First Christian Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa, celebrated its 150th anniversary this summer. The theme, taken from Colossians 2:6-7, was “Growing in grace, rooted in faith.” Pastor Mark Vande Zande said, “150 years as a community means that God has been faithful to our church through the good times and the not-so-good times. He has led us through faithful preaching, faithful leadership, and faithful members. We are blessed to celebrate his faithfulness throughout the generations.”
Congregation members rang the church bell at First CRC 150 times Wednesday, July 14, to commemorate the occasion. The church has the only active working church bell in Orange City.
Between July 4 and Aug. 1 the congregation welcomed a series of guest preachers, hearing the Word of the Lord from former pastors and five men who had grown up in the congregation and are now pastors. On Aug. 8, the church hosted a concluding celebration service, inviting congregations it had helped plant and other community churches to join its members in worship.
In a booklet published to mark the anniversary, members shared memories of First CRC. Orv Bruxvoort reflected on when his father was an elder and sat in worship services with the rest of the consistory members while his mother sat in the pew with their eight children. “I’m not sure when this practice changed so the entire family could sit together,” Bruxvoort wrote.
Vande Zande, the church’s current pastor, serves on the CRC’s Council of Delegates, the denomination’s governing board. In June he led opening devotions at a meeting convened in place of the CRC’s annual synod. First CRC was scheduled to be the convening church of Synod 2021 before it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2018 synod began a tradition of presenting plaques to member congregations that have celebrated 150 years. With no synod, First CRC in Orange City received its plaque through the mail.
Celebrations behind, Vande Zande looks to the future. “I pray that this community of faith will remain faithful to God as he remains faithful to us,” Vande Zande said.