How different our community of Drenthe must have looked over a century and a half ago when the first settler, Jan Hulst, arrived. The journey from Baltimore had taken the Hulst family six weeks and was made by ox-cart in June of 1847.
In the next few weeks and months more settlers arrived, and one of their first concerns was to set up a place to worship their God, who had brought them safely this far through all the perils of the sea and wilderness. Drenthe’s first church was built in 1848 and was located ½ mile east of the present village. There were about 45 families in all and they thought it best to join Holland Classis and the Dutch reformed Church. Drenthe’s first pastor was the Rev. Roelof Smit from the Netherlands, who arrived in 1851 to begin his work.
Drenthe’s independent spirit soon began to manifest itself and the church began to chafe under the autocratic rule of Rev. Van Raalte and the Holland Classis. In 1853, Rev. Smit and 2/3 of the membership left the Reformed Church and started a new congregation, becoming Scottish Presbyterians, and building their own church on the southwest corner of the village.
The church existed till 1886 when Rev. Smit, on his deathbed, gathered his elders about him and instructed them to return to the Drenthe church, which in the meantime, had also broken with Rev. Van Raalte and had become a Christian Reformed Church. This return of the Scottish Presbyterians and also the influx of many families who joined the Drenthe Church led to a substantial rise in the membership of the Drenthe Church, and fulfilled Rev. Smit’s dying wish that all of Drenthe would again worship “under one roof.”
With the passing of the years, the story of our church continues through periods of stress and strain, but mostly a quiet going forward under the Spirit’s guidance. We are a busy church, at present numbering 176 families and the Spirit leads through societies, missions, Christian education, youth activities, but also in the day-by-day witness in the lives of individuals. We thank God for our humble beginnings, for His leadership throughout these years, and pray earnestly for His guidance through the years ahead, so bright with promise, as we seek to share our wonderful faith with the world about us.