DUTCH IMMIGRANT MEMOIRS
AND RELATED WRITINGS
SELECTED AND ARRANGED FOR PUBLICATION
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
FOREST GROVE REFORMED CHURCH
SKETCH OF THE FIRST REFORMED CHURCH
OF JAMESTOWN [FOREST GROVE], MICHIGAN
[Moving eastward from Drenthe during the years following the Civil War (1861-5) the Hollanders began to settle in Jamestown Township, in 1869 founding the First Reformed Church at Forest Grove, later followed by the organization of the Second Reformed Church in the village of Jamestown, also in Jamestown Township. This sketch first appeared in The Zeeland Record, August 27, 1915.]
Before the organization of a church in Forest Grove, many of our earlier Holland settlers of this vicinity attended religious services in Drenthe each Sunday. The children were also sent to catechism there, and it was a long walk for many of them. So it was decided to organize a congregation here.
In Juni 1869 a committee of two clergymen and to elders from Holland were appointed to investigate conditions here; and these having been found favorable for organizing a Reformed congregation, after suitable investigation, such a congregation was organized here on September 15, 1869. The necessary funds for building not being in readiness, the first meetings of the members of the congregation were held in the school house; and religious services have also been held at the different homes previous to services being held in the school house. The members of the first consistory were elders Willem A. Veenboer and Hendrik Van de Bunte and deacons Dirk Smallegan and Evert van Bronkhorst; the latter, however, was not destined to live very long after coming to America, and was the first person to be buried in our present cemetery. After his death, Jan Bos was chosen to fill his position as deacon. The first year’s financial report shows that Dirk Smallegan was the first treasurer and the total receipts for the first year of the existence of this congregation being $21.46; total disbursements being $16.85. This is somewhat less than the receipts of the present day, as the collection for current expenses now every month is between $40 and $50, besides $100 monthly for pastor’s salary and collections for the various funds, such as for the Board of Publication, Western Theological Seminary, Church Building Fund, Widow’s Fund, also Foreign, Domestic, and Arabian Missions, etc.
The church building was erected during the summer and fall of the year 1873, Jacob Strick hauling the first load of lumber for the new building. The dimensions of the first church were 36 feet by 50 feet. Later an addition was built to accommodate the increasing congregation and still later, in 1905, a fine large chapel was annexed.
The church was dedicated December 17, 1873. The first pastor of this congregation was Rev. John van der Meulen, who remained for nine years, from 1875 to 1884. After he left, Rev. Willem Wormser was called and he was here from 1885 to December 1889; following him, C. C. A. L. John was our pastor from June 1890 until February 1892; after being vacant for ten months, Barend W. Lammers became our pastor and remained for almost eleven years, from December 1892 to November 1903. Then, after issuing calls to different pastors, Pieter Paul Chef came from Grand Rapids to take charge of affairs in March 1904 and remained until January 1910. After several calls, our next pastor was Marinus E. Broekstra from 1911 to July 1914. Now after having been vacant for a little more than a year, but always having been supplied with pastors from other churches or students from the seminary, we again have our own pastor, Nicholas Boer, who with his family came from Passaic, New Jersey, in July 1915. Boer has been in the ministry for fifteen years, his first pastorate being in the Reformed Church in Jamestown where he went in 1900, remaining there two years and eight months; he has held successive pastorates [and also successful] in the Bethany Reformed Church in Grand Rapids for four years; then in the First Reformed Church in Chicago for three years; following which he has served the First Holland Reformed church in Passaic, New Jersey, for five and one half years; now he has come to Forest Grove, having come back almost to his starting point, this church in Forest Grove being called the First Reformed Church of Jamestown, while the congregation in the village of Jamestown is the Second Reformed, having been organized later and many of its members formerly having belonged here.
Our church at the present time consists of nearly one hundred families. The total number of communicants is two hundred twelve, and the total number of baptized members is two hundred sixty as shown in the annual report of the different churches as published this spring. Since this report was published, however, thirty-three more have been received into our church on confession of faith.
The total enrollment in the Sunday school is two hundred fifty, divided into fourteen classes. Our first Sunday school superintendent was James Brandt who performed his duties as such for eight years, from the time of organization although at first catechetical classes were held after services and his actual years of service as superintendent were from September 30, 1874 to 1882. Following him, Arend Bos was superintendent until 1884. And since that time, from October 1884, until now, S. Yntema has very ably filled that position, and for nearly thirty-one years, he has been our superintendent. There are few, if any, who could have been more faithful than he; and nothing except sickness prevents him from Sunday school, so he has had very few absent marks during all these years. And even though he is advanced in years, Mr. Yntema still retains all his faculties; and we hope he will be able for many more years to perform the duties of Sunday School superintendent.
There have been many men during the forty-six years of the existence of this congregation who have been members of the consistory and all performed their duties to the best of their ability, but there are too many to mention. The members of the present consistory are Elders S. Yntema, Herman van de Bunte, Willem van Bronkhorts, and John Kamer; deacons, Lucas Kremers, Bert Shoemakers, Cyrus Keizer, and Albert Bos.
Transcriber: Susan Gates Davis
Created: 23 May 2003