Peoria Christian Reformed Church members in Pella, Iowa, marked 125 years of ministry last week, recalling 1 Samuel 7:12, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us,” a verse of significance to the congregation as it’s literally written on the wall.
Three former pastors of the church came to celebrate Sunday, June 2, reflecting on Peoria CRC’s journey and God’s faithfulness. Rev. Peter Van Drunen, who was pastor from 1973 to 1982, focused on the theme verse and how God has been with the church in the past. He reminded the congregation of the many events through which God led the church—including fires in 1916 and 1918 that destroyed first the parsonage then the church, and the subsequent rebuilding. Rev. Ronald Bouwkamp, who was pastor from 1983 to 2000, took the present view, considering God’s leading now with “The Lord Is Helping Us.” Bouwkamp reminded the congregation that God’s word continues to be faithfully preached. Rev. John Gorter, pastor from 2003 to 2012 took the theme into the future with the focus on “Henceforward Shall the Lord Help Us.” Gorter highlighted the confidence that the church can have in an unknown future, which is known to God. Rev. George Den Oudsten, the church’s current pastor, led the evening service with Psalm 90 and a focus on time. He said time was created by God, is under the curse following humanity’s fall, and has been redeemed by Jesus. He told parishioners that what is done with the time God gives is important and worthwhile.
Vocal groups made up of current members and those who had grown up in the church participated in the evening service. Other highlights of the celebration included reciting the 10 Commandments in Dutch, the original language of the church. The practice was suspended in 1918 after the Iowa governor’s proclamation against non-English language use in public. The congregation shared a meal together after the morning service. During that time, Lois Klyn and Marilyn Vander Linden shared memories of growing up in the church and a letter was read from a great-great-granddaughter of the church’s first minister, Rev. Sietse Broekstra.