Two Views of the First Christian Reformed Church Sanctuary
The First Christian Reformed Church
It was not until about 1862, that the Dutch began to come into the township. Within thirty years their number increased steadily and today, the population is predominantly of Dutch ancestry. The Dutch drained the big swamp in the southern part of the township and placed its rich land under cultivation. At that time they did not have the wild animals to deal with but the venomous reptiles and rattlesnakes.
The Dutch settlement being accustomed to attending church would try and drive to Cutlerville, but gave that up on account of the distance and road problems. Then they wanted the Cutler Church to move half way between Cutlerville and Byron Center. Unsuccessful, they had services in their respective homes until 2 Sep 1902, when under the leadership of Rev. E. Broene and E. Vander Vries, the Byron Center Christian Reformed Church was started. The original signers were 13 families and 24 communicant members. Also, the first consistory was composed of the following men: Deacons: P. Hondred and A. Miedema. Elders: H. Beute and C. Kapteyn. A short time later an additional elder was chosen. Namely, C. VanTuin.
Having no house to worship in, the new congregation rented the Adventist Church in Byron Center, for the sum of $.75 per week. Soon effforts were made to obtain ground and a suitable place of worship. From the records, the ground was purchased from the Towner Co. The price of this parcel of land was $75.00, payable in 60 days.
Again, turning to the record, we find that before long the young congregation was engaged in the building of a horse barn size 24 x 60. Later, a church measuring 24 x 36 was built. It was not long before this was over crowded, but to build without money was impossible, so they made extensive tours to obtain the means. Individuals in Grand Rapids wer also contacted for financial support. Due to the efforts of P. Honderd and A. Miedema, the above was carried out.
In September, 1905, the first trio was made of Rev. Tuls, G. Broene and F. J. Drost. Rev. F. J. Drost was chosen. ministering in the midst, the young congregation outgrew the small church, so beside preaching the gospel, Rev. Drost also designed the second building. In 1910, Rev. Drost accepted a call to Leighton, Iowa. So another trio was made and Candidate A. J. Rus was called and he accepted the call. He labored in this congregation for three years then accepted a call from Holland, Michigan. Then Rev. J. Holwerda was chosen and he stayed until 1919. Later, Rev. Guikema was chosen and he remained for eight years. In the fall of 1929, he left for Vogel Center, Michigan. Rev. Rus came again in April, 1930. At that time, there were 130 families.
In 1930, depression days, the church was remodeled at a cost of $20,000.00. Many donated their time and labor.
In 1933, informal services were introduced Sunday evenings which afterwards was changed for regular services.
The war years of early 1940's, left their mark upon the congregation when four young men of the church met death on the battlefield. They were: Edward Folkersma, Peter Geelhoed, Benjamin Kerkstra and Marvin Rus.
In 1949, crowded conditions in the local church, prevailed so they had two services in the morning, one English, in the church and Dutch service in the chapel. In 1947, a movement was started to organize the second church.
In April, 1951, Rev. Rus requested emeritation, which was granted. In the fall of 1952, Rev. W. Hendricksen accepted the call, and is the present pastory (1957).
The Second Christian Reformed Church was organized in 1953 and started with 60 some families. It is located on the corner of Byron Road and 76th St., S.W. The pastor is Rev. Jabaay.
Created: 18 January 2014