fried chicken and all the trimmings, we gathered for the worship service. Rev. Dale Clark of Dickinson, ND, led the service. Rev. J.P. Mosley of Pierre, SD preached the Word from Genesis 28:10-22 on “Bethel and the Stairway to Heaven”. Rev. Mosley showed us how the gospel can and should be proclaimed from the Old Testament. His outline was printed in the bulletin and I’m sure that at least one preacher filed it away for future use (with his permission).
Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. the Classis reconvened. Rev. Phil Poe of Minot, ND, led in a devotion from 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 entitled, “A Bible Gem for Leader’s in the Lord’s Church.” This followed a tasty breakfast of baked egg casserole provided by a member of the Aberdeen congregation.
Following the morning devotion, business proceeded with reports and recommendations of the standing committees. A great unity on all business presented was expressed in Classis. There were unanimous decisions to continue funding the mission work in Dickinson, ND and to help a Classis family with diaconal aid.
Rev. Dale Clark composed and read an appreciation from NPC to the host congregation. The hospitality and great meals provided by First Reformed Church was a cause of true gratitude.
Elder Doug Haak of Aberdeen had the closing devotion and prayer. Classis adjourned at 11:11 a.m., March 10, 2015.
The unity and brotherly love within the Northern Plains Classis was a spiritual pleasure for the attendees. May our gracious Father always bless our efforts for “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)
Rev. Phil Poe