It was in the spring of 1927 when two elders of the Christian Reformed Church of Oaklawn took upon themselves to ask the Rev. H. Hoeksema to give a lecture in the local public school, in order that they might become better acquainted with the issue of Common Grace which had created such a stir within the Churches. Rev. Hoeksema complied with the request, and quite a large audience turned out to hear him. Although all were not ready to agree with the speaker, many did go home, with the conviction that they had been edified by a sound exposition of the truth of the Word of God.
The immediate result, however, was that the two elders were deposed from office by their consistory upon the advice of a neighboring consistory which had been called in. Yet for some this did not settle the question whether the Church was right in adopting the Three Points in the Synod of 1924. Again Rev. Hoeksema spoke in Oaklawn, as well as in South Holland, Roseland and Englewood, whereby it became increasingly evident to us that the Church had erred in deposing from office the Reverends Hoeksema, Ophoff and Danhof. We became convinced
that if we were to hear and maintain the sound doctrine in our own midst we had to separate ourselves from the Christian Ref. Church and organize a congregation of our own.
It was not a large group that finally agreed to organization. In fact, five families and two unmarried young men came together on the evening of July 7, 1927, with the Rev. Hoeksema in their midst, who spoke to them on John 7:39 in connection with Acts 2:4, and afterwards assisted us in the organization. Now it was possible for us to again hear the sound preaching of the Word from Sabbath to Sabbath. For a number of years our various students and ministers supplied our pulpit, until the year 1935 when the Rev. C. Hanko sent us the glad tidings in answer to our call, “I will come over and help you.” In January of that year Rev. Hanko arrived in our midst and has labored among us for nine years.
So, for a period of eight years we had struggled along without a shepherd to minister to our various needs. Yet from the very beginning we were privileged with having our own place of worship. Although we were not strong financially, we were able to purchase a church building which for some time had been used as a Community Hall for local entertainments. After undergoing some necessary cleaning and repairing, the building proved quite fit for our purpose. During these first years we were due for many disappointments. since we are still an imperfect people who carried our sinful nature with us when we left our former church, and that sinful nature also became evident at times, causing many sad moments in our lives. But the Lord deemed also this for our good and has kept us in existence as a congregation through all our struggles. Although we lost some members, the Lord also added to our number, and after eight years we were able to say: “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” Rev. Hanko’s labors have also been appreciated in our midst and the congregation had grown from slightly more than five families at the time of organization to 17 families by the spring of 1943.
This past year was an especially happy one for us as congregation from the aspect that now for the first time we have our own parsonage for our minister. For eight years he was forced to move from place to place, until suddenly we faced the problem of having a minister without being able to supply him with a home. We decided that the time had come that we should buy a parsonage of our own and found that we could obtain a very suitable house not far from the Church. Through the united efforts of the whole congregation, and the splendid collections we received from our Churches, we were able to purchase this property, for which we are thankful to the Lord Who has made this possible.
The year 1943 also has its sad moments from the point of view that we lost a few of our former members. The oldest member of the congregation was taken away by death, one family moved to sunny California, and two families returned to the Christian Reformed Church. Yet we are happy to report that we have grown in unity of faith and love during this past year. We have become more firmly knit together as one in the Lord, and that, after all. is of first importance. Trusting in Him also for the future we can rest assured that all earthly things may fall away, yet we shall be victorious in Him. May God give us more zeal for His cause at all times, so that we shall not be found as having lost our first love, but may grow in grace and live as members of the body of Jesus Christ. To God be all the honor and glory forever.