HISTORY OF PROSPECT PARK CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH
The Prospect Park church was the fourth Christian Reformed Church
to be organized in Holland, Michigan. The Noordelos and Graafschap
churches had been organized in 1857 when the churches separated from the
Dutch Reformed church due to increasing discontent. The first three churches were - Central Avenue (1865), Ninth Street (1884), and Fourteenth Street (1902).
The first organized effort to establish a fourth church appeared in 1906. On December 13 of that year, six men - H. S. Bosch, D. W. Jellema, A. Peters, B. Stegink, H. Haveman and J. Vissia - met at the home of Mr. Haveman on College Avenue and Twenty-fourth Street to discuss the matter. One of the reasons for another church was the long distance from their homes and places of worship. Also, the churches had become too large for effective labors among the membership.
On December 20 a second meeting was held in an old building just
vacated by the Maple Grove Public School (later known as Longfellow).
Six additional families were represented at this meeting. By January 29, 1907, the necessary approvals had been received. A committee reported the possibility of purchasing a two-acre building site on Central Avenue between 24th and 25th Streets. It was further reported that the old school in which they were now meeting would soon be placed on public sale. The possibility of acquiring and moving this building to the site was greeted with enthusiasm. In February the group purchased the building with the school desks and stoves for $300 dollars. The organizers pledged the full amount in donations. By this time 28 families had indicated their willingness to affiliate with the congregation. On May 13, 1907 the formal organization of Prospect Park Christian Reformed Church took place at the Fourteenth Street church. Membership papers were presented by twenty-nine familes representing 152 souls. Nineteen of these families coming from Central Avenue; ten from Ninth Street and one family from Graafschap.
The first consistory was composed of –
H. Haveman, Elder
J. Brinks, Deacon
L. Tinholt, Deacon
A. Peters, Elder
D. Jellema, Elder
B. Stegink, Deacon
The Central Avenue congregation presented the new church with a
gift of $1200. A separate room was added to the rear of the building for
consistory meetings, catechism classes and other social purposes. A row
of stables was also built to the rear of the church to accommodate the
horses of those coming from long distances. A pipeless warm-air heating
plant, with only one large register, was installed in the partially
excavated basement. It was a "Holland Furnace", the firm having begun
business just the preceding year. Mr. Henry Bosch was the first custodian and his annual salary was $60. Folding chairs were used for a time in the auditorium. Later, one of the deacons, John Brinks, who was a carpenter, began making pews. Offering plates were long poles with a bag on one end. The floor had large cracks in it and made it difficult to keep clean. Sometimes during services mice were spotted running across the pulpit. When the church needed cleaning, the ladies would go in groups with mop pails, soap, brushes and rubber boots to clean it up. A small reed organ was acquired and some of the young men made their contribution to the service by pumping the organ by hand. The women of the church raised the funds to buy the baptismal font, the silver communion service, and the linen service. Large silver cups were passed and those partaking of the Lord's Supper would come forward in small groups and were served the bread and wine while seated at a special table at the front of the church. The pay of ministers was set at two and a half dollars for a service, five dollars for two services, and seven dollars if three services were conducted. All services were in the Dutch language. Seminary student J. Ghysels was engaged to preach during the first summer.
In the summer of 1907 our congregation began calling a minister.
His salary was set at $300, plus free housing. Arrangements were made
to rent a dwelling at 566 State Street. In December 1907 the Rev. J.
Bolt, then of Cleveland West, accepted the call 'to come over and help
Us’. While awaiting the pastor's arrival, the congregation voted to
build a parsonage not costing more than $3,000. An old house on the
building site, was sold for $625 and moved off the property. The final
cost for the parsonage was $3,371.93. The Rev. Bolt made an attempt to introduce English by having an additional service on Sunday in that language. It was dropped after a six weeks' trial period and it was not until nine years later that a regular English service became part of our worship. Pastors were to warn their congregation of worldly amusements such as - county fairs, circuses, skating rinks, and the amusement sections at Jenison Park. A few years later, Consistories were instructed by Classis to prohibit the use of automobiles, and horse and buggies for pleasure purposes on Sunday.
In 1909 Mr. H. Achterhof became the church custodian at a salary of $75 a year. Mr. & Mrs. Achterhof continued in this capacity until the church moved into its new building twelve years later. Mr. Achterhof was the first person to make public profession in our old church. His son was the last child to be baptized in that church. His father was the last funeral held in the old church and the funeral of his mother was the first one in the new church building.
In 1910 Rev. and Mrs. Bolt felt the need to leave us for missionary work in Colorado. It was seven months before a call to the Rev. H. J. Kuiper, of Luctor, Kansas, met with a favorable response. At this time there were forty families. A fine orchestra was formed under the direction of the pastor. A choral club and octette was also organized. At the congregational meeting on New Year's Day in 1912, the pastor's salary was increased to $900. A young men's society was
organized with Harry Jellema was the leader. Rev. Kuiper left in 1913 to assume the pastorate in the Second Englewood Church in Chicago. Rev. A. J. Rus of Byron Center, accepted the call in the same year. Their were 58 families by this time.
In March of 1917 Pastor Rus felt directed to accept the call to the Chicago City Mission. After eight unsuccessful attempts, the Lord inclined the heart of Richard Veldman, a candidate of Calvin Seminary, to accept our call. Soon after this an important decision was made for the church services. Gradually the congregation realized that in fairness to the younger generation, who did not understand the Dutch language, a regular English service was introduced in 1918.
Nine young men served in WW I and they all returned safely. When the news arrived that peace was declared, the town hurriedly planned a parade. One group secured an old bell stored in the Methodist Church on Seventeenth Street. The bell was placed on a float and rung loudly. It was called the "Liberty Bell". A member of the congregation thought the bell would be far better used in the belfry of Prospect Park, so he bought it at once. The following Sunday the bell called our worshippers to services. When the church building was vacated, the bell was used at Federal School on East 8th Street for many years to call the pupils to classes. Later, it was sold to Rose Park Reformed Church for use. In 1920 the Rev. Veldman accepted the call to pastor the Prospect Park Church in Paterson, New Jersey, and the following year the Rev. J. C. Schaap, of Allendale became our pastor.
Transcriber: Evelyn Sawyer
Created: 4 August 2005