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Wingham Protestant Reformed Church began in 1979 as the Listowel Orthodox Christian Reformed Church. Its first pastor was Reverend Harry Vandyken. The church was organized by families who left the Christian Reformed Church for doctrinal reasons. It was the first church in the OCRC. Soon other congregations formed in Allendale, MI; Toronto, ON; and Burlington, WA.
Representatives of these churches began meeting in 1981 to discuss church order and federation. The OCRC was formally organized in March 1988 with seven congregations.
The second minister of Listowel OCRC was Rev. Bronsveld, who was ordained under Article 8 not long after the church was organized. Rev. Bronsveldâ€™s preaching and teaching was doctrinally conservative. He preached against remarriage after divorce, labor unions, and taught that Godâ€™s grace is particular, not common.
The Listowel OCRC had a humble beginning and also some trying times. At one point the membership was down to four families. It was at this low point in their existence (1985) that the consistory was considering closing down the church. Just when the church was ready to disband, four families from a local CRC took interest in this church. They worshiped with the saints, visited with the consistory, and came to the conviction that the biblical, Reformed preaching of this church was the very teaching they were missing in the CRC. With these new families joining, the Listowel OCRC doubled its membership!
In 1988, with eight families, the church bought an old mechanical shop in Wingham. With much volunteer work, the congregation transformed the shop into a place of worship. After that was added a lunch room/nursery. This provided a place to eat lunch together between services. The time between services was and still is for us a wonderful opportunity for fellowship.
After fifteen years of faithfully bringing forth the Word of God (all of them in this congregation) Rev. Bronsveld retired. Being without a pastor was new to the church, and finding a new pastor was more difficult than first thought. A candidate from the Free Reformed Church, Mr. Alfonso d'Amore, came to be the churchâ€™s pulpit supply for two years. The church called him to be their pastor, but he declined.
Rev. Garry Vanderveen was the next minister of Wingham OCRC. He was a member of the OCRC in his youth and graduated from Greenville Seminary. He helped the church with his preaching for two years, after which time he accepted a call from the congregation. After his ordination he served the church for a year and a half. He then accepted a call to serve the Langley Reformed Evangelical Church. Then Rev. Mark Zylstra, of the URC denomination, was Winghamâ€™s pulpit supply for about four months.
The next man to preach for Wingham OCRC was Mr. Don VanderKlok. He was from Grand Rapids, and had done much in the way of preaching. He was a member of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Church. Upon retirement, Mr. VanderKlok began attending seminary classes at the Heritage Netherlands Reformed seminary, and some at the Protestant Reformed seminary. Although the PRC name had come up during the history of the Wingham OCRC, members didn't know much about this denomination. As Mr. VanderKlok got to know the congregation, he came to understand that the doctrinal positions and the biblical teachings the members held were much the same as the PRC. Soon the church foyer had a new tract rack filled with PRC and HNRC materials. For approximately four years, the Lord gave traveling mercies to Mr. VanderKlok as he unselfishly drove five hours each Friday and Sunday so that he could teach catechism and preach for the congregation and its little ones.
It was exciting for the membership, as they could see the Lord leading them to a denomination where they could enjoy unity with an entire federation â€” that is, all churches believing the same truths. That unity was missing in the OCRC. As the church heard distinctive Protestant Reformed preaching and had much interaction with their Contact Committee, it was amazing to see its oneness in faith. The messages of the ministers and professors and the guidance of the members of the Contact Committee were always consistent, never contradictory, always Reformed, and always in complete harmony with the Reformed creeds. This consistency was due to the denominationâ€™s own seminary for supply of ministers to its churches. The seminary and the professors are truly a blessing for the churches, not to be taken for granted.
Wingham OCRC left that denomination and then joined the Protestant Reformed Churches in January, 2004. In the summer of the same year the Lord blessed the new congregation of the PRC with a pastor, Rev. Michael De Vries. He preached Godâ€™s word faithfully for 6 years, when he accepted a call to Kalamazoo Protestant Reformed Church. The church continued then without a pastor for 9 months, until God moved in the heart of Rev. Martin VanderWal to accept the congregationâ€™s call to him. Rev. VanderWal and his family moved to Wingham, ON in April, 2011 and is currently serving as its pastor.