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Iron Springs CRC celebrates 75th anniversary

Posted on May 23, 2024 by Sunny South News

Submitted by Henry Heinen

Classis Pacific met in Lynden, Wash. on March 2 and 3, 1949 and approved the Iron Springs request to form a congregation with full standing in the denomination. Friday, April 8, 1949, is the official date of the organization and the choosing of elders and deacons took place in the Elks Hall in Picture Butte. Meetings were held in the United Church building in Iron Springs and later, as the congregation grew, in the Community Hall. The foundation for their own building was poured on October 2, 1949. The building of the church was truly a communal effort by the church volunteers. 

The church building was totally gutted by fire in the early morning of Sunday, March 9, 1958. Nothing could be saved. The damage was estimated at $60,000; insurance covered $40,000. A new church was built and dedicated on Friday, February 20, 1959. 

Some of the early immigrant families who came in the late ’40’s and early ’50’s and stayed in the area have their names still on the church membership list. Now, at the time of the 75th anniversary, their children and grandchildren carry on their names. These include Donkersgoed, Puurveen, Stronks, Slomp, Ekkel, Dronkelaar, Kolk, Brouwer, Scholten, Reurink, Dykstra, VanZeggelaar, Van Hell, Heinen, VandenDool and probably others. 

Two families that farmed in the area already before the Second World War were the Nieboers and Schulds, and they were part of the original families when the church was organized. Prior to that, Nobleford CRC was the mother church and helped the new immigrants start their own congregation. 

Many families came to the area post WWII, usually large ones, to work in the sugar beet fields which required hoeing, irrigating and topping in the fall. Most of the families lived in sparse quarters called beet shacks with no running water, electricity nor indoor plumbing. Even after living during the terrible war years, for many if not most, it was a culture shock on the open prairie with cold winters, chinook winds that could blow for days and limited transportation. Home sickness was prevalent especially among the mothers who felt quite isolated except for Sunday church services. Besides, these folks came from all over Holland and had no familial connections on the huge, thinly populated prairies. As one former pastor said, “Amazing how far one can see and see so little.” 

Many of the new arrivals didn’t stay all that long and moved to other places, especially BC and Ontario, to better themselves. It is not uncommon for folks one meets across the country to say that, yes, they first arrived in southwestern Alberta and went to church in Iron Springs. That was their introduction to Canada. 

We’re still a local, small church in numbers but have weathered well the last seventy-five years and have become successful farmers and business operators. We’ve become part and parcel of the broader community and have taken on many positions of leadership. The present Lethbridge County Council of seven, counts three who are of Dutch Canadian heritage. And so, one may conclude that the second and third generations are making great contributions to Canada at the various levels of society. That’s how it should be as we pay back to this country which liberated many of our forebears of Nazi tyranny and welcomed us to start a new life in the liberator’s country. For that we are grateful! 

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