Founded in 1958, Fairlawn was initially organized in response to overcrowding at the Whitinsville Christian Reformed Church (now Pleasant Street Christian Reformed Church). By January of 1960, the current church building on Goldthwaite Road had been completed (by a largely volunteer crew), and was ready for use. Sixty-six families and thirteen individuals formed the new congregation.
Since that time, Fairlawn has been served by eight pastors: Rev. Herman Teitsma (1959-1965), Rev. Durant Van Oyen (1965-1972), Rev. Neal Rylaarsdam (1973-1976), Rev. Bart Van Eyck (1976-1982), Rev. Jack Gray (1982-1989), Rev. George Aupperlee (1990-2002), and Rev. Raymond Coffey (2004-2015). Our current pastor, Rev. Joel Vande Werken, began his ministry in 2017.
Within ten years, the parking lot was paved and the parsonage was built. By the 1970s, an increasing number of families and children resulted in growing attendance at youth programs. Responding to the need for classroom space, the Activities Room and Education Wing were completed in 1978. Increasing our spiritual knowledge as children, young people, and adults is important to our growth individually and as a church family, as we learn together what it means to be disciples of Jesus Christ. We continue to offer a variety of adult education opportunities in addition to ministering to the faith life of our children and supporting other educational institutions such as Whitinsville Christian School.
Music has played an important role in our history as a church. In 1962, a Schlicker pipe organ was purchased and installed, and its role in our worship services has been cherished over the years. We have been blessed with many talented and dedicated musicians and a church family that loves to sing. Fairlawn has been the place of many special concerts and worship services over the years as we use the gift of music to glorify God, and we continue to value excellence in music and liturgical variety.
The desire to spread God’s Word has resulted in a support for missions work around the world, as well as a variety of community outreach ministries closer to home. Fairlawn was instrumental in helping to start Avery Street CRC in South Windsor, CT in the early 1960s. Other community outreach projects have included community picnics, Bible schools, and a Bible club at the Balmer Elementary School. Current ministries include involvement with the Northbridge Association of Churches’ weekly Peace of Bread dinners and annual gift and food basket drives. We have a growing Coffee Break program and annually hold our week-long Choir Fest program to invite young people to “sing and make music to the Lord.”
Various social events help us get to know each other on a more personal basis. During fellowship time, after the morning worship service, we have time to connect with friends and visitors while we enjoy refreshments. Our annual church picnic has grown each year, and more recently we have enjoyed regular family-friendly events like bowling at Spare Time Lanes. Fellowship is a means of nurturing a caring community as we support and pray for one another’s needs in the spirit of Christ, and we value the opportunities to do this.
We are grateful for God’s constant care for us as his people gathered here, and are confident that as the future unfolds, we will continue to see his gracious provision for the future as well. It is our prayer that all who get to know our community not only are able to learn about who we are, but more importantly to see in us the work of our Savior, Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever!