Former URC minister installed in RCUS

Rev. Travis Grassmid, formerly Pastor of Congregational Life at Bethel United Reformed Church in Jenison, MI, has been installed as the Minister of Word and Sacraments at Zion Reformed Church (RCUS) in Menno, SD.

After he sustained a classical exam, conducted by Classis South Central of the RCUS, Rev. Grassmid and his family moved to Menno late in December, 2011. His installation service took place at 7:00 PM on the evening of Sunday, January 15, 2012.

Rev. Maynard Koerner, Professor of Ministerial Studies at Heidelberg Seminary in Sioux Falls, SD, gave the charge to the congregation, preaching from 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 in a messaged titled, “That Thy Word Might Be Glorified.”

Rev. Michael McGee, pastor of Grace Reformed Church (RCUS) in Mitchell, SD, presented the charge to the pastor, speaking from Mark 4:26-29, on “Planting and Harvesting.”

Rev. Michael McGee, Rev. Travis Grassmid, Rev. Maynard Koerner

Rev. Grassmid worked in the construction business before beginning seminary at the age of 35. He graduated from Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 2008, and began serving at Bethel in Jenison in the spring of 2009.

Zion Reformed Church has 156 communicant members and 181 baptized members in 79 households. Church services are regularly held at 10:30 AM with Sunday school held prior to the service at 9:30 AM. Bible studies and other classes are generally held on Sunday evenings.

Located in South Dakota’s southeast corner, Menno is a small town of about 700 residents. Most of Zion’s members are employed in farming or in agricultural related industries.

“With the increased size of farms, the number of people necessary to operate the farms has decreased,” says Rev. Grassmid, “thus this entire region is suffering from a loss of many of their children, who are forced to move elsewhere for work. A major concern with the families who remain is how to maintain the church, community and family with so many young people moving out.”

In spite of the young people exodus, Rev. Grassmid’s primary goal for his Menno ministry remains strong and focused; “Preach the Word!”

“I was blessed to begin my ministry in a strong, established church in West Michigan (Bethel URC, Jenison), which afforded the opportunity of honing the gifts with which the Lord has equipped me,” he says. “I was able to preach the Word, and spend much time with those of the congregation who were hurting. My hope and goal at Zion is to utilize those gifts so as to be used by the Lord to encourage the existing congregation toward continued spiritual growth, to strive toward yet greater unity among the body of Christ, and as the Lord affords opportunity, to evangelize and disciple those whom the Lord is drawing into His fold.”

“I understand that numerical growth is unlikely, due to the decline in population,” he adds, “however, I have learned (and am still learning!) to never underestimate the work of the Holy Spirit; I plan, by the power of God, to faithfully proclaim the good news of the gospel, and to encourage the entire congregation toward a growing witness throughout the community.”

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on page 10 of the February 8, 2012, issue of Christian Renewal.

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13 thoughts on “Former URC minister installed in RCUS

  1. Interesting thought, Gil… I think if the URC were willing to join with the RCUS, they could have done so when they left the CRC instead of forming a new denomination. They have a number of pretty firm practices that most of the RCUS would find objectionable.

  2. The URCNA is actually in Phase 2-Ecclesiastical Fellowship with the RCUS (alongwith the Canadian Reformed Churches, the Orthodox Presbyterian Churches, and the Reformed Church of Quebec). In my mind, this indicates a willingness to work toward organic unity.

    Matt, I’m curious to know the “pretty firm practices that most of the RCUS would find objectionable.”

    I know that most URCNA congregations are committed to a second Sunday service, which isn’t standard practice in the RCUS. But I’m not aware of URCNA practices that might be a barrier to the RCUS.

  3. This may be irrelevant to the ecumenical relations between the RCUS and URCNA, but doesn’t the RCUS have a more German-Reformed heritage than the Dutch background of most URC’s? I remember some discussion about this at a recent Classis EUS meeting, but I don’t remember the specifics.

  4. It’s true that the RCUS has a more German Reformed background than the predominately Dutch Reformed background of the URC, Michael, but I don’t believe that alone constitutes a significant difference.

  5. The URCNA at present has a pretty decentralized ecclesiology that the RCUS wouldn’t be very comfortable with. We feel the need for a greater level of Synodical authority than the URCNA seems to have. That may be changing. Also the second Sunday service- it’s not that the RCUS would object to having a second Sunday service. Some of our churches have them. It is the insistence on it, the fact that it is mandatory. Either all our churches would have to adopt such a practice (not likely) or the URCNA would have to drop the requirement. I think the mandatory second service also points to a different view of the Sabbath- the URCNA in general seems to take a much stronger Sabbatarian view than most in the RCUS view.

    I have no real objection to union. But it seems to me that the URCNA is committed to several principles that would be a barrier right now. The RCUS is not interested in stopping being the RCUS for the sake of merger- we’ve been down that road before. I have a great deal of respect for the URCNA, and if there were a meeting of the minds on a few issues I would certainly support it.

    Our history is certainly German. But I don’t think the RCUS is significantly German in culture or ethnicity any more. Some of our local churches certainly are. But many are not.

  6. You’re right about the second service, Matt; there would have to be some compromise. And there certainly is a strong commitment in the URCNA for authority residing in the local consistory; however, the URCNA gradually is adopting more organizational structure and practices in order to help it function better as a federation.

    In any case, there doesn’t currently seem to be a strong push toward union. Both groups seems content with a close relationship for now.

  7. The main reason why many in the URCNA might feel that the second service cannot be given up is their experience in the CRC, where decline of the second service was a symptom of a broader and more objectionable pattern of decline. It also has been a valued custom in the Dutch Reformed tradition, and is codified in the Church Order of Dort (and in that of the URCNA, art. 37).

    Ultimately, I don’t think and don’t hope that the URCNA would insist that this is an essential difference. There is simply no Biblical prescription about the number of services, and there is nothing inherently wrong with having only one. Ironically, the less centralized structure of the URCNA may help them to realize that these cultural differences between churches can be overcome.

    1. I certainly see the benefits of a second service (starting and ending the day with worship is an excellent practice), but I can also agree that (a) there isn’t anything Biblically wrong with having only one service and (b) many times practical considerations play a big role. For example, here in West Sayville, we rarely have more than 25 people at our evening services. When the budget starts to get tight, the extra cost of heating the sanctuary for the second service can be significant. But whether or not this stipulation should be removed from the URCNA church order is a whole ‘nother matter. 🙂

      Michael Kearney
      Long Island, NY

      1. With a smaller group like that, you could consider meeting at someone’s home. Or you could stay at church for lunch (no extra cost, really– people have to eat anyhow) immediately followed by a second gathering, while the building is still warm. It may even convince people to stay for the second service.
        I mean to say, where there is a will there may well be a way–

      2. Actually, the church lunch idea is exactly what we’ve done! During the winter months we have a weekly fellowship dinner after the morning service and Sunday school, followed by an afternoon service at 1:30 pm. Of course, this has its disadvantages too, but it has proved to be a pretty good option for the winter at least.

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