On June 1, 1963, the congregation of Hebron CRC in Whitby, Ontario accepted the recommendations of its council to birth a new congregation consisting mainly of members living in the city of Oshawa. The organization of this new church took place on June 27. The memberships of 96 families and 11 single persons were received. Elders and deacons were installed. The elders were: Walter Broenink, Fred Bolhuis, Bill Dykshoorn, Tim Kalisvaart, Peter Teeninga and George Witvoet. Simon Griffrioen, Barney Jaspers-Frayer and Frank Roorda served as the first deacons.

The new council at its first meeting on July 10, 1963 appointed a financial committee and a calling committee. Also in July it was decided that the name of the church should be Zion. Until then it had been known as East Oshawa CRC.

Zion extended a call to Rev. D.N. Habermehl from Newmarket, Ontario to be our first pastor in November 1963. He accepted the call and was installed on February 23, 1964. Only two days later council met to take steps to find a place for worship within the city of Oshawa. On Pentecost Sunday, May 17, 1964 we held our first worship service in Dr. Phillips School.

Within a few months many activities were started including Calvinettes (now known as GEMS), Cadets, Dutch Ladies’ Society, English Ladies’ Society, Young People’s and Men’s Societies. Most of these activities were held at the homes of our members.

From the beginning, preparations were underway to have a building of our own. In January 1965, congregation decided to buy a site for the new church building on Adelaide Ave. E. An architect was selected and construction began in May 1965. On December 19, we held our first worship service in the new building. Total cost for the building, including the organ and the lot, was $146,097. In the meantime a lot had also been purchased on Orange Cres. for the intent of building a parsonage. On February 16, 1966, the Zion congregation dedicated their new church building and themselves to the ministry of the Lord.

That same year saw the beginning of neighbourhood outreach ministries. Our first Vacation Bible School was held in July and was attended by about 100 children. The Sunflower Club, started in August, was attended by nine 8-10 year olds. In 1969, Sarah Colenbrander was installed in Zion Church as the first Field Director of the Youth Evangelism Society, the parent body of the Sunflowers. A year later a Sunday School class for the mentally handicapped was started. Informal contact was established with St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church through a joint Bible Study club that met for the 1965-66 season. Contacts were also made with St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church through combined consistory meetings during 1970.

Denis VanderWekken joined us as intern for the 1971-72 season, while Rev. Habermehl was taking a pastoral counselling course. With rapidly increasing interest rates and with the mortgage coming due, the congregation rallied together and had a drive to raise enough funds to pay off the entire mortgage of about $55,000. A thanksgiving service, during which the mortgage was burned, was held in January 1976. It was a time of celebration in which Zion praised God for His goodness.

During the seventies the church went through a period of painful struggles and severe testing. In the spring of 1977 Rev. Habermehl left us to take up a Home Missions ministry at Hope Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. That summer Ronald Klimp served us as a summer pastor. Rev. Peter DeHaan from Hospers, Iowa moved to Oshawa in the fall of 1977 to become Zion’s second pastor.

In 1979 the congregation decided to add three classrooms, extend the kitchen, pave the parking lot and re-do the roof for a cost of $36,000. Much of this was done with free labour. A good time was had by all as we worked together.

1980 saw the addition of a church secretary to the staff to help the pastor and council with the ever-growing clerical work. Dorothy Prinzen (now Visser) was hired for one day a week. After several months Dorothy found full-time work and Mrs. Marie Broersma took over. The secretarial hours gradually increased over the years from one day a week to four mornings per week.

Henry Eising, a summer student, arrived in June of 1982. His responsibilities included the Vacation Bible School program.

September 1983 saw Rev. DeHaan leave for Maranatha CRC in Woodstock. After John Groen served as student pastor for the summer of 1984, Dr. Henry Wildeboer from First CRC in Calgary, Alberta became Zion’s next pastor in August of 1984.

The mid-1980s saw much of God’s blessing upon Zion as more and more people joined our fellowship. The growth resulted in council deciding in the spring of 1985 to participate in the internship program of our denomination. Three seminarians served us consecutively for one year, each with primary focus in ministry to youth and singles. The seminarians, who are now all pastors, were Robert Hogendoorn, 1985-86, David Feddes, 1986-87, and Karl House 1987-88. In 1988, after he was declared a candidate by Synod, Karl House was called as Zion’s second full-time pastor to work with the youth and educational programs of the congregation. He was examined by Classis Quinte in September 1988, after which he was ordained to the ministry of the Word.

In September of 1986 Rudy Heezen was hired as Minister of Evangelism. His mandate was to lead and direct the congregation into outreach. He introduced Zion and the Oshawa community to the Pavilion of Praise in 1987. This was a tent ministry held during the time of Fiesta Week. Mr. Heezen left Zion’s ministry to become full-time pastor of the community church in Caesarea, Ontario in February of 1988.

Mr. George Witvoet, a charter member of the church, became part-time director of ministries in April 1988. He was responsible for co-ordinating Zion’s outreach. He had well recognized gifts in the area of music which were regularly utilized in planning, organizing and leading the congregation in music, praise and worship.

In 1988, after 25 years of God’s faithfulness to Zion CRC, the congregation took the opportunity to look back and count their blessings. The above history comes from the pages of the 25th anniversary book produced at that time. Since then many things have happened and this story needs to be completed. If you would like to add to this history, please feel free to email us at: office@zioncrc.ca