Foundations of Our Faith: Our Scottish Heritage

FPC Holt CharteringOn April 5, 1865, as a war torn nation watched in anticipation as Robert E. Lee began a retreat that would lead him to Appomatox Courthouse, Virginia and surrender, sixteen Scottish immigrants and one German immigrant in Delhi Township, Michigan met for worship for the first time forming the Presbyterian Church of Holt. They sought a church of their own denomination where they could worship according to the traditions of their forebears.

Current Members Trudy Smith, Lynn Farnsworth, and Jane Olney, Direct Descendants from our Founders
Current Members Trudy Smith, Lynn Farnsworth, and Jane Olney, Direct Descendants from our Founders

These charter members were Casper Lott, Sr., Mrs. Harriet Stanton, Mrs. Mariah Mallory, James Thorburn, Sr., James Thorburn, Jr., William Somerville, Church Wilbur, Mrs. Mary Hedden, Mrs. Marian Thorburn, Mrs. Jane Somerville, Mrs. Church Wilbur, Mrs. Catherine Lott, Mrs. Susan Thompson, Mrs. Fanny Harkness, Mrs. Aurena Gunn, Miss Alice Mallory, and Miss Hattie Stanton. This stalwart group selected the first elders – James Thorburn, Sr., Casper Lott, and Church Wilber – who were ordained shortly after. This small group met in the school house at Delhi Center, faithfully worshiping awaiting the day when they could build a church home.

1 Original ChurchTwo years later, on October 21, 1867, a building committee was formed at the home of John Thornburn with the intent of purchasing land and building a true church home for the small congregation. Shortly thereafter, a lot at 2100 North Cedar in Holt was purchased for forty-two dollars. Two years later, on October 3, 1869, the dream of a new church home was realized and the church was dedicated with Rev. Hosea Kittridge presiding. At a cost of two thousand dollars, the first church structure was an oak frame building with hand hewn beams and a seating Original wood church capacity of 200. It also featured a balcony with additional seating, wood burning stoves for heat and was lit by oil lamps. Although it had no basement, nor Sunday school classrooms, the Presbyterian Church of Holt was one of the first churches founded in this area and it was soon having a profound Christian influence on the community.

A church bell was purchased in about 1880 at a cost of $400.00. It was 80% copper and 20% tin and was forged to ring note C. It weighed 500 pounds and was rung using a long rope that extended into the entry way of the church. R.C. Lott recalled in a letter written to the church that “it could be clearly heard all over Holt calling people to worship at Holt Presbyterian Church. We could hear it at our farm home on Aurelius Road. The first bell gave us thirty minutes to hurry to arrive at church before the last bell rang to begin services.”

Sunday School Class of 1893
Sunday School Class of 1893

The little church thrived and made good progress due to the efforts of the devoted members who braved rough roads, and any weather conditions to attend worship services. They worked diligently and within a few years under the guidance of the first regular pastor, Rev. Alfred Bryant, they were able to construct a manse next to the church.

The Sewing Society, which would eventually become the Ladies Aid Society, was integral to the success of the Presbyterian Church of Holt. They originally formed in July of 1865 and met at the home of Mary Hedden. These faithful pioneer women met every two weeks and supported church activities and charitable projects through their sewing, knitting and the serving of Sunday School class of 1893 suppers. These same ladies presented the church with the first Communion set, consisting of a pewter tankard and two cups, which were purchased at the cost of twelve dollars. They also purchased a table, lamps, table cloth and other accessories for the church.

Nineteen pastors served the church in the years between 1865 and 1900. In June 1899, Rev. W. L. Baker was extended a call and became the first installed pastor of the church.

A Growing Presence in the Community

New Church Dedicated in 1901
New Church Dedicated in 1901

By 1900, the church had grown in membership to 60 active members. That year, under the leadership of James B. Thornburn, efforts to remodel the original church began. Meetings were held to discuss the plans and to determine how the project would be funded. The congregation responded generously and pledged two thousand six hundred and seventy one dollars to pay for the renovations. Construction of the new structure began in July 1900, using the same foundation of cut stone that the original structure stood upon. The renovations featured a brick veneer and beautiful stained glass windows, as well as more comfortable pews. The renovations to the church cost three thousand six hundred and ninety dollars. At this point the newly renovated church had no steeple and additional funds could not be raised to construct one. Mr. J.M. Ables, a local mill owner and carpenter who had been contracted to renovate the building found that to be unacceptable. He said, “I will not build a church without a steeple.” Desperate to complete the project and determined that the church would have a steeple; he salvaged the steeple from the old structure and hoisted it atop the newly renovated church, where it remained until it was demolished. In February of 1901, despite a blinding snow storm, the church was filled to capacity for its dedication. The congregation, filled with the love of Christ, was inspired to give enough money to lift the church from the debt incurred by the renovation. At the time of the dedication, the Rev. H. B. Dunning was the minister and served until 1906.

In 1907, Rev. Frank G. Ellett of Mason was called to be the pastor of the church and served until 1909, when he resigned. Rev. Fredric Webster was called in 1910 and served until 1911, when the Rev. Winfield Scott Sly assumed leadership of the church. Rev. Sly inspired the congregation to be more aware of the needs of people in other parts of the world and encouraged the church to send money to support missions. He also felt very strongly about the Boy Scouts of America and established Boy Scout Troop No. 40 and became their first Scout master.

In January 1912, a reorganization of the church began and members set out to address the original charter, which had expired. At that time, the church was incorporated as First Presbyterian Church of Holt, Michigan. During this time, Members of Session and a Board of Deacons were elected and the roles of both were defined.

This was a time of financial difficulty for FPC-Holt and one summer, when paying the salary of the pastor had become difficult, J.B. Thorburn donated land to the church and the men of the church worked together to plant, harvest and cultivate beans to raise the necessary funds. The women of the church also worked to raise funds to meet this need by serving meals.

On April 3-4, 1915, the First Presbyterian Church of Holt welcomed former communicants back to celebrate its “Golden Jubilee”. The congregation was thrilled to observe 50 years of growth, Christian education and ministry to the Holt community.

Christian Education, Growth and Change

Rev. and Mrs. Andrews
Rev. and Mrs. Andrews

Two years later, Rev. Sly resigned and the church was served by supply pastors for the next two years. In August 1919, Rev. Charles P. Andrews became the pastor of FPC-Holt and remained in that pulpit until his resignation in May 1939. Rev. Andrews was a strong believer in the importance of religious training and education starting at an early age. He dedicated much of his time and energy to youth groups and the training of the children of the church. Through his leadership, the Church School experienced dramatic growth. He not only worked to build Sunday school, but he was instrumental in beginning Daily Vacation Bible School and founded a Sunday Evening youth group called Christian Endeavor. Seeing a need in the larger community, in 1924 the church budget added funds to allow for automobile expenses, which allowed the pastor’s son, Leonard, to drive to nearby areas, including Miller Road and Everett and pick young people up to bring them to both Sunday school and Christian Endeavor. Mrs. Andrews was very supportive of her husband’s ministry and his commitment to Christian education and taught a Sunday school class for young women, which became known as the Alpha Delta Tau Class. She also was instrumental in the organization of the Women’s Missionary Society. During the ministry of Rev. Andrews, in 1939, the congregation voted to enlarge, remodel and modernize the church. The changes included a new platform, pulpit, choir loft, kitchen and heating facilities at the cost of $8000.00. Following the resignation of Rev. Andrews, Rev. Franklin E. Ogle was called to the ministry of FPC-Holt and served until his resignation in 1943.

Rev. and Mrs. Howe
Rev. and Mrs. Howe

In July 1944, Rev. Charles Howe was installed as pastor. While Rev. Howe was only at FPC Holt for a
few few years, he was instrumental in a number of important changes. He prompted the Ladies Aid Society and the Women’s Missionary Society to merge and form the Women’s Association of Holt Presbyterian Church. Due to the need for additional space, as membership had risen to 196, a chapel was purchased and moved onto the property in 1947. This space was used for Junior Church and small weddings.

Rev. Howe worked with Christian Endeavor and generated considerable interest in full time Christian Service. As a result of his efforts, three young men from the church, Richard Knowles, Donald Jackson, and Aaron Hyde were inspired to answer the call to Christian ministry and came to serve in other locales. Rev. Howe left FPC-Holt to accept a position with International Christian Endeavor in 1947.

Rev. Vernon Smith
Rev. Vernon Smith

On August, 31, 1947, Rev. Vernon T. Smith accepted the pastorate at FPC-Holt. In the fall of 1947, the first electric organ was installed and Rev. Smith introduced the idea that the church should no longer rely on money making projects to fund its work, but should adopt a “unified budget.” This idea was adopted and the church moved to supporting itself based on funds raised by pledging.

Sanctuary of the Second Church
Sanctuary of the Second Church

Membership continued to increase at FPC-Holt and reached 200 in 1949. Increased membership prompted the Building Committee to present plans for an annex to be added to the church. The annex was to be built on the back of the church and was to cost $35,000.00. The annex, named the Christian Education Building, was built and featured classrooms, offices, a Scout room, space for the Women’s Association and other social and study groups, and a gymnasium.

During Rev. Smith’s tenure a new manse was also constructed allowing the church to remove the old manse in order to make room for parking. Church attendance continued to grow and on Easter Sunday of 1956 a total of 854 people attended service. As attendance increased, it became necessary to add an associate pastor and the Rev. Ralph J. Miller served from February 1956 to March 1958. Rev. Smith’s time as the pastor marked numerous changes within the church. Church by-laws were revised for the first time in 40 years. A committee structure was established with the intent that they would bring recommendations to Session meetings and reduce the length of the meetings. In December 1957, a proposal was made to eliminate the Board of Trustees and the Board of Elders to create a unicameral system comprised of a single Board of Elders made up of 18 individuals. This proposal was adopted in January 1958.

Sunday School Class of 1956
Sunday School Class of 1956

In May 1951, an active “Building for Our Second Century” campaign began with professional help and fund raising began for a new church building. In 1954, a campaign called the “New Building and Debt Retirement Fund” was instituted, but much of the money was used for improving Christian Education facilities and for the purchase of land for a new building in a new location. Originally, land was purchased in southwest Holt for construction of a new church; however it was later decided to build the new church on the northwest corner of Holt and Aurelius Road. The property at Holt and Aurelius Road was purchased from Miss Adelaide Fiedler at the cost of $16,000.00. The manse was sold and the land originally purchased (Hunt Acres) was developed and the lots were sold.

Rev. Smith left FPC Holt in August 1962 to accept another pastorate. During his ministry, membership grew from 200 to 589. The congregation had outgrown the church and Sunday services had to be held in the gymnasium.

Reaching Into the Community and the World

Church Under Construction on Holt Aurelius Roads
Church Under Construction on Holt Aurelius Roads

On December 9, 1962, Pastor Paul R. Martin became pastor of FPC-Holt and it was during his ministry that the current church building was constructed. Groundbreaking for the current church occurred during the spring of 1963 and the cornerstone was laid in June of the same year. Less than a year later, on March 22, 1964 (Palm Sunday) the first service was held in the new church. On that same date, 40 young people, thoroughly trained by Pastor Martin, became communicants. The beautiful new church was dedicated in October 1964 and it continued to grow. By October 1965 membership was 658 and opportunities for involvement expanded and included, the Women’s Association, Men’s Council, Bible Study Group, Couples’ Club, Fifty-Plus Club, Alpha Delta Tau, Prayer Circle, Junior and Senior High Youth Fellowship groups, and three choirs – Adult, Youth and Chapel.

The New Church on the Corner of Holt and Aurelius Roads
The New Church on the Corner of Holt and Aurelius Roads

During Pastor Martin’s ministry, the congregation continued to grow and 81 members were added in 1966. With membership expanding, and participation in services by members of the Methodist church when their pastor was on vacation, it appeared that the church may have to build again. Additionally, 20 African American families from Friendship Baptist Church participated in an ecumenical exchange to promote racial understanding. Membership had risen to 707 in 1968 and a drive for a new educational building began. Unfortunately, the economy did not support the type of financing that would have been needed to expand. As a result congregational dinners were held in the Delhi Township Hall. This solution was shortlived, as membership increased to 737 in 1969 and congregational dinners had to be moved to Holt High School due to the large number of people participating.

Original Chancel of the Current Building
Original Chancel of the Current Building

The 1960s were not only a time of growth for FPC-Holt, but was also a time of increased outreach into the community. The church sent money to their missionary at Miraj Mission in India. Years later, Dr. Veldman came back to serve the Lansing-East Lansing area as a pediatrician. The church began the Family Helper Program to provide family-to-family assistance to teach people meal planning and cooking. They initiated the DISC program, which encouraged members to call on other members placing an emphasis on Christ’s mission rather than dollar signs. Outreach began to distribute clothing, food and furniture to the needy in the Holt and Lansing area and the Food Pantry was established.

Pastor David Milborn and his family
Pastor David Milborn and his family

During a time of change, FPC-Holt faced another change when Pastor Martin resigned his ministry to accept another position in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. A Pastor Nominating Committee was established and the search for a new pastor began. The call was extended to Pastor David Milbourn on January 30, 1974, and he preached his first sermon at FPC-Holt on March 10, 1974.

Sunday School in the 1970s
Sunday School in the 1970s

Membership had declined to 596 in 1974, and Pastor Milbourn made a decision to focus on youth and bringing them into the church. He was successful in bringing 13 teenagers into the church in 1975. Despite the decline in membership, there was renewed interest in expansion of Christian education facilities and a movement began to build a bell tower to house the original church bell.

A focus on youth remained constant during the mid-70s. A Children’s Moment for 3-year olds through 4th graders was established as a part of the worship service. Youth were also invited to serve on the Worship Committee and did such a good job that other committees were encouraged to include them.

Congregation Members Moving the Original Church Bell to the New Bell Tower
Congregation Members Moving the Original Church Bell to the New Bell Tower

The design for a new bell tower was submitted by member and architect, Russ Hinkle, and approved in 1976. The bell tower was completed at a cost of $5,748.30 in September 1977 and it was dedicated in October.
The sound of the church bell and of the smaller bells of the Bell Choir has always been important at FPC-Holt. The Bell Choir was begun in the 70s, and in 1979, Karen O’Brien approached the Session for funds to support the group, which she was granted. Although she moved from mid-Michigan for a time, Karen returned and resumed her work with the Bell Choir, which she continues today as Karen Viele.
Throughout the 70’s the church experienced changes. Display cases were added to the Narthex to honor the history of the church; the Paul Jancha Scholarship Grants were established; donations were made to Advent House; the by-laws were revised; a video tape ministry was initiated; and a commitment to Christian Education was supported through a new trust fund and the hiring of a Christian education coordinator, Mrs. Lee.

In 1981, in response to the world-wide energy crisis, the clear glass walls in the sanctuary were replaced with panels interspersed by stained glass windows. These windows depict the Bible story from creation to Pentecost. The Hunt family made the project possible by matching funds raised by the congregation. Plans for expansion continued and a new Christian Education Coordinator, Jo Seppala, was hired.

The Presbyterian Church had been torn apart by the same war that ripped the country in two in 1861. As the Civil War erupted, the Southern and Northern Presbyterian churches separated forming their own respective denominations. In 1982, a meeting was held on April 24 to propose a reunification of the northern and southern factions. The reunification was approved at the 1983 General Assembly, creating a new name for our denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) In that same year, in June, construction began on the addition to the building that would house the church offices and the Fellowship Hall. Construction was completed and the new wing was dedicated in December 1983.

Throughout Pastor Milbourn’s ministry the church expanded its reach into the community, improved facilities, and continued to expand Christian education. He ended his ministry in 1987, when he resigned to pursue a career in the business community.

Pastor Weenik
Pastor Weenik

Jeffrey Weenink, who had been serving as the pastor at Presbyterian Church of Danville, Illinois, became the new pastor in May 1988. Jeff had an energetic dedication to and focus upon youth, planning and goal setting, visitation, worship, and mission awareness.

In 1990, a committee to plan the 125th anniversary of the church was formed to provide an opportunity for the congregation to celebrate years of devoted service to the Holt community.

That same year another landmark event occurred and culminated in a mortgage burning ceremony as the church celebrated being debt free.

The church, always interested in reaching out into the world, expanded outreach and mission work during this time. The Outreach Committee visited hospitals, nursing homes and shut-ins on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week. They worked with the food bank, provided transportation for medical appointments and to church for worship and provided home communion. They were also instrumental in bringing the Stephens Ministry, a lay-based caring ministry, to the church. Additionally, several new missions were begun. Pastor Weenink had become involved with mission work in the Yucatan, during his previous ministry, and carried that work forward into his work at FPC Holt. The youth became involved with Buckhorn Children’s Center in Appalachia, and the church began active support of Advent House Ministries. Habitat for Humanity in Holt was added to outreach in 1992 and the church became the “custodian” of the Holt Community Food Bank, which became a community project, rather than solely a church project.

The Board of Deacons was restructured in 1991, to be more “in keeping with the biblical, historical, theological, traditional, and constitutional nature of the office” and Session consisted of three standing committees: Operations, Congregational Life, and Witness.

Peace Pole Installed 1994
Peace Pole Installed 1994

The church building also underwent another series of changes in the 90s. The Peace Pole was installed on the east side of the church in 1994 and the following year a Capital Campaign was organized and a goal of $500,000.00 was set with the goal of organ replacement, Chancel renovation, repairs and enhancements. The organ was dedicated on November 12, 1995 and by 1996, the chancel had been renovated. Rev. Weenink noted, “Our newly renovated chancel is functional, visible, flexible, and beautiful. Our new lighting can brighten everyone’s heart. Our new boiler can warm the coldest and dampest of spirits. We did it without encountering one iota of indebtedness….” The following year, the Cloister, Columbium, Memorial Garden and Biblical Herb and plant area were all built, primarily done by volunteer workers.

Christian Education Director Jo Seppala
Christian Education Director Jo Seppala

From the foundation of the church in 1865, Christian education has been fundamental to the goals of FPC-Holt. Throughout the years, pastors had worked tirelessly to ensure the education of both children and adults in the congregation. Hired by the church when Rev. Milbourn was the pastor, Jo Seppala served side by side with Rev. Weenink throughout his ministry and although she was primarily responsible for Sunday School, VBS, and various youth ministries for 20 years, her work and influence reached all aspects of the church. She served the church faithfully retiring in 2002.

In 1998, Rev. Dr. Weenink left FPC Holt to accept another position in Bay City, Michigan and Rev. Dr. Richard Johnson accepted the position of Interim Pastor. During his brief stay the sanctuary renovations were completed and long-time choir director, Ron Allen retired after 27 years and died of cancer shortly thereafter.

Rev. Bruce Brooks
Rev. Bruce Brooks

On October 3, 1999, Rev. Bruce Brooks was installed as pastor of FPC-Holt. After years of change and renovation, Rev. Brooks ministry sought to maintain the stability of the church and there was a focus on the internal workings of the church. In 2001, the Memorial Gift Committee revised and updated recommendations and guidelines to assist persons wishing to establish memorials or endowments for the church and personnel policies were updated. In this same year, the Food Bank incorporated with an emphasis of involving all of the area churches. During this time the role of Session changed considerably and it adopted an expanded role in the governance of the church.

Internal improvements to the facility, included the addition of air conditioning in the sanctuary, youth room and toddler room, and restoration of the stained glass windows. The pews were recovered and refinished, and a library was established in the Fellowship Hall.

Following the retirement of Jo Seppala, Eileen Krawcynski was given responsibility for Vacation Bible School, a position that she holds to this day.

Rev. Brooks resigned in January 2005 and interim pastor, Rev. Irvin (Gus) Nussdorfer assumed pastoral responsibilities. During this time, Session structure was revised and new committees were formed. Personnel was separated from Operations and Worship was separated from Congregational Life to more effectively meet the needs of the church. These changes became effective in 2006.

First Presbyterian Holt Today

Rev. Kirk Miller with his Family
Rev. Kirk Miller with his Family

In 2007, Rev. Kirk R. Miller accepted the call to ministry at FPC Holt, where he continues as the
pastor today. Under his ministry, the church continues its commitment to missions and community outreach. The church ministers to Burmese refugees through our Global Family Fellowship ministry which has been nurtured and led by Gary and Trudy Smith. This ministry seeks to aid refugees in acclimating and assimilating into their new home in the United States. The contributions of the families who have come to FPC Holt through this ministry have shaped us and our understanding of the larger world around us.

The church continues its mission trips to Mexico. The church felt called to reach farther into the world and now sponsors 19 orphans from Muko, Uganda and participates in mission trips there under the leadership of Karen and Dave Viele that have resulted in an annual delivery of 300 handmade dresses and the donation of the old choir robes to the church there. The video of the little choir in that church wearing the donated robes and singing joyously to the Lord touched the hearts of the congregation.

Prayers ShawlThe Prayer Shawl ministry was begun in 2013 with the shawls and squares they produce providing solace for those who are sick, grieving, and lonely. The first  International Youth Mission trip took place in the same year. Further-more, the focus on missions has been demonstrated through a commitment that despite tough economic times, the church has increased its mission giving by 1% every year since 2007, to its current level of 15% of the annual budget.

An emphasis on Christian education and programs for youth have been prominent in recent years. In 2008, the Mid‐high Youth Connection was added to complement the Senior High Youth Group (Youth in Action). Both ministries, built on a theological framework of incarnation, identity, community, belonging and evangelism serve as vital spiritual incubators for our young people.

VIPS on a Fall Color Tour
VIPS on a Fall Color Tour

The Sunday worship schedule was modified in 2009 to provide a full hour of Christian education for all ages. The church expanded Christian education to more senior members of the congregation and introduced the Very Important Presbyterian Seniors (VIPS) program to provide opportunities for seniors to gather for fellowship and spiritual enrichment.

Upstream Worship Around the Font

In addition to programs to meet the needs of children and youth, it became apparent that there was a need to develop programming to meet the needs of those who prefer an alternative to traditional worship and the Upstream worship service was added in 2011. This ministry was developed in response to societal changes and the recognition that the expressions of our traditional worship are often foreign to the rising generations. In acknowledgement of that, our new Upstream worship, which is still evolving, has been developed with an emphasis on remaining faithful to the theology of the Presbyterian church while featuring alternatives to traditional music and providing a hands-on, participatory worship experience.

Rev. Kathleen Henrion and her husband David Henrion
Rev. Kathleen Henrion and her husband David Henrion

In the spirit of ever‐expanding Christian education, dual services, new missions and creating new ministries, in 2014 FPC‐Holt welcomed Rev. Kathleen Henrion, as the first full‐time associate pastor since 1958.

Traditional worship continues at FPC‐Holt, with music being an integral part. The chancel choir conducted by Dr. Charles Livesay and the bell choir conducted by Karen Viele strive to bring the gospel message alive through music and lyrics. In 2015 we welcomed our new organist, Joanne Maher.

The physical structure of the church has changed little, however improvements and enhancements continue. In 2007, the sound system control center was remodeled and underwent another far more extensive remodel in 2011, adding video capability to our worship services. The building received its first phase of a new roof at this time (the
second in 2014), the office wing was renovated and the Memorial Bell Tower Renovation Project began.

In 2014, Team 150 was formed to plan activities for the celebration of 150 years of ministry in the Holt community. The team planned numerous activities.

FPC Holt Float at 2014 Silver Bells in the City
FPC Holt Float at 2014 Silver Bells in the City

The church entered a float in the Holt parade and Lansing’s Silver Bells in the city. The 150 Fest invited people throughout the community to join the church in celebration at an outdoor event complete with hotdogs, inflatables, games, and bunnies to pet.

150th Square Dance
150th Square Dance

A square dance provided an opportunity for fun, fellowship, dancing and a bonfire. Beautiful stained glass panels illustrating the confessions of our church were created and donated by Chuck and Judy Gubry. These panels were displayed in the sanctuary and sermons and adult education classes reminded us of the meanings of the confessions.

Jan Babcock and Peg Cheney with the 150th Quilt They Created
Jan Babcock and Peg Cheney with the 150th Quilt They Created

As at the time of past landmarks in the church, a quilt was commissioned and lovingly crafted by church members.

Current and Past FPC Leadership at out 150th Gala
Current and Past FPC Leadership at out 150th Gala

February 7, 2015, was the occasion for a gala event for church members followed by a historical cantata performed by the choir on February 8. On Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015, 150 years to the day of its birth, we witnessed to the resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ and worship our God as we celebrate the promise!

Members of our church family gathered at the Holt Hometown Days Parade with our float constructed by Ken Hoffman and Shari Horwath
Members of our church family gathered at the Holt Hometown Days Parade with our
float constructed by Ken Hoffman and Shari Horwath

Vision for the Future by Rev. Kirk Miller

Rev. Kirk Miller
Rev. Kirk Miller

Having been asked to record my vision for the future of the First Presbyterian Church of Holt, I do so with reservation. Because, in reality, my vision doesn’t matter nearly as much as our vision. And that’s what gives me great hope for the future of this congregation.

We may live in a world that is forever changing around us at an ever‐increasing pace, but we worship a God who is living and present with us through it all. Combining that reality with the unrelenting desire of this church family to faithfully discern God’s will gives me a vision for our future full of dynamism, strength and vivid color.

We find ourselves on a cultural trajectory of change in which the world is shrinking, artificial barriers of the past are crumbling down all around us, technology is being absorbed into every pore of our daily existence and the rising generations are learning and operating in ways more participatory and creative than ever before. All of this means that the relevant and robust church of the 21st century will be globally‐oriented, technologically‐fluent, multi‐cultural in character and welcoming to ever‐new ideas and patterns for living out the faith.

Like the larger church, FPC‐Holt is very accomplished at the perpetuation of tradition. We are proud to be caught up in the stream of recipients and bearers of the Reformed and Presbyterian expression of faith. Our 150 years of ministry is proof of that. The church as an institution, however, is not known for its ability to adapt and change. Yet throughout our history, this is an area where our congregation has risen to the challenge and is one of the reasons for our enduring ministry.

In this latest chapter of our congregational story, we see proof positive of that character in the incorporation of our Upstream service into our worship portfolio, the recent addition of A.C.T Uganda to our international mission efforts, the hospitality shared through our Burmese Refugee ministry and the authentic and gracious embrace of children and young people that continues to be just part of our congregational DNA.

So as we stand at the conclusion of our first 150 years, we are poised and ready for the bright future that we see on the horizon. Because in the end, we go back to the beginning. The most important thing for us to remember is that the vision of the church is not my vision. It’s not my church. It’s not our church. It never has been. It is the church of Jesus Christ. As long as we continue to follow him faithfully, courageously and passionately, our future will be a vision indeed!

Your partner in ministry – Kirk R. Miller

Roll of Pastors

Current Pastors, Rev. Kirk Miller and Rev. Kathleen Henrion
Current Pastors: Rev. Kirk Miller and Rev. Kathleen Henrion

1865 – 1868 Alfred Bryant
1868 – 1869 George Harlow
1869 – 1872 Hosea Kittredge
1872 – 1877 J.E. Weed
Supply – 3 mos. J.E. Beecher
1877 – 1880 Alfred Bryant
1881 – 1883 A.L. Thurston
1883 – 1886 Luther Littell
Student Supply – 3 mos. F.G. Ellett
1888 – 1889 E.M. Landis
1890 – 1891 J.A. Barnes
1891 – 1892 R.H. Cole
1893 – 1895 J.L. Johnston
1895 – 1896 J.S. Allen
Supply H.H. VanAuken
1897 – 1900 L.C. McBride
1900 – 1901 W.L. Baker (1st Installed)
1901 – 1906 H.B. Dunning
1907 – 1909 F.G. Ellett
1910 – 1911 Fredric Webster
1911 – 1917 Winfield Scott Sly
Supply L.B. Bissell
1919 – 1939 Charles P. Andrews
1939 – 1943 Franklin E. Ogle
1944 – 1947 Charles E. F. Howe
1947 – 1962 Vernon T. Smith
Assoc. Pastor 1956-58 Ralph J. Miller
Supply Donald Thomson
1962 – 1973 Paul R. Martin
1974 – 1987 David Milbourn
1987 – 1988 Allen Weenink (interim)
1988 – 1998 Jeffrey D. Weenink
1998 – 1999 Richard R. Johnson (interim)
1999 – 2005 Rev. Dr. Bruce Brooks
2005 – 2007 Irvin Nussdorfer (interim)
2007 – Present Kirk R. Miller
2010 – 2014 Bekah Zorgdrager (Parish Life Assoc.)
2014 – 2014 Kirk Johnston (Interim Assoc. Pastor)
2014 – Present Kathleen M. Henrion (Assoc. Pastor)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *