Providence Reformed has new pastor

Providence Reformed has new pastor by David Lias Members of Providence Reformed Church, 830 Madison Street, Vermillion, will find that their new pastor possesses knowledge and talents in several unique fields.

Rev. Robert Grossmann, a Hosmer native, spent his teen years in California, and studied chemical engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, graduating in 1960.

He became a pastor in 1963, following in the footsteps of his father, who also was a clergyman, by attending Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia.

Grossmann has been active in public affairs, especially in the field of mental health. Besides being an engineer, he's an amateur radio operator and a pilot who owns his own single-engine airplane.

Vermillion worshippers will find that their pastor is well grounded in more than these pursuits. His church background is extensive.

Grossmann is a third generation minister in the Reformed Church in the United States. He has served a number of pastorates in Iowa, Kansas City, MO, and in Pierre, Herreid and Mitchell.

He is also a professor of theology in ministry and church history. Grossmann taught for eight years at Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Orange City, IA, before it was moved to Chicago. He now serves on the seminary's board.

He and his wife, Pauline, moved into the Providence Reformed Church's parsonage in early July.

"We're still stumbling around boxes," he said, laughing. "I've got a lot of books."

Grossmann's transition to the Vermillion community was made easier by a group of student volunteers earlier this spring. The church's parsonage had sat vacant for a time, and was in need of a good sprucing up to make it habitable.

Paint was peeling in the house, both inside and out. Several years' worth of dust and cobwebs had collected, and the structure's full basement was in bad shape because a sump pump had failed during a heavy rain sometime in the past.

Paint on the basement's floors and concrete block walls was peeling and discolored.

The list of things that needed to be done to make the house habitable seemed endless.

That all changed April 28. The home received a big boost, thanks, in part, to the mere fact that Jon and Shelly Meyers, two of Providence Reformed's regular Sunday worshippers, both attended and graduated from Unity Christian High School in Orange City, IA.

Jon, a University of South Dakota student, and Shelly, a secretary in USD's School of Business, keep in close contact with their alma mater.

The Meyers put the word out that the high school students' help would be more than welcome in Vermillion.

Early in the morning of April 28, the church parsonage became the target of 21 students from Unity Christian High.

They scraped paint from floors and walls. They peeled faded wallpaper. They scrubbed windows. They cleared brush from the yard.

They began to make the neglected house look more like a home.

Grossmann is excited about the future of the church and its ministry in Vermillion, thanks, in part, to decisions made by a regional governing body of the church, known as a classis.

"The Iakota Classis of the Christian Reformed Church is giving the (church) building to its members here, and the congregation is buying the parsonage from them," Grossmann said.

He plans to make sure that people throughout the Vermillion community feel welcome to worship at Providence Reformed Church.

"The Christian Reformed Church worked for years on developing a campus ministry," he said. "We want to build up a congregation of local Presbyterian or Reformed people. We're looking at a community-wide ministry."

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