The History of the Colfax Center Church

One morning in 1870, two men, Poppe Meints and Klaas Kruger, set out on horseback to travel from their homes in Grundy County Iowa’s Colfax Township to travel nearly 15 miles to the manse of the East Friesland Presbyterian Church. Though neither knew the intention of the other, they had a common mission – to persuade East Friesland’s pastor, Rev. John Vanderlas, to provide worship services for the growing community of German immigrants who were settling on farms in Colfax Township. He agreed, and soon services were being held on Sunday afternoons in the schoolhouse that had been built in the center of the township in 1869. On June 11, 1871, the Second Presbyterian Church of Grundy County, later to be renamed Colfax Center Presbyterian Church (as it is located in the center of Colfax Township, across the road from the site of the schoolhouse where those first services were held), was organized with 30 members. Rev. Jacob Brinkema was called as supply pastor. Within two years, the congregation had built a church building and manse and had erected a cemetery.

The church grew from that humble beginning. Increased worship attendance required an addition to the original frame structure in 1900. In 1917, that structure was replaced with a brick sanctuary seating approximately 400. In 1967, the sanctuary was remodeled, and a new kitchen and 14 room education wing was added. Since then, the sanctuary has been air conditioned and carpeted, a handicapped elevator has been installed, and new audio-visual equipment added to enhance the worship experience for the 150 or so who worship there each Sunday.

The church has been served by 11 pastors. For 50 years it was a “flagship” church for the German-language Synod of the West within the Presbyterian Church in the USA, though services have been held in English since the mid-1930’s and the ethnic makeup of the church has diversified. In 1981, concerned about some of the theological trends they observed in their denominational home, the congregation voted to leave and join the Presbyterian Church in America, a denomination committed to Biblical authority and historic Presbyterian theology. In recent years, the church has expanded its ministry by calling a second pastor and undertaking a five year plan.

Colfax Center is an historic country church with a 21st century commitment to proclaim the word of life and reach out to the community around it with the love of Jesus Christ.