History of Drenthe Christian Reformed Church
THE STORY OF OUR CONGREGATION
Reformed Church History
Drenthe Scottish Presbyterian History
Even as every living tree has its roots deep in the soil, so the Christian Reformed Church of Drenthe has its roots deep in the history of the colony of 1847.
The first settlers of the village of Drenthe arrived the latter part of the year 1847 shortly after the village of Vriesland was settled. Others followed them in 1848. In the record of those early beginnings we find the names of twenty-nine colonists. Most of these were head of families. Some of these names as listed below are still found amongst us today.
Cornelious Vande Stadt
Jan J. Jansen
M. Grevewits (Grinwis)
N. De Vries
B. De Hann
These our forebearers, like the Pilgrim fathers 225 years earlier, were sincere Christian people who took their religion seriously. By and large they all belonged to those who had seceded in 1834 from the State controlled Reformed church in the Netherlands. The reasons for this secession are plainly recorded in the history of the churches of the Netherlands and need not be repeated here.
Suffice it to say, they came to America to reestablish the Reformed faith according to the dictates of their conscience, guided by the Holy Word of God, without hindrance from the authorities, and also to gain economic freedom.
These desires the colonists had in common. These desires, bathed in prayer, were the bonds that united them in those early days. However, we, their children, are apt to overlook the fact that many of them were strangers to one another in a strange land. These Netherlanders who settled in this village came from the Province of Drenthe and from the province of Overijsel. It is understandable that a conflict arose as to what to name the village. Those from Overijsel favored Staphorst, a city in that province, and those from Drenthe favored their provincial name.
Though the early settlers came from only two provinces in the old country, nevertheless they came from various villages, hamlets and cities in these provinces. Each of these places had its peculiarities and customs in those days. Therefore, it must not be overlooked that altho the early settlers were now neighbors they had not been neighbors before. Though all Hollanders, though all adherents of the Reformed faith, they were strangers to each other and had to learn to live and work together. In view of this, we their descendants, may praise God that in spite of expected conflicts found among families and neighbors in the church militant, these people of God through the years have grown together in love and unity.
It appears that at first the settlers in Drenthe worshipped on the Sabbath day with the congregation in Vriesland. But soon the desire for an organized work of the Lord in their midst came to expression in the establishment of the congregation of Drenthe in the year 1848. For it was in 1848 that the Drenthe colony church building was constructed. The Colonists Jan Op’t Holt, Jan Wiggers and Jan Hulst appear to have been the first consistory as well as the first building committee. The location of this first church of Drenthe was about ½ mile east of Drenthe on the north side of the road. The congregation numbered about 45 families Although the day and month is as yet unknown, our congregation is actually about 109 years old. The official record shows that the Drenthe congregation delegated elders H. H. Hunderman, J. Op’t Holt, J. Hulst, Sr. and deacon J. Kamps to the meeting of Classis Holland, held on April 25, 1849.
Our early Drenthe congregation was therefore organized on American soil. It began without the leadership of a pastor, but was served in the ministry of the Holy Word and Sacraments by the immigrant ministers of the several churches. The following preachers are known to have served the congregation during its first vacancy: Martin Ypma, Cornelius Vander Meulen, Seine Bolks, Albertus Van Raalte and Hubertus Budding.
The desire for a minister of their own was expressed in the call extended to the Rev. Roelof Hendrick Smit, pastor of the Reformed church (secession church 1834) of Nieuwleuzen, Overijsel, Netherlands, (near his home village). Not only did the Rev. Smit accept the call but it appears that a goodly number of members of his congregation emigrated with him and settled in Drenthe as well as in the colony of Overijsel. Drenthe was the fourth church in his ministry. The installation service took place on Sunday, October 21, 1851, in which the Rev. Martin Ypma of Vriesland officiated. Rev. Smit’s first sermon in Drenthe was preached from Psalm 51. The words of his text were, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me...then will I teach transgressors thy ways: and sinners shall be converted unto thee." Surely a wonderful prayer for a minister and his ministry. May it be the prayer of each minister yet to serve the congregation until Jesus comes.
The week before the installation of the Rev. Smit, his credentials were received at the meeting of Classis Holland, on October 14, 1851. Article 8 of the minutes reads as follows: "The credentials of the Rev. R. Smit were read, approved, and accepted with the hearty wish that not only the church which had received him in her midst may find in him a wide awake and faithful minister, but that the classis also may find in him a powerful support for the promotion of the common welfare of the church."
However, the course of affairs did not run as smoothly as hoped and desired. The Drenthe congregation by virtue of its membership in Classis Holland was also now a part
of the Old Dutch Reformed Church of North America with headquarters in the East. The union took place in 1850. When the Rev. Smit arrived in Drenthe in 1851 voices of
dissatisfaction with that union were heard. In addition to this there were problems in the colony churches concerning tenure of office of elders and concerning the Holy Days. There were differences of opinion about the church order. The Rev. Smit stepped into this situation. Soon difficulties arose. These were aggravated by Rev. Smit’s personal opposition to the distribution of a booklet. "The New Salvation", written by an English Theologian, the Rev. Baxter. This booklet was recommended by the Rev. Van Raalte.
This conflict did not help to establish good personal relations between the leader of
Holland and the leader in Drenthe. It is a sad story in which it is evident that personalities are in conflict. It led to a schism in the church of Drenthe dated May 15, 1853. A document from Drenthe, received by Classis Holland R.C.A. reads as follow: "Hereby we certify and declare that we discontinue fellowship with you because we no longer can or may be in union with you. We shall express ourselves more particularly at Classis", Signed by,
R. Smit, preacher
H. Schepers, elder
R. Tibbe, elder
Ger. Van Rhee, deacon
J. Mast, deacon
G. Hunderman, deacon
H. Hunderman, member
J. Van Rhee, member
About two thirds of the membership of the Drenthe colony church left and under the leadership of the Rev. R. Smit formed a new congregation. Concerning this rupture in the early development of the church in Drenthe the late Dr. Henry Beets says "As the Secession of 1834 had forerunners, so did the Movement of 1857. As early as 1853 the Rev. R. Smit and the greater part of his Drenthe church had severed connections with Holland Classis and joined the Associate Reformed Church, usually called the ‘Scottish Church’, a body which in 1858 was one of the two groups which combined to form the United Presbyterian Church".
Since then it has been known among us as the "Scottish Church" which had its church building on the south west corner of the village of Drenthe where now John Van Rhee’s garage is located.
The one third of the membership of our Drenthe colony church carried on bravely. The going nevertheless was very difficult, especially due to an initial period of vacancy which lasted till 1861. During this period 1853-1882 of its history the congregation was vacant approximately half of the time. The following pastors served the congregation of Drenthe in this period of its history:
Christian Van der Veen..................1875-79
The minutes from 1847 through 1863 are apparently lost. But the minutes beginning with January 1864 are in our possession and give us many an interesting sidelight.
Now and then we read of difficulty arising between members of the church. But the conclusion of the report of the consistorial committee was usually pleasing, stating "reconciled in love". Whenever that can be seriously experienced we may be sure we have the evidence of the work of the spirit of God whether that is in the church of 1857 or 1957.
We noticed too that the practice was in vogue to re-nominate the retiring elders and deacons with the usual result of their re-election. This practice evidently created tensions and dissatisfaction.
During most of this period it was the custom that some appointed member of the congregation --- unreadable portion --- for the minister every once in a while someone would appeal to the consistory because he believed he was assessed too high. But the greater difficulty seemed to be to collect it from some of those who did not appear. At least the church had a financial struggle on that account. The system was therefore changed in December, 1871 in favor of free-will pledges.
In article 3 of minutes of December 26, 1865, the consistory decided to attempt to obtain a new teacher for the "Hollandsche School". This evidently refers to a school which the local congregation conducted.
In a meeting of January 13, 1865, the consistory decided to have a prayer service on Saturday evening in preparation for the Holy Communion service the next day. Time and again in those early days the congregational meeting was preceded by a preaching service. These meetings would often begin at nine in the morning. The church owned the cemetery, "De rust plaats der dooden", and the consistory sold lots in this. You may wonder how far back our custom dates of baptizing our convenant children on the first Sunday in the month. It was decided to do so on April 7, 1865.
During the pastorate of the Rev. James Huyssoon the same minutes were written in both Dutch and English. From the minutes of April 9, 1865, we quote some interesting items concerning the spiritual condition and some congregational statistics. The item which follows is part of a report submitted annually to Classis:
"The religious revival so powerfully broken out in other places has also shown itself in some measure in our midst, and the Lord thereby declares that He will
not pass us by. We feel however that a manifestation of our dependence upon
Him, a proof of our faith in Him and a pleading of our continual fervent prayer
to Him, are required that He may remain and work in our midst. To this end we
ask the prayers of the churches, that also here His kingdom may extend and
flourish and his name be glorified".
Number of families 51
Received on confession 5
Received on certificate 3
Present number of communicants 88
Baptized adults 0
Baptized children 12
Number of catechumens 70
Contributions for congregational purpose $1,000.00
Contributions for benevolent purpose $85.84
The idea of a new church building was first mentioned on December 6, 1870. The location for this new church became a real problem. The corner opposite the ‘Scottish Church’ was mentioned as well as the old location (one half mile east of the village of Drenthe, on the north side), and at one time there was talk of building a church together with Jamestown. But all these plans in various parts of the talking and planning stage failed to carry. However, all this did not take place peacefully. There evidently was much conflict and tension about this project and other matters so that for a while in 1874 the congregational affairs were under direct jurisdiction of the Classical committee of Classis Holland (Reformed Church of America) the consistory having retired in its entirety (September 22, 1874).
At this time (October 12, 1874), it was decided to build on the location where our congregation now has its building. The enthusiasm for a new church building expressed itself in voluntary pledges to the amount of $1,730.00. A building committee was appointed to execute the plans. The members of the committee were W. Kremer, S. Op’t Holt, H. Bakker, T. Lubbers and R. Van Zwaluwenburg.
The atmosphere having cleared, a new consistory was chosen by a free ballot in the congregational meeting (March 1, 1875). The dedication of the new church building took place on Wednesday, December 29, 1875. The following ministers took part in the ceremony: Van Raalte, Pieters, Moerdyk, and De Pree.
The old church building appears to have become the subject of conversation and decisions from December, 1875 to January, 1882. It was first decided to break it down and rebuild it for a horse stable on the new location. Later we learn that it was used at least in part by the Young Men’s Society and Singing School for its meetings on the old location. It was finally sold to the highest bidder, Mr. H. Rozema, on June 12, 1882, for $25.50.
Pledges to the amount of $970.00 were received on January 17, 1876 for the construction of a new parsonage to cost $1,200.00, on the new property. These plans were not carried out at this time. However the old one ½ mile east was sold for #300.00 to R. Nyenhuis (February 7, 1879), and apparently another house was bought to be used for a parsonage.
Lest it be forgotten, our church also had a precentor at one time, possibly before the days of organs or pianos were used in the public worship. In the minutes of January 14, 1876, we read that Mr. W. Padding was elected to be the "Voorzinger". You may wonder too when the trees were planted that grace the front of our church edifice. A committee was appointed in the meeting of December 15, 1881 consisting of Jan Padding, Hendrik Wiggers and Hendrik Essing, to plant trees in the spring,."
We have mentioned these sidelights of this period so that we might form some idea of the character of the congregation during this time. This is not all that might be said. These were times of peace and trouble and praise, of struggle and accomplishment. Times in which God led His people through divers ways His gracious wonders to perform.
Before we conclude this period of 1853-1882, we must tell you one event that stirred the entire congregation, yet without dissension, conflict or trouble. The first mention made of it, is in the minutes of August 19, 1880. It reads as follows: ". . .concerning the decision of the Synod (Reformed Church of America) in the matter of oath-bound-secret-societies, this matter was seriously considered, and with unanimous vote decided, unless Synod changed its decision, to not only with us oppose but also to purge this matter, we would no longer be able to live in fellowship with her. Wherefore this matter is to be placed before Synod through the Classis." In the minutes of January 6, 1882, the matter is again on the agenda in these words: "discussed the matter about seceding from the East". In the congregational minutes of March 17, 1882, we read "this congregational meeting was called because it was desired and requested by members of the congregation, and is called by the consistory". The members of the congregation declared that they could no longer be united with the Reformed church (R. C. A.) because of ‘oath-bound-secret-societies’. They were so determined about this, that they desired to wait no longer. In case the consistory wishes to wait longer, the members are determined to sever from the Reformed Church (R. C. A.). A motion was made and passed to secede from the Reformed church".
A committee was appointed to meet with the consistory and arrange matters in connection with this secession. The following were named on the committee: Hendrik Lubbers, Hendrik Wiggers and Klaas Boer. The decisive meeting was called for Saturday, April 1, 1882, at 9 A.M. It is to be remembered that the church was vacant at this time and so the whole movement in our congregation proceded from membership.
At this meeting of April 1, 1882:. . .it was decided (Article 1 of minutes) to inform Classis (R.C.A.) of the decision of secession from Classis and Synod (R.C.A.) taken at the previous meeting. The article of secession formulated by the consistory together with the committee above mentioned was accepted by unanimous vote by all those present.
ACT OF SECESSION
(translated and somewhat abbreviated, J.K.)
"Since we as a congregation of Drenthe having met at various times to express our sorrow and disapproval of the sin of oath-bound secret societies do declare: Since this secret sin has become quite prevelant in the Reformed Church of North America, and has become common knowledge, the responsibility rests upon each member of the church, wherefore we have placed our appeal and protest concerning this evil of oath-bound secret societies before the classis of Holland (R. C. A.). Classis Holland declared the sin of membership in oath-bound secret societies as a great sin. Three classis have acknowledged it as a terrible sin and have placed before the general synod long, lawful extensive protest. And appealed to (Synod) (R. C.A.) continues to refuse to deal with this aformentioned sin even tho it is amply informed concerning the grief of the protesting members. We consider it the high calling and duty of the Synod to declare the sin disciplinary and to institute action against the afore mentioned sin. We are not agreed with this policy of the Synod. The light must not be under the bushel but upon the candle stick. All that is light is revealing, ‘In secret spake I nothing’.
"Neither are we in agreement with the decision of Classis Holland (R C.A.) which declares ‘that we because of present evils in the Reformed church (for example that some of her members have fellowship with oath-bound secret societies) should not depart’. and ‘that as long as we are not hindered in dealing with our congregational affairs, according to our convictions, we regard our departure as sin and an evil with which we should have nothing to do.’
"We declare: that we can not agree with such decisions of Classis which force our conscience. We believe Classis has no right to depose the Rev. Groeneveld who because of oath-bound secret societies left the denomination. Since we as Consistory and congregation are fully aware that unless a definite change occurs in the present situation, the entire congregation is in danger of falling apart and going to ruin, which we do not want, but we hope to maintain unity and peace.
We have decided:
that we as consistory and congregation (alle als een eenig man eensteemig)
each and every one of us in full agreement are fully persuaded in our con-
science that it is the duty of the church to discipline in case of sin, which
action is not taking place with this sin.
We have decided:
that we shall inform Classis of this at its forthcoming session.
We have decided:
to remain with the Reformed teachings
With the Standard of our church (Gereformeerde)"
Following this Act of Secession the minutes record the notarized decision on December 6, 1882, of the congregation to dissolve the existing organization. (The vote was by ballot – 19 yes, 1 no, 1 blank) and incorporate as the Holland Christian Reformed church of Drenthe.
This act of incorporation is written in English in the minute book and follows:
"We the undersigned desirous of forming a religious society according to the provisions of the laws of the State of Michigan pursuant to an act entitled, An act to provide for the incorporation of Holland Christian Reformed churches, do for that purpose unite in and agree to establish the following articles of association:
1st The society shall be designated and known as the Holland Christian Reformed church of Drenthe of the township of Zeeland in the county of Ottawa and state of Michigan.
2nd This church shall be located in the township of Zeeland in the county of Ottawa and state of Michigan.
3rd The Bible as the infallible Word of God and the formulas of unity of the Christian Reformed church of the Netherlands, and the church ordinances of the constitution of the Synod of Dort, held in the years 1618 and 1619 adopted by the Holland Christian Reformed Synod in America and expressed in its constitution, constitute the fundamental principles of our society in practice and government, the said formulas of unity being the Heidelberg Catechism, the five articles against the Remonstrants, and the thirty seven articles of the Confession of Faith of the Netherlands Reformed Church.
4th We irrevocably appropriate to the maintenance of our confession and government forever such real and personal estate as this church now has or may hereafter acquire and declare that to these objects alone shall it be applied; and that in case of any departure from the above established standard of doctrine and government by any portion of this church or congregation, such estate shall be held and enjoyed exclusively by those who adhere to said standards hereby declared and established as the basis of our organization.
"In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names this sixth day of December in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-two.
Albert Lanning Geo. Van De Velde
Hendrik Rozema Willem Padding
Reyer Van Zwaluwenburg Bokke Stremeler
Harm Lubbers Jan Van De Berg
Lukas De Kleine Hendrik Lubbers
Hendrik Kamps Jan Padding
Otte Yntema Gradus Lubbers
Roelof Lanting Jan Van Os
Roelof Kamps Hendrik Essing
State of Michigan
County of Allegan
On this sixth day of December in the year
One thousand eight hundred and eighty two before me, a notary public in and for said county, personally appeared Albert Lanning, Hendrik Rozema and seventeen others known to me to be the persons who executed the foregoing articles of agreement, and acknowledged the same to be their free act and deed."
Notary Public, Allegan County, Michigan
Jan W. Gravelink
On this same day December 6, 1882, elders and deacons were elected. The first elders of the Christian Reformed church of Drenthe were Albert Lanning and Hendrik Rozema. The first deacons were Reyer Van Zwaluwenburg, Harm Lubbers and Lukas De Kleine.
This day in the history of the congregation of Drenthe we are commemorating this year. It is an important day, for it meant to those fathers who dared to take this step, a return to the position for which they suffered and struggled and finally left their fatherland to such a home in America where they could serve God according to His Holy Word and with a free conscience bound only by the fallible Truth. We do not know what the future holds in store for us. However, may we, their sons and daughters, count it a great honor to be standing in their footsteps, and hold as high the Word of our God, and consider faithfulness to His Truth worthy of any sacrifice.
Vriesland Christian Reformed Church History
Drenthe Presbyterian Church History
It is evident to the close observer of our story that our colony-congregation of Drenthe did not grow in membership from its early promising beginning. In the early colony days the heads of families totaled about 30; in 1865 there were about 50 families, while in 1882 there were about 20 voting members. So we can readily see that numerically the Drenthe church was in these two early periods far from stable. If the first 20 years were characterized by slow growth, the last 20 years were characterized by rapid decline. In fact, in 1882, there was real danger of collapse as is evident from one of the paragraphs quoted above in the "Act of Secession." However, a new day dawned with December 6, 1882. It was a revival, refreshing, a new beginning. The Drenthe congregation grew and developed rapidly to near its present stature within a few years. Part of the reason for its numerical growth takes us into the story of two other closely related churches, by virture of family ties, geographic location, and identical (religious) background (1834).
The first is the story of the Vriesland Christian Reformed Church. This church was located about 1 ½ miles north of Drenthe. This Vriesland Church was one of the five churches which began the Christian Reformed Denomination in 1857. It began with 18 families. Among the leaders we find Jacob Schepers, Jan Van Haitsma, Jan Roek and Jan Van Rhee. This church experienced extensive growth and showed real spiritual strength so that it became the mother church of three other congregations. One of these was organized south of Drenthe, about 1878 (this later became North and South Overisel; still later these two united to form the Oakland Christian Reformed Church), another east of Vriesland in 1879 known as Zutphen (this later divided and also formed Jamestown), and in 1882, Beaverdam was born. In spite of these three births the mother church was still a sizable congregation. What happened after this is our own particular interest. Wherefore we have related the aforementioned events.
In the minutes of our Drenthe congregation of December 6, 1882, the consistory decided to ask the Rev. G. H. Hemkes, pastor of Vriesland Christian Reformed Church, to catechise the youth of Drenthe. On December 26, 1882, the request was repeated to include preaching every other Sunday, together with family visiting and calling on the sick. In the meeting of January 16, 1883, it is reported that Vriesland Christian Reformed Church consented to this request. So in a way, the first pastor of the Drenthe Christian Reformed Church from December 6, 1882, was the Rev. Hemkes, who served in this capacity for much of 1883. Part of his salary was paid by the Drenthe congregation. The minutes of our congregation were signed by him as its president through July 1883. He accepted the appointment as professor in our Theological School in Grand Rapids late in 1883.
Many people had heretofore passed the church of Drenthe to attend the Christian Reformed church in Vriesland, but this was now no longer necessary because Drenthe now also had joined the ranks of Christian Reformed churches. Hence, in short order some 50 families of the Vriesland Christian Reformed church joined our Drenthe congregation. This transfer was made easier since their Vriesland pastor, Rev. Hemkes, also served as the Drenthe pastor. It appears that some of these men as elders and deacons finished their terms of office begun in Vriesland, in the Drenthe church. It is evident from this that a genuine feeling of oneness was expressed and experienced (Minutes January 16, 1883).
After this, the Vriesland Christian Reformed Church still counted as many as 70 families. This formerly very strong and peaceful church became weal through inner strife over the location of its school and possible new church building. These may appear as frivolous reasons for strife, and they are, but we will be slow to judge if we will only remember that distance from school or church meant something in those days, because of poor road conditions and slow means of transportation, if any. Gradually more members left for Drenthe and finally on April 16, 1893, the last service was conducted there by the Rev. G. Hocksema, pastor of Oakland. The sale of the property took place in 1894. Thus ended the glorious story of the Vriesland Christian Reformed church. Though the last eight years of its life were sad and sorrowful, it nevertheless served its purpose in God’s providence. It is evident the Drenthe profited greatly numerically through the demise of the Vriesland church. Spiritually Drenthe was strengthened through the acquisition of many of its sturdy members whose spiritual heritage was the ‘faith of the Fathers’.
The second church whose concluding story must now be briefly told in order to understand the rapid growth of our Drenthe congregation since December 6, 1882, is the demise of the Scottish church. You will recall that the first pastor of our Drenthe congregation was the Rev. R. H. Smit. He came in October 1851 and left our congregation taking with him 2/3 of its original membership, in May 1853. Though some of the members, it is said, joined the Vriesland Christian Reformed church following its organization in 1857, the major portion of the congregation carried on under the leadership of its only pastor for 35 years. Truly an enviable record until the spring of 1886 when the Rev. Smit suddenly became ill with erysipelas, complicated by heart trouble and resultant dropsy. Like Calvin of old, he gathered his consistory around his sick bed and discussed the future of his congregation. It is said that Rev. Smit at this solemn occasion advised his people to unite with the Christian Reformed church of Drenthe. We may believe that he then passed away in peace on May 27, 1886.
Thus we can readily understand that a few months following Rev. Smit’s decease, families of the ‘Scottish Church’ began to transfer their membership to our Drenthe congregation. This continued to go on during 1887. In March of that year some eleven families and some individuals were welcomed. Some of the names found among us today as this list shows:
Hendrik Petter and his wife Roelofje Vredevelt
Aalt Arendsen and his wife Jentje Winkels
Dirk Roelofs and his wife Jentje Vander Hoop
Jan Roelofs and his wife Geertje Mulder
Albert Roelofs and his wife Jantje Aalting
Jan G. Hoeve and his wife Hendrikje Roelofs
Jan Kruidhof and his wife Mary Smit
Jan Verbeck and his wife Geertje Verhoef
Gerrit Timmer and his wife Buitje De Vries
Jacob Timmer and his wife Aaltje Boonenstroo
Albert Verhoef and his wife Lubbertje Blaauw
Gerrit Vis, Hendrikje Vis, Hannesje Bos and the baptized children
In May of the same year another group is received into the fellowship of our Drenthe congregation. Some of these names too sound familiar to us:
Jan Visscher and his wife Aaltje Mast
Jan Brouwer and his wife Classje Smit
Beert Vander Hoop and his wife Jentje Hoeve
Roelof Boeskool and his wife Aaltje Brouwer
Ryer Vis and his wife Neesje Van Spyker
Beert Vander Kolk and his wife Aanetje Vis
Jan Durenweerd, Evert Vis, Annetje Vis, Jakopje Hoop, Jentje Redder and others
Several times our congregation was given the opportunity to purchase the real estate owned by the ‘Scottish church’, but his was finally turned down in the congregational meeting of November 11, 1887. However, the cash balance $308.05 from the ‘Scottish church’ funds was accepted on December 21, 1887. The alternative of using this money for the purchase of an organ or pay off debts was decided in favor of the latter. Thus the union was made complete. Not only the members were received into our fellowship but the earthly possessions of the church were likewise incorporated.
Thus the story of the rapid growth of our Drenthe congregation in those years immediately following our birthday (December 6, 1882) as a Christian Reformed church includes the story, in part at least, of Vriesland Christian Reformed Church and the Scottish church. Thus again our church of Drenthe was able to reach into every direction of the village of Drenthe and welcome the colonists and their families into its bosom. They all seem to have set their approval on our return to the position of our fathers of 1834 as restated in the Acts of Secession of 1882 by the 19 votes in favor; one against and one blank. They came together who belonged together.
We believe the Lord, too, has set his approval on this action of the brethern of 1882. The church has not only grown but prospered. Peace, to the extent that such is possible in the church militant, has prevailed.
The further story, from December 6, 1882 to the present, can now be more briefly told. It is a story of the shepherds and flock, of baptism and professions, of preaching of the Word, of administration of the Sacraments, of building and finances, of admonishments and repentance, of Sunday School and Catechism classes, of organizations and Americanization, and of the beginning of Christian School interest and its needed expansion. It is the story that is written in three large volumes of minutes comprising about 1285 pages, approximately half of which are written in the Holland language. It is a story some future historian might want to tell in all its color. It is worthy of it. However, for our purpose we must needs restrict ourselves to a few side lights and the broad lines of immediate interest.
It is at once evident when one looks at this period of the history of our congregation that one of the great blessings which might be noted as God’s favor upon us, is the almost uninterrupted succession of pastors. No extended vacancy has occurred.
Early in 1883 the Sunday School was revived. The Drenthe church previously had organized Sunday school work. However, once more it was begun with renewed effort, with Mr. G. Vander Velde as superintendent, John Padding, Hendrik Lubbers and John Op’t Holt as teachers. About this time it was decided to have a monthly offering in the Sunday School for Foreign Mission work. Our mission box offering of today might date back to this early beginning. In April 1883, it was decided to purchase the home of Dr. Moon (Location is the present Harry Beren’s home) for a parsonage for the first regular minister about to be called for the Christian Reformed church of Drenthe. It was bought for $2,000.00. After it was decided where to place the minister, it was next decided from where to call him, from the Netherlands or from this country. This was decided in favor of the latter. So we note the Rev. H. D. Vander Werp’s presence in the congregation as presiding chairman of the consistory in the meeting of September 14, 1883. He came from Noordeloos, his first charge in this country. The Sunday School Library, an institution that received a bit of prominence in this anniversary year through its re-building, was begun upon request of the Sunday School in June 1, 1885. The last consistory meeting which Rev. H. Vander Werp attended was January 25, 1886.
Transcriber: Barb Jones
Created: 29 Feb 2008