Wade took notes for the minutes at our congregational meeting Sunday after church. Since his writing is rather cryptic, especially when done quickly, he jotted them on notepaper with the intent to copy them more neatly into the official congregational meeting minute book later. And thus we were sent home with a very tattered book containing our church’s congregational meeting minutes.
The first inside page says “Congregational Minutes of Holland Center Christian Reformed Church.” On the next, in neat scrawl, is written, “Notulen van de Gemeente vergaderings der chris. Ger. heuk van Holland Center.”
The first entry was made on Nov. 23, 1913 — almost 100 years ago exactly! — and is written entirely in Dutch. The only things Wade and I could decipher were numbers, a dollar sign, and last names (some still present in our congregation): Stuit, Huiner, LeFebre, Beld, Kok.
1 The consistory feels that the introduction of individual communion cups is neither feasible nor necessary for the congregation at this time.
2 The consistory favors the incorporation of this church under the laws of the state of South Dakota.
3 The consistory moves that divine services be conducted only in the English language.
The pen and handwriting change every few pages as clerks were appointed, finished their terms, and were re-appointed in later years. In small congregations, the list of eligible elders and deacons is limited, and each man only gets a few years off between duties.
In the 1950s we begin seeing names of men still in our congregation — and still serving it until fewer than five years ago. By the 1970s, most of the names listed are familiar — they or their families still attend or there is a table, appliance or piano with a memorial plaque bearing their name.
On Nov. 23, 2008, Wade’s name appears, written in black ink on the yellow page: “Elder and deacon election results: Rod LeFebre - elder, Wade Howard - deacon.” And today Wade will enter the minutes of the Nov. 23, 2013 congregational meeting. We have become a part of a long history of blessing, trial, community and faith.
Those yellow pages, held together by frail binding and tattered cover, are a record of motions made and passed, elections of elders and deacons, minutes read and approved — rather dry reading, really. But it’s a history, a record of people involved in their church, willingly doing God’s will, serving the families around them, living their faith. And I can’t help but feel a surge of pride at seeing my husband’s name and penmanship alongside those of so many Godly leaders past.