Carmel Reformed Church Rock Valley, Iowa
In the late 1800’s a group of Dutch immigrants settled in the northwest part of Sioux County, Iowa. Religious freedom and worship were very important to them. They began attending First Reformed Church in Sioux Center, which was seven or eight miles away. Since they traveled by horse and buggy, this was not an easy trip. On May 3rd, 1895, a severe tornado struck the area. There was much destruction and many lives were lost. After such a tragedy, the pioneer families felt the need more than ever to have their own local church.
Rev. De Pree, Pastor of the First Reformed Church of Sioux Center, chose to make work of the matter and presented it before the Classis of Iowa. The Dutch settlers were encouraged by the people in their area and soon their hopes and dreams were realized. The Carmel Reformed Church was organized on July 18, 1895. The charter members numbered 27 with 70 baptized members.
A parsonage was built in 1895-1896. The church was built in 1896 and was erected in the same area where the present-day church now stands. Carmel was the name chosen for the church from many submitted. It was suggested by Rev. Te Selle because the church is on a hill and reminds one of the victory of Elijah on Mt. Carmel (I Kings 18:20-42).
This church building served the Carmel congregation well until it was destroyed by fire in January 1916. The fire, starting in the sanctuary, was due to an overheated furnace duct and quickly spread throughout the building. The entire building was destroyed but fortunately the men of the church, through heroic effort, were able to save the pews and organ.
The members of the congregation, undaunted by their misfortune and loss, immediately set about making plans to re-build their church. Through unity of purpose and spirit, enough money was collected to build a new church building and it was erected in the summer of 1916. While construction was going on, services were held in the church barn and used the furniture that had been salvaged from the fire.
This building served the congregation well. As the congregation grew, various additions and extensive remodeling projects were done. In 1964, a new parsonage was built. It has undergone various updates and remodeling projects and is still in use today.
In 1995, Carmel celebrated its centennial, 100 years of God’s faithfulness.
In the late 1990’s, the needs of the congregation were again discussed and a building committee was formed. They recommended constructing a new building rather than remodeling the old. In December 1999, the building project was approved and would begin when 60% of the total cost was received.
In June of 2003, we broke ground and construction began on the new building just east of the old building. Countless hours of volunteer labor, hard work, and dedication were put in by many individuals. Exactly one year later, construction was completed and the congregation walked from the old building to the new one and began worshipping there.
The new building was dedicated to the Glory of God on July 25, 2004. Through hard work and generous giving, we were able to pay off our mortgage in five years. A mortgage burning ceremony took place on July 19, 2009.
Carmel has always been a mission-minded church and after our building project, we broadened our emphasis on mission. We expanded our Partner in Mission Shares and added several new mission projects which we continue to support. An Outreach Fund was started to assist those going on mission trips and a 15-passenger church van was purchased. As the various programs in our church continued to expand and grow, we began to explore the need for a multi-purpose building. In 2011, a fund was started to raise money for a future multi-purpose building.
Today, as a rural congregation, Carmel Reformed Church continues to draw its members from several surrounding communities. As we look back, we realize we have much for which to give thanks. The Lord has richly blessed us as a congregation and we praise Him for his faithfulness. We pray that we may continue to be faithful in all things so that “the Glory of God may endure forever”, and that we may be Bound in God’s Love.