West Valley Christian Fellowship Church

Early WVCF History

West Valley Christian Fellowship

Would you like to know a little more about West Valley, it's members and how it came into being? This story should fill you in on the details. It was at a Thursday breakfast meeting in December. 1991 when a petition was passed around to see if there was an interest in beginning a church in Sun City. Fannie Smith was our instigator and there were enough people from Reformed and Christian Reformed background who wanted a local church. The petition was signed by the majority of those present so we were on our way. Fannie checked with the Bank of America on Thunderbird and Del Webb Blvd. as they had a large unattached building and they agreed to let us use that building for our Sunday services. Our first service was held on the January 5, 1992.

Three couples were elected to what was then referred to as the "Steering Committee". They were Maynard and Fannie Smith. Harold & Sib Van Loozenoord and Warren and Dorothy Watson, Maynard is well known for his dry sense of humor and his expertise in building an airplane, which has taken around 20 years to build so we sure do hope it won't fail when he finally does get it air-worthy. Fannie is well known as an author of several local Minnesota themed books plus other talents. Harold and Sib are from Denver. Harold was a pressman in a printing company and Sib was secretary at the First Reformed Church of Denver for 23 years and continues as church secretary here in Sun City. Dort and Warren are farmers near Renville, MN.

At our first worship service 32 people came in the morning and 40 at night. Rev. Paul Boertje was our mentor and first minister and we could not have become a church without him. Soon more people heard about our church and each week our attendance grew. We decided that those who became members during the first six months would be "charter members". We had full members as well as associate members as so many went to their summer homes during the summer and kept a membership there. Charter members were Martie and Betty Achterhof. Also Don and Shirlee Witt. Don was an airline pilot with Eastern Airlines and continued to fly his own ultra-lights in the Prescott area. Shirlee is a wonderful artist. Other charter members were Edwin and Irene Bonnema who also hail from the Minnesota area where Ed was a farmer and Irene keeps busy taking care of Ed and her other activities. Harold and Jennie Schouten came to us from Denver. Colorado where Harold was in the construction business. Jim and Loretta De Vries came from the Denver area and Jim is our sound man and Loretta is our goodwill ambassador, visiting the sick and anyone in need of cheering up. Les Rens is also a Minnesotan and is a carpenter and handy­man. His bride Vi takes care of Les and tries to keep him in line. Jim and Hendrina Van Gelder came from N.W. Iowa and live in Sun City West. Homer and Joanne Vander Mey are the first to come to us from the great state of Michigan. Homer is so handy carving wood and Jo is an artist. Gordon and Lorraine Breems were such a nice addition to our church family and if you want anything done they were always there to lend a helping hand.

Tom and Jan Jongert are almost Phoenix natives. Jan has been our organist/pianist and has arranged for accomp­anists for our services since the beginning. Tom, along with his side-kick Don Brower have taken care of the building, inside and out, since we began. Tom and Jan also keep our church looking nice and clean. Harold and Irma Roos came from Denver. Colorado. They are such a beautiful addition to our church. Harold was a farmer and Irma was a maker of drapes. In from of their Colorado home there was a sign. He sows - She sews. Then came Al and Marilyn Lobbes from Grand Rapids. Al was an Insurance mail and Marilyn is also a quilter.

We were getting kind of tight in our small building so in October, 1993 we bought a building that was formerly a Caliber Bank building. My or my, you should have seen all the people working on getting that remodeled and molded into shape into becoming a church. Our men were busy with their hammers and crowbars whipping things into shape. A chair drive was held and each person bought one or as many chairs as they wanted to buy for our new building. We had a committee check different types of chairs and also different churches and these are the chairs we are still using. On the first Sunday of April, 1994 we had our first service in our new church building.

Did you know that we are a really unique church in another way? We have five sisters in our midst. Yes, the baby of the family is Flossie Bolhuis. Another sister is Marcia Bayens. Then there is Jo Vander Mey. Then came Sylvia, who along with her husband Gene are from Pella, IA. Where Gene practiced medicine for many years. Then last but not least is Lydia. Her husband Bernie Dokter is our Minister of Congregational Care & Life.

We are blessed to have other ministers as members: There is Rodger and Marijane Buining. Sylvester and Jeanette Moths. We have so many talented people here at West Valley. Take George and Wilma Anema. George is our treasurer and is from Denver, Colorado. His brother Jay and his wife Winifred. George and Jay were both in their Dad's auto body repair business for many years. From the State of Wisconsin came Fred and Irene Nyhof and Dorothy Ver Velde. Also John and Henrietta Vriezen but be careful when playing cards with them as Henrietta is a card shark and keeps changing the rules on us. Another "almost" native Phoenician are Dick and Nelvia Vander Vegte. Dick sold replacement parts for the human body when he was still in the workforce. Bob and Lu Paauw are also from Denver and Bob is our chief auditor here at church. Another Michigan transplant are Fred and Joyce De Jong. Neal and Jackie Mast is our expert flower grower and has his huge greenhouse in Grand Rapids. Michigan. You should see Ray Elzinga chug around in his little car. You can find him golfing, bowling, and is a most active guy. His Mom, Jennie Hofman, along with her buddy Thelma Hopkins can be found enjoying coffee together each Sunday morning after worship services in the dining room. John and Jeannette Fekkes are also full time Sun Citians now, since giving up their summer residence up north. Michigan brought another addition to our fellowship in Stan and Kathy Van Goor. What a talented gal our Kathy is, singing and directing our church choir. John and Carolyn Tilstra hail from Denver but spend their summers in a cabin near Grand Lake. Colorado.

From the State of Iowa and Pella in particular comes our own Ernie and Geneva Engbers. Geneva likes to treat us a little with her stories. You should see Ernie and Geneva at Tulip Time in Pella, scrubbing the streets in their wooden shoes. Another story teller is Cash Swier. She and her hubby Rich have lived in the Phoenix area many-years. Let us not forget our leader John De Vries and his wife Bonnie. They hail from California. It is so nice to have some Italian blood in our group with Ellen and Andy Kornuta. What would we do without Charlie and Fran Pattin? Fran is a writer of poems and also does the church bulletin when Sib is gone for the summer. Kelly Bussema is a ray of sunshine with his ready smile and especially when he looks at his bride Marjorie! Another ray of sunshine is John Belanus with his ready smile. He and his wife Edith have attended our church much of the time since its inception. Also from Michigan are Rae and Charlie Blodgett. Charlie is a painter and did a lot of painting on our church building. What would we do without our faithful members, John and Wilma De Groot. They fill in when we need a janitor or usher and are always there for any job they are asked to do. Our sweet Alice Jellema -She was a travel agent for several years and her home is full of mementoes from her may travels. We sure appreciate her sweet disposition.

Rudy Kok has also been a member at West Valley, almost from the beginning, serving as treasurer and many other positions. We don't want to forget our newlyweds: Mike and Helen Ruiter. They will soon celebrate their first wedding anniversary and still look like lovebirds. They too are from Grand Rapids, Michigan. One of our newest members are Maas and Eloise Vander Bilt. Maas was a missionary serving in the Philippines and Japan and moved to Sun City from Sedona. Arizona. Out from Holland, Michigan come Jarvis and Judy Van Klompenberg. They enjoy golfing, volunteering and in the summer, camping and fishing in Michigan.

This is the end of this story.. Hope you enjoyed it.

Written by Sib Van Loozenoord 1998

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