It’s a history that began 100 years ago when four Dutch families decided to begin meeting for prayer and Bible study.
That history has been marked with growth, both in families and in faith. It is the history of the Reformed Church of Steen.
Next week the congregation will come together to celebrate their anniversary.
In 1912 John Klomp, Foekert Tilstra, John Van Hill and Guert Vande Kieft first began meeting to preserve their Christian heritage in the Dutch traditions. The group started by meeting at one another’s homes on Sunday morning but word spread and quickly there were other Dutch families who wanted to be involved.
By the spring of 1913 there were 11 families meeting for church at the Steen Town Hall.
Soon the Classis of Iowa sent Rev. J.W. Kots to Steen to organize a church. The Reformed Church of Steen was charted on April 22, 1913, with 21 charter members and 77 baptized members.
Members of the church saw the potential for growth and purchased five acres of land from Weard Schoon for $200 an acre. They built a house barn for the minister’s house and in April 1914 plans were made to build a church.
That first church cost $5,000 and was completed in 1915.
The church’s first pastor was Rev. Gerrit Bosch of Grand Rapids, Mich. He received a $900 salary. He did not stay long and later that same year Rev. A.W. DeJonge was called. He stayed for 1.5 years before being called to Patterson, N.J. The church extended a call to Rev. Bosch to return. He did and started until 1925.
At their 25th Anniversary in 1940 there were 94 families and 169 communicates in the congregation.
Much had been established during those first 25 years that remains today. The Young Men’s Society dates back to the first year as “Jongelings Vereeniging.”
Sunday school was organized and for a short time a Christian school was opened. It is still a thriving part of the church. They help support several mission projects throughout the region.
The Reformed Church Women began as the Dorcas Ladies Aid in 1914. The first meetings were conducted in Dutch. That has changed but the women of the church still get together for Bible study and fellowship.
In June 1954 a fire slightly damaged the church, resulting in plans for a renovation. The project cost $26,274 with most of the funds coming from church members.
In 1957 the Dutch language was discontinued during services.
During this time Rev. Henry Vander Schaaf was serving the parish and many new changes were made.
A young adult Sunday school class was started in 1958 with Cornie Tilstra as the teacher.
Other improvements in 1958 included a speaker system.
At their 50th anniversary celebration the church boasted 142 families, 280 communicants and 200 baptized members.
With so many young members of the church, the congregation recognized the need for more Sunday school space. In the fall of 1966 a $76,000 addition was completed.
Rev. Vander Schaaf left the congregation in 1967.In 1982 Rev. Roger Punt was installed, bringing to the area his wife Judy and their three children.
A year later the church voted to start a building fund for a new church. In January of the following year the issue was put on hold due to the declining rural economy.
In the early 1990s, when finances began to recover, Pastor Rog helped organize a committee and fund for a new building.
Members of that committee included Marion Van Bemmel, Ron Van Ruler, Bernie Beyenhof, Bill DeYager, Marvin Bosch, Ferd Tilstra, Jake Marbus and Cornie Bosch.
On March 8, 1993, approved was given to spend $1,050,000 on a new church. After drawing up plans, it was determined that the old building would be demolished.
It was on the 80th anniversary of the church when the congregation met to break ground.
The completed project was dedicated on Oct. 25, 1994, with the theme, “To God be the Glory.”
The new building included the sanctuary, 12 classrooms, a kitchen, a pastor’s study, a secretary’s office, fellowship hall, nursery and library.
A couple of years later under the suggestion of Pastor Dan Ramaker the church organized their first outdoor community concert in the Steen Park. Groups performed and ice cream was served.
This tradition continues annually at the church and is part of their 100th anniversary planned for Saturday.
Current faces at the church include youth director Reuben Sinnema who came to be the youth pastor in February 2008.
A year later the congregation welcomed current pastor Dan Kuik and his wife, Christi. They brought with them their two sons, Jonathan and Nathan.
The church has grown to 180 families, 289 communicants and 145 baptized members.
The oldest baptized member is Grace Wassenaar, age 95, and the youngest member is Makenna Meinerts, who is five months old.
Celebration planned for Sunday
When you turn 100 there is nothing to do but throw a party. And that is just what the Reformed Church of Steen is doing.
This spring they began their 100th year of worship in the community of Steen.
A group from the church has an anniversary celebration planned for Sunday, June 30.
The day begins with a special worship service at 9:30 a.m. followed by a noon lunch. At 2 p.m. there will be a Christian puppet program called “Pockets Full of Fun.”
The puppet show will be performed by Lisa Laird who uses ventriloquism, puppets, magic and stories to teach and entertain. The crowd interacts with her during the performances and there are prizes for everyone after the show.
The day ends with the church’s 17th annual Concert in the Park at the Steen City Park. This year the concert features current and former musical members of the church.
Organizers have invited back many familiar faces from near and far so bring a lawn chair and enjoy the music.
There will be goodies and refreshments at the park for people to enjoy.