History + Doctrine
The purpose of the First Reformed Church is to provide its members with the regular preaching of the Word of God, the administration of the Sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper), the facilities of public worship, and the exercise of Christian Discipline, so that by these means they may fulfill their Christian duties. It is our goal that in all things our Holy God may be glorified and praised by our words and deeds in gratitude for our salvation.
OUR BELIEF AND TEACHING
We believe and teach that the Bible is the infallible, inspired and inerrant Word of God in its entirety, and that its doctrine of salvation is the only true doctrine of Salvation. We preach that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and that Christ’s death on the cross has earned for us and for all true believers the forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation. We believe and teach that in Jesus Christ we have all that is necessary for salvation. Our children are instructed in the Heidelberg Catechism because we believe it teaches clearly what the Scriptures teach and because we believe it is necessary for us to have a clear and definite understanding of the unchanging Word of the unchanging God.
Our mission is to preach the gospel of Salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ, the only Savior. Thus we have public worship services each Sunday at 9:00 a.m. and Sunday School at 10:15 a.m. Classes are held for the youth. Special services and Bible studies are held as announced. We invite and welcome all people to attend our worship
OUR HISTORY – INTRODUCTION
First Reformed Church is an organic member of the Northern Plains Classis, of the Reformed Church in the United States, which traces its history in this country to 1710 and beyond that to the Reformation in Germany and Switzerland. We are indebted to such reformers as Zwingli, Luther, and especially to Calvin for their insights into God’s Word. First Reformed Church was organized in 1948, meeting first in the YMCA and later on S. 9th Street. In 1964 the present church building was erected and dedicated to the worship of our Triune God. The first full time pastor came in 1958. Prior to this services were led by visiting pastors and elders.
The story of our Church’s history (1948-2018) follows below.
THE FIRST 70 YEARS (1948-2018)
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise and glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Ephesians 1 :3-6.
Thus, the history of the First Reformed Church begins not in 1948 AD, but with God’s electing love before the “foundation of the world.” God in His mercy chose to redeem a people unto Himself and to accomplish redemption for them through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross. God revealed His redeeming love in the Old Testament as His prophets told of the coming Messiah. Jesus, true God and true and righteous man lived on this earth and laid down His life on the cross to save those whom the Father had given Him. He rose victoriously from the grave and ascended unto the right hand of God and was given all power on heaven and on earth. He sent forth the Holy Spirit from the Father to enable the Church to do the work of evangelization, by preaching the gospel, beginning at Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth. God ordained His servants to preach the Gospel with power throughout the world and “as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” The history of the First Reformed Church is a testimony of the power of the gospel message. In God’s providence, the Church of Jesus Christ was established and preserved until now. We praise the Lord for making us members of Christ’s Church!
In 1948 there were a small number of families living in Aberdeen, South Dakota who strongly desired the establishment of a church faithful to Jesus Christ, they desired a church which would zealously preach the Gospel and where the doctrines of God’s grace would be clearly taught according to Reformed doctrine and practice. As Mr. Harry Hieb recalls when he was confirmed in the Christian faith in Hosmer, Rev. Walter Grossmann told him, “If you leave Hosmer at some time, remember this, if the church you choose to go to does not expound the truths that you have learned from the Bible, don’t go there.” Those desiring to start a new church in Aberdeen, contacted Rev. Walter Grossmann, pastor in Hosmer, about the possibility of starting a Reformed congregation in Aberdeen. He promised to come and preach to them if a group of 5 families were convinced of the need.
The first service was held on August 22, 1948. The first meeting was in the YMCA dugout with Rev. W. Grossmann conducting the worship service. Present were Mr. and Mrs. John Mehlhaff, Mr. and Mrs. Otto Feichert, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Hieb, Mr. and Mrs. Elmer G. Job and family and Henry Mehlhaff who later became charter members of the new congregation. Other interested families were present. In November of 1948 they organized as a Reformed Church and officers were elected. The first officers were Elder, John Mehlhaff, and Deacon, Otto Feichert. Harry Hieb was elected Treasurer. From its inception, the First Reformed Church was concerned that the covenant youth be instructed in the Scriptures. Sunday School thus was first held on November 28, 1948, with Harry Hieb as teacher. He was a Sunday School teacher for over 25 years. On October 10, 1949 a constitution was adopted. Chris Hieb, Art Mehlhaff, and Fred Preszler families joined along with the charter members. In the beginning, First Reformed Church was an independent congregation. This was done because many feared that denominational alliance could cause them to lose all their property and their congregation if future denominational mergers would take place. This was not an unwarranted fear. Later they joined with the Eureka Classis, Reformed Church in the United States. The , and continue until today.
Rev. W. Grossmann preached to this small congregation at 7:00 p.m. nearly every week at the YMCA. Chairs were arranged with a fireplace as a backdrop. He preached without a pulpit until 1952 when a portable pulpit was used. Rev. D.E. Bosma also helped with pulpit supply. Rev. Klaudt, Rev. H. Mensch, Rev. J. Cooper, and Rev. Norman Hoeflinger also gave occasional supply. Rev. Leonard Stockmeier supplied one summer. They also had reading services which an elder conducted.
In 1950 a second elder, Elmer G. Job, and a second Deacon, Harry Hieb were elected. Also in 1950 LeRoy Lee Feichert, son of Mr. and Mrs. Leo Feichert was baptized. That was the first baptism. In 1952, Rev. W. Grossmann accepted the call to be pastor in Shafter, California. This was a trying time for the congregation as they were too small to call their own pastor. Attempts to unite with the Hosmer congregation were not successful. Rev. Klaudt did consent to supply them.
They recognized their need for their own church building and they considered buying the old Calvin Reformed church building near Eureka. In 1953, they adopted a new constitution uniting them with the Eureka Classis. They established a building fund to purchase the church building. The building was moved to 1001 S. 9th St. There were 12 families. The first baptism in their church building was on May 9, 1954, when Shirley Vetch was baptized. They tried to call a pastor but were unsuccessful. In 1957 they formed a dual charge with the Oranien Reformed Church of Leola.
In 1958, the Eureka Classis decided to aid them in seeking a pastor. A call was extended to Rev. Calvin Stuebbe, which he accepted. They sought a suitable parsonage for him and his family. It was decided that the parsonage would be in Aberdeen, even though Leola was the larger congregation. The first parsonage was at 1408 S. Lincoln Street. Oh, how the congregations of Aberdeen and Leola rejoiced at having their first regular pastor! An addition was added to the parsonage for Rev. Stuebbe’s family of 6 children. Under his ministry the church grew from 19 to 45 families. He zealously preached the doctrines of grace. They started a Ladies Aid Society and Youth Fellowship. Rev. C. Stuebbe started the Heidelberg Youth Camp for the young people.
In 1962 a building committee was appointed so that an adequate church building could be built for the growing congregation. The present church building was constructed in 1964. In 1966, Rev. Stuebbe accepted a call to Shafter, California The congregation called Rev. Donald Treick to be their pastor. He served as pastor until 1974. Rev. Neale Riffert served from 1974 to 1982. Dr. Doug Erlandson was pastor from 1983 to 1985. In 1983, it was decided to dissolve the pastoral charge with Leola. Aberdeen purchased Leola’s share in the parsonage, however, they then continued to share their pastor until Leola dissolved as a congregation. Rev. William Haddock served as pastor from 1986 to 1992, Rev. Sam Parks served as pastor from 1992 to 1997, Rev. Herman Van Stedum was pastor from 1997 to 2002, Rev. David Dawn from 2002 to 2017. Rev. Hank Bowen arrived in July of 2017 and continues to the present.
We praise God for His servants and their uncompromising allegiance to God’s Holy Word. Looking back over the past 70 years we say, “hitherto hath the Lord helped us”. “Great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me.” We have nothing to boast. To God alone be the glory! Looking to the future, we do so in humble dependence upon the mercies of God. We must never move from the firm foundation laid in the Bible. The church is built upon Jesus Christ. Our lives must also be built upon a living faith in Jesus. We must re-dedicate ourselves to energetic service to God. May God lay a burden for evangelism on each member’s heart. May we be filled with love to God and to one another. May we look to Jesus to return in glory and may we be found faithful at His appearing.