April 25, 2023 at 8:30 p.m.

Ministry on the move 

Ministry on the move 
Ministry on the move 

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Klassen takes position as Broken Strength director 

The Rev. Paul Klassen and wife Becky watched snow fall for what might be the last time from their Melrose kitchen window April 21.

After 12 years of pastoring Birch Hills Community Church in Melrose, they are moving on to a new ministry in the Twin Cities where Paul has taken a position as executive director of Broken Strength, a Christian non-profit.  

“I will be working with a lot of churches, and that is where most of the churches are and the board is,” he said sitting next to Becky in their home. 

Answering a call to serve is not new for the Klassens. A dozen years ago they discerned a call to help start a church in Melrose.  

“When we were in Arizona, my sister and her husband were doing the same kind of work planting and growing a church in Minnesota,” Becky said. “We felt we were challenged to see whether it was something we could do, too.”

They came to Melrose in 2009 and by Feb. 27, 2011, Birch Hills Community Church opened.

Community service is part of the church’s mission.

“Part of our church DNA, from the beginning, is to be involved,” Becky said. “We need to be a church wherever we go. We don’t want to become just a holy huddle. We don’t need to be heavy on programs. It is more important that we go out.”

The church has organized the Food for Thought meal program, the Birch Hills Community Youth Center and presents an annual Nativity depiction during the Melrose Holiday Kickoff, along with their weekly Sunday service.

“We want to be a ‘go to’ church rather than a ‘come to’ church,” Paul said. “Birch Hills Community Church is a ‘go to’ church. We go to people.”

Both Paul and Becky are involved in other aspects of the community. Paul helps support high school activities. Becky serves on the Melrose Area Public School Board.

“We are partners in ministry and partners in life,” Paul said.

They have six children. Brianna, Emily, Daniel and Kimberly graduated from high school; Elise and William are in middle and elementary school; and Kimberly serves in the National Guard. Brianna is married to JT Bartel, and they have a daughter Dorothy, which means the Klassens are first-time grandparents.  

Paul has been the Birch Hills Community Church pastor since its inception. The church currently has about 80 people calling it their home church, with a regular attendance of close to 40.  

“The membership is the core group,” said Paul. “They have stated a certain commitment.”

Community involvement in building the church was prominent when naming  the church.

“That was from a brainstorm session early on,” Paul said. “Birch Hills kind of resonated with everybody.”

Over the years, Sunday services have been held at the auditorium at Melrose Area Public Schools, Melrose City Center and currently at the church’s youth center building. 

The April 23 service was Paul’s final service as pastor. There will be a farewell gathering at 4:30 p.m., Sunday, April 30, at True North Marketplace in Melrose.

The Broken Strength ministry sponsors events and provides resources helping men find a path to sexual purity. Part of that is combating pornography.

“It (pornography) is a cancer in our society right now, taking hold of families and individuals. It is a secret sin, and the church needs to be on the forefront of helping men and families deal with it in a way that is compassionate and effective,” he said. “I will be kind of pastoring pastors. I will be resourcing and helping churches, helping men be better dads and husbands.”

Becky said Broken Strength helps resource pastors.

“It’s hard to get something like that going. A pastor has so many things to do,” she said. “This helps resource churches to get those support systems in place for pastors.”

Much of the ministry will be done in and near the metro area.

Even as they prepare to take up their new ministry, the Klassens are helping Birch Hills Community Church in their search for an interim pastor and later, a permanent pastor.

“Hopefully, the house will sell in about a month,” Paul said. “We plan to remain here until the end of the school year.”

By June, he will begin his work for Broken Strength.

They are hoping when they leave their Melrose home for the final time, it will not be snowing. 



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