LYON COUNTY GENEALOGY
HISTORY OF BETHEL REFORMED CHURCH
On October 30, 1916, the Classis of Iowa appointed a committee to organize the Bethel Reformed Church in Lester, Iowa. The committee consisted of the following ministers: H. Douwstra, F.G. Dekker, G. Bosch, F. Lubbers and one Elder, Mr. K. Van Der Hoep.
A Mission Station was appointed in Lester for a short period and was supervised and served by three ministers, Kots, Scholten and Dekker.
On November 16, 1916, the above committee appointed by the Classis of Iowa, officially organized the Bethel Reformed Church. The Newly formed congregation rented the Methodist Church building in Lester so they could have a place to worship.
The Rev. Dekker conducted the first worship service, preaching in both the Lester congregation, while also being pastor in the First Reformed Church in Rock Rapids. In order for him to do this, the Lester worship service was held during the noon hour. Rev. Dekker died in September 1918; however, the arrangement between the Rock Rapids congregation and the Lester congregation continued until May of 1919.
It is impossible to be able to list the charter members of the Lester congregration, because no records were kept of the church until 1921. Those who remember the beginning of the congregation estimate that about eight families made up the original congregation.
In August of 1919, Mr. Nick Hoogeveen, bought a house for the congregation to use as a manse. Later the congregation purchased the house from Mr. Hoogeveen, and this house remained the parsonage through the years, being remodeled and redecorated from time to time until the present congregation sold it in January of 1971. In October of 1920, the Rev. K.J. Dykema came to be the first installed pastor of the congregation. He served the congregation for about four years, leaving in January, 1924.
In February of 1925 the Rev. J.K. Voorberge came and served as Stated Supply until June of 1927. From then until June of 1934, the congregation was served primarily by Seminary students during the summer months and served by various pastors, whoever was available, during the rest of the year. Seminary students who served during the summer months were (also the year of their summer charge): Rev. Marinus Moget, 1928 (he served as a summer student minister); Harry Vant Kerkhof 1931; Clarence Schipper 1932; Jerome DeJong 1942; Frederic Dolfin 1943; Douglas Vander Hey 1959.
In 1934 the Rev. Gerrit Bosch was installed as a pastor and served until January 1942. In July of 1944 the Rev. John Hoekstra came and was installed as the pastor. It was during his ministry that the present church building was purchased from the Lutheran Congregation in Steen, Minnesota, and was moved to Lester where the present congregation worships regularly.
In December of 1947 a dedication Service was held in the building purchased from the Lutherans in Steen. In March of 1948 the Rev. John Hoekstra left Lester to serve elsewhere. In October of that year the congregation called the Rev. Manus Stegeman who came and served until November, 1949, when he left.
Ministers who have come and gone since that time were: Rev. William Kroon came in May, 1951 and left in June, 1956; Rev. David Willson came in July, 1956, and left in September, 1958; Rev. Wilbur DeYoung came in June, 1960 as Stated Supply pastor then was extended as official call in January, 1961, and left in May, 1966. Rev. Gerrit Boogerd came in October, 1966 and resigned in the early summer of 1970 to take up a career in teaching in the public school system of Little Rock. But before he resigned, he was as instrumental in reorganizing the congregation of the Bethel Reformed Church into a partnership agreement with the First Reformed Church in Doon into what is called a Multiple Parish.
This multiple parish, each having their own program and consistory, then extended a call to the Rev. Norman Menning who came on June 2, 1970. He is still serving the Multiple Parish. During his ministry, the greatest change in the physical plant was the redecorating of the interior of the sanctuary with a purchase of good used pews from the Reformed Church in Worthington, Minnesota. In 1972 and in 1973 an education unit was built on the west end of the sanctuary.
Bethel Reformed Church of Lester has one son in the pastoral ministry in the person of Rev. Cecil Martens who presently is serving the Haven Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
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