Westfriesland Church

Westfriesland Church Has 75th Anniversary Sept. 17

Plans Complete For Diamond Jubilee On Friday, Sept. 17th; Church Has Had Six Pastors

Westfriesland Presbyterian church in German township, Grundy county, will observe its 75th anniversary on Friday of this week with fitting services for this happy occasion. There will be services in the forenoon, afternoon and evening. All members of the church, former members living elsewhere, and others will join together in a day of joy and reverence.

Organized in 1873
The Westfriesland church was organized in 1873. The early records of the church were later destroyed by fire and it is not definitely known who the organizing proponents were. Rev. J. E. Drake, who for many years was pastor of the Colfax Presbyterian church, expresses the belief that the leaders in the organization were Rev. Vander Las, John Arends and Adrian Van Vliet. Rev. John Arends was the first pastor who appears to have worked towards the organization of the Westfriesland church two years before the organization was completed in 1873. There were 35 families who became members of the organization in 1873. The first church building was not completed until the following year.

The first minutes dated Jan. 3, 1874, appear definitely to be of the first annual congregational meeting of the Westfriesland Presbyterian congregation.

John Arends was the moderator, and Jacob Kallemyn was the secretary. These first minutes reveal a motion set forth to drop (to laten fallen) Westfriesland Presbyterian Kerk and to adopt (aantememen) the name of Second Presbyterian Church of German Township, Grundy County, Iowa. Rev. John Arends was chosen as a one-man committee to have the church incorporated under the name of the "Second Presbyterian Church of German Township, Grundy County, Iowa; Postoffice, Ackley, Hardin County, Iowa." However, later the name was officially changed again to "Westfriesland" in 1897 and incorporated in 1898.

Bought 2 Acres Of Ground For $50
The minutes of the first congregational meeting show that two acres of ground were purchased from Hendrick DeVries for $50 on which the church was built, a cemetery ground provided and on which later a parsonage was erected.

The first church building was remodeled and enlarged in 1908. In 1924 a small tornado tore down the spire and the present front of the building was erected.

Church Has Had 6 Pastors
Westfriesland has had six pastors during its 75-year history. Longest to serve was Rev. Henry Johnson who was the directing head of this church for 23 years. He is the only former pastor still living. Names of pastors and their years of service are given below:
John K. Arends, 1873-1880
Godfrey Moery, 1880-1884
L. Kliebenstein, 1884-1905
J. J. Agena, 1905-1920
Henry Johnson, 1921-1944
Peter H. Eekhoff, 1944-

In a Church-Going Neighborhood
Westfriesland church was erected in a community of church-going people. There are more rural churches in German and Pleasant Valley townships than in all other townships in Grundy county. The folks up there all are members of some church and they all attend regularly. That part of the county was among the earliest to receive pioneer settlers, partly due to the early coming through of the railroad and because of the richness of the soil. The pioneers who came remained there. Many who are now in the seventies and up to the nineties still reside on farms there or in nearby towns of Wellsburg, Ackley and Aplington. Their descendants remained to follow in the footsteps of their forebears and they are carrying on well their traditions. Nearly all of them are of German or Netherlands descent still services in the many churches during the early years were carried on in the language of the fatherland of the members. Gradually services in the churches adopted the standard language of this country.

Growth in Membership
Because of the many churches established within a small area in the northwest portion of Grundy county, the membership in all of them had to be limited. Westfriesland which began with a membership of 35 now has 140.

Present Church Remodeled
The present church building was remodeled during Rev. Johnson's ministry in 1941. A full basement was completed under the church for a heating system and a kitchen and dining room. The old building was raised and a 16-foot extension was added to the north. New hardwood floors were laid and the auditorium of the church received a new ceiling.

Hammond Electric Organ
A new Hammond electric organ was installed in December 1946. Mrs. Lester Neymeyer is the organist and Mrs. Elmer Younker is her assistant.

Church Societies
Westfriesland church is blessed with earnest and efficient societies.

The Ladies' Aid Society was organized Nov. 10, 1921, and they have been giving their church most helpful service ever since. There are at present 20 members of this organization. There are three charter members. They are Mrs. M. K. Huesman, Mrs. Arend K. Arends and Mrs. Will K. Harken.

The Christian Endeavor Society dates back to 1908. Rev. Agena was the first president, C. H. Ulfers the first treasurer and H. E. Deters, secretary. The Society has been functioning continuously since its organization. It now has 19 members.

All Attend Sunday School
Practically all members of the church attend Sunday school services regularly.

Golden Hour Circle
Latest of the Societies of this church is the Golden Hour Circle which was organized in January 1947. There are now 13 members.

The Quartette is a popular organization who are called upon frequently to assist in social functions in the church. Members of the organization are Jans Huesman, Donald Snittjer, John L. Meyer and John V. Janssen. Mrs. Lester Neymeyer is the accompanist.

The volunteer choir with 21 voices is also a popular organization which participates in regular services and on special occasions.

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 16 September 1948

W. Friesland Church Records Destroyed by Fire in '70s

No definite date can be set for the organization of the West Friesland Presbyterian Church of Ackley, for when the farm home of the first pastor, the Rev. John K. Arends, was destroyed by fire, the records of the church were destroyed with it.

Most historical sources give the date of its beginning as 1873. It was once called the Second German Presbyterian Church of German Township, Grundy County, after the congregation voted in 1874 to drop the name Westfriesland Presbyterian Kerk and to adopt the other name. However, the name was officially changed back to Westfriesland in 1897 and incorporated in 1898.

The Rev. John Arends, pastor of the East Friesland Church from 1866 to the summer of 1870, was the Westfriesland church's first pastor in 1879. From 1871 to 1874 the pulpit was vacant, probably because the organization had not been accomplished. They seem to have been completed in 1873 and the Rev. Arends again became minister until his death in 1880. Other organizers of the church appear to have been Dr. J. E. Drake, the Rev. Jan VanderLas, John Arends and Adrian VanVliet.

In the minutes of the congregational meeting of January 3, 1874, a certain Hendrick DeVries offered to sell two acres of ground east of the cemetery of the "Ware Hollands Gereformeerde Kerk"--the true Holland Reformed Church--for the sum of $50. The two-acre plot was purchased and plans were laid for the building of the first church.

The church building was completed by the end of June, 1874. John Rath contracted lumber for the church, 28 by 40 feet, for $685.

The church was remodeled in 1908, and a bell was installed which is still in use to call people to worship. In 1924 a small tornado ripped down the steeple of the church, and the present front was erected when the damage was repaired.

The present parsonage was erected in the summer of 1928 at a cost of $6,000.

The church was remodeled in 1941, when a full basement was added as well as an extension to the building.

One son of the church, Harold, son of Mrs. Joe Fisher and the late Mr. Fisher, is serving in the mission field in Lebanon.

There have been but seven pastors of the West Friesland Church during the 84 years of its history. These devoted men were John K. Arends, 1873-1880; Godfrey Moery, 1880-1884; L. Kliebenstein, 1884-1905; J. J. Agena, 1905-1920; Henry Johnson, 1921-1944; Peter Eekhoff, 1944-1955; Norman Flink, 1955-____.

The church is noted for its men's quartet, which has appeared in gospel song concerts on many occasion, here and in other churches.

The history of the West Friesland Church has been one of consecrated service to God and mankind. In 1973, its Centennial anniversary will be observed.

--Ackley World-Journal (Ackley, Iowa), 1 August 1957, pg 56

also see: History of the German Presbyterian Church of Grundy County

List of Ministers

NameYears Served
Rev. John K. Arends1873-1880
Rev. Godfrey Moery1880-1884
Rev. Ludwig Kliebenstein1884-1905
Rev. J. J. Agena1905-1920
Rev. Henry Johnson1921-1944
Rev. Peter H. Eekhoff1944-1955
Rev. Norman Flink1955-1962
Rev. Kenneth Remer1965-1985
Rev. Chuck Westendorf