"'They Built a Kingdom’: Developing a Free Reformed Church Community in Southern Ontario, 1950-1976”

Jan. 2014

Master's Thesis, University of Waterloo

This 142-page document was written over the course of four years, while Lobbezoo was battling a debilitating autoimmune condition called Grave's Disease. 

It was challenging to write this paper as a former community insider and an emerging feminist. At the time of writing, Lobbezoo was still a devout Christian, albeit in a different denomination (sect). 

This thesis is available at UWSpace



 This thesis investigates the establishment and development of a religious community of immigrants from the Netherlands to Canada, whose lives centered around a small denomination called the Free Reformed Churches of North America (FRC). The purpose of this thesis was to explore major reasons for the insularity of the FRC community in Southern Ontario between 1950 and 1976. Primary sources for the research were the FRC’s denominational newspaper, The Messenger, and oral interviews of FRC members. The first chapter draws on the life stories of interviewees to explore the challenges of their early years of settlement in Canada, and the comfort they found in the church community. Chapter two focuses on the history, structure and leadership of the church, the faith and beliefs of members, and the connections between church and faith. The third chapter delves into the FRC’s perspectives on and relationships with other churches and Canadian culture. Chapter four considers beliefs about women’s roles and the experiences of FRC women at church, home and work. This thesis argues that the following factors contributed to the FRC’s sustained insularity and isolation: the church, its activities, leaders and laws; the individual faith of members; the strong ideological resistance of leaders and members to change and ‘outside’ influence; and the social support and pressure of friends, family, and fellow members of the church community.