Church & School

First Church & School

Having occupied their own houses, the next priority for the Zeeland settlers was the building of a school and a place for worship. Within the first year a colonial church was constructed out of round cedar logs.

The First Pastor

The Reverend Cornelius VanderMeulen accepted the invitation to become the first spiritual leader and pastor to the Zeeland Colonists, offering both hope and courage for the first twelve long and strenuous years in their new land. In the early months, until the church building was completed, the Rev. VanderMeulen could be found preaching each Sunday in his home, in various other homes or out of doors. The church soon became the social life of the colony; the encouraging sermons of their pastor renewing their spirits and enabling them to continue enduring the hard struggles and numerous difficulties of pioneer life.


Once completed, the church served as a place of worship on Sunday and as a school on weekdays. School instruction was provided in both English and Dutch. The subjects taught were mostly limited to reading and math, though religious education was of great importance to both the pioneers and their pastor. Because there were no laws requiring school attendance, the boys' school days were often regulated by the planting and harvesting seasons and the girls' attendance depended upon the needs of the mothers and younger children.