Three great men! Rev. H. Danhof, pastor of the First Christian Reformed Church of Kalamazoo stood side by side with Rev. H. Hoeksema and Rev. G. Ophoff to do battle against the error of common grace. Rev. Hoeksema had a large following in the Grand Rapids area. Likewise, Rev. Danhof had a large following in Kalamazoo. When Rev. Danhof and his consistory were deposed from the Christian Reformed Church, he took with him the vast majority of his large congregation. But the hopes of a vibrant, thriving, Protestant Reformed congregation in Kalamazoo were soon shattered. Rev. Danhof could not see beyond his personal differences with both Hoeksema and Ophoff, and soon parted ways to go it on his own. There were only eleven families that remained faithful to the Protestant Reformed Churches and these organized as the First PRC of Kalamazoo in 1927.
The first two pastors were Rev. W. Verhil, who served from 1932 to 1935, and Rev. J. C. Kooistra, who served from 1935 to 1940. Rev. H. Veldman became the third pastor in 1941. By 1948, under Rev. Veldman’s able leadership, this small group of believers had grown to a congregation of three times the size. With approximately 35 to 40 families, Kalamazoo PRC was financially secure enough to build their first church building. It was a beautiful structure on Alamo Ave. in western Kalamazoo.
But the joy of full congregational life was not to last. Rev. Veldman took a call to Hamilton, Canada in 1950, and Rev. E. Knott became pastor of the church. Only five years after the new building had been erected, the congregation with its minister left the PRC, taking with them the building. The few remaining families traveled to First PRC in Grand Rapids for worship for over a year. In the Fall of 1954, these few families were able to rally a few other families in the area to organize as a PRC. Not until 1958 did they again have a pastor. Rev. A. Mulder arrived that year and stayed until 1961. Rev. R. Harbach, who served as pastor from 1963 to 1974, succeeded him. Rev. B. Woudenberg came to Kalamazoo in 1976 and stayed until his retirement in 1996.
In 1981, the congregation built the church building in which we worship today. Following Rev. Woudenberg’s retirement, Rev. W. Bruinsma came to Kalamazoo in 1996 and was our pastor until 2006. Then Rev. A. Spriensma pastored us from 2007 to 2010. Rev. M. DeVries was pastor of our church from 2010 until his retirement on January 5, 2020.
Since the time of our reorganization in 1954, the small congregation of Kalamazoo has had many setbacks and struggles. Yet the Lord has blessed us richly. From the 7 families that reorganized after the split, we have now grown to 22 families. We believe there is great reason to rejoice in God’s mercies as we continue to wait on the Lord’s care and blessing.
Note: This article was written by Rev. Bruinsma in 2004 in commemoration of our 50th anniversary and recently added to by another member.