Our Church Bethel Timeline of the last 50 years
•In 1959, a lot was purchased for $3,000 to build a parsonage; the cost of the parsonage was $16,970. •January 1961 approval was given to build the church for $45,000. •In September of 1962 it was decided to reduce the collections from three to two. •December 21, 1961 the new church building was first officially in a dedication service. •June 10, 1968 women were given voting rights. •Teen group first began in 1972. •The balcony was added in 1974 at a cost of $5,000. •The last major renovation done to the church was in 1990. •The church received new windows, flooring and paint in time for the 50th Anniversary celebrations •From 1958-2008 there have been: •675 Baptisms •375 Profession of Faith made by Young People and adults. •150 Weddings Performed •79 Deaths •Total membership in 1958 was 71 confessed members and 86 baptized members •Total membership in 2008 was 288 professing members and 186 non-professing members A Beginning 1958-2008 For centuries, the Dutch have traveled all over the world. Always on the lookout for adventure, business, and for spreading the gospel. Their need to travel was refueled after WWII when the Dutch fell in love with everything Canadian.
Soon after WWII, the exodus to Canada started. Thousands of Dutch people from the Netherlands emigrated to Canada, “Promised Land”. Quite a few found their way to the Wellandport/Dunnvile area and settled there.
Rev. Personaire, a Home Missionary from the United States took charge and organized a congregation in Wellandport which later on became the mother church of four daughter churches of which Dunnville was one.
A number of families, members of Wellandport, were interested in settling around Dunnville. They formed, “Group Dunnville” and together, with families that already lived there, wanted to organize a Christian Reformed Church in Dunnville.
The “Group Dunnville” eventually was able to rent a hall above the fire station on Chestnut Street, across from the current Dunnville Youth Impact Center. It may have been a small group, but they were nevertheless ambitious and faithful to the Lord.
The group attracted a few more members and thus it became time for Dunnville to start a new congregation. Classis Hamilton was approached and at their meeting, granted Dunnville permission to organize a congregation in the Christian Reformed Church of North America.
The opening ceremonies were held on the evening of May 28, 1958 in the United Church of Dunnville. It was for the “Group Dunnville”, as well as for Wellandport congregation, a happy day. “Group Dunnville” ceased to exist while at the same time it emerged as an organized church in the CRC.
At 8 o’clock that evening, Rev. Jack Geuzenbroek read the decision of Classis Hamilton that Dunnville had permission to organize as an independent church. The council of Wellandport was present as well as a large group of members from Wellandport CRC to take in the festivities. Rev. Geuzenbroek chose Judges 17:13 as the text for his meditation.
The names of the members of Wellandport who called in their membership were added to the Dunnville church. Also the members of three other CRC congregations expressed their wish to join Dunnville CRC. There were now 71 confessing members and 86 baptized members. At the end of the meeting, three elders and two deacons were elected as office bearers.
So, now Dunnville CRC was an independent congregation without a church building, no parsonage, and no minister.
It was decided that a parsonage would be built and that the process of calling a minister would be initiated. A building plan was obtained and approved by the congregation. Contractors were invited for a quote. The search for a building lot resulted in the purchase of a lot (230 Broad Street W) in town. The price of $3,000 was a little pricey for a church with little money. After all this was only a lot. The price of the building ($16,970) was covered by a loan from Church to help fund $5,000 and $12,000 by a loan from the government. The Lord provided.
The calling of a minister was also blessed. Rev. G.J. Hoytema from Clinton CRC accepted the call to Dunnville and York to serve these two congregations in Word and sacrament.
The Dunnville congregation kept on growing and soon outgrew the Hall. A new sanctuary would soon be needed. A lot on the Robinson Road was purchased for $2,500. A building plan was approved and Heeringa Bros. Construction was awarded the contract to build the church for $45,000, not including the benches, the balcony and the parking lot. It is amazing that everything came together: minister, parsonage, and church to build a Bethel in a new land.
Considering that the members of the Church came from all over The Netherlands and brought with them different ideas, different customs, different dialects, all working together to serve the Lord at Bethel.
And then the Lord, in His wisdom provided a “Moses” to lead them to the new land….the Promised Land. Rev. G.J. Hoytema was like Moses leading the Israelites in the wilderness.
The dedication service was held Friday, December 21, 1961.
Translated from the Dutch and written by: Herman Eikelboom. Many thanks for this historic document and the hard work.
1958 – 1959: Counselor Rev.Jack Geuzebroek;
1959 – 1963: Rev. George J. Hoytema;
1963 – 1967: Rev. A.J. VandenPol;
1968 – 1972: Rev. John Kersies;
1972 – 1976: Rev. Weiger DeJong;
1977 – 1981: Rev. Gregg V. Martin;
1982 – 1989: Rev. Harry A. VanderWindt;
1990 – 1992: Rev. Richard Stienstra;
1993 – 1998: Rev. Mike Vandyk;
2001 – 2008: Rev. Gerald VanSmeerdyk;
2017 – today: Rev. John Heidinga;
2010 to today: Pastor Frank Engelage
2019 – today: Rev. M. Jeff Klingenberg