The History of Woodville Community Church
Complied by Joyce & Larry Patrick
In 1885, an all denominational church was built by the West Michigan Lumber Company. The church was located adjacent to the school. The resident pastor was Reverend R.J. Slee. The church and cemetery were both located in Norwich Township, while the company who founded it and most of the congregation were from Monroe Township.
Sometime between 1885 and 1889, the church burned down. In 1889 a new church was built in the approximate location of the old church. The pastor at that time was Reverend Catherine. She left in October of that year after serving the parish for two years. On October 31, 1889.The West Michigan Lumber Company sold the church to the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Newaygo County. The Church was dedicated in 1890 as the Woodville Episcopal Church.
Names of some of the early ministers: Reverend Slee, Reverend Catherine, Reverend Tiny, and Reverend Hubbell. Meda Conkwright, widow of George Conkwright, made an effort to keep the church going. She carried on church meetings, as well as sponsored many fund-raising activities. The church, more or less, fell into disuse until 1929. The windows were knocked out, and the plaster was cracked.
The following is the history of Woodville Church as a Christian Reformed Ministry, and known as “The Little White Church on the Hill”
Every time Reverend L.J. Lamberts of First Christian Reformed Church of Fremont passed through Woodville and saw the little black church on the hill, he saw possibilities of beginning a mission Sunday School. On July 6 1929 Reverend Lamberts held the first open air meeting on the porch of Ed Peterson’s store, with eight people attending. The Christian Concert Band of Fremont provided the music. Two more open air meetings were held, with poor attendance. On August 18 , Sunday School was held in the church for the first time. George Baars and Henry Rinsema were the first teachers and Reka Baars was the organist. In May of 1930 the attendance had grown to 60. In March of that year, Reka Baars had been added to the teaching staff. On May 2, 1931, George Baars passed away. The funeral was attended by the members of the Sunday School, as a whole.
Leonard Jordan replaced Mr. Baars as Superintendent, and continued in that position for 36 years. On June 21, 1931, Sunday School was divided into four classes with Josie Wever the fourth teacher. Students from Calvin Seminary also assisted with some of the services. Mr. Rinsema moved away and Joe Brinkman took his place. (The Woodville Christian Reformed Church was sponsored by the First and Second Christian Reformed Churches in Fremont, as a mission church, until 1994 when it became an organized church and the name was changed to “Woodville Community Church.”)
In 1932 the church was painted white, and in later years, Mr. Jay Poel named it “The Little White Church on the Hill.” On September 29, 1939, a 10-year Anniversary and Dedication Service was held with 90 people attending. This was a culmination of efforts to purchase the church. Mrs. Reka Baars donated $500.00 in memory of her husband George, who helped start the work in Woodville in 1929.
The Methodist Church who owned the building was contacted, and on October 1, 1939 the church and one acre of land was purchased by paying off two mortgages, $200.00 and $300.00. Also in 1939, O&A Electric put up poles and wire, for electricity in the church and parsonage.
In the summer of 1949, the church was raised and a basement was excavated. The basement was finished in 1950 and a furnace was installed, the big pot-belly stove in the rear of the church was removed. In June 1963 a new organ was added to the church, and an office was added to the parsonage in 1966. Mr. Leonard Jordan passed away in 1967, a new piano was donated, and was dedicated in his memory on June 25, 1967. In February of 1968, the interior of the church was remodeled. In 1976, there was a need for additional classrooms, a larger fellowship room in the basement and more room in the Sanctuary. On September 18, Mr. and Mrs. George Orth and Dorothy Laisure broke ground with the first shovels of dirt. On May 13, 1977, Re-dedication Services were held for the congregation.
Daily Vacation Bible School has been held every summer since 1949, Youth Group and Choir was organized in the early 1950’s, Calvinettes (Gems) and Cadets were started in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s.
God continues to be faithful to Woodville Community Church, we will celebrated our 90th Anniversary in 2019.
Pastors who have served the Woodville Church:
12/1933-11/1935 Rev. Fred Huizenga
04/1936-09/1936 Rev. Donald Drost
11/1937-1944 Rev. Dirk Mellema
06/1946-08/1949 Mr. Martin Keuning
01/1949-09/1954 Mr. Jay Poel
11/1954-11/1962 Mr. Clarence Disselkoen
01/1963-08/1992 Mr. Foster Brummel
12/1992-07/1994 Rev. Rob Jansons
10/1995-09/1999 Rev. Mark Hewitt
01/2000-12/2000 Rev. John Hofman (Interim Pastor)
12/2000-08/2002 Rev. Mike McDonald
Mid 2003-2007 Rev. Doug Warners (Interim Pastor)
2007 – Present Pastor Brett M. Werner