Randy L. Hahne began laying the foundation for a church plant in June 2020 — when starting a church felt illogical, given the global circumstances of the novel coronavirus. But 400 people attended the Harvest Valley Church Sept. 12, 2021, launch service in Horace, North Dakota, surprising those who thought a new church couldn’t thrive during uncertain times.
“In the natural, we felt like the timing was crazy because COVID-19 hit, things were shutting down, nobody was gathering,” says Hahne, 36. “But we felt this urgency to step out and plant a church.”
Harvest Valley meets at Heritage Middle School, situated in a newly built neighborhood in the suburbs of Fargo, one of the fastest-growing regions in North Dakota. The church includes many couples with young children.
Hahne and his wife, Anne, felt the nudge in 2020 to move back to Fargo, where Hahne had pastored once before at Northview Church. With the leading of the Holy Spirit bolstering their confidence, the Hahnes and their four children left Bethel Assembly of God in Carrington, where Randy pastored, and came to Horace.
Some observers suspected it would result in a failed church plant, due to pandemic-related lockdowns. Hahne now says the turmoil during the past two years is one of the main reasons for the consistently strong weekly attendance. He says the meeting restrictions caused many traditional churchgoers to examine their reasons for attending.
“Many people came to the conclusion they weren’t connected, they weren’t serving, they weren’t a part of anything,” says Hahne, who also serves as the Assemblies of God North Dakota Ministry Network assistant superintendent. “It was almost like this big reset. When we came, we said as a church we want to help people focus on relationships and help with their family. Many people said, I need something’s that’s solid when everything else is so messed up right now.”
North Dakota Ministry Network Superintendent Winston G. Titus says the impressive attendance numbers are due in part to Hahne’s laying a strong biblical foundation.
“There’s a supernatural principle here taking place,” Titus says. “People are hungry and looking, and the church has put out a solid message. Randy shoots really straight in his preaching.”
Hahne preaches through the books of the Bible rather than topically, taking a kind of meat-and-potatoes approach to learning God’s Word and worshipping the Lord corporately. The straightforward approach to the gospel is drawing people.
“We’re declaring what God has put on our hearts to do, and then people jump on,” Hahne says.