March 20: Colfax Center Presbyterian Church (org. 1871)

The Flagship Church of the German-language Synod of the West
by Rev. David T. Myers

For fifty years, Second Presbyterian Church of Grundy County, Iowa, was the “flagship” church of the Presbyterian Church USA in their Synod of the West. Back in 1871, two Presbyterian men, Poppe Meints and Klass Kruger, traveled seventeen miles from their homes in Grundy County to persuade the pastor of East Friesland, the Rev. John Vanerlas, to begin a testimony to the countless German pioneers who had moved to Iowa. They were successful in that purpose, and soon worship was begun on Sunday afternoons in a schoolhouse. It was eventually named Second Presbyterian Church of Grundy County, Iowa, having been organized with 30 members. The first pastor was the Rev. Jacob Brinkema. Within two years, they built a church building and manse, plus a cemetery, across the road from the site of the original schoolhouse.

Six other Presbyterian pastors were to come and minister the Word and Sacraments, with the Rev John E. Drake ministering the longest, from 1900 – 1935. Worship was all in German, until the mid-thirties, when it was changed to English. Increased attendance required an addition to the original frame structure in 1900. In 1917, that structure was replaced with a brick sanctuary seating around 400. Later in 1967, while still in the Presbyterian Church USA, the sanctuary was remodeled, and a new kitchen and 14 – room education wing was added. Further improvements have been added to the church complex with an attendance of around 150 members and friends.

On this day, March 20, 1983, the congregation, due to concerns about the Presbyterian Church, USA’s theological drift into liberalism, voted to join the Presbyterian Church in America which is committed to Biblical authority and historic Presbyterian theology. Their name is now Colfax Center Presbyterian Church. They have been served by four PCA pastors since that time, Rev. Arthur Ames, Rev. Larry Hoop, Rev. Eric Duble, and the Rev. Robert Grames, who is currently the under shepherd of the congregation. The church is a part of the Iowa Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America.

Their ministry slogan is “Colfax Center is an historic rural church with a 21st century commitment to proclaim the word of life and reach out to the community around it with the love of Jesus.”

If you look at their website on-line, that purpose statement not only is being fulfilled to the community in which they exist, but this PCA church has a marvelous extension of witness to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, to which mission teams go each summer to build relationships with members of the Lakota Tribe. May each of our churches go beyond their bounds to take the blessed gospel by word and deed to those who are in need of the message of the gospel.

Words to Live By:
Take out the name of “Colfax Center” for a moment, and place in the name of your congregation, dear reader, for this church’s ministry slogan should be the purpose of every biblical Presbyterian congregation, and you in it. May all of us who are readers of This Day in Presbyterian history seek to take that blessed Word of Life and reach out to the relatives and friends of our neighborhoods, and beyond, with the good news of eternal life.


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