Charter members Evelyn Jaarsma

Houston Christian Reformed Church celebrates 75 years

The Houston Christian Reformed Church first organized in 1939, and have gone through lots of changes since the early days meeting in homes.

The Houston Christian Reformed Church is celebrating their 75th anniversary this year.

The church started with two families from Holland meeting in the Jaarsma home at Barrett Station in 1938.

As more families moved to the area, the church grew and moved to homes closer to town. Families from as far as Barrett Station would walk up to four miles along the train tracks to meet together on Sundays.

For most of 1939, the Dutch Christians met at Norman Groot’s home by the Morice River Road.

Lucy Lieuwen, a charter member of the church, says the Groot family would empty their home of furniture and make pews inside with two logs of firewood and a board across the top.

Lieuwen says she remembers a mirror on the wall in the Groot home, and one Sunday her brother Ralph and sister Jenny caught eyes in the mirror and started making faces. They fooled around that service, but Lieuwen says from that Sunday on, the mirror was turned around on the wall.

Every Sunday, the group held two church services, enjoying packed lunches and visiting together between services.

They sang songs led by the pump organ, and instead of ministers, men in the church took turns reading published sermons. About four times a year a pastor would visit from another area and give a message.

Dedicated to learning English, the church asked visiting pastors who knew English to do one service in Dutch and the second in English. By 1958, less then 20 years after the church started, they were holding only one service a month in Dutch and the rest in English.

The first Christian Reformed Church was built in March 1940 by the Morice River Road.

Charter members Evelyn Jaarsma and Lucy Lieuwen said building the church was the top priority for the families that first came to this area from Holland.

“Their faith was very important to them,” Jaarsma said.

Lieuwen agreed.

“We wanted a place to worship God,” she said.

That first church stood for seven years, but burned down in November 1947, causing them to move services to the Houston Community Hall.

Ann Karsten, another charter member, says she remembers watching mice scurry around the community hall during Sunday services at that time.

Every Sunday after church, the children and youth met for Sunday School and Catechism in the Anglican Church, which is now part of the museum in Steelhead Park but used to stand beside the Community Hall.

In 1948, the church families built a new church on Highway 16 where the Houston Christian School playground is now.

They also built a parsonage, which was occupied a year later by the first minister, Reverend H.S. Koning.

Transportation was different back in those days.

Lieuwen remembers J.C. Brienen used to load his wife and three sons onto a tractor for the drive to church.

Many of the families who lived in Houston crowded onto Norman Vriend’s flat deck truck for the ride to church.

Jaarsma remembers an earthquake shaking up one Sunday service in 1964.

A song board hanging on the wall started swaying back and forth and pews vibrated.

Frances Lieuwen stood up and shouted “It’s an earth-cake!”

Jaarsma says everyone stayed sitting and things settled down fairly quickly, as the quake only lasted a few seconds.

At that time Houston was very small, with three stores, a hotel, garage, post office and school.

The church wasn’t the only thing that these early Dutch families built.

Jaarsma says many members of the Christian Reformed Church volunteered their time and were involved in committees in the community.

“They had a vision: they wanted to organize a Christian Reformed Church and they wanted to be part of the community and help build the town,” Jaarsma said.

Church members were part of 4-H, the Auxiliary Police, Farmers Institute, Women’s Institute, Library, Legion, Citizens on Patrol, the Morice Mountain Ski Trails and the Salvation Army Thrift Store.

They played significant roles in expanding the town and opening the Credit Union, Co-op, Fire Department, Ambulance and Health Centre, RCMP and more.

Now church members are still highly involved in a variety of organizations in the community, including Search and Rescue, Cattlemen’s, Love by the Bowl, the Community Garden, and the Retirement Housing Society.

The Christian Reformed Church that now stands proudly on the hill up Goold Road, was built in 1990.

Looking back over the 75 years, Lieuwen says it’s amazing.

“God has really blessed us during these years. If we think of how we started, and how things are now – families are so well-to-do and we have a beautiful church building – we’ve been very blessed all these years,” she said.

Jaarsma agrees, adding that some families have five generations who have grown up in Houston and been part of the Houston CRC.

“It really shows God’s faithfulness through all these years,” she said.


With files from “Marks on the Forest Floor,” 1971


Just Posted

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

All Native Basketball Tournament Day 5: Recap

Highlights and results from day 5 at the All Native Tournament

All Native Basketball Tournament Day 6: Preview

Look ahead to all the action scheduled for Feb. 16 at the All Native Tournament

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

B.C. communities push back against climate change damages campaign

Activists copying California case that was tossed out of court

B.C. VIEWS: Power politics wins over rational energy policy

B.C Hydro continues to face interference on rates

PR firm suspends contract with former B.C. premier amid groping accusation

Edelman says in a statement that Campbell has served as a special adviser to the firm since last July

James says B.C. budget puts priorities on NDP’s poverty, environment plans

She said she expected the government’s poverty reduction and climate change strategies to be priorities in the budget

PHOTOS: Day 1 of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Games kicked off in Red Deer this week

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Most Read