An Address Delivered by the Rev. John Y. Broek D.D.
Minister of Trinity Reformed Church Plainfield, New Jersey
And President of the Board of Domestic Missions at the
meeting of the General Synod Reformed Church in America
at the Inn, Buck Hill Falls, Pennsylvania, May 20, 1950

(Also see Early History of First Reformed of Holland)

    I am to tell tonight what I know about the Log House of my grandfather Harm Broek in whose home the Classis of Holland assembled in April 1850 and overtures were made to unite the churches of the Holland Colony with the Reformed Church in America.
    The first meeting of the Classis of Holland was held in Zeeland, Michigan, April 23, 1848. It was resolved that the meetings be held twice a year on the last Wednesday in the month of April and the last Wednesday in the month of October at the home of Elder Harm Broek.
    The meetings of September 27, 1848, April 25, 1849, October 31, 1849, April 1850, October 30, 1850, April 30, 1851 were held in this log house.
    The Log House was located on the Broek Farm.some two miles east of Holland, quite near the golf Club. I do not know what my grandfather would have said if he saw men playing golf. I think he would have said --You could spend your time to better advantage.
    When I was a boy, my father, Rev. Dirk Broek showed me the exact location of this Log House and he told me, I want you to remember this place for here the Classis of Holland assembled and overtures were made tounite the churches of the Holland Colony with the Reformed Church in America. The minutes of the April meeting were lost, but we have fragments of that meeting and the verbal testimony of my father and grandfather that this important meeting held in this Log House.
The Broek Farm is still in possession of the Broek family.

    My father in writing a paper on "The Early Church Life" for the Semi-Centennial celebration of 1897 wondered how so many members of Classis could assemble in this Log House. I have a psalm book that came out of that Log House. Possibly it was used in the singing of a Dutch psalm at the meeting of Classis. It certainly was used in the old Log Church. I also have in my house in Plainfield a Dutch cup and saucer which came out of the Log House, for it came from the old Broek home in New Leussen, Overyssel, Netherlands. Possibly Dr. Van Raalte drank his coffee out that cup at the meeting of Classis.
    The Log House was destroyed by fire. The Indians passed this log house every day. The family was very intimate with the Indians and never had any trouble with them. On his farm across the road was an Indian burying ground.
    My grandfather was an Elder in the First Reformed Church, Holland, Michigan, the old Pillar Church for 40 years. He was great friend and admirer of Dr. Van Raalte and one of the pallbearers at his funeral.
    He was a farmer. When he was 90 years old he was still pitching hay.  During the secession movement in 1882, he stood unmovable as a rock at the head of a small company of eighteen members who loyally adhered to the First Reformed Church and thus the historical organization of the church was maintained. I have a copy of the suit in the Supreme Court of Michigan in their attempt to regain title to the property of the First Church, Holland, Michigan.
    Now at those meetings of Classis that were held in this Log House, a variety of questions was discussed. The delegates came from a wide territory from Holland, Zeeland, Vriedland, Overisel, Graafschap, Drenthe and Grand Rapids. There were 30 delegates present.
    An Elder was reprimanded for his double-faced conduct. It was reported that the Churchin Milwaukee had been organized. At the meeting on April 25, 1849, a brother was excommunicated for contracting a certain marriage.
    The General Synod of 1848 resolved "That the Board of Missions give special attention tothe wants of the Protestant Hollanders with a view to bringing them into connection with our own church, upon which they have greater claim than upon any other denomination in our land."

    "Added to all the claims advanced by patriotism, by humanity, by religion, we have an appeal to our affections and sympathies, based on endearing affinities. A new body of Pilgrims has reached our shore from Holland, land of our fathers, and the shelter, in ages gone by, to outcasts by persecution."
    *At the meeting of September 27, 1848, the record states that "Classis feels that they must seek closer communion with the other churches but they also realize the difficulty resulting from the fact that they are peculiarly placed as pioneers in the wilderness."
    In July 1849, Rev. Isaac N. Wyckoff, a representative of the Board of the Domestic Missions visited the Colonists. He could speak Dutch fluently. Largely upon his recommendation and report the way for union was prepared.
    At the meeting of April, 1850, a credential was given to the Rev. A.C. Van Raalte to the Particular Synod of Albany, requesting admission to the Reformed Church. The letter is given in Corwinís Manual and is as follows: "The Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Classis of Holland, in Ottawa County, Michigan desire the brethren who are Elders of the Church of our Lord under the name of the Dutch Reformed Church gathered in the state of *Corwinís ManualóFourth Edition, Page 193. New York to consider the welfare of this part of Christís flock. "Grace and peace from God the Father in the Lord Jesus Christ, through the Holy Ghost. "Considering the precious and blessed unity of the Church of God and the plainly expressed will of our Saviour that all should be one, and especially remembering how small and weak we ourselves are, therefore our hearts have longed for intercourse with precious Zion of God ever since our feet first pressed the shores of this new world. Our hearts were also strengthened and we were encouraged in meeting with some of Godís people. . . .
    Indeed, all Godís children, of whatever denomination, are dear to us; but in the management and care of our own religious affairs we feel more at home where we find our own standards of faith and principles of Church government. It was, therefore, very gratifying to us to find, on your side, no narrow exclusiveness, but open, hearty, brotherly love. This has awakened in us a very positive desire to exhibit our own feeling of fellowship and to ask the hand of fellowship from you. "We have, therefore, resolved to send one of our brethren, the Rev. A. C. Van Raalte, a minister of the Church of God, as a delegate to your church Judicatory, which is soon about to meet in Albany or vicinity. We authorize him in our name to give and to ask all necessary information which can facilitate the desired union. For him and for you we pray for the Spirit in rich abundance from Christ our glorified Head. He sitteth on the throne of God and is possessed of rich blood-bought gifts. They come from the fulness of the Ever-Living One to enable us to glorify the Triune God."
    In the name of the Classis of Holland, convened in the Year of our Lord 1850, in April."
*The General Synod of 1850, meeting a Poughkeepsie, N.Y. adopted the following resolutions: Resolved, that the Classis of Holland be received under the care of the General Synod and be joined to the Particular Synod of Albany.  Resolved, that the religious conditions and necessities of the Holland Emigrants whatever they are dispersed throughout our country be commended to the particular attention of the Board of Domestic Missions.
+At the time of Union "The Classis of Holland comprised nine organized churches averaging one hundred members ach and enjoyed the services of six ministers." ^
    At the meeting of the Classis of Holland held on April 30, 1851, in this Log House, the beginning of the Educational work and Hope College was laid as is evident from the communication from Rev. John Garretson, D.D., Secretary of the Board of Domestic Missions.
Minutes of Classis of Holland, Page 36-37
+ Minutes of General Synod 1850, Page 69
^ Corwinís Manual Fourth Edition, Page 139

    "Rev. Van Raalte informs the brethren that he received from Rev. Garretson, an encouraging communication about the interest manifested among the many children of God in the Old Dutch Church with regard to the welfare of this recent settlement; that particularly the education of youth, constitute one of the most important points for consideration. That in place of a request to provide education year by year for a number of children from the midst of us, there was a plan under consideration to send us a brother Eminent for knowledge, experience and faith; that he may serve as counselor in all kinds of affairs, and that he may give instruction to a good many, instead of to a few; to the end that afterwards, with good judgement, those may be sent up (for further education) who are fit for it. That also the Honorable Theodore Frelinghuysen, one of the foremost pillars in the house of God, greatly favored and advocated this plan. This purpose or plan, aroused rejoicing and several of the brethren endowed with insight into the importance of some such step, expressed themselves as heartily glad of what they had heard; and expressed their own feelings with regard to the supreme education of the youth, upon which depend the character, the destiny, and the property of a people; saying that for their own posterity they sought above all else God-fearing instruction in all the branches of knowledge.  Further, the question was discussed in what way every Church could send up at least a few children for such Instruction; namely, by designating a family where the Children of a congregation could be lodged and boarded, and on Saturday afternoon each child could go to the house of his own parents for a change of clothing. Such an arrangement need cost the parents little or no money, as they could themselves supply provisions for such a house."*
    Upon returning East, Dr. Garretson drew up a plan for a high school for the Hollanders in Western Michigan, whose object should be "To prepare sons of the colonists from Holland for Rutgers College and also to educate daughters of said colonists."
    "Subscriptions were obtained by Dr. Garretson in the east on the express condition that five acres of land be procured in the town of Holland for use and purpose of an academy." Dr. Van Raalte donated five acres of land.  The academy was started in 1851 with Mr. Walter T. Taylor as first principal, which developed into Hope in1866, and Dr. Van Raalte said, "This is my Anchor of Hope for this people in the future." +
    At the meeting held on April 30, 1851, in this Log House, Dr. Albertus C. Van Raalte said, "Concerning our union with the Old Dutch Church of North America which is a source of joy and gratitude, it is judged that it is our duty to take a tender and hearty attitude toward it, and that although lack of money (makes) it difficult to cause our ...
*Minutes of the Classis of Holland, Page 51-52
+Corwinís Manual Fourth Edition, Page 193
representative to be present at the ecclesiastical assemblies, it is nevertheless desirable that the senti-ments of the Classis of Holland should be made manifest by letters at the ecclesiastical assemblies, that it may be known that we cherish a feeling of love, and brotherly fellowship, and we desire a union that shall constantly grow closer and more cordial."
    "The kind welcome and cordial reception into church fellowship awaken our joy and esteem; since they stand in too sharp a contrast with the contempt, oppression and rejection we experienced in the Netherlands, for it to fail to exercise a beneficent influence upon our hearts. This esteem and love are greatly heightened when we consider that we posses nothing at all which could in any degree commend us to them; and that our strong attachment to the articles of our confession, to the doctrines of the Reformation, and to the Catechism and Canons of Dort the distinguishing marks of the Reformed Churches which in the Netherlands was a cause of contempt, oppression and rejection, here on the contrary gives us a large place in our hearts. We humbly desire not to put to shame the confidence bestowed upon us, but as is our bounden duty, so to conduct ourselves that we shall be an ornament to the Dutch Reformed Church by earnestly seeking the glory of God and the welfare of our neighbors. To this end we earnestly ask for the intercession of the churches and their beneficent care over us, particularly in the matter of education." *
Minutes of the Classis of Holland, Page 52-53

How much the Western Churches owe to the Board of Domestic Missions.  Is it not significant that on this one hundreth anniversary that four of the officers of the Board of Domestic Missions, and fifteen members as at present constituted, are products of this organization in the West.  Let us not despise the day of small things. The history of the Dutch Colonies in the West in 1847 is much the same as that of the Pilgrim fathers landing at Plymouth, Mass. In 1620. From these humble beginnings mighty influences went forth for the establishing of the Kingdom of God in this land and in lands beyond the seas.
    Today we have another peerless opportunity before us in the Dutch colonists who are coming by the thousands in Canada. Let us as a church accept the challenge of the hour, and with Godís help move forward to give them the gospel and the Church.

Transcriber: Barb Jones
Created: 27 January 2007
URL: http://ottawa.migenweb.net/churches/reformed/fstrefholland.html