History of Sully Christian Reformed Church

2010–2021—Rev. Brian Ochsner

Pastor Brian OchsnerA parsonage allowance was given in 2013 for the pastor to purchase a home within the community, and the parsonage space transitioned to needed additional Sunday school, youth and Bible study space. The council created an Elders of Calling position to keep regular visits to widows, widowers and shut-ins. Homebuilders and Angels in Aprons disbanded, and more informal, in-home Bible studies increased. A sabbatical policy for the pastor was approved in 2016. In 2016, the church building structure was assessed by an engineer, and future building needs are currently under consideration (2017).


2002–2009—Rev. Jack Gray

Many new things were introduced while Rev. Gray served as the pastor of Sully CRC. The Sully CRC Youth Society was renamed to 412, after the Scripture in I Timothy 4:12. A new digital piano and electric drum set were purchased. Projection screens were installed. A Worship Coordinator was hired in 2008. A community youth group started called B.I.G. (Believers in God) that meets once a month after the Sunday evening service, for all area youth. In 2007, Frank Ede was hired to lead a church plant in Altoona, IA, named Oasis Christian Fellowship. Fellowship group ministries were formed in 2008 to start growing relationships in the church.


1992–2002—Rev. Lawrence Howerzyl

The church celebrated its 100th anniversary in June, 1994, while Rev. Howerzyl was the pastor. By the centennial year, the church had grown from the initial 17 households to 268 households. The Coffee Break Ministry along with Little Lambs started during the years Rev. Howerzyl was in Sully.


1985–1991—Dr. Joseph A. Brinks

During Dr. Brinks’ service, women—as well as all professing members—were given voting privileges. The church was completely remodeled, with new wallboard, refinished floors and a new sound system.


1979–1984—Rev. Carl J. Klompien

After a year’s vacancy, Rev. Klompien became Sully’s new pastor. Handicapped parking was added, and a Cadet building on the south parking lot was built. A monthly newsletter called the “Fellowship Findings” was started in 1983.


1974–1978—Rev. Fred W. Van Houten

In 1976, plans were made and a new two-story parsonage was built. Rev. Van Houten and his wife were the first to occupy the new parsonage. Two new ladies societies began meeting, on during Wednesday night church and the other during the day on Thursday.


1968–1973—Rev. Paul E. Bakker

The church celebrated its 75th anniversary while Rev. Bakker was the church’s pastor. Calvinettes was organized in 1968, along with a Mr. & Mrs. Society. Expansion of the church or building a new church was debated for about five years. It was decided to enlarge the balcony, put in an elevator and construct an addition on the east side of the church.


1962–1967—Rev. Bernard A. Van Someren

The church grew to 178 families while Rev. Van Someren was in Sully.


1957–1961—Rev. Jay Wesseling

A church plant was attempted under the guidance of Rev. Wesseling. This attempt proved to be unsuccessful. The Cadets were organized in 1960.


1943–1956—Rev. John Geels

The church celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1946 while Rev. Geels pastured the flock. The number of families was 135. A Moller 16 rand pipe organ was dedicated in 1950, which is still in service today. In 1952 the decision to discontinue all Dutch services was made.


1932–1943—Rev. John Griffioen

Now services were divided between one Dutch and one English service each Sunday. A new electric organ was dedicated in 1939. Rev. Griffioen completed 11 years of service before moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan.


1928–1932—Rev. Harry Blystra

The church grew to 119 families during Rev. Blystra’s service. Without knowing the days of the Depression were coming, they decided to secure a loan to extensively remodel and enlarge the church building. The reverses of the Depression were only material and not spiritual.


1922–1927—Rev. Ralph Bolt

During Rev. Bolt’s tenure, a voluntary change from Dutch to English services began, part-time. Once again, the church building was too small, but no action was taken at the time.


1915–1921—Rev. John Haveman

World War I was in progress in Europe while Rev. Haveman serviced in Sully. Since the church was a Dutch-speaking church, they were unjustly accused of being pro-German. Mob rule and action threatened the church. The government issued an official proclamation that only English be spoken in public meetings. However difficult that transition, the congregation made the change. Because of malicious threats, the church was closely guarded by night against destruction, and the insurance policy was cancelled. Arsonists set the Christian school on fire, but it was put out in time. In the fall of 1918, a flu epidemic closed the church. Some of the Sully congregation died in this epidemic. After peace was declared, the church services were again conducted in Dutch.


1910–1914—Rev. Henry Danhof

By the time Rev. Danhof arrived to become the church’s fourth pastor, a new church building had been constructed and dedicated in 1911. Soon a new parsonage and stables were built.


1908–1910—Rev. Martin Vander Heide

During the time that the third pastor, Rev. Vander Heide served the church, it was filled to capacity.


1905–1908—Rev. William Stuart

Rev. Stuart, missionary of Classis Iowa, accepted the call to Sully. The Men’s Society was established.


1898–1904—Rev. J. Vander Mey

Rev. Vander Mey moved to Sully to become the new pastor. A Young People’s Society was organized.


1897–1898—Rev. W. De Groot

It was then decided to call a minister and share him with a nearby congregation in Galesburg, Iowa. A second home missionary, Rev. De Groot, served the church from 1897 to 1898.

1896–1897—Rev. G.G. Haan

Permission was given by Classis Iowa to organize the Sully Christian Reformed Church in the spring of 1896. On the membership roll of the new church were 17 families. The new congregation canvassed for funds to purchase the Baptist church, where they were meeting.

Rev. Haan, home missionary for Classis Iowa, labored both as a pastor and a carpenter to build the first parsonage.

The church was struck by lightning and burned down to the foundation. The congregation then held services in the Methodist church, while making plans to rebuild. Synod granted a request for financial aid to rebuild, and between the generosity of the church members, the denomination at large, and the local community, it was accomplished.


A group of Dutch families settled in the Sully, Iowa area. Wanting to start a church of their own in 1895, they met for worship in a schoolhouse. In the fall of 1895, Classis Iowa of the Christian Reformed Church sent the Rev. J. Smitters, a missionary teacher, who led a small group of worshipers every Sunday in a Baptist church in Sully.