Sunday, January 25, 2009

History of Spring Valley Church

By Audrey Kooi

100 Years at Spring Valley Reformed Church Fulton
Near the turn of the century, many families had settled in the Spring Valley area that were of Reformed Church heritage. The nearest Reformed church congregations were located in the Fulton and Morrison area but the distance made regular worship difficult. Travel was by horse and buggy or bobsled and in many cases a round trip took several hours.
In the winter of 1908-1909, a classical missionary, Rev. Peter Braak, was sent into the territory by the Classis of Wisconsin for the purpose of establishing a church. Despite a poor economy, he found a strong desire in the hearts of several families to organize a church. Conducting a house to house canvas he also discovered many Presbyterian families who had a church and parsonage but were unable to support a pastor. Neither group wished to leave its parent denomination so a logical compromise was worked out. The Presbyterians would provide their facilities and the Reformed segment would help support a pastor.
On February 12, 1909 a meeting was called by Rev. Braak for all persons interested in organizing a Ustick Reformed Church. Twenty families appeared who were willing to organize. In March of 1909, the combined Presbyterian and Reformed congregations extended a call to Rev. Zwier Roetman, a graduating student from Western Theological Seminary, to become their joint pastor.
After two years had passed, fifteen more families had been added to the original twenty in the Reformed Church unit. The decision was made to buy two acres of land on which to build a church and parsonage. On November 1, 1911, the new church was formally dedicated to the worship of God and in that year the corporate name was officially declared to be the Spring Valley Reformed Church. Rev. Roetman continued to serve the Reformed congregation as pastor. Today the church is still at the same location 10960 Spring Valley Road.
Over the years the original structure has been added onto, modernized and facilities added to accommodate the churches activities. In 1972 one of the changes made to the property was a large parking lot with an outdoor chapel for drive in worship services. Pastor Ralph VanRheenen held the first outdoor worship and 37 years later it is continuing to bless the congregation and community. Every Sunday night at 7:00 from mid-May to mid-September cars fill the parking lot to enjoy Christian concerts and a Biblical message. They have a slogan “come as you are in the family car.” Last year a prayer garden was added to the outdoor service area, it is open to the public as a place of rest and reflection.
One hundred years later, Spring Valley’s membership has grown to 95 families consisting of 165 confessing members. Pastor Scott Bonestroo serves as the 15th pastor to lead the congregation. The mission statement for this church family: Developing Fully Devoted Followers of Christ. Every Sunday the church holds a traditional service at 9 a.m. that features choir, hymns, liturgy and a Biblical message. At 11:00 a.m. a contemporary service is held, which includes a live worship band with drums, guitars and a keyboard, worship songs sung as you may hear them on Christian radio, skits and a Biblical message. For more information about the church call 815-772-3554 or visit their website