Hull Protestant Reformed Church

The history of the Hull Protestant Reformed Church goes back to the beginning of the Protestant Reformed denomination. Just a few weeks after the meeting at which the consistories who were expelled from the Christian Reformed Church formed a temporary organization called the Protesting Christian Reformed Churches, Rev. H. Hoeksema responded to a call from Northwest Iowa to “come over and help us.” Here many had been closely following the controversy that had been going on in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Many were keenly interested in what Rev. Hoeksema had to say. During the week meetings were held in a town hall filled to capacity in the city of Hull. In the town halls of Sioux Center, Doon, and Rock Valley, similar meetings were hosted at that time. The “Three Points” were the topic of enthusiastic discussion in many homes, coffee shops, and these public meetings. Before Rev. Hoeksema left the area, the Protesting Christian Reformed Church of Hull, Iowa, was organized with a membership of 32 families.

This was a group filled with determination to cling to the truth of God’s Word. They went to work with enthusiasm and zeal and the Lord blessed their labors abundantly. After only five months a new parsonage was ready and occupied by Rev. B. J. Danhof. And after only three more months the congregation met for the first time on Thanksgiving Day in the new church building the Lord had graciously provided for them. The church building was 76 feet long and 40 feet wide with a 60 foot bell tower and a seating capacity of 350. December 3, 1925, a dedication service was held in the new church building. What a celebration that was! The Revs. H. Hoeksema, G. Ophoff, and H. Danhof had made the two day journey from Grand Rapids to participate. The service began at 1:00 that Wednesday afternoon with a sermon preached by Rev. H. Danhof in Dutch. According to a report in the Standard Bearer, he preached for ninety minutes from Revelation 21, “Behold the tabernacle of God is with man.” After that Rev. Ophoff took over the pulpit and preached in English. According to the same report, it was 5:00 pm when he finished his sermon. The audience was then given a break until 7:30 pm. There were refreshments served in the basement and no doubt a few of the farmers hurried home to do chores. The church building was filled that evening when Rev. H. Hoeksema addressed the audience in Dutch concerning the events that had taken place in the last year bringing about the organization of the Protesting churches. Reports indicate that there were many visitors from the surrounding areas present to hear this speech. Enthusiasm continued and the congregation flourished.

In the January, 1926 issue of the Standard Bearer, Rev. B. J. Danhof reported that the congregation had grown to 50 families. He writes, “The day will not be far in the future if by God’s grace and blessing, Hull has an annual remembrance of December 3, 1925.” This “annual remembrance” however, was not a part of God’s sovereign plan. A year later found this new and flourishing congregation entangled in controversy. September 17, 1926 a notice appeared in the Sioux County Index written by Rev. B. J. Danhof stating that the congregation in Hull had always been and still was an independent church and not part of the Protesting Churches in the east. This of course was not true since they had been organized under the Act of Agreement set forth by the consistories of the Protesting Churches. At a congregational meeting held on December 8, 1926 in Hull Rev. Danhof defended the Three Points of Common Grace and tried to persuade the congregation to return with him to the Christian Reformed Church. He almost succeeded in destroying this newly organized congregation. Rev. Danhof left with all but ten families and returned to the Christian Reformed Church. On February 28, 1927, the church was reorganized as the Hull Protestant Reformed Church. Through strife and trial the Lord would purify His church. Ten families and five individuals with a debt of $11,000 on a new church building and parsonage was what were left of the once flourishing congregation.

The seminary in Grand Rapids was quick to respond to the needs of this struggling, little congregation. Since there were no ministers available, William Verhil, a student in the seminary at that time, was given a two year leave of absence from the seminary to help out in Hull. Meeting in the basement of a church much too large for them, the congregation was led by Student Verhil until the late summer of 1929 when Rev. C. Hanko graduated from the seminary and took the call extended to him by the Hull congregation. The group was still small and according to Rev. C. Hanko met in the basement during the winter months so that they would not have to heat the church auditorium. During the thirties and forties the Lord blessed the congregation in Hull with steady growth. After Rev. Hanko, Rev. Leonard VerMeer, and then Rev. Andrew Cammenga served as pastors in Hull. Again in the early 1950s it was the Lord’s will to purify His church and bring them to a clearer understanding of the truths of His Word.

Along with many churches in the denomination, Hull again suffered great numerical lose at the time of the split in 1953. At that time Rev. John DeJong was the pastor of the Hull congregation. During the controversy concerning the covenant, Rev. DeJong sided with the Rev. DeWolf who had been deposed from First Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He and a majority of the congregation claimed the church building. In September of 1953, just twenty-five families were left faithful to God’s word and continued in Hull as the Protestant Reformed Church. This small group was forced to find another meeting place where they could hold church services. After holding services at Western Christian High for several weeks they were able to rent the basement of the community building. Little did they know that this would be their meeting place for more than ten years. During this time Rev. Heys and Rev. Kortering served as her pastors. It wasn’t until 1964 that they again regained possession of the original church building and property through court action.

During the seventies and eighties the Lord continued to prosper the church in Hull. Rev. J. Kortering and then Rev. M. Hoeksema served as her pastors during the 1970’s. It was with thankfulness and joy that they saw the opening of the doors of the Hull Protestant Reformed Christian School in August of 1976. In 1979, Rev. R. Cammenga accepted the call to Hull and in 1985 Rev. R. Moore came to serve as her pastor. During these years the pews were becoming more and more crowded. It became evident by the early 1990s that a new place of worship was needed. Land was purchased near to the grade school and in the spring of 1993 the congregation met for the first time in its new house of worship. During the 1990’s the congregation in Hull also became involved with the mission work in Ghana. After being appointed the calling church for the mission field in Ghana and after several calls were declined, Hull called her own Pastor, Rev. R. Moore to that field.

After Rev. Moore took up his labors as missionary in Ghana, the Lord sent Pastor S. Key to labor in Hull. The congregation continues to grow and now numbers 137 families with 582 members. A congregation that was once made up mostly of farmers and their families is now made up of members from many different occupations. Although still mostly a rural community the growth of urban areas has affected this part of the country also. The congregation has in its membership a doctor, a lawyer, engineers, contractors, construction workers, factory workers, business men, teachers, and farmers. The Lord has blessed the congregation in Hull abundantly. With the prophet Jeremiah, we must confess “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23). We are especially thankful that we are privileged to hear the truth of God’s Word proclaimed to us from Sabbath to Sabbath. It is our prayer that the Lord will preserve that truth among us and continue to strengthen us spiritually as we look toward the ever more quickly approaching day of the return of our Lord.