A HISTORY OF SECOND REFORMED CHURCH 1910 – 2020
History from 1910-85 compiled and written by
Isabelle Bushart in conjunction with Carolyn Adriaansen
Later entries by Rev Donald White.
Pastor’s Preface: What often happens in “ethnic” churches, transplanted from the “old country”, striving to keep to old country customs and language, is a growing dissension within a church over which language to use, the old country’s or the new country’s.* Out of this type of language friction, in the providence of God, Second Reformed Church (the group that chose to retain Dutch as the primary language used in worship services and likely the group comprising the Zeeland immigrants who had been in America the shortest time) was born out of First Reformed Church. That church had chosen to conduct worship services primarily in the American language, and likely, comprised the body of immigrants who had been in this country for more than one generation
Official Beginning. The Second Reformed Church of Marion formally began on March 2, 1910, when a group of people gathered at the Presbyterian Church for an organizational meeting. The Classis of Rochester organizing committee consisted of Rev. G. H. Hospers, Rev. G. Tysse and Elder Engels of Newark. After questioning, 77 members were received from the membership of First Reformed Church of Marion. Twenty-three members were received on confession making a total of 101. None of the charter members are living today.
The First Consistory. The first Consistory was made up of four Elders: Peter Adriaansen, Sr., Isaac DeSmith, Jacob Bush, and Peter DeBak; and four Deacons: Jacob VanHall, Sr., John Adriaansen, Marinus Boerman, and Jacob DeCracker. These men were installed immediately.
The First Location: The group worshipped for one year in the rented Grange Hall.
The First Pastor: Rev. Peter Ihrman, 1910-1911
Rev. Peter Ihrman was the first pastor, coming from Iowa in August, 1910. He was installed on September 6, 1910. The church membership had grown to 124. This was not Rev. Ihrman’s first time in Marion; he had previously pastored the First Reformed Church (1891-1896),
Purchase of Lot and Parsonage. The time was right for building. Peter Adriaansen, Isaac DeSmith, and Jacob Bush were appointed to find a suitable place. There was a lot on which stood a cobblestone blacksmith shop adjoined by a barrel- and wagon-making shop owned by Warren Curtis (Margaret’s grandfather). On September 7, this committee reported that the Curtis lot could be bought for $1500. The committee then started to canvas the members for pledges. An amount of $6800 was realized from this canvas. A parsonage was purchased for $3600, which was the home of the late W. E. Croucher. $800 was received toward the parsonage from the Board.
Construction of Church Building. A plan for the church building was adopted in December 1910 and the Church was dedicated on April 12, 1911. The cost for the lot and building was a little over $9000, covered by cash, bankable notes, labor and pledges. Much hard labor and sacrifice was involved. Elder Gilman donated 48 days of labor as did others. Many mortgaged homes and farms. Horses and wagons hauled dirt and materials. The first service held in the church was not the dedication, but the funeral of one of the older members, Jacob Tack. The church was well filled for the dedication with an afternoon service in the Holland language and the evening service in English. The membership had now grown to 163 and Sunday School enrollment was 180. Sylvia DeMay’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Lybart, donated their services as janitors.
*The same type of dissension occurred in the Reformed Churches in Orange City and Hull, Iowa, when groups broke off from the traditional Dutch speaking First Reformed Churches in each town, and formed the American Reformed Churches in each town. The same dissension occurred in various Norwegian Lutheran and German Lutheran Churches around the country.
Almost the first work done by our pastor, Rev. Ihrman and his wife, was to organize the Women’s Missionary Society, the Young Ladies Mission Band, and the Christian Endeavor Society. Amid the joys of worshipping in the new church building, hearts were made sad by the homegoing of brother in Christ, John Adriaansen (Pat’s father). He was one of those who gave his all for the organization and building of the church.
Then on September 16, 1911, after having labored for only 13 months among us, our beloved pastor, Rev. Peter Ihrman, was called home into the rest that awaits the people of God. Rev. Ihrman was the right man at the right time, as he was a natural organizer and builder. Much was accomplished during his time.
We were now a growing respected congregation, not only in our own town, but in the Rochester Classis, Albany Synod, and the Reformed Church of America.
Rev. Isaac VanWestenburg, 1912-1914
We called Rev. Isaac VanWestenburg of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in June 1912. He was an evangelistic style preacher. He came from Western Seminary, Hope College Campus, as a new preacher and a new husband. One member called him a “boomy”, loud speaker who often pounded the pulpit to awaken those who slept. He reportedly had the dreaded respect of the young men in the congregation who sat in the back row of the church. He labored here until October 1914.
Rev. John Wolterink, 1914-1921
On October 26, 1914, we called the Rev. John Wolerink of Clymer Hill to become our pastor. In a few weeks he accepted the call. He was described as a true servant of God and a man of prayer. It was during his stay with us that we experienced tragedy as a congregation. It was a beautiful, quiet August afternoon in 1915 when our church burned. This was a great blow, but that God’s cause must go on we, with renewed zeal, set about to rebuild and repair the damage done. After a settlement was made with the insurance company, we started at once to rebuild. The burning left our congregation with a $2200 debt after insurance. In 1919, a canvas was made to secure the money and we realized the amount of the debt plus $200. True Dutch tradition!
On February 11, 1919, Elder Isaac DeSmith was called away by death. Mr. DeSmith had served on the Consistory for 34 successive years, 5 years as elder of this church. Mrs. DeSmith willed $800 to the Women’s Board of Domestic Missions and to repay the amount we had received as payment on the parsonage, and $5000 to the Board of Foreign Missions. This was also the year the duplex offering envelope system went into effect.
We burned the notes owed in March 1919, after a chicken pie supper, three and one-half years after the fire. The church had 235 members by this time. Soon after this, individual communion cups were introduced.
In the latter part of l921, our pastor accepted a call to the First Reformed Church of Baldwin, Wisconsin. He and Mrs. Wolterink with their two small sons, both of whom were born in Marion, left on October 1 for their new field of labor. Rev. and Mrs. Wolterink were people of fine Christian character and their pastorate of seven years among us was blessed by God in many ways.
(It may be of interest to note that Rev. B. T. VanderWoude was called but declined. He was the father of Con VanderWoude who later became our pastor.)
Rev. John Ossewaarde, 1922-1928
On February 1, 1922, Rev. John Ossewaarde of Leighton, Iowa, was called and he accepted, coming here in April 1922 with his wife and three daughters. During their pastorate here, their lovely daughter, Adelle, was called by her God. The congregation tried to show sympathy, but realized that God alone could heal and comfort those broken hearts. They installed a light over the choir in loving memory of their daughter.
On December 10, 1925, at the Congregational Meeting, it was decided to buy a pipe organ. The following were appointed to canvas for funds: Rev. Ossewaarde, Peter J. VanHall, C. Catttieu, John Johnson, Jacob Bush, Jacob VanGee, Abram Johnson, Isaac VanHall, Abram Filibert, and Isaac Gilman. Within a week, the goal of $2500 was realized and final plans were activated toward the purchase. On a May evening in 1926, the organ was dedicated at a special service. The church was packed to capacity with music lovers who came to hear the organ played by two Rochester organists. There was a solo by Adrian DeRidder, and also by a guest soloist. The organ was the fourth pipe organ to be installed in Marion. Up to this time, a small reed pump organ was used for the services.
The first organist was Miss Lucille VanChloster, daughter of a horse and buggy mailman. They lived next to the church. Miss Bessie VanHall (later VanHanegem) was the morning organist at the time we purchased the pipe organ and Peg Pembroke played at the evening services. Bessie and Peg played for many years.
The membership in the church rose to 270 during the stay of Rev. Ossewaarde. The parking lot was purchased adjoining the church and new hardwood floors were laid in the auditorium. Women’s work was also very active. Mrs. Ossewaarde showed wonderful ability as leader of the choirs, as a worker in the Missionary Society, and as the teacher of the Sunshine Class of girls and as an influential helper in all circles undertaken by the women. Many improvements were made during Rev. Ossewaarde’s pastorate including the purchase of the pipe organ, hardwood floors in the church, pews placed in the balcony, carpets, rugs and silverware purchased and improvements on the fine parsonage. The Sunday School at this time had an average attendance of 196. During the six years of his pastorate here, 80 members had been added by Confession of Faith or Transfer of Membership. Rev. Ossewaarde left in 1928 to serve as a missionary under the auspices of the East and West Sioux Classes in northwestern Iowa.
Rev. David Bogard, 1928-1935
Rev. David Bogard was called to our church in June 1928. With him came his wife and baby Hugh.
On October 2, 1928, the baptismal fount was given to the church by two Sunday school classes.
In 1932, the church was again called to mourn the loss of one of her first elders, Peter Adriaansen, Sr., who served for many years as an elder, Sunday School teacher, leader and counselor. Isaac Gilman, another consistory member and faithful servant, was called home two years later. Isaac Gilman served the church as Sunday School Superintendent for many years.
These losses stunned the congregation; but, with the Lord’s help, the work continued.
Rev. Bogard was pastor of the church until December 1935 when he received and accepted a call to the Reformed Church at Little Falls, New Jersey. Rev. Bogard had a dynamic personality that was filled with enthusiasm and zeal for the cause of God’s Kingdom as well as loving concern for each individual.
Rev. Cornelius Lepeltak, 1936-1944
On April 7, 1936, a call was extended to the Rev. Cornelius Lepeltak, which he accepted. He arrived in June with his family. They had five children, two of whom were born here The children were Alma Ruth, Linda Lou, Walter, Paul and Mary Ann. Mrs. Lepeltak still found time for women’s work. In 1938, the morning service was changed to the English language from the Dutch. As World War II proceeded to include the U.S., many felt their responsibility to their country in various ways. Rev. Lepeltak was granted a leave of absence in 1943 so that he might become a chaplain in the U. S. Army. His faithful service to our church ended in 1944. He had served this church for seven and a half years.
Rev. Arnold Dykuizen, 1944 – 1951
On October 10, 1944, a call was extended to Rev. Arnold Dykhuizen – then serving a church in Johnston, NY. This call was accepted and the Dykhuizens came to their new home with their son, Kenneth. While here they adopted their daughter, Joy.
During Rev. Dykhuizen’s pastorate, the pipe organ was rebuilt and extensive improvements made in the auditorium at a cost of $3300.00. The console was moved from the side wall and placed in the center of the choir loft, while the pipes were put in the ceiling.
Mrs. Dykhuizen was a vivacious worker in the church as well as her husband. She organized the Junior Choir with Frances Boerman, and herself as director. It was very difficult to say good-bye to such a beloved pastor as Rev. Dyk. Little did we know then that we would always have a part of him with us in the form of his son, Kenneth, and grandchildren. Rev. Dykhuizen moved to Chicago to pastor the First Reformed Church of Berwyn, Illinois and later retired in Holland, Michigan. However,on June 29, 1985, while vacationing here with Kenneth and family, Rev. “Dyk.” married his granddaughter, Beth to Mark Boerman, great-grandson of Marinus Boerman (one of the first four chosen deacons).
Rev. Paul Morehouse, 1951 – 1958
Rev. Paul Morehouse was called by our congregation in 1951 while still a student in Western Seminary. With him came his young wife Eleanor and infant son, 14-month old James. While serving our church, two more children were born to them, John and Beth. During his pastorate, the church basement was completely remodeled and an addition for Sunday School facilities was built on the back of the church. This was necessary for the increase in our church activities and attendance. Rev. Morehouse was a man who gave us all much spiritual food for our souls. He left us for a pastorate in Catskill, NY and was, in 1985, serving a very large church in a retirement village in Whiting, N.J.
Rev. Cornelius VanderWoude, 1958-1967
At a congregational meeting on February 28, 1958, Rev. Cornelius VanderWoude was called. He came to us in April with his wife Betty and children, Charles and Elizabeth. Church and Sunday School attendance remained good. Betty helped with the Junior Choir during this time. She was also very active in women’s work. It was during this time that the Reformed Church Women reorganized and she was instrumental in getting our church women into the new structure. The Guild and Circles were formed in place of the former groups. During Rev. VanderWoude’s pastorate, new pews and carpeting were installed.
In 1960, our church celebrated its 50th anniversary with all pastors and their wives (who were able) attending the celebration. The Dykhuizens, the Bogards, Morehouses, and, of course, the VanderWoudes were present. The evening was started with a congregational supper and followed by a service of celebration and thankfulness for our 50 years as an organized church in the R.C.A. Each former pastor who was there had some words of inspiration to say to us as a congregation. We also enjoyed some special music
During Rev. VanderWoude’s stay with us we had a student pastor, Mr. Bruce Goodwin, from Western Seminary. He was engaged to be married at the time, and looking forward to his wedding. We surprised him with a bridal shower. He was later pastor of Lakeview Reformed Church in Rochester for a number of years.
The VanderWoudes left us in April, 1967. It was indeed hard to say good-bye to such a dedicated and much-loved pastor.
At time of this writing, Rev. VanderWoude was the Chaplain at the Developmental Center in Muskegon, Michigan. Betty taught Learning Disabled children in a public school in Muskegon.
Rev. John Staal, 1967 – 1968
Rev. John Staal came to us on August 9, 1967 with six children from St. Paul, Minnesota. He left after one year for a church in Iowa.
Rev. Russell Johnson, 1968 – 1979
At a congregational meeting on November 13, 1968, we called Rev. Russell Johnson from near Schenectady, NY. Our first non-Dutch Pastor, the Swedish Rev. Johnson came to us with his wife Ruth, and children Karen, Bruce, Kristine, and Linnea. Their stay with us was a busy time for all. Many things were accomplished during those years with many being brought to the Lord. Ruth was faithful in projects of the Guild, especially Spiritual Life. She was always ready to help out in Sunday School and was a faithful member of the choir. Rev. Johnson instituted the Vacation Bible School, which for several years drew 200 children from all over town.
The Education Building. In March, 1972, we purchased the Marion Canning Company warehouse which stands behind the church. At the same time, we were able to purchase more parking area and a right-of-way onto South Main Street. (Remember how Rev. Johnson used to remind the men and boys in the winter to remain after service to help push cars so they could make the hill onto Mill Street?) The Canning Company was still using part of the warehouse for storage for awhile so we remodeled the upstairs of the new building first. Ten classrooms and a large assembly hall were the result, which greatly helped the overcrowding in our Sunday School. The downstairs has been used for VBS classes and the large room downstairs as a gym. A new cement floor was poured in preparation for further remodeling.
Rev. Johnson was a Bible preaching man – a man who made calls not only on the sick, but many others, never slighting anyone for lack of time. He was very interested in having the church be of service to the community. On January 16, 1979, Rev. Johnson and his family departed for a pastorate at Clifton, New Jersey. A part of him remained however, when his oldest daughter, Karen, married David Marsh, son of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Bushart.
Pastor, Paul Seward: In the absence of a pastor, the elders voted to elect Paul Seward as Assistant Pastor. Paul indeed held our church together during the year we were without a pastor. He was later ordained by The Evangelical Church Alliance and is currently serving a church in Wichita, Kansas.
Lay Preacher, Fred Coisman: During this year, Dr. Fred Coisman also preached often and helped in the church in many ways, as he still does.
Bell Choir: In August, 1979, a Bell Choir was organized under the direction of Janette Nevlezer. The hand bells were given in loving memory of Evelyn VerPlank’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Quaars, to be used to glorify God.
Rev. Nicolaos Tsianiklides, 1980-1984
In December, 1980, Rev. Nicolaos Tsianiklides was called to be our pastor. He came to us with his wife Evelyn and daughters Diane and Lois. They also had a married daughter, Sally. Pastor Nick was installed on January 6, 1980. A gregarious Greek, he was our second non-Dutch pastor.
During his pastorate, a tape ministry in which all services are recorded and duplicated on cassettes, was started. This is helpful to shut-ins and anyone who wishes to hear a sermon they missed, or to hear a certain service again. The duplicating was begun by Stan and Janet Newfang using a borrowed copying machine. When this was no longer available, a machine was given to the church in loving memory of Alan Bushart by friends and family. For some time, the taping was done by Howard VanHoover and Florence DeNeering and the copying by Isabelle Bushart.
Pastor Nick wanted to build a home on Witherden Road and a decision was made shortly after by the consistory and congregation to sell the parsonage. Also, it was decided by the consistory to go to two morning services since the congregation had grown, yet did not feel ready to build or enlarge the current sanctuary.
Pastor Nick was called from us to pastor a church in Athens, Greece. He left in June, 1984. He was a much-loved pastor, a kind, and gentle man who left a heritage of good Bible preaching and much spiritual growth in the church.
While we were searching for a new pastor, Dr. Fred Coisman (ordained under The Evangelical Church Alliance in a ceremony in our church on May 22, 1983), and Brian Rathbun, County Youth for Christ Director, and our local church youth director, prepared messages for us and helped fill pastoral needs. Brian, with his wife Jeannie, and two small sons, Nathan and Christopher, left us in the summer of 1985 so Brian could attend Trinity Evangelical Divinity School near Chicago to prepare for the ministry.
Rev. John Nyitray, 1985-1988
On October 2, 1985, the congregation called Rev. John Nyitray of Little Falls, N.J. to be our pastor. He preached his first sermon here on December 1 and was installed on December 9, 1985. Pastor came to us with his wife Marie and daughter, Mary Sue. Their three married children, Julia, John, and Elizabeth live in New Jersey. With no parsonage available, Pastor and his family stayed in the Dan Filibert home while the Filiberts were in Florida for the winter months. The Nyitray’s new home on Newark Road was begun in early spring and they were able to move in at the end of May. Pastor and Marie though busy getting settled, visited the sick and became acquainted with everyone. Marie was also active in the women’s work. Again, we were blessed with a man who truly preached the Word of God and who was a man of prayer.
New carpeting was installed in the sanctuary. Letters were sent to the congregation and the funds were readily raised. Many people helped polish the pews and thoroughly clean the church in preparation for laying the carpet.
In May of 1988 Pastor Nyitray retired from the pastorate. He and his family moved back to northern New Jersey. Energetic Rev. Nyitray served as pulpit supply, and stated supply pastor for at least three Christian Reformed Churches in the northern New Jersey area.
Rev. Dr. Fred Coisman and several other elders ably supplied the pulpit and carried on the pastoral work the next 15 months while the search for a new pastor went on.
Rev. Donald White, 1990 –
In June we called Rev. Donald White, pastor of First Reformed Church of Inwood, Iowa to be our fourteenth installed minister. He, his wife Judy, and daughters Leah and Bonnie arrived in late August. Since the two previous ministers had their own homes built, we had to find a parsonage in short order. T’he Lord provided a fine raised ranch home in the Witherden Vale, on Heather Drive, northeast of town. The Rochester Classis installed Pastor White as our minister on September 5, 1990.
During the mid-late 1990’s the Lord called many, many of our senior saints home to Himself–so many that our Philathea Sunday School Class, with roots back to the first pastorate, disbanded. In 2003 the Lord called home Jennie Hermanet, at 106 years of age, just short of her 107th birthday. Jennie remembered our first pastor, Rev. Ihrman. “”He was a very serious man” she said. He was the one who urged her to make profession of her faith.
We celebrated the Lord’s faithfulness in His people. In 2001, Marie Leno was recognized for her 60+ years of teaching Sunday School. Likewise we recognized Jacob Hubright for 25 years of Sunday School teaching, Fred and Doris Coisman for25 years of ministry, and Gloria Pierce for 25 years of service as 4th-6th grade youth group leader. In the August 25, 2002 morning worship service, we recognized Janette Nevlezer’s ministry of music.. She played organ and piano for some 50 years, led choirs and bell choir. Health problems necessitated retirement, but her ministry is still missed to this day. The Lord has graced Second Reformed Church with many, many faithful servants over the years. Praise His Name!
We have a mission field at our back door. Marion’s canning factory, Seneca Foods, employs many male Hispanic migrant workers, especially from Puerto Rico. In the early 1990’s, at the urging and advising of Fred Coisman, the Second Reformed Church employed a Christian worker, Larry Bello, to evangelize the men as they used our gym and weight room to exercise. We also held welcoming and farewell fiestas, grand feasts with LOUD music. This outreach to the migrants was taken over by a Hispanic church plant, “Hermanos De Marion/Brothers of Marion” which uses our sanctuary and Education building for services Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evenings. Working with Christians of a different culture has been at times challenging, but a good experience. The Lord is blessing this ministry, and we’re thankful to be a part of it.
Assistant Pastor of Youth and Christian Education, Rev. Don Stock, 2000-2003
In the mid 1990’s SRC leadership was led to begin planning for a full time assistant pastor of youth and Christian education. After much discussion, on June 17, 1997, the congregation voted to create and fund the position. While the Search Committee looked at candidates from as far away as South Africa, the Consistory hired Rev. Don Stock of Scarlet Thread Ministries to do some part time work with our youth and youth outreach. After two full years of searching, we concluded the Lord already had His man on the job. Pastor Stock was formally installed as our full time Assistant Pastor on January 16, 2000. Youth ministry was already in high gear by 1999, including a group-building wilderness camping trip to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Already greatly blessed with many able, willing lay staff persons and cooperative parents, the work continued to grow as Pastor Stock came on staff full time. His wife Kim is his key helper in the work. The Stocks have a son, Jayce, and a daughter, Moriah.
In summer 2002 the Stocks brought several of our youth on a foreign mission trip to Nassau, Bahamas, to work with the poorest of the poor Haitian refugees who exist there. In summer 2003, several SRC people went as short term foreign missionaries: four to Bahamas, one to Ecuador, one to El Salvador, and one to Orel, Russia. SRC has been richly blessed through these and other missionary involvements.
In June 2003, Pastor Stock announced he was moving on. After December 31, he was going to devote all his time to the Scarlet Thread Youth Ministries, a Wayne County youth outreach he and Kim founded in the early 1990’s.
Assistant Pastor of Youth and Christian Education: Mr. Richard Hogaboam, 2005-2008. Our search committee, ably led by Elder Bob Estochen, faithfully prayed, researched and literally looked round the world (via Internet) for nearly two years. The Lord led them to Los Angeles to Rick and Mimi Hogaboam, and their children Cody and Kira. Their youngest daughter, Lexie was born while they were here. Rick began his ministry here in May 2005. He was greatly gifted with preaching, teaching, organizational and people skills. He headed up overhauls of our KIDS Church, Sunday School, Youth and Children’s Ministries here. The Lord blessed the work. At our Sunday evening events, we began to see children and youth from un churched families and those from others churches. Pastor Rick and Mimi enjoyed entertaining people in their home. He also helped coach town youth/children’s teams as well as school teams. This connection may have encouraged people to send their children to our Sunday evening events. Pastor Rick, other Wayne County youth pastors/workers developed a youth ministry network that helped encourage the workers besides giving a platform for some county wide youth outreach events (“Youth Extreme”) plus weekly after school youth out reaches in individual small towns. When the Hogaboams left in April of 2008, Pastor Rick’s (and others’) labors left our children’s and youth ministries greatly strengthened and vital.
Our Little Sister Congregation: Casa de Refugio (House of Refuge). What was generically known as “The Spanish Ministry”, Hermanos de Marion (Brothers of Marion) now became Casa de Refugio for this happy reason. The congregation began to include sisters in Christ. The Mexican Christian men or “brothers” who labored in landscaping, farm, other tasks, settling here, went back to Mexico, married their sweethearts and brought them to this area. The congregation, begun in May of 1996, now has up to 40 men, women, youth and children gathering on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons in our sanctuary. Francisco Acevedo served as senior pastor for some years. He now assists senior pastor Alfredo Resendiz. Over the years SRC and our little sister congregation have grown close, welcoming those who attend regular services, inviting each other to special services, sharing services and our all church picnics in September and trying to learn each other’s language. In 2008 and again in 2009 SRC and CdR teamed up for mission trips to the Mexican folks’ home area. Sent to help Pastor Leandro and the Alpha y Omega Independent Pentecostal Church in Alfajayucan, Hidalgo State, Mexico, each year’s mission team helped with construction on the church, evangelistic outreaches, participated in their worship services (including preaching). II Corinthians 9:10-15 well describes the experience. The Lord has wonderfully blessed our partnership(s) in the Gospel. May it continue, please God! (It did continue each year through 2020 till Covid crisis led the Mike Davis and Pastor Alfredo to cancel the 2021 trip. We will see after that).
Pastor at Large: Rev. Doctor Frederick Coisman: 1976-2005. Fred and Doris have faithfully ministered in so many ways over their years here. They have been a powerful, Spirit led influence for good at SRC, Roberts Wesleyan College and in this general area. Pastor White called Fred “my pastor.” Lexington, Ohio based son and daughter in law, Rob and Kathy, bought Fred and Doris a home next to theirs. The opportunity to see family, especially grandchildren on a daily basis was the Lord’s call to their next post of ministry. Since moving, the Lord has used them in blessing His work at the Ontario Free Methodist congregation in so many ways. They’re also involved in helping plant a Hispanic congregation in that area. Until Fred fully retired from his part time work for New York State he continued to make monthly visits here at SRC until March 2009. We greatly miss him and Doris.
Theological Student and Candidate for Ministry in the Reformed Church in America: Mr. Jeffrey Kelley, son of Ric and Sandi Kelley, felt called to the formal, pastoral ministry some time after graduation from Hope College in 2001. He married his college sweetheart Lara that year. In 2006 he graduated from Regent Seminary in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. During seminary years their first daughter Sienna was born. Moving back to Marion, Jeff was taken under care of Rochester Classis in 2007, and began working to fulfill the RCA requirements for ordination. While working full time as a carpenter, he assisted in ministry here in teaching adult Sunday School, occasional preaching and youth work. During this time their second daughter, Evelyn, was born. Jeff began working ½ time as SRC’s ministry assistant in 2008 through early July 2009. He completed the ordination requirements in June 2009, received the promise of a call to pastor the Middleburgh (NY) Reformed Church. Rochester Classis ordained Jeff an RCA minister of Word and Sacrament on July 12 in our sanctuary. His first Sunday in Middleburgh as “Rev. Kelley” was August 2, 2009. Jeff gained ministry experience here and his labors were blessed to the congregation. It can be difficult to serve one’s own home congregation, for “the prophet is not without honor except in his own country.” But the Lord has used Jeff to benefit SRC in many ways.
It has been a great privilege to be a “classroom in the school of the prophets”, not only in Jeff’s case, but also for some potential foreign missionaries. Some of our high school and college age young people have gone on short term mission trips and returned with a desire to at least consider going back to serve as nurses, teachers, etc. At least two college aged young people have gone longer term to Africa (Emily Estochen to Comoros Islands; Matthew Hussey to South Africa) to gain mission experience and to help them discern the Lord’s will for future service. May others be so led!
The L.I.G.H.T. Plan: from late January 2001 until December 2006 Consistory met nearly every month to listen for and then develop a SRC long term vision and mission. In January 2007 Consistory formally adopted the fruit of those labors, later publishing the LIGHT plan to the congregation. We believe the Lord has called SRC to reflect His light to our communities. The acronym L.I.G.H.T. sums up the facets of this Great Commission targeting: Loving God and one another; Inviting others to experience Christ; Gathering together to worship God and learn His Word; Honoring God in all we do; Training disciples for the work of ministry. It has been a challenge to translate the plan into action, other than the parts of the plan we’re already doing. With God’s help we will move forward.
Blessed and Happy Anniversary: As of March 2, by the grace of God, SRC entered her 100th year as an organized congregation, her 98th in this building. For at least two years we’d been making major needed repairs and building improvements in anticipation of our celebration: new roofs and insulation on the Education building, new, high efficiency furnaces within, newly painted walls upstairs and down (including some Sunday School teacher chosen bright colors for their respective rooms!). Church building proper: new front and side entryway steps, new sanctuary carpet, new pew cushions, re lamping, tiled entry ways, extensively renovated bathrooms and fellowship hall, renovated frame/leading for our stained glass rose window and some east wall casements.. With tear out of the old to make way for the new, we saw reminders of the terrible August 1915 fire that all but demolished the then new church building. Charred sanctuary floor joists and beams testified the Lord’s help to the new little congregation to pick up and press on in the Lord’s service. O, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His steadfast love endures forever.
Since SRC went to English language Bibles somewhere in the late ’20’s, early 30’s, we’ve used the King James Version from pulpit and in pew. In 2010 a second change of translation was done, from the KJV to the similarly faithful, more modern English Standard Version.
The actual Centennial celebration, April 9-11 was low key, the way we like things: a Friday evening meet, greet and eat time for previous pastors, old, present and new friends of SRC. Old SRC photos and artifacts were on display. Saturday Rev. Johnson gave the devotion at men’s breakfast. Saturday evening we had a grand roast beef dinner, followed by a power point presentation of old photos, and a concert by a local praise band. Sunday morning our previous pastors, brought greetings (Rev. Russell Johnson, Rev. Paul Seward; Diane Tsianiklides Reed brought greetings on behalf of her father, Rev. Nicolas Tsaniklides, unable to be present due to illness; Rev. Dr. Fred Coisman), shared in conducting the service. Former assistant Pastor Rev. Rick Hogaboam, present pastor of Casa de Refugio congregation, Pastor Alfredo Resendiz, and son of SRC Rev. Kevin Bushart also shared in the celebration. Olan Mills finally completed our pictoral church directory and sent it to us.
Challenging Providences: since 2008, after Pastor Rick Hogaboam left to become senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Fellowship Church of Nampa, ID, we’d been searching for a new assistant pastor, with Elder Scott Bailey as search committee chairman. By fall of 2010 there was sufficient feeling among the congregation that it was not the Lord’s time to bring on an assistant pastor. In the 2010 annual meeting the congregation voted to suspend the search (but not to disband the search committee) for a time, but to revisit the issue at a later time.
In mid November 2010 the snows began, and while there were some clear days, it never warmed sufficiently for the snow to melt. On a a rainy February 7, 2011, at 8:00 P.M. the rain sodden, snow covered roof of our gym collapsed and exploded the walls outward. Shards of cinderblock were thrown across the parking lot to within 10’ of the church builiding. Though shaken, the attached Education Building, of post and beam construction, suffered little damage. Most importantly, no one was injured. The several people who’d been playing basket ball in the gym and who’d left the building some 45 seconds before, were just entering the church building when the gym roof collapsed without warning. God’s mercy spared them from being crushed or maimed by the flying shards of cinder block. A car parked beside the gym was totalled; a pickup beside it severely damaged. Many members and former members and Marion community people came to view and lament the loss.
Next morning the available Consistorymen and congregation’s tradesmen convened to commence what would become a many month’s long clean up, complicated by the fact NY State inspectors found traces of roofing cement containing asbestos in a small section of the debris. Bob Young, Pete Revard and others headed the clean up team.
It was the dream of Charlie Vander Molen and several others that the gym would become a real asset to the Marion Community. The loss of it helped us see that Marion viewed it that way. Community members/groups gave donations. People kept asking, “Are you going to rebuild?” At the time, our beloved little town was shrinking, businesses were closing, many buildings stood empty. The congregation determined that SRC was not going to desert Marion and YES, we were going to rebuild the gym. God put it in the mind of previous generations of leaders to insure the building for replacement cost. Those who built the original gym (which straddles a creek) built the foundation so well, it survived the collapse and served as foundation for the new gym.
Mike Davis headed up the gym “dream team” who prayed for wisdom, visited other churches’ gyms/all purpose rooms, pondered what would best serve SRC and our community. The team proposed to Consistory a gym with option choices that would best fit within the significant monies the insurance company settlement gave. It would be a gym 20’ longer than the 60’ first one to incorporate a stage area at its south end, same width, 60’, with infloor heating and high wall airconditioning, carpeting painted with basketball and volleyball court lines, plus floor sockets to set up a volleyball net. The consistory proposed, the congregation voted to take up a collection to renovate the Ed Building bathrooms, install a modern kitchen, paint and carpet the hall ways. This was for some a long held vision come to pass.
On a sunny, mild Sunday morning after the worship service, January 27, 2013, our oldest member, Jennie Hubright, some of our youngest folk, and several others turned over a shovel full of dirt in the area the new gym’s stage would cover. We dedicated the Time Capsule containing an ESV Bible with people’s favorite verses marked in it; as well as the most recent church directory, plus a letter confessing our Faith in Christ to the future generation who, should Christ tarry, will dig up the Time Capsule. Secore Contractors from Savannah, NY began shortly thereafter and were under the gun: it all had to be done by June 23 for a grand dedication service to be held in the gym. And it was! Our local Michaelangelo, Jim Hicks, did much of the painting, sometimes beginning work at 4:00 A.M. to have things painted for when the builders arrived to install cupboards, cabinets, etc..
The “dream team” worked to keep the community informed of the building progress with some mass mailings, which community members really appreciated. As a witness to the builders, volunteers prepared a weekly noon meal for them and lots of home made “goodies” for their coffee break. The team also sought to make the building’s dedication an outreach event: Assemblyman Robert Oaks give a speech, Rev. Wes Aarum Sr., “Mr. Circle C Ranch” gave a salvation message. Our Fred Coisman gave the dedicatory prayer. Casa de Refugio gave a special presentation in honor of the occasion, as did our youth group, Refuge. Channel 13’s news covered the event, interviewing some of those present. An outdoor picnic followed and good fellowship.
With its up to date sound system, computer projectors and a/c, the gym serves as our summer worship center. Donations of some 200 auditorium quality padded chairs make seating far more pleasant. As time goes on more and more community groups are discovering the treasure the Lord has given SRC to use for Him and to share with our community.
SRC ceases formal connections with Scouting. For many years SRC was sponsoring organization for Cub Scout Pack 137 in Marion. For many years the Boy Scouts of America resisted pressures to approve & welcome openly homosexual boys or leaders. They survived a damaging lawsuit which sought to open membership up to homosexuals. In 2013, BSA leadership reversed their stance: in 2014 they would welcome openly homosexual boys into their ranks (they would later welcome them into leadership). SRC could not in good conscience be yoked with BSA as a result. We asked the Marion American Legion if they would take over sponsorship of Cub Pack 137, and on 12/31/2013 out formal relationship with the BSA ceased.
Assistant Pastor Rev. Michael McOrmond, 2014-2020: in the fall of 2013 several on Consistory felt the Lord stirring us to resume our assistant pastor search (which had been put on hold in November 2010.). The potential-laden gym helped spark a renewed sense of need for an assistant pastor. The man the Search Committee was about to recommend to consistory in 2010 before the search was arrested, Rev. Mike McOrmond, was again available for ministry here. Till a proper resumption of the search committee could begin, Consistory hired Pastor Mike for three months as half time revitalization consultant, the decision being made March 19, 2014, Mike beginning on the 27th. After increasing him to ¾ time for two more renewals, after search committee had redone due diligence in reviewing Pastor Mike’s qualifications and recommended him (again) to Consistory, after Consistory’s interview and approval, the congregation called Mike to become our full time Assistant Pastor on October 5. We dedicated him to his work in our October 26 morning service. Pastor Mike and his wife Tammy live in Penfield and have ministered in the Rochester area most of their married life. They have seven children, Daniel (married to Tara), Julie, Michael (“Mikey”), Mary, Anna, John, David, and grandchildren (of Daniel & Tara), Liam and Nigel. Pastor Mike’s mom, Marjorie McOrmond, joined the fellowship here, serving on the Missions Workgroup.
Pastor Mike brings a wealth of Gospel ministry and outreach knowledge and experience, including visioning and practical ways the vision can be accomplished. His primary area of responsibility was Revitalization. From the very first day, he rolled up his sleeves and dove into the work. Very much a people person, Pastor Mike has energized many people to step up to take on practicable ways of inviting and welcoming new people to worship, encouraging them to keep coming and to grow deeper in their walk with the Savior.
His wife Tammy, a nurse who works in the Compass Care crisis pregnancy ministry in Monroe County, likewise helped disciple ladies, particularly moms. She also introduced our Adult SS class to the Chalmers Institute studies on charity/help that doesn’t hurt, doesn’t create dependency. Tammy of green thumb fame, planted a themed garden on the south side of the church building. When in full bloom, people driving by would pull into the parking lot to take pictures.
Acting on Consistory’s behalf, Pastor Mike administered to some 30 representative congregation members a Natural Church Development Survey. The survey compares the congregation representatives’ responses with a well researched standard of congregational health, that is, of congregations that are most likely to grow and thrive.
We scored poorly in the eight categories measured: Empowering Leadership, Gift-based Ministry, Passionate Spirituality, Effective Structures, Inspiring Worship Services, Holistic Small Groups, Need-oriented Evangelism and Loving Relationships. The Natural Church Development program offers guidance to form ministry health teams for remedying the deficits in the several areas. At the time of this writing, December 2014, the Empowering Leadership Health team had completed the first phase of its work and the Inspiring Worship Service Health team had just begun its work. These are the areas in which we scored the poorest. With Pastor Mike’s encouragement, we revamped our greeter/welcome ministry, Pam Wolfanger heading that up. Consistory committees created formal charters and task descriptions to help make our structures more effective. When Pastor Mike administered the Natural Church Development Survey in 2015, the results (=the perceptions of the 30 congregation representatives drawn out by the survey questions) showed improvements. We had moved from the lowest third of churches, those who seem most likely to wither, to the middle third of churches. A subsequent survey two years later revealed little further gains in all areas, but did indicate our weakest area continued to be Inspiring Worship Services.
Other developments during Pastor Mike’s Tenure & shortly thereafter: Our Worship Workgroup continues to seek ways to improve the effectiveness of our worship services, per Biblical measures. The Workgroup, which ceased meeting in the early 1990’s, was reorganized and initially led by Bob Hussey (who moved to Irondequoit around 2012); then Jason Haak (who moved to Ohio in 2019), now Shawn Burditt. During Jason’s tenure we developed a target outreach group in the 10-40 age range, while not ignoring the needs of younger or older. WW also developed its mission statement, and has a service planning subgroup which chooses songs employing a song selection checklist developed in 2018-2019 (E.g., are the songs doctrinally sound? Are they singable? Accessible key/range?…). WW spent many hours developing a job description for a part time worship director, which Consistory approved. The thought was this man could help coordinate our worship and assume some of the tasks now carried out by an oft overstretched WW and Service Planning Team. It was presented to the congregation for approval two times in the course of many months, both times failing to receive the needed 75% majority to approve creating the position. The vote was close, approximately 70-71%. Since January 2019, the plan for a worship director awaits a more seasonable time. During Pastor Mike’s time here SRC became involved with the Flower City Work Camp, a major children & youth outreach that takes place in many sites in Rochester. Pastor Mike took a call from FCWC’s parent organization, Flower City Outreach, to become their director and developer as of 8/1/20. SRC began offering a twice a year Starting Point Class for those interested in knowing more about the Christian Faith. We also held Trunk or Treat, a safe, fun, candy & goodies-filled gathering in the gym parking lot and in the gym. The last Halloween we were able to hold the event (2019) we had some 500 + children, youth, parents and adults attend. Even the Marion Ambulance crew was handing candy out of the back of the vehicle, parked in our lot.
With input from Jim Harden, Compass Care Director & Strategist, over the course of 2018 Consistory developed our SRC Core Values: Submitting to Jesus Christ above all; Sharing the Life of God; Equipping for the Lord’s Service.
SRC has always had an Missions Elder, tasked to stay in touch with our missonaries as well as help formulate the missions budget and maintain our Missions portfolio. In 2017 Elder Wayne Rachow formed our Missions Workgroup to carry out this work in greater detail and in greater frequency of personal contact with the missionaries. The Workgroup presents a monthly Moment for Mission in our worship services as well as arranges for our missionaries to visit and report on their work. By the Lord’s grace through His people, SRC has always been able to fulfill our pledges to our missionaries (as well as take up special offerings for other mission works) which figures out to an 11 or so percent tithe.
Wayne has also served as our Safety Director. Nationwide, after 2011 especially, occasional terroristic attacks on church gatherings prompted concern for our people’s safety. Our Wayne County Sheriff held a seminar to show churches ways to prevent or minimize shootings casualties. Wayne helped us facilitate some of these, as well as set up a system for locking the church doors shortly after the service begins, so we have only one entrance, which is monitored. He also set up a schedule to ensure the KIDS Church children & teacher have an escort to and from the KIDS Church meeting room. We have folks who bring their licensed concealed firearm to church with them. In hopes of deterring any potential terrorist, we do advise of this on our church and gym doors.
SRC lays aside regular Sunday evening services. Since at least April of 1911, SRC held an evening worship service, with hymns, Scripture reading, preaching, prayer and the receiving of an offering. At least in the last forty years attendance has been far less than the morning service, some 20-50 people. By the first decade of the 2000’s attendance declined till in the 2010’s the evening service became a Bible study of mostly senior saints that met in the fellowship hall, then in our church meeting room. At the last, attendance was down to 3-5; at times none showed up. With great sadness, Consistory placed the service on hiatus, June 11, 2019. Besides an extra time of worship and instruction in the Word, the more relaxed service gave opportunity for prayer requests & corporate prayer, testimonies, “Sword Drills”, Scripture memorization, as well as a place for budding preachers to try their gifts in a less stressful setting. One day, may our Lord grant us to resume our regular evening gatherings, imitating the disciples who met with Him on His resurrection day and the Sunday after.
SRC Services go online. In an attempt to contain the Covid 19 virus spread, during the week of March 15, 2020 our governor limited gathering sizes to 10 people or less. Consistory cancelled our in person worship services. Pastor Mike, Dave & Denise Skidmore & Shawn Burditt quickly arranged for our service to be recorded via a cell phone on a tripod, and stored on the website for later viewing. We recorded the 3/22/20 service on 3/21 to be released the next day. Then, 3/29, we went real time, live stream. Since then a video camera, new video cables run, etc. in both the church sanctuary and the gym improved our live streaming capabilities. Though we returned to in person services 6/14, we’ve continued the online services as some of our regular congregation don’t venture out due to caution, plus we have viewers near and far (as far as Texas), who’d otherwise not be able to take in our services.
Concern over the Reformed Church in America’s spiritual trajectory. A re-interpreting or “reimagining” of Scripture teaching has led the RCA to depart from the old paths in which is the good way (Jeremiah 6:16). Even before the Supreme Court legalized same sex unions (“marriages”) on June 26, 2015 (Obergefell vs. Hodges*), the RCA had a persistent, vocal minority pushing the denomination toward full acceptance & welcome of practicing homosexuals into membership and the ordained offices (deacon, elder, minister, seminary professor). Though for
at least 40 years General Synods reaffirmed that homosexual practice is sin, unBiblical, this has not stopped the activists from pressing on with ordaining practicing homosexuals, welcoming them from other denominations into RCA churches, holding Bible studies that reinterpret key Scripture texts that forbid such behavior, etc. Presently, 2020, these things are not disciplined, rather, especially in the northeast, they are celebrated. This controversey grew to the point the RCA leadership recognized a decision has to be made whether the denomination can continue in some form or split.
Within the past decade or more RCA leadership sought to legislate minority groups representation in denominational boards & offices. They’ve committed the denomination to programs aimed at combatting racism, white privilege, etc. Underlying at least some of this is a notion of Critical Race Theory (skin color, not actions, are determinant of a person being racist or not. Caucasians are automatically racists). Another concern is the RCA’s method of funding ministry/administrative cost beyond the local church level. Churches have been /assessedtaxed at a per-member rate since 1864. Presently the denomination is moving to implement an income tax, assessments based upon church’s offerings/gifts/bequests received. Again this is not voluntary. Those churches not paying assessments are rebuked, not seated at Classis meetings, with the potential of Classis overriding their Consistory.
*Because of the Obergefell vs. Hodges decision legalizing same sex unions as a right, Consistory reviewed and revamped our building use and other policies to clearly state that marriage is between one man & one woman, that homosexuality/homosexual behavior is sin, unbiblical; and that Consistory will not permit same sex unions to be performed on church grounds.
Search for a new denominational home. For a decade or more, our leadership here kept before the congregation that day might come when we’d need to leave the RCA because of its leftward drift. Within the past several years the Elders had begun looking a prospective denominations in which SRC might fit. Because we are a “mixed multitude” as to baptism (infant or believers only), end times (Amilennial or Pre-milennial) and Calvinism, we needed find a denomination that allowed “flex” on those areas. Moreover, it had to be a denomination not association, since the RCA would only transfer a local church into a denomination (which gave oversight to its local churches). In 2020 the elders began in earnest to study the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and the Evangelical Free Church of America. Both were solid doctrinally. Both allowed the “flex” we needed. Both would give the oversight of the congregation and its leadership. The culture of the EFCA was more like that of our church than the EPC’s culture. The elders recommended we seek transfer to the EFCA. Consistory approved it. We plan to present the recommendation in a congregational meeting in January 2021, then seek the congregation’s mind in a vote.
2020, the year the Covid 19 Coronavirus complicated many things. Because of NYS and Federal Government (Center for Disease Control) mandates or warnings, we ceased in-person worship services as of March 22, with an online broadcast of hymns played on piano as prelude, congregational prayer and sermon. We did publish a weekly bulletin as usual, which people could view online or pick up copies from the mailbox aside the church’s lower side door. We began conducting our business meetings (Consistory, Missions Workgroup, Worship Workgroup) via Zoom, a videoconferencing tool. Because we had rooms that could accommodate our workgroups with 6’ social distancing, we returned to in person meetings midway through the shut down. We resumed meeting in person for worship on June 14, with perhaps a third of the congregation in attendance. Even as late as mid December we only have 2/3 of the congregation in attendance, and that in our gym which is more spacious and open than the church sanctuary. While we dedicated our Sunday School, KIDS Church, Refuge & Marion Youth Center staffs on September 13, Sunday School did not begin to meet for classes till the 20th, MYC till November 4. KIDS Church, a staffed nursery, Refuge hope to begin early in 2021. Pastoral care/visits had to be done via phone, text, e-mail or Zoom. Hospitalized patients were allowed no or at most 1-2 visitors.
Things that were cancelled or altered to comply with Covid 19 protocols: no Lenten Soup & Bread Suppers, no Maundy Thursday Communion service, no bell choir or choir music, no in-person Easter service (sunrise at the park or in the church), no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day testimonies, Baccalaureate was held in our gym for Marion & Newark HS grads, VBS lessons & skits were recorded & broadcast online, one lesson per week in July.
Funerals were held in the gym, or held at the graveside. We held no Mexico Mission Dinner in December because of Covid 19 constraints on serving food & congregating. The Mexico Mission trip for 2021 was cancelled. The virus sickened many in Mexico, many of our brethren there became very ill; churches did not meet for services well into the summer months.
Our kind, supportive, encouraging congregation: on September 13 the congregation surprised Pastor Don & Judy with a celebration of their 30 years in ministry at SRC. (He was installed as pastor here on Wednesday, September 5, 1990.) Mike Davis preached the sermon; the congregation gave the White’s a precious, exquisite gift of a carved (from a single piece of olivewood) statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet, with a plaque marking the anniversary event. It will remain with the church as a remembrance. After the service we enjoyed sweet fellowship, enhanced with cake & coffee. To God be all the glory!