Celebrating 60 Years of God’s Goodness!

Here’s something I wrote up for Church News of the Canadian Reformed Churches in the Fraser and Okanagan Valleys of British Columbia about the recent 60th Anniversary celebration of Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church, where I’ve been privileged to serve the Good Shepherd and this flock of his since 2005.  This blog post is slightly revised and includes many of the pictures that Paul Jubenvill took during the event.

Celebrating 60 Years of God’s Goodness

1954 —  March 7 — 2014

We may look back on a wonderful 60th Anniversary Celebration. The celebration was a rich tapestry of memories and thanksgiving, of giving praise to God and enjoying fellowship. Friends and former members joined us to celebrate with music and song, nostalgia and art, food and drink, laughter and conversation.

Our MC for the evening, Mr. Siebe DeJong.

Our MC for the evening, Mr. Siebe DeJong.

Our theme was:

“The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy!”
Psalm 126:3

Before the formal program the guests had an opportunity to view the gallery of artifacts representing life as it was during the early days of our congregation, including furniture, photos, and film; books and magazines; tools and toys; suitcases and telephones–even a wedding dress; and much, much more.

One of the many displays in the Vintage Gallery. This display features a wedding dress worn by a mother and later her daughter, both members of our congregation.

One of the many displays in the Vintage Gallery. This display features a wedding dress worn by a mother (Mrs. Geri B.) and later her daughter (Wendy M.), both members of our congregation.

During the formal program, guests were treated to a historical retrospective by Mr. Siebe DeJong and greetings from previous pastors and their wives, both in person (Dr. & Mrs. James and Willy Visscher) and from afar (the Mulder’s and the Moesker’s). We were told a humorous story that included all the last names of our present membership by ‘Wilhelmina.’

Rev. Dr. James Visscher, pastor from 1978 to 1987

Rev. Dr. James Visscher,
pastor from 1978 to 1987

'Wilhelmina' made it, too!

‘Wilhelmina’ made it, too!

There was also a rich variety of music. The young people sang a couple of songs for us. The Chinese Reformed Church Choir sang the Genevan Psalm 84, recently translated into Chinese, and “The Church’s One Foundation.”

         All the nations you have made           will come and worship before you, O Lord;           they will bring glory to your name.  Psalm 86:9

“All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name.”
Psalm 86:9

A strings, piano and wind variation on the Genevan version of our theme-song, Psalm 126, composed by Kent Dykstra, was performed by him and a small group of musicians, including a vocal solo by Esther L.

Janice (piano), Kent (violin), Heres (flute), Carlina (cello) and Esther (voice) perform Kent's composition on Genevan Psalm 126. The dreamy style reflected the words of verse 2: "We were like those who dreamed." The congregation joined in for the singing of stanzas 2 & 3.

Janice (piano), Kent (violin), Heres (flute), Carlina (cello) and Esther (voice) perform Kent’s composition on Genevan Psalm 126. The dreamy style reflected the words of verse 2: “We were like those who dreamed.” The congregation joined in for the singing of stanzas 2 & 3.

A cheerful set of anthems was performed by the Cloverdale Choir and children, and a Bluegrass version of our theme-song was performed by the catechism students with voices and instruments, both groups conducted by Marina Lodder. The congregation was invited to join the choirs and musical instruments at several points in the program. We also sang a rousing version of the national anthem, accompanied by two more of our church musicians, organist Richard Dykstra and pianist Ann Bysterveld.

Catechism students performing Western-Canadian artist Steve Bell's lively Bluegrass version of Psalm 126, arranged and conducted by Marina Lodder.

Catechism students performing Western-Canadian artist Steve Bell’s lively Bluegrass version of Psalm 126, arranged and conducted by Marina Lodder. Several catechism students played along with musical instruments.

Congratulatory messages were conveyed from our mayor in the person of Ms. Barinder Rasode, Surrey City Councillor, and from Ottawa with a letter from Mr. Russ Hiebert, M.P.

Ms. Barinder Rasode, Surrey City Councillor brings greetings on behalf of Mayor Dianne Watts

Ms. Barinder Rasode, Surrey City Councillor brings greetings on behalf of Mayor Dianne Watts

Special guests included three senior women who were members at institution, Mrs. Alice B. and Mrs. Bep V. who are now members in Lynden, and one of our own, Mrs. Jane B. She has been a part of our congregation since institution, and therefore was given the honour of unveiling the anniversary mosaic.

One of our senior members, Mrs. Jane B., a member since the church's institution in 1954, unveils the mosaic

One of our senior members, Mrs. Jane B., a member since the church’s institution in 1954, unveils the mosaic

The mosaic was a labour of love, crafted by a group of our church’s women under the skillful supervision of artist Sheila VanDelft. Many members contributed ideas and materials to the mosaic, and it is now on permanent display in our church foyer.

Jan tells us some of the stories that went into the making of this mosaic.

Jan tells us some of the stories that went into the making of this mosaic.

Afterwards, we enjoyed more conversation and fellowship with a rich variety of delicious appetizers and treats, finely prepared and presented by Mary Grim, Nora VanOene and the Ladies’ Aid.

A feast of tasty food and drink awaits... with lots more to come!

A feast of tasty food and drink awaits… with lots more to come!

Special thanks go to the organizing committee, Sarah Vandergugten, Sheila VanDelft, Cathy Kieneker, and Chris Schouten. A big thanks to everyone else who worked behind the scenes: Steve Schoen and custodian Mr. Bill Jongs and many other volunteers who spent many hours making sure that the church building and property were looking their best. Tyler Voorhorst volunteered a few evenings making sure everything was in order in the video/sound booth. Paul Jubenvill took pictures. And the list goes on and on.

Mosaic makers Jan, Cathy, Frieda, Sheila and Jenn.  The broken pieces that make up the mosaic were contributed by many members and former members. All the members were invited to contribute their ideas to the design of he mosaic, under the skillful direction of artist Sheila VanDelft.

Mosaic makers Jan, Cathy, Frieda, Sheila and Jenn.
The broken pieces that make up the mosaic were contributed by many members and former members. All the members were invited to contribute their ideas to the design of he mosaic, under the skillful direction of artist Sheila VanDelft.

As I write this, I find it so striking again how reflective such an event is of the spiritual functioning of the body of Christ. So many members are involved, and every member has a part to play. And like the anniversary mosaic that is now in our church foyer, each one of us, in all our fallen, shattered, broken humanity is brought together, bound together and made one by God and His Spirit, made whole and complete in Christ.

Anniversary Mosaic Broken people made whole in Christ

Anniversary Mosaic
Broken people made whole in Christ

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us,
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.”
Psalm 115:1

After all, it’s all about the LORD our God, and what he has done for us in Christ. “The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with you!” (Ps 126:3)

Image credits: Paul Jubenvill

MORE PHOTOS

Guess who?

Guess who?

Sarah, daughter of Rev. Jules VanPopta (pastor from 1966 until his sudden death in 1968), one of the event organizers

Sarah, daughter of Rev. Jules VanPopta (pastor from 1966 until his sudden death in 1968), one of the event organizers

Memories of Rev. Jules and Nel VanPopta and family, who came to Cloverdale from Edmonton in 1968. Rev. Van Popta, the father of member Sarah V., and the grandfather and great grandfather of many of the church's present members, died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1968. Two of his sons, John and George, are serving as ministers of in the Canadian Reformed Churches in Burlington and Ottawa, Ontario.

Memories of Rev. Jules and Nel VanPopta and family, who came to Cloverdale from Edmonton in 1968. Rev. Van Popta, the father of member Sarah V., and the grandfather and great grandfather of many of the church’s present members, died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1968. Two of his sons, John and George, are serving as ministers of in the Canadian Reformed Churches in Burlington and Ottawa, Ontario.

The chair where Cloverdale's second pastor's wife, Mrs. Nel VanPopta, used to sit and talk on the phone.

Some furniture that belonged to Mrs. Nel Van Popta.

Anniversary Program

Anniversary Program

More artifacts from days of yore!

More artifacts from days of yore

Three of the original members in front of the mosaic in the foyer, where it is now permanently mounted. Mrs. Jane B. (centre) is still a member of our congregation. Mrs. Bep V. (left) has a daughter and many of her grandchildren and great grandchildren here. Both her and Mrs. Alice B. (right) live across the Canada-US border and worship at the Lynden American Reformed Church.

Three of the original members in front of the mosaic in the foyer, where it is now permanently mounted. Mrs. Jane B. (centre) is still a member of our congregation. Mrs. Bep V. (left) has a daughter (Mary G.) and many of her grandchildren and great grandchildren here. Both her and Mrs. Alice B. (right) live across the Canada-US border and worship at the Lynden American Reformed Church.

Dutch treats!

Dutch treats!

Houses of worship through the years

Houses of worship through the years (1)

Houses of Worship through the years

Houses of Worship through the years (2)

'The red-roofed church,' one of the first donation boxes, prominently displaying in Dutch and English:  "Preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). God's call to mission and evangelism remains a high priority 60 years later.

‘The red-roofed church,’ one of the first donation boxes, prominently displaying in Dutch and English: “PREACH THE GOSPEL TO EVERY CREATURE” (Mark 16:15). God’s call to mission and evangelism remains a high priority 60 years later.

Published in: on March 15, 2014 at 3:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

60th Anniversary Meditation & Prayer

I was requested to publish this from our 60th Anniversary Celebration. SOLI DEO GLORIA!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, honourable guests, neighbours, friends,

I was asked to focus on the last decade of Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church, the better part of which I’ve been privileged to serve here. It’s impossible to cover everything, so I will just highlight a few of the great things God has done for us that make us so happy.

Psalm 126 talks about how God’s people at that time “were like those who dreamed.” God has done great things for us in Christ, and when that happens, all sorts of other things happen that only seem possible in a dream. That has been true for us, by God’s grace, over the past decade. I won’t get into all the delightful exegetical details of this beautiful Bible passage. That’s for another time. For the purposes of tonight’s celebration, I just want to highlight a few of our own dreams as a church.

One of our biggest dreams as a church, a dream that is coming true every day for us, is the mission work God has allowed us to do over the past decade. In 2004, setting up theological training in our overseas mission field was just a dream. Today it is a reality. Many church leaders are being trained and churches planted, and through them thousands of others are being reached with the gospel and provided with rich and sound biblical teaching. Many souls are coming to Christ; many others are coming to greater maturity in Christ.

The dream of being a light and witness of Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, has always been alive and well in this church. Ever since the first decade of our existence. I’ll share with you just one way I know that is a fact: the red-roofed church donation box in the foyer. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you take a look at it later. It’s on a table in the foyer, right by the front entrance.

'The red-roofed church,' one of the first donation boxes, prominently displaying in Dutch and English:  "Preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). God's call to mission and evangelism remains a high priority 60 years later.

‘The red-roofed church,’ one of the first donation boxes, prominently displaying in Dutch and English: “Preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). God’s call to mission and evangelism remains a high priority 60 years later.

So what’s so special about this red-roofed church? Well, displayed prominently with white letters on the red roof, both in Dutch and in English is this text from Mark 16:15:  “Preach the gospel to every creature!” More about that on Sunday afternoon.

This model-scale church building is where members placed their tithes in the early years of this church. I would imagine that a big part of the dream at that time was to gather enough money to build a church.

It’s obvious that even as they were saving up for their own house of worship, though, those early church members and their leaders—some of whom are represented here tonight, either in person or by their offspring—they saw the importance of bringing the good news of Jesus Christ into the world. Their dream was to be a light for Christ in the world. And that dream hasn’t died. It is still alive and well, and we desire to continue carrying the torch that ignited that dream.

We desire to be used by God to make that dream a reality. God has his ways of making seemingly impossible dreams come true, and we plan to hold on to that dream by God’s grace and in obedience to his call.

Just think about this: The church of Jesus Christ is the most ethnically diverse body of people anywhere in the world. I have it on reliable authority that the city of Surrey, which had Cloverdale as its first town centre, is one of the most ethnically and socially diverse cities in Canada. This is also reflected, to a degree, among us.

Back in the first decade, the church membership list consisted mostly of Dutch-European names, most of them either beginning with Van or Vander, or ending with Veld or Hof or Horst—names and families that are still well-known and deeply cherished among us.

Six decades later, however, our church family mosaic has become even richer and more diverse. Family names like Li and Wu, Chang and Zhang and Dong, Jubenvill and Diack, Lazzara and Hansen, Shei and Burongo and Kalombo have become just as familiar and dear to us. Our church family now has a beautiful blend of many different nationalities.

Our hope and prayer is that our ethnic diversity will continue to grow richer as the years pass, and as God continues to bring all the nations of the earth to Jesus. We were like those who dreamed. Let’s stay that way. Let’s continue to hold God’s Word high, and be obedient to his call, as a church in the world, as a church that belongs to the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

PRAYER

Gracious Father, for the joy of being your people,for a gracious sense of your favour in the past, your goodness in the present, and your promises for the future, we give thanks to you, through the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you, O Father, that so often in this building, and whenever and wherever this your congregation has gathered over the past 60 years, you have been present with us, and spoken your word to us through the reading and the preaching of the gospel.

That among us the waters of baptism have continued to flow—for the forgiveness of our sins in the blood of Jesus, and for a rich welcome into your eternal kingdom.

That among us the bread of life, which is Jesus Christ, has continued to nourish our bodies and souls for eternal life.

We pray, as you are the God who knows our past, and who sees us now, and has planned our future, that as you lead us into another decade of church life, we may have a sense that our past is bathed in your pardoning grace, that our present is held by your strong hand, and that our glorious future in Jesus Christ and his eternal kingdom has been once and for all secured.

For the many gifts that you have distributed among us, many of which have been on beautiful display this evening, we give you thanks.

For the fellowship and love of Jesus Christ and his Spirit that binds us together,as brothers and sisters, as families,as a variety of people brought together as one in Christ, we give you thanks.

For the friendship and love of those who have joined and greeted us tonight,
as neighbours, as friends, as past members and leaders among us, as charter members, we give you thanks.

Give us, both as people and as a church, wills that bow happily to you, affections that rise in love towards you, and lives that more and more please you.

Bless this church. And through us be pleased to bless this city, this province, this land, this world.

All for Jesus, for the sake his kingdom, for your glory, through your mighty Spirit.

To you, O God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be all glory, as it was in the beginning, is now, and forever shall be, world without end.

AMEN.