“Everything you do today, or I do, affects not only what is going to happen but what has already happened, years and centuries ago. Maybe you can’t change what has passed, but you can change all the meaning of what has passed. You can even take all the meaning away.” –words of an old preacher, quoted by Martin Wright, a friend of Herbert Butterfield (British historian)
“Therefore look carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5: 15-16
1916—Wiser Lake church building completed and opened August 27 as the Smith Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church.
1944—Lynden’s First, Second, and Third CRC form Local Evangelism Board, hiring Chris Stremler as lay missionary. By the time the Board disbanded and Stremler resigned his position in 1951, the outreach efforts had focused upon operating a Sunday School at the Wiser Lake Chapel, the building having been vacated by the Methodist congregation.
1951—First Lynden CRC assumes responsibility for the Sunday School outreach at the Chapel, also paying the Methodist District Union rent of $25 per month for the use of the property.
1953—Maurice VanderGriend of First CRC begins 14 year tenure as superintendent of the Wiser Lake Chapel Sunday School. He regularly visits people in their homes throughout the Wiser Lake District.
1957—Hilda DeKubber begins her association with the Chapel after being invited by Oscar and Katherine Dykstra
to provide special music on her accordian on the morning of September 29.
1961—First Lynden CRC purchases property from the Methodist District Union for $1250.
1967—Following Maurice VanderGriend’s retirement, Harrison Harnden, a teacher at Lynden Christian School, provides leadership at the Chapel for a brief time before he leaves for seminary training. He initiates morning worship services.
1968-9—Pete and Esther Meyer begin their long association with the Chapel. Pete leads morning worship services, and they both give leadership to active youth outreach programs such as Daily Vacation Bible School and Boys’ and Girls’ clubs.
1970—Laymen’s League formed by CRC congregations in the County. In 1971, Gerrit Haagsma, a young seminary-trained person, is called to lead its ministry, which includes the work at Wiser Lake Chapel. Most of the Laymen’s League work is diaconal in nature, and the stage is set for some difficulty defining the nature of the Chapel and its work to the supporting churches.
Mid-1970’s—As youth outreach programs thrive, the need for more space is pressing. A basement is placed under the main church structure by Pete Meyer’s crew.
1977—Gerrit Haagsma leaves for a new pastorate in New Mexico in early summer, & Bruce Hemple arrives before winter. As the new head of the Laymen’s League work, Bruce provides regular part-time service as a pastor for the Chapel for the next 13 years.
1985—Laymen’s League questions its future role in the work at Wiser Lake Chapel. The future of the Chapel is brought squarely on the table. A Mission and Analysis Projection (MAP) is performed for the Chapel by the CRC’s regional home missions personnel. Issues of membership are addressed, evening services are initiated, and a congregation is consciously in the making. The adequacy of the facilities for a growing congregation is particularly questioned by the home missions personnel.
1990—Bruce Hempel retires at the end of the year, and the Laymen’s League support ends. Formal association with the CRC ends soon thereafter.
1991—Steve Tamminga begins a 21 month period of service as part-time pastor as congregation becomes self-supporting, non-affiliated congregation. Close informal ties with CRC are maintained through volunteer efforts and pulpit supply, but volunteer workers from other churches soon conclude work as congregation takes over its own tasks.
1992—Extensive pastor search (nation-wide, over 80 applicants) concludes, Pastor Bert Hitchcock and wife Jane (affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of America) accepts call in early July, arrives to begin work in October.
1992 to the present—Financially, budgets and receipts through collections increase fivefold, enabling support for full-time pastor, support for seminarians from congregation, and a building program. Church membership and attendance at worship grow to point of necessitating two morning services.
Where do we go from here?
II Corinthians 5:16—6:2 is as applicable today as it was nearly sixty years ago at the outset of the Chapel outreach program of the Lynden Christian Reformed Churches nearly sixty years ago, or at the initial dedication of the chapel building by the Methodist congregation nearly 94 years ago. God has entrusted to his church the ministry of reconciliation, God making his appeal through us on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God.