Portraits: Rev. James Grossmann

I am the fifth Grossmann minister in the RCUS in four generations. Our family still has Rev. Johannes Grossmann’s (my great grandfather) ordination certificate from the Manitoba classis of the RCUS in 1903. I do not claim to have the excellence of those who have gone before, but I pray that I would use the abilities God has given me to the enrichment of His Church and to His Glory.

One of the few times I am at a loss for words is when someone asks “where are you from?” There just is no simple answer to that question. For those of the RCUS, I may answer with something similar to this: I am the son of Robert and Pauline Grossmann, born in Kansas City on October 28, 1978, while they were planting the mission work there. In order to supplement the salary that was available, Dad and Mom farmed. I am told that when we left Kansas City for Mitchell, SD, I was three years old and I was telling the purchasers of our tractor how to start it. I started school during our short stay in Mitchell (only three years), and then was uprooted to Orange City, IA, where Dad was a professor at Mid-America Reformed Seminary. After seven and a half years living among the Dutch in Orange City, IA, we moved to Garner, IA where I attended a Pentecostal/Baptist school (the best thing that was available) for the last three years of high school. During those high school years, I played more with Pentecostalism than I would like to admit; however this does give me a great deal of help in dealing with those with a Pentecostal background or Dispensational views.

In high school, I also had a life-changing experience… I was hit by a truck. OK, so it was a pickup at 60 mph, but it sent me to the hospital with a brain injury for a few days and it took me much of the spring semester to really get back on my feet. It was not so much being hit (I can’t remember that), as it was the recuperation afterward that gave time for life reflection.

After high school I attended Dordt College. I majored in electrical engineering and really at this point had no substantial aspirations of being a pastor (though it was in the back of my mind). I had spent much of high school working on cars and snowmobiles and desired a better understanding of that which is significantly more intangible—electricity. After a summer spent at Iowa State University doing leading-edge research in semiconductors (computer chip) manufacturing (essentially pressing the same button on a computer eight hours a day, five days a week, in order for the computer to take data on our research), I realized that I was not called to be an electrical engineer.

Upon my return to Dordt in the fall, I was invited by Dr. Kloosterman, who was representing Mid-America Reformed Seminary in recruiting there, to come for dinner with the other MARS recruits solely on the basis that my father had taught at MARS. In conversation with him that evening, I began to seriously consider the ministry. Upon further reflection and interaction with other students at Dordt, I became convicted that I was called to the ministry and added pre-seminary courses to my Dordt education. Realizing that I had a four-year scholarship to Dordt and it was now going to take me five years to finish, I rearranged my schedule so that I could take a light super-senior year elsewhere. The summer after my senior year at Dordt, I met Michelle Mehlhaf at a Zion Reformed Church (Menno, SD) campout. I completed my remaining courses in addition to a number of elective music credits (another passion of my life) at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, while working as a TV repairman. I graduated from Dordt in 2002 with a BSE in electrical engineering.

In the fall of 2002, I moved to Chicagoland to attend Mid-America Reformed Seminary. The four years I spent there were a blur of theology and life. Suffice it to say that an engineering degree (even augmented with pre-seminary courses) did not prepare me for the writing component of a seminary education. After a year there, I married my girlfriend of two years, Michelle. Following my junior year, I served a summer internship between Hamburg, Minneapolis, and Garner. The next summer was spent in Chicago brushing up on my public speaking abilities. While in Chicago I began to brew my own beer and developed a taste for Chicago style BBQ. After my third year, I served a summer internship between Vermillion, Sioux Falls, and Menno, and after my fourth year, I served an internship in Newton, WI.

In 2006 I was asked to come to Ashley, ND, for the summer. I was then asked to continue as student supply moving toward licensure, which I received at the Northern Plains Classis Spring meeting 2007. I was in need of humility and further study; therefore, it was not until October 11, 2008, that I passed my ordination exam and was ordained on November 3rd. I continue to be thankful for the grace given me to serve the congregations in Ashley, ND, and in Hosmer, SD. I am now in my second full year in serving the Northern Plains Classis as stated clerk.

Following in my father’s and Uncle Peter’s footsteps, two years ago in August I received my pilot’s license and my wife followed me in getting her license this June.

On July 17, 2010, the Lord blessed Michelle and me with Daniel John. We are anticipating the arrival of another child in mid-September.

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