Annual Mission Fests were first introduced by Dr. N. M. Steffens (1872-1878) of the Silver Creek Reformed Church of German Valley, Ill, and were observed by all churches in the Pleasant Prairie Classis. These fests have been copied by many other denominations.
(Information taken from "The History of Pleasant Prairie Classis 1892-1942 & Pleasant Prairie Academy 1893-1943" 50th Anniversary Book.)
Rural Churches On Our Lines "Electrik" News Article, date?
Ramsey Reformed Church, a rural congregation, is located in a very fertile farming area in the center of German Township, approximately 5 miles north of Titonka. It is a member of the Dutch Reformed Denomination also known as the R. C. A. (Reformed Church of America). Ramsey was so named because of a small town (now extinct) by that name which was located about 4 miles due west of the church.
The congregation was incorporated as early as 1878 but was not regularly organized until 1883. In that year a meeting was held in the home of one of the first charter members, Ubbe Dreesman, and the church organized. The first charter members were then enrolled, the last of whom, Mr. Ben Pannkuk, passed away in September of this year (1953), at the ripe age of 93. After a few years of indecision about which denomination to affiliate with, Presbyterian or Reformed, the members made application to unite with the Reformed and were received.
The first few members finding it financially impossible to undertake a church and parsonage building project a delegation was sent to sympathizing friends in this community and to others in and around Ackley, Iowa, and in northwest Illinois. This delegation consisted of John Isebrand, William Smidt, F. F. Kruse, and Ben Meyer. With the help they obtained ($796) and contributions from their own members the first church and parsonage were built, the carpenter being Mr. B. Meyer. The five-acre tract of land now owned by the congregation was donated by a Mr. Michaelson.
In the course of time and a favorable Divine Providence this congregation grew, and twice it has been found necessary to enlarge the sanctuary. The first church was torn down in 1910 and a larger one erected. In another quarter of a century this one in turn proved too small and in 1937 the present beautiful, spacious church was built which can accommodate about 450 worshippers. Ramsey now numbers some 630 souls in all. The parsonage has been renovated and enlarged and made completely modern.
The active branches of the congregation consists of the following:
- The Ladies Aid, membership totaling 53, present officers: Mrs. Ben Heyes, pres., Mrs. L. G. Smith, sec., Mrs. A. Roskamp, vice pres., Mrs. Fred Asche, treas.
- Sunday School, enrollment 230, present officers: Albert E. Sleper, supt., Geo. Rippentrop, Jr., sec.-treas; 15 teachers. Organized in 1883.
- Catechism, enrollment 90. 9 teachers. Organized in 1912.
- Daily Vacation Bible School, 8 teachers. Organized in 1935.
- Young People's Club, membership totaling 28, present officers: Harold Risius, pres., Darlene Tapper, treas., Richard Heyes, sec., Ben Meyer, vice pres. Organized in 1933.
- Ramsey Brotherhood, membership totaling 25, officers: Senus Isebrand, pres., Alvin Gray, sec.-treas., George Anderson, vice pres. Organized this year.
- The ruling or supervising body of Ramsey is the consistory, consisting at present of 8 members, the pastor and 4 elders (Henry Meinders, Eddie Sonnenberg, Harm Kettwick and Klaas Risius) and 3 deacons (Lester Gray, Senus Isebrand, Herman Tjarks).
The following pastors have served this field: S. Smidt and Henry Wortman (Presbyterian ministers who gave supply preaching before the congregation became a branch of the Reformed Denomination), Daniel Schaeffer (1887-93), Jacob Heunemann (1893-98), W.T. Janssen (1899-1905), Gerhard Haken (1906-32), Calvin Schnucker (1932-42), Frank Snuttjer (1942-47), Arend Roskamp (1948 to present time).
Seven former sons of the congregation have entered the ministry, Esdert Smidt, John Ailts, Ralph Cordes into Reformed Church pastorates, and Gilbert Beenken, William Tjaden, George Tjaden and Reuben Tjaden (the last four now serving the Presbyterian Church). Three young men of Ramsey are preparing for the ministry, Kenneth Cordes, Bert Roskamp, and LeRoy Beenken. One young lady, Miss Lena DeVries, is preparing for Mission Work.
This congregation has five shares in the missionary support and the following missionaries are receiving it: Dr. Galen Scudder, medical missionary to India, Dr. C. Wierenga, evangelist and teacher to India, Rev. Boude C. Moore, evangelist to Japan, Dr. James Vos, medical missionary to Arabia, and Rev. Bernard Hakke, evangelist to Arabia. Ramsey Sunday School is in addition supporting a native from India, Stephen Lall, now studying in the U.S.A. in preparation for full-time mission work in his country.
Proving itself to be a "Church with a Heart" Ramsey last year gave over $16,000.00 to benevolences of all kinds, but mostly to missions. Long may Ramsey live and the River of Divine Life flow from it to needy and lost humanity.
(This material was thoughtfully furnished by Mr. A. Roskamp.)