Overisel Reformed Church’s beginning was in the Netherlands. The congregation of 23 families and their minister, Rev. Seine Bolks, came to America with about 150 souls. This is unique in that they were the only organized congregation with elders and deacons coming to America.
They left the Netherlands in October, 1847, arriving in New York and wintering there. They arrived in Holland, Michigan, in June, 1848. Rev. A. Van Raalte helped to find a location for the group to settle. The soil and terrain were similar to where they had come from in the Netherlands, except for the trees in Michigan. They built a log church and in three years built a wood frame structure about where the present parsonage stands. From 1864 to 1866, the third church was built. This church was used for 132 years. In 1997, a new facility was built, with much of the work done by volunteer labor. The new sanctuary, including the balcony, seats about 750 people. The pipe organ from the old church was restored, along with six stained glass windows, and all were incorporated into the new air-conditioned sanctuary. On the west side of the sanctuary are two pastoral offices and a secretarial office. On the east side is the choir room. The church also includes the Family Life Center with a full commercial kitchen, a chapel, a large library, a historical room, an infant nursery, a toddler nursery, and several multi-purpose classrooms for use by all age groups. Because of the growth of our youth program, we have already had to remove some walls to expand rooms to provide meeting areas for these groups. Most important are the people. About 50 descendants of the original settlers are still members of the church.
The Overisel Reformed Church has a sister church, the Overisel Christian Reformed Church and two daughter churches: the Hamilton Reformed Church and the Bentheim Reformed Church.
Education and service have always been given strong emphasis at ORC. Many ministers, missionaries, teachers, doctors, and professionals have come out of the Overisel Church.
As a religious institution, Overisel Reformed Church provides a spiritual foundation for the community through its long history. It has also taken on the identity of a missionary church. This is evident not only by its support of missionaries, but also by the large number of sons and daughters finding their way into the ministry and onto the mission field.