Mr. Kikkert is an elder in the Protestant Reformed Church of Wingham, Ontario, Canada.
It is with great joy and thankfulness that we introduce ourselves as the “Wingham Protestant Reformed Church,” the newest church in the Protestant Reformed denomination. We have read much in the 75th Anniversary Yearbook about who you are. Here is a little history of who we are.
The Wingham Orthodox Christian Reformed Church was first established in Listowel in 1979. It was called Listowel OCRC. The first pastor was Reverend Harry Vandyken. This church was organized by families who left the CRC for doctrinal reasons. This Listowel church was the first church in the OCRC. Soon other congregations formed: Grand Valley, MI; Toronto, ON; and Burlington, WA.
Representatives of these churches began meeting in 1981 to discuss church order and federation. The OCRC was formally organized in March 1988 with seven congregations. The denomination is now ten congregations, divided into Classis East and Classis West.
Our second minister was Rev. Bronsveld, who was ordained under Article 8 not long after the Listowel Church was organized
The Listowel OCRC had a humble beginning and also some trying times. At one point the membership was down to four families. It was at this low point in their existence (1985) that the pressure was on the consistory to close its doors. Just when the church was ready to disband, four families from a local CRC took interest in this church. They worshiped with the saints in Listowel, visited with the consistory, and came to the conviction that the biblical, Reformed preaching of this church was the very teaching they were missing in the CRC. When we consider the preaching of Rev. Bronsveld, we can understand why PRC views are so familiar to us. We heard from him that: marriage after divorce is accursed of God; belonging to unions is not biblical; and God’s grace is particular, not common.
In 1988, with eight families, the church bought an old mechanical shop in Wingham. With much volunteer work, the congregation transformed it into our current building. We have since added a lunch room/nursery. Between services we have lunch together. Our services are at 10:30 and 1:00 because some members have a lengthy drive. The time between services is for us a wonderful opportunity for fellowship.
After fifteen years of faithfully bringing forth the Word of God (all of them in Wingham/Listowel) Rev. Bronsveld retired. Being without a pastor was new to our church, and finding a new pastor was more difficult than first thought. A candidate from the Free Reformed Church, Mr. Alfonso d’Amore, came to be stated supply for us for two years. We extended a call to him, which he declined. He has never entered the ministry full-time.
Rev. Garry Vanderveen was our next minister. He was a member of the OCRC in his youth and graduated from Greenville Seminary. He was pulpit supply for us for two years, was ordained, and served as our minister for a year and a half. He accepted a call to serve the Langley Reformed Evangelical Church. Rev. Mark Zylstra (URC) was our pulpit supply for about four months.
The next man to preach for us was Mr. Don VanderKlok. He is from Grand Rapids, and has done much in the way of preaching. He is a member of the HNRC. Upon retirement, Mr. VanderKlok began attending seminary class, classes in the HNRC seminary, and some in the PRC seminary. Although the PRC name had come up during the history of the Wingham OCRC, we didn’t know much about the federation. As Mr. VanderKlok got to know us, he came to understand that the doctrinal standard and the biblical standards we held were much the same as the PRC. Soon our church foyer had a new tract rack filled with PRC and HNRC materials. For approximately four years, the Lord gave traveling mercies to Mr. Vander Klok as he unselfishly drove five hours each Friday and Sunday so that he could teach catechism and preach for us.
It was exciting for us, as we could see the Lord leading us to a denomination where we could be united with an entire federation — that is, all churches believing the same truths. This is something we were missing in the OCRC. As we came under PRC preaching and had much interaction with their Contact Committee, it was amazing to see your oneness in faith. The messages of the ministers and professors and the guidance of the members of the Contact Committee were always consistent, never contradictory, always Reformed, and always in complete harmony with the Reformed creeds. This clearly showed us some of the blessings that abound because you have your own seminary. The seminary and the professors are truly a blessing for the churches. Let us never take this for granted. Remember always to keep in our prayers those who are teaching, who are being taught, who have been taught, and for those in authority over the seminary. It is the preaching of the gospel that is the chief means of grace.
The difficult part in our history is the loss of members. From the beginning of our walk towards the PRC till now, we have lost four families. This is hard for a small congregation, but we find comfort in knowing that the Lord has purposes for all things.
At this time, we are a congregation of 13 families. There are 27 communicant members, 55 souls, 23 children under 11, 7 between 16-22.
Our regular congregational activities include: Bible study every other Thursday, Young People’s every Tuesday, ladies’ monthly nursing home program, three catechism classes on Friday night, and pre-confession class Saturday night.
We thank our heavenly Father for holding this congregation together, for sinful man has tried to pull it apart many times. We praise God for leading us to a federation of churches that God has kept strong and faithful through many trials of their own.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.