At the corner of M-37 and Main Street in Casnovia there once stood a little red brick church. Built in 1891, it was the home to Free Will Baptist Church, which thrived until the Great Depression. The church fell on hard times and eventually had to stop winter worship services because of the lack of attendance and the cost of heating the building. When they became unable to afford operating costs in 1943, the Baptist congregation decided to sell the church to the Reformed Denomination, which continued to meet in the brick building for almost 20 years.
Casnovia Reformed Church was officially organized as a congregation of the Reformed Church in America in 1946. From the Grand Rapids Classis minutes:
The time seems right for organization of a Reformed Church at Casnovia, a consistory of six members was elected and actual organization was on April 18.
Aged beyond repair, the old church was torn down, and in 1962 the new church was built. In 1996, the building was expanded to accommodate the growing community. While the red brick church no longer exists, its cornerstone and bell remain a prominent part of the church today. The bell, encased in brick, remains visible from Main Street, and the cornerstone occupies wall space in the church lobby.
Casnovia Reformed Church is a warm, friendly, caring, and accepting congregation that comes from various backgrounds. It is proud of its heritage and the fact that the church remains a unique place to worship.
The edifice…is on a hill, as a beacon to travelers, the south peak of the church is lighted and the Cross on the high chimney proclaims to all the place this House of God fills in this community. (From the 1962 Dedication Program)
About the Reformed Church in America
Casnovia Reformed Church is part of the Reformed Church in America (RCA). The “reformed” part of its name comes from the Protestant Reformation, which swept across Europe in the 1500s under the leadership of such men as Martin Luther and John Calvin. Calvin’s reformation at Geneva spread to many other countries, including Scotland, where it became the Presbyterian Church, and the Netherlands, where it became our ancestor, the Dutch Reformed Church.
The Reformed Church came to America with some of the earliest Dutch settlers in the 1600s. By 1628, the Dutch Reformed people in New Amsterdam (now New York City) were able to form a church there. James Michaelius came over from the Netherlands and took charge of the small congregation of about 50 members. From that time on, there has always been a Dutch Reformed Church in New York City. Thus, the Reformed Church is the oldest Protestant Church in America with an uninterrupted ministry.
Since that first congregation met almost 400 years ago in a small room above a grist mill, the church has grown into what is today called the Reformed Church in America, consisting of 1,000 churches and 300,000 members – people of diverse ethnicities and many cultures, growing and serving God together.
Learn more about the RCA at their website: www.rca.org