Submitted by Steve Krier, Converge Heartland Church Planting Director
God's Call in North Dakota
Recently I had a chance to sit down with Cody Weckerly of Harvest Plains Church in Casselton, ND. Harvest Plains is one of Heartland's newest church plants, and I wanted to share their story of God's faithfulness through the ups and downs of life.
Cody grew up attending a country church in rural North Dakota. He describes it as "doing the churchy things like going to VBS, Sunday School, Christmas, and Easter." However, it wasn't until middle school that Cody went to a Christian basketball camp to hear and understand the Gospel. The camp speaker had proclaimed how we are sinners in need of a savior. That savior is Jesus, and we respond through faith in Him. And so, through the help of one of the counselors, Cody trusted in Jesus Christ.
God radically transformed Cody. When he got home from camp, he started to read his Bible every day. Through the reading of the Word, Cody learned life is all about Jesus and that whatever he was to do with his life, Jesus would need to be at the center.
That doesn't mean the road was easy, however. Cody struggled in high school with trying to connect with his older brother. Cody desperately wanted his approval. This led to doing what his brother did to fit in, even if it was sinful and not honoring God. However, God's pull on Cody's life won the day, and he was finally able to stand in confidence and say no to the drugs and alcohol, even if it meant losing the approval of his brother.
Cody studied at the University of North Dakota, got involved with Cru and also Youth for Christ, and later became the director of the Grand Forks chapter of Youth for Christ. After this, he went to seminary and served in First Baptist Church of Farmington, MI as the family pastor.
However, there was always a tug to come back home to North Dakota and specifically to Casselton, ND. Cody started praying about planting a church and looking for opportunities to get connected. Cody later attended a church planting conference in Fargo, ND, where he got connected to with people who would eventually support him and help him plant a church in Casselton.
Things moved fast. Cody found people in Casselton who were eager to help. He connected with two churches willing to step in and be parent churches. Cody and his wife, Tia, received a full recommendation from the Converge Church Planting Assessment Center. When they arrived in Casselton on May 19th, 2019, Harvest Plains was already holding weekly meetings. In the September launch of Harvest Plains Church, there were over 100 in attendance!
A Tale of Two Churches
This meteoric rise would not last long as trials would begin to lay hold of the community of Harvest Plains. It is not uncommon for launch team members to bring their own church history, experiences, and expectations with them into new church plants. Though Harvest Plains' ministry philosophy and decision-making structure had been well established from the very beginning, internal dialogue and debate over these issues arose after only six months. As a result, a number of these original participants left the new church.
Unfortunately, the trials increased with the COVID lockdowns just one month later. They had just lost a large group of people, and now the ones that stayed were not allowed to meet.
Yet, God remained faithful.
During this time, the church began to gain a unity they had never seen before! People took care of each other, and they started to have people join them for online services. People stepped up. Men like Phillip, Adam, and Sam gave more to see this church weather the storm. Some new families started to join them online and then, as COVID restrictions lifted, they joined in person. Once in-person meetings began to happen, more people joined. It was almost like a second launch, except this time with united people.
In September of 2020, on Harvest Plains' first birthday, 30 charter members joined the church and, Harvest Plains continues to grow and develop. They are in the best spot they have ever been. And as they mature as a young church, they are growing in unity, fellowship, and discipleship. God has indeed done a work at Harvest Plains Church!
Prayers for Harvest Plains Church
Cody is so grateful to Converge Heartland and would ask you to pray for Harvest Plains. Please pray God would raise faithful men to be elders to help with the leading and shepherding. He would also ask you to pray that Harvest Plains would be bold in evangelism. They have a team of people coming up this summer from the church in Michigan to help with service projects and outreach. Please pray God would go before them and that many would come to Christ in the Casselton area.
Steve Krier, Director of Church Planting
Steve is the director of church planting for Converge Heartland and Pastor of Ignite Church.