Committed - We are committed to the teachings of the Bible; God's holy and inspired revelation to us. The Bible reveals to us that we are an imperfect people in an imperfect world; where we need each other in order to experience the presence of God and His love. We are committed to God's Son, Jesus Christ, believing that He alone is able to deal with our brokenness and sin. We depend upon the Holy Spirit to teach us, guide us, and correct us when necessary; and we believe that the spiritual disciplines of study in God's word, prayer, worship, service, and witness, draw us closer to God and to each other.
Concerned - Since God continually exposes us to our broken world we are concerned about those both in the church and those around us. The Bible compels us to love our neighbors as ourselves and we respond by giving our time, talents and resources to those in need.
Caring - Genuine Christ-centered compassion and care for others shapes many of our programs and staffing decisions, so that we can help people grow to maturity in Christ.
Cooperate - Our intention is to experience God in our lives daily; listen to His will for our lives; and join Him in building a church that will honor Him always.
Ephesians 4:1-16: As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
We believe the Bible to be the Word of God and the final authority for faith and practice.
We believe in a sovereign God who is both creator and sustainer of all life.
We believe in Jesus Christ, God's Son, as the Savior of those who have faith in Him; and Lord of all who will obey Him.
We believe in the Holy Spirit who dwells in the life of each believer, and who counsels, comforts, and equips the believer for life.
We believe that the church is the body of Christ on earth; called to be witnesses for God to a world facing an eternity separated from God.
If you have any questions concerning our beliefs, we would love to discuss them with you, as we believe the Scriptures instruct us in all matters of obedience to God.
2 Timothy 3:16-17: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Mission Statement: A Place for Your Heart to be Transformed by the Love of Jesus Christ
The purpose of First Reformed Church is to glorify God by making disciples for Jesus Christ who care for people, serve their God by serving others, and worship joyfully their Almighty God.
A disciple of Jesus Christ is committed to obeying Him as Lord and Savior of all of life by being an active, growing participant in the care of the Christian community; growing in disciplines of the Christian life; serving God, the family of God, and all people, through the use of spiritual gifts; and regularly and faithfully expressing the joy of the Christian life through worship and witness.
Our Mission Statement is derived from two statements of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Great Commandment found in Matthew 22:37-40: Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
And the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
We are blessed to reminisce and to see God's help everywhere, as we do not remember aright unless we do. In the words that follow, we have the grateful commemoration of a century and a half of God's favor and Divine guidance of our Congregation. What could be a more fitting memorial for the occasion than to have our message from the past and to succeeding generations passed on: "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." This message looks forward as well as back, and sees the future in what has transpired in the past.
A good use of memory is to mark, more plainly than it could have been seen at the moment, the Divine help that has filled the life of our Congregation during the past one hundred and fifty years. The year 2000 marked One Hundred Fifty Years of faithful witnessing to the Word of God for the First Reformed Church of Oostburg, the pioneer church of our community.
The beginning of this history takes us back to 1846, when numbers of families and even whole congregations with their ministers left the Netherlands and settled in the Western part of Michigan. At the same time, we find many families coming into Wisconsin and finding new homes in Sheboygan County, predominantly in the Township of Holland. The State Church of the Netherlands gave them no right to worship God according to their belief and conscience and even persecuted them, so they came to seek a new freedom in this land. While no entire congregation came here with a minister, the early settlers did begin to hold religious services, and as soon as possible sought to find a man of God who would preach the Word and lead them in their Christian lives.
In the year 1850, the Reformed Church of Oostburg was organized at East Oostburg, and in that same year, the Rev. K. Vander Schuur came to this new church from the Reformed Church at Graafschap, Michigan. The first meetings of this church group were held in a log schoolhouse. How many families or members comprised the church at its organization we cannot now say, as the earliest records of the church have been lost in a parsonage fire. However, in the year 1854, an early Classis report shows that this church numbered about 60 families and 122 communicant members who were visited by the Pastor several times a year. The congregation pays $150.00 toward the support of their pastor.
A Classis report for June 4th, 1856 reads as follows:
"This Church has built a house of worship during the year. One hundred-ten families regularly attend ministrations of the Gospel. It has 230 members, two Catechism classes, monthly concert, and weekly prayer meetings. The pastor regularly makes family visits and personally catechizes the children. There have been 28 persons added to the Church during the year by profession of faith, and 20 by certificate. We have raised for Domestic Missions $120.00 and something for widows of deceased ministers.”
The Church building mentioned in the above report served during the pastorate of Rev. K. Vander Schuur who remained with us until 1866 when he was declared Emeritus. During his last year as our pastor a new edifice was built, also in East Oostburg.
The year 1867 was a critical year in the history of the Church. Feelings were strong, and the tempo in church affairs was running very high. This state continued for some time and it soon became obvious that the congregation was to be split into two denominations. This condition came to a climax when about 65 men requested the Milwaukee Presbytery that a Presbyterian Church be organized here. Milwaukee Presbytery met the request with a warm approval when 165 men and women subscribed to the Order of Worship and Discipline of the Presbyterian Church U. S. A.
Rev. John Karsten, successor of Rev. Vander Schuur, came to be our Pastor at this momentous time. It was his task to reorganize the Consistory after the losses that were sustained and to minister to a group of only 41 families with 92 members – a distinct loss from the membership we enjoyed with 110 families and 230 members just a few months before.
Rev. and Mrs. Karsten will always be remembered for their three-fold pastorate here. In 1869, Rev. Karsten accepted a call to Alto, Wisconsin to be followed here by the Rev. J. W. TeWinkle who came from the Seminary at Holland, Michigan. This period of our history is characterized by short-term pastorates as Rev. TeWinkle left us in 1871. After various attempts to secure another pastor the Rev. John Hoffman, another graduate of the Seminary, accepted the call in 1874. He remained preaching the Word among us until 1881, when he accepted a pastorate in Baldwin, Wisconsin. It was during the stay of Rev. Hoffman that our Sunday School was started, in 1875, and it has continued to grow steadily ever since.
The Rev. John Karsten came again in 1883, and in 1884, the Women's Missionary Society had its origin. However, in that same year, Rev. Karsten left again for Holland to become editor of De Hope, a popular Dutch Church paper.
During this span from 1867-1882, our church grew weaker numerically with a low in 1882 of 25 families and 60 members. This was chiefly due to the building of the Christian Reformed Church in 1875, which took a portion of our membership count away.
Rev. W. Lubach served from 1886 to 1893. It was during this period that a fire destroyed the parsonage.
Rev. Karsten came for the third time in 1893, and served until 1899.
Rev. J. Sietsema served from 1899 to 1904.
Rev. A. Rozendal served the congregation from 1904 to 1907. During their ministry we became independent of the Board of Domestic Missions and self-supporting. Rev. Rozendal was cognizant of the fact that if we remained in East Oostburg, there was little chance for numerical growth. But, as is often the case, his task was to sow the seed which later brought fruit.
Rev. William Beckering occupied the pulpit from 1907 to 1911. It was in these four years that, with the new railroad in Oostburg, the population began to grow along with new businesses. East Oostburg, on the other hand, was not growing, so a decision was made that yielded its population to the population of Oostburg. As a result, to better suit the needs of more members, a new church building was purchased in Oostburg. This building served our purpose until 1917.
Rev. H. K. Pasma served us from 1913 to 1917. There was now good church growth and the congregation decided to erect a new building. The cornerstone of the building was laid on July 25, 1917.
In December, Rev. Peter Swart accepted the call to our church. The congregation continued to grow and on March 27, 1918, the new Sanctuary was dedicated. The church organ and bell were also installed during his pastorate.
After Rev. Swart left in April 1921, Rev. A. T. Laman and family came to serve the congregation. Rev. Laman remained with us faithfully for a quarter century. On November 20, 1936, approximately 500 persons gathered to honor Rev. and Mrs. Laman for 15 years of service. The church had grown to 175 families and 439 members. During these several years, many improvements were made upon the property. The lot to the east was made into a park and new heating and plumbing systems were installed. The last Dutch services were held on April 23, 1939.
In the years that followed 1940, a heavy burden fell upon our congregation as well as others. We had witnessed three major conflicts in our history before, namely the Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World War I. Now the clouds of war seemed more ominous than ever before and as time went along, we found ourselves in that most unparalleled period of destruction in the history of the world called World War II. Prayer meetings were held more frequently and more fervently than ever and, by the Mercy of God, not one man of our entire congregation did not return alive.
In 1944, the 60th anniversary of the Women's Missionary Society, a new Communion Table was presented to the church.
On November 29, 1946, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the work of Rev. and Mrs. Laman. At the close of his ministry our congregation numbered 180 families, 432 members, and 146 baptized members.
In 1948, Rev. and Mrs. Albert Ten Clay came to us from California.
By 1950, the church included 210 families and a total membership of 618 people and contributions for missions and the church total $27,934.
On our records in 2000, at the time of our 150th anniversary are 1,177 people associated with our church including 514 under the age of 30. Total giving is $786,000. Our Lord has given us the opportunity to grow, becoming the largest RCA congregation in the state of Wisconsin as of 2000.
Through the past 50 years we have had eleven pastors and associates:
Rev. Albert Ten Clay (1948-1955)
Rev. Lambert Olgers (1956-1960)
Rev. Jack Boerigter (1961-1967)
Rev. Levi Akker (1967-1969)
Rev. Calvin Rynbrandt (1969-1972)
Rev. William Bouwer (1973-1989)
Mr. Verlyn Schaap, Assistant to Minister (1975-1979)
Rev. Albert Van Dyke, Associate Pastor (1979-1989)
Rev. Kent Vant Hul, Co-Pastor (1991-1995)
Rev. Raymond Tilstra (1990-2003)
Rev. Wayne DeVrou (2004-2014)
Rev. Brian Taylor, Associate Pastor (1996-present)
Rev. Wayne Tripp, Calling Pastor (1996-present)
Rev. Bob Rook, Senior Pastor (2017-present)
In March of 1972, the congregation decided to construct an educational facility to include 14 classrooms, lounge, church office, and library. On November 25, 1973, this new facility was dedicated as well as a remodeled organ with five new ranks at a cost of $27,000.
A disastrous fire struck the church on August 3, 1987. The insurance company estimated damage at $600,000. In spite of the tragedy, the Lord showed that there was good in it. We now worshipped at the Oostburg High School gym, where we were all together for one service, and became united in plans for the future of the church. At a congregational meeting on November 8, 1987 it was decided to build a new facility rather than restore the present one. On March 13, 1988, by 91% vote, the family of God accepted plans for the new church building on the present site. Groundbreaking was April 24, 1988. The members of the church arranged themselves along a long rope to pull a plow. The first service in the new church was May 7, 1989, and Dedication occurred June 6, 1989. Total cost was $1,140,727. The Lord gave us a heart to give. There was $58,721 in gifts for special projects and an estimated 30,000 hours of donated labor. The new structure included additional classrooms, a fellowship hall, a 78-member choir loft, state of the art sound system, air conditioning, and foyer suitable for fellowship after service and for overflow seating.
Along with contributions to a variety of missionary and educational programs, we have ten units of support in missionary families.
The children of the congregation receive instruction in the Christian faith. There are Sunday School and Catechism classes, Summer Vacation Bible School, and House of Praise (Children's Church). A nursery is provided during services.
Prayer Partners meet prior to each Sunday service to pray for those who are involved in the service. They are also organized in groups of seven with a group assigned to each staff member and a member of that group prays for their staff person each day.
The Lord's Care Team (TLC) serves as lay-pastors ministering to the spiritual needs of members and friends of the congregation.
Opportunities for Bible study and fellowship for women are provided. The Women's Missionary Society has had a continuous history since 1884. They meet monthly, as do Bible study circles. A Women's Prayer Circle meets twice a month.
Adelphia (Sisters in Christ) was organized in 1993 for the women of the church. Their purpose is to help women develop a close relationship to Christ in their lifestyle, to acquaint and equip women to become followers of Christ in their work and with their family, and to create fellowship and friendship through a variety of activities.
In 1998, a TV Ministry was begun which now shows our Traditional and Evening services over a local cable channel. Videotapes are also supplied to shut-ins and various retirement homes, nursing homes, and hospitals.
We are indebted to Louis Lubbers for gathering the historical information for the first 100 years, and to Rev. Albert Van Dyke for the last 50 years.