First Reformed Church History
The foundation of our church was laid in 1861 when 3 Dutch immigrant families began meeting on the Lord's Day for singing and meditation on the Word of God. The First Reformed-Friesland was officially organized on July 12, 1893 with 20 members. They continued to meet in homes until 1895 when a group of Wesleyan Methodists disbanded and their building was purchased. In 1898, Rev. John Engelsman accepted the call to become the first full-time pastor of the church.
By 1900 it was decided to build a new church, and the building of our present church was begun. 1900 also marked the beginning of Sunday School and on July 4, 1901 the first Sunday School picnic was held. This 4th of July picnic tradition has continued and expanded through the years to include a noon potluck, Sunday School games, horseshoes, homemade pies, and fireworks. The 4th of July has become a time of homecoming for many former members and a time to refresh memories and renew friendships.The Lord was blessing this young congregation for it was not only growing in members, but also in the knowledge of the Lord.
1908 brought the addition to the church under the leadership of Rev. Anthony VanderWerf. "The Lord has made all things well and to Him be the Glory." In 1909 a Hinners Pipe Organ was installed.Beginning in 1927 an occasional church service was conducted in English, and in 1933 it was decided to have 1 Dutch and 1 English service each Sunday. In 1946 it was decided to have morning and evening services in English and to have Dutch services twice each month on Sunday afternoons. In 1948 the Dutch services were discontinued all together.
In 1947 with our sixth pastor, Rev. Herman Maasen, plans were made to again enlarge the church by raising it to put a full basement underneath. With an assembly room, new oil furnaces, inside toilet facilities and various other improvements completed by early winter, the church was re-dedicated on December 2, 1947.
Music has always been a special part of worship in Friesland. In 1954 a new piano was dedicated by a Men's Chorus program. In 1956 the Pipe organ was replaced with a rebuilt organ. In September 1998, the organists donated the money to have an Aeolian-Skinner organ rebuilt by Foley-Biggers and installed. Two pianos and one keyboard are used in the sanctuary. One piano was donated in memory of Mrs. Margie Braaksma, church organist from 1942-1972. Another piano (donated by John and Martha Talsma) is in the balcony and used by the choir. The keyboard, a Yamaha Clavinova, is portable and used by the Praise Team. Various members in the congregation donated the keyboard in 2004.
In 1960, after many chairs had been carried and set up for the increased attendance, it was decided to build a twenty-foot addition. This would provide the needed space in the sanctuary as well as four more Sunday School rooms in the basement. On June 10, 1960 the addition was dedicated. The church?s total square footage after the addition was 11,193.
In 1985, a picnic shelter was built on the church's grounds. The shelter includes a men's and women's restrooms, picnic tables, kitchen, and storage. The picnic shelter is used by people in the church and community including Tuesday night band concerts and 4th of July festivities.
In 1995 under the prayerful guidance of our tenth pastor, Rev. Ron Van Der Werff, an addition and remodeling project was started. Once completed, we were blessed with an additional 10,000 square feet of space including five new classrooms, an elevator, two handicapped accessible bathrooms, two pastor studies, a modern kitchen and a large Family Center (gym). This addition was dedicated on July 6, 1997 "All in the name of the Lord Jesus." The funding for this project was paid off in January 2006.
In 2020, during a global pandemic, the Reformed Church of America was starting to go through a split, fundamentally driven by how churches interpreted Scripture. After many years of trying for reformation in the denomination, First Reformed Church in Friesland voted to leave the denomination that birthed the church. On December 31 of 2021 we were released from the Reformed Church of America. During this time our church started to look for another denomination that would better fit the theological beliefs of the church and also help revitalize the local church. In April 2022, First Reformed Church of Friesland was welcomed into fellowship with the Evangelical Free Church of America.
Shortly after being welcomed into the EFCA, First Reformed Church in Friesland changed our name to better fit what we desire to be as a church. Yes we are Reformed in our theology, but we desired to be not just a church for Reformed people but for the community as a whole. In May 2022, the congregation changed its name to Friesland Community Church. The future is yet to be written. However, we have faith God is working in it and writing the next chapters with great care and blessing.
Our congregation has been truly blessed to have had eleven very capable Full-time Senior Pastors and several Youth Pastors to lead us over the years. The Sons, Daughters, and members of the church in full-time ministry all over the world have helped us grow in desire to minister to the nations. We pray for God's continued blessing on our church as we do our part to fulfill the even greater challenge and mission ahead, walking in the Spirit and growing in grace and love.
RECORD OF RECENT SENIOR PASTORS
Rev. Rob Ford 2006-2022
Rev. Philip Rauwerdink 2005-2006 (Specialized Interim Minister)
Rev. Ron Vander Werff 1978-2005
Rev. Robert Hector 1967-1977
Rev. Wendell Pyle 1960-1967
RECORD OF ASSOCIATE PASTORS
Pastor Darrin Vant Hoff 2017-present
Pastor Josh Matthews 2016
Pastor Randy Quade 2009-2015
Rev. Mark Starr 2000-2007
Rev. Barry Vegter 1993-2000
Rev. James DeBruyne 1990-1992