100 years 1847-1947


From the Time of Its Founding until 1882

by Alertus Pieters

NOTE: Also see another article on First Reformed of Holland

The First Reformed Church of Holland, Michigan, owes its origin to a Movement and a Man.  The Movement was the secession of a number of ministers and members from the "HERVORMDE KERK," the state church of the Netherlands, in 1834, and the Man was Reverend Albertus Christiaan Van Raalte, D.D.

The movement was an aftermath of the Napoleonic wars and of the period of Rationalism in Germany. By the former the government of the church had been altered, and by the latter the faith of the church had been undermined. It was a reaction against the secularization of church government and the accompanying denatured religion.

In heathen countries religion is always the affair of the community, rather than of the individual. So it was when Holland was heathen, and so it remained after it was Christianized, under the missionary Willebrord and his successors. So it remained even after the Reformation, when the mass of the people broke loose from the church of Rome.

Nothing seemed then more natural than that the government should support the church and pay the salaries of its ministers, just as it bore the expenses of the police administration and of all other communal interests. Yet this did not give the government control over the affairs of the church. Before the Reformation that control rested with the Pope of Rome and the bishops appointed by him; and after the Reformation, according to the church constitution of John Calvin, it rested with the democratically elected officers and assemblies.

This situation was altered by the conquest of the Netherlands under Napoleon Bonaparte, and the consequent inflow of the ideas of the French Revolution, when religion was declared to be an individual concern, and all government support of the church ceased, thus bringing the ministers into severe distress. When Napoleon was overthrown and the House of Orange established upon the throne, support of the ministers was resumed, but new regulations were issued, abolishing the ancient democratic constitution of the church and placing it under control of the secular government. This was accomplished with surprisingly little objection at first, partly because the change was camouflaged by retaining the well known designation of Classis and Synod, (although the members of these bodies were no longer elected by the people) partly because the ministers were so glad to get their salaries back that they were not inclined to bite the hand that fed them, even though the independence and self-government of the churches were lost in the process.

Accompanying this change in church government, the influence of German rationalism had undermined the old faith, first in the universities, where ministers were trained, and then in the pulpits. Ministers in their pulpits denied the deity of Christ, the truth and inspiration of the scriptures, and other cardinal Christian doctrines. Reaction against this modernism had its beginning in Geneva, through a Bible class led by a pious British merchant named Robert Haldane, and it was brought over to the Netherlands by a minister named Caesar Malan. Under his influence there was formed a group of prominent men who were heartily attached to evangelical religion. Prominent among them were the poet Bilderdijk and the publicist Groen Van Prinsterer, with a converted Jew named Isaac Da Costa. These men spoke strongly against the prevailing modernism of the state church, although they did not separate themselves from it. Their movement is called the "Reveille," or Awakening.

A small number of the students in the University of Leyden caught the inspiration of the leaders named and banded themselves together in a religious club, called by their enemies "The Scholte Club." A.C. Van Raalte was one of the members. About 1830, the Rev. Hendrik De Cook, minister at Ulrum, was converted. He had been in the ministry for several years, and this was his second charge, but he had up to that time been a stranger to the grace of God. Having been converted, he began to preach the old doctrines, to the great delight of the people, who flocked from far and near that they might again be spiritually fed. The young men in the "Scholte Club," also, after they graduated from the university and were ordained, did the same. They very soon came into collision with the secularized church authorities and were forbidden to use of the regular churches. Nothing daunted, they preached in private homes, halls, barns, in the open air, in the courts where they were tried, and to their fellow prisoners in jail. They made converts by the hundreds and thousands, who were their enthusiastic followers, ready to stand by them through thick and thin. Not everything that they said or did can be defended, but they fought a good fight. They stood for a pure gospel, for a free church, and for good faith in subscribing to the creeds.

It is important to observe that this movement was first of all not a church quarrel but a great religious revival, comparable to the Wesley revivals in England and to the "Great Awakening" in America in the early part of the eighteen century. Out of this revival eventually the First Reformed Church of Holland, Michigan, was born, and the manner of its birth was as follows.

While the revival was going on and the seceders were being persecuted by the state, under the instigation of the regular church authorities, there arose also great economic distress, due to the failure of the potato harvest and the introduction of machinery, by which, for a time, many were thrown out of employment, Such distress affected particularly the converts of the new movement, because they were for the most part poor people. Under such circumstance the leading men, particularly Scholte, Brummelkamp and Van Raalte, sought a way out, and were led to think of emigration as offering hope of improvement, Societies were formed to foster this idea and to help those who needed assistance. For a time their idea was to go to Java or to South Africa, but insuperable obstacles were encountered, and presently all thoughts turned to America. As they thought and talked over it, the plan grew. At first the plan was simply to help individuals to find their way across the sea, but gradually the conviction took hold that the religious interests of the emigrants could not be properly looked after unless they went in a body, with their leaders, and settled in a comparatively unoccupied spot, where they might found a colony. Especially was it impressed upon the mind of Van Raalte, during the long and serious illness, that he should go with the emigrants; in which decision it is not difficult for us now to recognize the divine leading.

Van Raalte and his party reached New York on November 18th, 1846. He pushed on as rapidly as possible to the west, and after the most careful inquiries selected the present location of Holland, Michigan, as the most suitable place for his colony. On February 9th, 1847, six men and one woman made the beginning in an unbroken forest. Other companies came rapidly after that, but itis the group led by Van Raalte himself that constituted the beginning of the First Reformed Church.

As soon as they could, on the site of our present Pilgrim Home Cemetery, they erected a structure of logs for a church and opened regular services, This took place most likely in the spring of the year 1847, but the exact date cannot be given, for most unfortunately the early minutes are lost. The first extant minutes, now in possession of the Ninth Street Christian Reformed Church are dated November 5th, 1850, but the church was organized long before that. At the first meeting of the Classis of Holland, April 23rd, 18488, we find that "Rev. A. V. Van Raalte and Consistory" were present. So the First Reformed Church was then already an organized congregation, but how and when did this organization take place? The churches of Zeeland, Vriesland and Overisel came over as organized bodies, with their own ministers, called by them while still in the Netherlands, but there is no evidence that this was the case with the Holland church, although that is affirmed in Corwin’s Manual of the Reformed Church in America, Fifth Edition, p. 645.

In the life of Van Raalte by J.A. Wormser, published as the first biography in the series: "Een Schat in Aarden Vaten," p. 179, we find the following:

"The consistory members, elders and deacons, who came with Van Raalte, remained, as a matter of course, in their respective offices . . .There was no local church, but there were a number of office bearers."

Again he says: (p. 187)

"The great error__ although a very understandable and more or less excusable error__ of the immigrating elders and deacons was that they formed themselves into a consistory before, properly speaking, there was any congregation . . .Much dispute and evil would have been prevented if the congregation had first organized itself and after that had itself elected its office bearers."

As there seems to have been no formal action to organize the church and elect a consistory, so also it appears that Van Raalte was never called to the pastorate of the group in any formal manner. He simply began to preach, the elders and deacons began to function as such, and the people accepted both without further ado. That was all right at the beginning, but how long were these men to hold office? The Synod of Dort had prescribed a rotary system. Elders and deacons were to serve for two years, one half retiring each year, but eligible to re-election. Although the rules of Dort had, in general, been accepted, neither Van Raalte nor the elders felt inclined to give effect to this particular provision. Hence arose a conflict within the congregation that lasted a number of years. People insisted that a congregational meeting should be called to elect elders, but the consistory refused to call such a meeting, and there was nothing to be done about it. Mr. Wormser says: (p.191)

"The bitter conflict about the election of consistory members lasted until March 16th,1860, thus more than twelve years. Point by point the congregation had to struggle for its rights. In the meeting of Nov. 24th, 1851, the consistory resolved that there should be no periodical retirement. The only permitted was that the congregation might add members by election. However, in 1852 the consistory itself filled a vacancy. In the congregational meeting of August 26, 1852, there was a protest against this. Then the congregation obtained the concession that the names of newly elected consistory members should be announced for three consecutive Sundays.

"In October, 1855, the judgment of a majority of the brethren was opposed to a regular retirement of consistory members, ‘fearing thereby to act on a principle contrary to the word of God’ . . .On October 21, 1859, a member of the consistory declared that he would, after having served two years, reckon that his term had expired, as provided in the church order. In March, 1860, it was decided to call a congregation meeting for the election of one-half the consistory. Thus at last the congregation had obtained the right to a free choice."

While the first extant minutes date from November, 1850, it is clear that there were minutes earlier, for the first entry is this:

"Elder Verhorst having departed, Deacon Van den Berg was elected clerk."

Yet these minutes of 1850 begin in a new book, in which nothing had been written before. What happened to those earlier minutes? It is said that the former clerk, Verhorst, had "departed," and the Dutch word used is "vertrek," which usually means a change of residence, not death; but in the minutes of the Classis of Holland, of which also he was clerk, we read that he died in a "swift and sudden" manner. The minutes of the Classis of the preceding session are also lost for that reason. Is it possible that his house took fire, through a stroke of lightning, and that so he and the minutes perished together?

When the extant minutes begin, the First Church of Holland was already a Reformed Church, having joined that body in the spring of 1850, as a part of the Classis of Holland. This union has been criticized as too hasty, but such criticism overlooks the background of these immigrants. Ever since their separation from the state church of the Netherlands, they had been insisting that they did not form and had no intention of forming a new sect. They were standing by the church government and the doctrines of the Synod of Dort. Not they but the established church had departed from the old ways. In the end, to be sure, to secure immunity from persecution, they had compromised, by accepting recognition as a new denomination, but this compromise, in which he himself shared, was afterwards regretted and repudiated by Van Raalte.

With such convictions they came to America, and here they found the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church, as it was then called. This was a daughter of the old Netherlands Reformed Church, born before the reorganization of 1816, and still holding to the old paths. All that they had striven for in the old country they found in her, all that they had contended against was absent. If they had refused or hesitated to join her, they would have stultified themselves. Thus they were driven by an inexorable doctrinal and logical necessity as well as by Christian feeling to become one with the Reformed Church in America.

In the annual Minutes of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, the First Reformed Church of Holland appears for the first time in the year 1852. In the statistical table of that year it reports 278 communicant members, The first few minutes of the consistory are now strange reading, for they have little or nothing to do with what we should now call consistory business. They consist mainly of hearing and deciding complaints of a secular business nature made by one member against another. This resulted naturally from the church had no knowledge of the English language and of American court processes. Nothing was more natural then that they should turn to the consistory as a court of arbitration. They were also scriptural in doing that, as appears in I Corinthians, chapter six. So far as one can judge from the facts on record, all such cases were carefully and fairly adjudicated. Sometimes Christian charity was added to justice, as in the case of a hog which one of the deacons had slaughtered, mistakenly believing it to be his own. The complainant was awarded four dollars, but as this was rather heavy for the deacon to bear, the minister contributed one dollar and the members of consistory also one dollar, leaving the deacon to pay only two dollars, Thus the church was the center of the community life, and everything came to that body. One woman accused a young girl of theft. The consistory took the manner up, found that she was innocent, and issued a public declaration clearing her reputation.

Very prominent among the activities of the church was social welfare work, in caring for the poor. This was by far the chief object for which benevolent giving was solicited. In 1856 the sum total of all benevolence was $1,222.93, of which the sum for Poor Relief was $780. Indeed, the congregation was very more faithful in helping the poor of the flock than in providing for the shepherd. The salary promised Rev. Van Raalte was $600 a year, but it was not paid. In 1852 we read that he received only $251 and in 1853 $240. Since it was difficult to pay in cash, the consistory decided that each male member should give the minister one day’s labor a month, and the value of such work was estimated at 62 ˝ cents a day (for a day of 10 hours!) The half cent awakens surprise until we remember that almost everything, in those days, was reckoned in shillings, and five shillings was considered a fair day’s wage. This arrangement, however, did not work well, and was soon discontinued. In 1854 the minister received $350, but after that it again fell off, so that in October, 1856 it is on record that he had so far been paid only $150. The situation does not markedly improve until 1859, when the salary was raised to $800. However, again in 1851 we read that the salary is irregularly and insufficiently paid. At last, in 1862, we find that there has been great improvement, for only $17.91 is lacking of the promised $800.

Part of the difficulty was, perhaps, that during these years the church was heavily burdened with church election. In the spring of 1853 the need of a new building was first discussed by the consistory but when it was estimated that the cost would be at least $2,500, their courage failed and nothing more is heard of it until a year later, when deacon Teunis Keppel was appointed to solicit subscriptions. This able and energetic man reported two weeks later that $1,600 had been pledged, and that it would soon rise to $1,800. With this encouragement it was decided to proceed. Elder Schrader was appointed to prepare plans and estimates, and to be the supervising architect. That he did a good job in proved by the building itself, which still stands, in good condition, now fully ninety years old.

How much the new building cost cannot be determined from the minutes. The first contract was let for $2,064, for the main structure only, and it was then estimated that $2,000 more would be required to finish it. Later we find the consistory contracting with the Van Putten brothers for the purchase of 40,000 feet of lumber, at a cost of $11 per thousand. After the subscriptions on the first list were paid, another list was opened. In February, 1856, the Collegiate Reformed Church of New York sent a contribution of $1,000. The building was dedicated on June 29th, 1856, with a sermon by Van Raalte on Psalm 84:1, 2, and one in English in the evening, by Rev. John Van Vleck. There remained, however, much work to be done. As late as April, 1862, the ground around the building was sodded, as the constant blowing away of the sand threatened to undermine the foundation. In February, 1860, the materials of the old church were given to two members, Drost and Deur, to build themselves homes.

One of the things that distinguished Van Raalte was his deep interest in Christian education and his constant insistence upon it. By 1856 the Holland Academy had been established. Mr. Taylor first, and then the Rev. John Van Vleck had come to teach in it, but in the opinion of Van Raalte the people did not get back of it as they should. The minutes of November 18th, 1856, contain the full text of what was his ultimatum to the church, and to all the churches of the settlement. It is a very notable letter, which ought to be translated and published in full. Van Raalte had then a call to Pella, and he declares his intention of accepting it unless within twelve days the people of Michigan take measures to raise a fund for buildings for the Academy. It was a very bold move, but he won out. They did get busy, and to this action on his part it is likely that we owe the existence of Hope College.

He was interested also in primary religious education, and did his best to establish a primary Christian school under the auspices of the church. He presented his case to the consistory in December, 1856, pointing out that there were than 220 pupils in the district school, which ought to have two more teachers. A congregational meeting was called and approved the plan to found a parochial school, boys to be admitted up to the age of seven and girls up to the age of twelve. The reason for this remarkable distinction is not given. The first teacher was Miss Rika Van Zwaluwenburg, afterwards married to the Rev. Roelof Pieters, second pastor of the congregation. She was hired on a salary of $2.50 a week, and taught until 1860. For a time some assistance was received from the Board of Education. When Miss Van Zwaluwenburg left, Mrs, Van Olinda was her successor; but for some reason or other the school did not prosper, and in the minutes of April 2nd, 1862 we find that a committee was appointed to wind up the affairs of the parochial school, "which has ceased to exit." Later, under the pastorate of Rev. R. Pieters, another attempts to establish such a school was made by him, in association with Dr. Philip Phelps and others, employing Mrs. Van Olinda again as the teacher, but the First Reformed Church officially took no part in it, and it soon came to an end.

In 1857 occurred the secessions at Graafschap, Grand Rapids and Polkton (now Coopersville) that eventually led to the founding of the Christian Reformed Church, but these events made scarcely a ripple in the life of the First Reformed Church. There is no reference to them in the minutes. About that time we do find that some members withdrew, on the ground that the preaching of Van Raalte was not orthodox; but there was no concerted movement, and no connection can be traced between such withdrawals and the church secession of 1857.

In 1858 the Rev A.C. Van Raalte received the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from Rutgers College, in recognition of his services to the Reformed Church in America and to the cause of the kingdom of God in general. As "Dr. Van Raalte" he has been commonly known among us.

In 1861 began the Civil War. The people of this community were by ancestry and background excellent material for the making of American patriots, and they had a leader who threw himself heartily into the work of arousing sentiment in favor of preserving the Union. He had himself borne arms in his youth, when Belgium separated from Holland. Hence a considerable number of men from the community enlisted. Among them were two sons of Dr. Van Raalte. In the records of the First Church, however, there is no reference to the war except one item. In 1862 the customary business meeting could not be held on Thanksgiving Day, because that day had been appointed a day of prayer, "on account of the lamentable situation in the war."

In March, 1864, Van Raalte called a special meeting of the consistory to discuss the matter of his health, since the physicians had told him that he must rest if he were not to destroy himself. It was decided that the minister should be excused from all duties but the Sunday preaching, for one year. Not only so, but that for the first two months of that year he should not preach at all, and for the next two months only once each Sunday. For a long time he did not even attend consistory meetings. In October, 1865, the consistory requested him to resume such attendance. In December, 1864, it was resolved, at a congregational meeting, that a second pastor should be called, and a committee was appointed to solicit subscriptions for his salary and for the building of a parsonage, but the response was small, and eventually the matter was dropped.

In the winter of 1865-’66 a gracious and remarkable revival took place, under the leadership of a Methodist lay preacher named Clapper. An account of it is given in Zwemer and DeBeij: :Stemmen Uit Amerika," p. 118. Although Clapper was, of course, an Arminian, or Remonstrant, and thus an adherent of a theological system to which they were bitterly opposed, Van Raalte and the consistory recognizing this to be a work of God, granted the use of the church building for the meetings. Many people were soundly converted among whom one of the most notable was Peter Gunst, afterwards for many years a leading elder of the Third Reformed Church.

In the summer of 1866 Dr. And Mrs. Van Raalte made a trip to the Netherlands, both of them being in poor health. In "Een Schat in Aarden Vaten," Vol. I, p. 11, we find the following description of him as he appeared at that time:

"He was short of stature, stooping slightly-almost imperceptibly-lean with graying hair, broad forehead, clear gray eyes, firmly closed lips, lively but earnest in conversation-presenting completely the appearance of a man who thought clearly, took hold without hesitation, and who acted honestly, self-reliantly and perseveringly."

After his return from the Netherlands, Dr. Van Raalte kept insisting that the congregation was too large for one pastor and ought to be divided; although by our present standards this was not yet the case. It had then 250 families and 496 communicant members. In 1867 this was done, the congregation being divided into three portions. One became the Ebenezer Church, under the pastorate of the Rev. A.C. Kuiper. This was called, at first the "County Line Church." Another portion became the Third Reformed Church, which called the Rev. Jacob Van der Meulen. This was not like the ordinary organization of new churches. It was a real division of the one into three. An equitable division of the church property was made.

Thus having been accomplished, Dr. Van Raalte felt that his work for the First Reformed Church was done; and on July 26th, 1867, he announced to the consistory that he desired to lay down his work, in order that he might devote himself more fully to "the manifold labors laid upon him in the providence of God." No dissolution of pastoral relations, he said, would be necessary, because no formal relation had ever existed. The record says that the consistory "was deeply moved," but thought that this announcement must be accepted as notification. A congregational meeting was called for August 13th, 1867, at which Van Raalte repeated his announcement. "It was unanimously resolved to acquiesce in the decision and to call a new pastor." Calls were there upon extended successively to the Revs. Donner, of the Netherlands, Roelof Pieters, then at Alto, Wisconsin, Donner again, J. Brummelkamp, of the Netherlands, Pieters, the second time, and finally Pieters, the third time, in November, 1868. This call was accepted and the pastor-elected arrived in June, 1869. In preparation for his coming a brick parsonage was erected, located where the parsonage of the Ninth Street Christian Reformed Church now stands, on East tenth Street.

Concerning the pastorate of the Rev. Roelof Pieters there is but little to be said. The minutes of consistory now contain only ordinary church business, for the formative period was over, and no great controversy stirred the church, except at the very end of his life. Dr. E.J. Blekkink says of him:

"He was apparently in good health, tall straight, well proportioned, vigorous and positive in all his activities . . .a worthy successor of Van Raalte in the First Church . . .He was regarded as a saint, and a man of faith and courage and such he was. Not however, of the sickly type. He was not a pious talker but a practical and wholesome Christian."

During the latter part of his pastorate he was much troubled by ill health, having an incurable disease that required periodic surgical operation. One of these took place in Amsterdam, in 1875, when he made a visit to the Netherlands. He died as a result of one of these operations, February 14th, 1880.

The history of the church during the next two years is not a pleasant one to relate. A flock without a shepherd, and those who undertook to do the shepherding led it astray. The consistory were unwilling to receive aid and guidance from their natural counsellors, the ministers and elders of the Classis of Holland. One of the ways in which a Classis exercises care over vacant churches is to appoint pulpit supplies, but on March 30th, 1880, about six weeks after the death of the pastor, the consistory decided not to ask for such classical supplies, but to have only such ministers preach as were invited. Of course they invited only the men who were entirely in sympathy with them, although there were other very able and excellent preachers available, such as N.M. Steffens, of Zeeland and Henry E. Dosker, of Ebenezer, Another method of classical supervision is to appoint committees to have superintendence over vacant churches, but no such committee was appointed until January 18th, 1882, when it was too late to correct the mischief.

Attempts were made to fill the vacant pulpit. Calls were extended successively to the Revs. Beuker, of Amsterdam, L.J. Hulst, of Grand Rapids, two times, J. Kremer, and then Beuker again. All of these calls were declined.

During the years 1880 and 1881 there gradually came to be an estrangement between the First Church of Holland and the Classis. The fundamental cause was the controversy about Free Masonry. The question was not whether it was right for a Christian believe to be a Free Mason. All were agreed that it was not. Neither was it whether the consistories had the right to exclude Free Masons from church fellowship. The consistories had always had the right to decide who should be admitted to the local fellowship, and this right was not in dispute. Moreover, the said right was expressly affirmed by the Classis of Holland in a resolution adopted November 18th, 1881. The question was whether the churches ought to remain within a denomination that reused to condemn Free Masonry as a sin that disqualified a man from membership in the church. This the General Synod was asked to do but repeatedly refused to do, and its action in the summer of 1881 made it clear that it would continue so to refuse. The Classis of Holland was disappointed at this decision, but nevertheless adopted the following resolution, on November 18th, 1881: "That as long as we are not hindered in conducting our congregational matters according to our convictions of duty, we shall consider this threatened secession a sin and an evil with which we may have nothing to do. On these principles we resolve not to sever but to maintain our connection with the Reformed Church.

To such continuance a majority of the elders and deacons of the First Reformed Church were definitely opposed. This sentiment was not unanimous, however. Of eight elders, three stood on the platform of the Classis, and at every congregational meeting, although there was always a majority to sustain the consistory, there were also always protesting members. Elder Schrader openly accused his colleagues of fomenting schism, and the minutes abundantly sustain the charge, long before the actual break came.

On November 24th, 1881, there was a congregational meeting for the election of elders and deacons. At that meeting elders Broek, Schrader and Wilterdink were voted out, and three others, who were in favor of secession, were voted in. On December 20th,  Elder Keppel and a member of the congregation, Isaac Marsilje, were appointed a committee to inquire carefully as to steps to be taken to retain control of the property, in case of secession. At a consistory meeting on December 26th the following platform was adopted: "That whether or not there is any hope of retaining the church property, the congregation should become free and independent."

Finally, on February 27th, 1882, a congregational meeting was called to vote on the question of remaining in the Reformed Church or withdrawing from it. The vote was by ballot, and stood:

To withdraw..............................................86



Thereupon the majority, under the leadership of Rev. N.M. Steffens, chairman of the classical committee on vacant churches, attempted to hold a meeting to organize, but were prevented from doing so. They had a meeting the next day, and sent a communication to Classis, which met on March 1st, and immediately cited the members of consistory to appear before it on a charge of schism, at a meeting to be held on March 13th. Of course they did not come. Instead of appearing themselves, they sent a formal communication, announcing that the First Church had voted to withdraw from the Reformed denomination, and requesting the Classis to accept this as formal notice of the said fact.

The Classis cited them a second time, to appear on March 27th, adding that if they did not appear trial on the charge of fomenting schism would proceed without them. Again they did not appear. Thereupon the Classis proceeded to examine witnesses and after such hearing declared the charge fully proved. The elders and deacons were formally deposed from office and the First Reformed Church (which was, of course, the dissenting minority) was instructed to elect a new consistory. This was done, and a few days later these newly elected elders appeared at a meeting of the old consistory. When asked what was their business, they replied that they were the lawfully elected consistory of the First Reformed Church. As such they demanded that those who had the keys to the church building should turn them over to them, as well as the records and all other property belonging to the congregation. Of course this was refused, but by the formal demand a legal basis had been laid for a complaint to civil court.

From the standpoint of the Classis, the motion to withdraw from the Reformed Church, adopted at the meeting of February 27th, was out of order and therefore null and void. So considered, the First Reformed Church of Holland never ceased to exit and never severed its connection with the Reformed Church of America. What happened was only that the officers of the church, having been duly tried, were found guilty of malfeasance in office and were deposed, after which another consistory was elected. It is this congregation that has continued to this day as the First Reformed Church of Holland, Michigan.



Serving from March 30, 1882 to 1847

Elders Elders Deacons
J.A. Wilterdink J. Rusticus E. Lam
Harm Broek G. VandenBerg J. Tibbe
G. Wakker M. Van Leeowen W. Mokma
G.J. Kroon H. Swiernga J. Brinkman
G.J. Huizenga H. Wiersema F. Van Lente
A. Vennema F. Zeerip E. Wilterdink
H. Kok L. Mulder J. Luidens
J.A. Ter Vree J. Van Leeuwen A.A. Nienhuis
H. D. Cook C. Herlein C. Kleis
H. Oosting M. Kammeraad J. Nyberg
L. Laman Deacons D. Schaftenaar
T. Prins J.A. Ter Vree A. Steketee
G. Ter Vree A. Vennema J. VandenBrink
B. Steketee A.M. Kanters J. Van Tatenhove
H. Kooyers G.J. Huizenga B. Lemmen
F. Kooyers J. Smits A. Bosch
G. Schuiling Dr. H. Kremers C. Hoeland
J. Lokker A. Steketee, Sr. A. Slagh
G.J. Kronemeyer B. Steketee W. VanderHaar
Wm. Mokma G. Ter Vree H. Viening
G. Mooi L. Schoon L. Kammeraad
D. Boter H. Geerlings R. Lemmen
J. Brinkman A.T. Huizenga H. Grond
A.A. Nienhuis D. Boter C. Kuyers
A. Smeenge B. VanderHaar H. Leeuw
A. Kleis P. Luidens J. DeHaan
J. DeKraker D. Meengs H.A. Warnshuis
D. Meengs J. Lokker G.J. Knoll
J. Nykerk P. De Spelder D. Van Tatenhove
J. VanderBrink A. Raak P. Dryer
E. Wilterdink J. Den Herder A. Ter Vree
A. Steketee A. Kleis M. Borr
J. De Boer H. P. Zwemer F. Zeerip
G.J. Poelaker J. Nykerk H. Wiersema
P. Luidens M. Kammeraad L. Mulder
C. Kuyers J. Luidens M. Knooihuizen
R. Lemmen C. Kleis J. Kleinheksel
Rev. F. Wiersema J. De Kraker N. Kraght
C. Hop B. VanderPoel M. Shoemaker
W. VanderHaar D. Schaftenaar M. VanderHaar



As of May 28, 1918


Cornelius Barkema

Marine Bischop

Peter N. Prins John Bronkhorst Fred Scheerhorn
Teunis W. Prins James Klaverdyk William Hovenga
Bernie Mulder Isaac Regenerus Peter Meeuwsen
B. Laman Bert Jacobs Marine Bischop
Earl Nivison John Lemmen Herman B. Lemmon
George Van Dyke James Bor Alfred Joldersma
John Franzburg Joe Nuismer Morris Van Kolken
William Sloot Chester Van Tongeren Cor. Barkema
Shud Althuis Louis Schoon Samuel Althuis
John Tiesenga Wybe Nienhuis Gerard Van Kolken
James De Kraker John Vander Werf Abraham Ver Houw
Herman Spoor Henry J. Pas Frank Douma
Teunis Baker Ben Kammeraad James Cook
Ben Weerssing Joe Rosendale Henry Zoet
Clarence Romeyn George B. Lemmen Andrew Tiesenga
C. Van Domelen William T. Topp Chester Westveer
Ed Vander West George A. Nienhuis Gerrit C. Knoll
Ernest Bedell Nick Van Dyke John H. Ryzenga
Anthony Dogger Nick Prince Raymond Lemmen
Lawrence Hamburg   Douwe Oosterbaan

Transcriber: Barb Jones
Created: 18 February 2007
URL: http://ottawa.migenweb.net/churches/reformed/HollandFirst.html