Ben Wigger is an elder in the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan.
Now that Rev. Rodney Miersma has accented the call extended to him from our sister congregation in Wellington, New Zealand, it seems like a good time to continue the profiles of our churches with a profile of our Holland Church, Rev. Miersma’s present charge.
On July 3, 1929 the First Protestant Reformed Church of Holland, Michigan was born. Those who met there that night had been led to believe that as many as seventy-five families would be joining with them. But, as so often, in our history as churches, when it comes ‘to actually breaking with the church and being willing to do through the process of reformation, there were so few who actually dared to show their colors. Consequently only eleven families became part of that first group.
For the better part of the first five years the congregation gathered in a little bakery shop.
In September 1932, the congregation felt compelled to call their first pastor. This was done only after Classis decided to grant Holland a subsidy of $300.00. Candidate Martin Gritters became their first pastor.
Continued growth led the group to purchase two lots in 1936 for $750.00 on the corner of Twentieth and Maple. Plans were approved and Holland’s first church building became a reality in 1938. Meanwhile Rev. Gritters accepted a call from Sioux Center, Iowa. Soon after this the Rev. Peter DeBoer became the second pastor of Holland. He remained until 1943 when he accepted a call from Redlands, California.
Candidate Walter Hoffman became their next pastor until 1947 when he accepted a call to become Home Missionary.
The call then went out to the Rev. Bernard Kok who became the church’s fourth pastor.
It was during his pastorate that the congregation, along with the entire denomination, was caught up in the controversy relative to a “conditional covenant”. Under the leadership of Rev. Kok the majority of Holland left the denomination also taking with them the property.
Sixteen male confessing members with their families remained. A temporary meeting place was found and in June 1954 Candidate James McCollam became their fifth pastor. Troubles continued in Holland and the congregation experienced some difficult years. In 1959 Rev. McCollam left the church to join with the United Presbyterians.
Rev. George Lanting, then pastor in Grand Haven, accepted the call to come over and help. During this time lots were purchased, plans approved and on February 18, 1965 the new church building was dedicated.
In 1966 Rev. Lanting departed and Rev. John Heys arrived to become the seventh pastor. More than once Rev. Heys was granted permission to visit Jamaica to conduct our mission there. And he was also sent to New Zealand to labor in the interest of our churches.
Rev. Heys retired in 1980 and Rev. R. Miersma became their next pastor. In March 1987 he accepted the call from New Zealand.
The present congregation is diversified and somewhat scattered. They have a couple of farmers, some businessmen, factory workers and office people. They have retired families as well as young with four; five and six children.
One society of interest is their Society for Providing Protestant Reformed Christian Education. This society was organized after the split of 1953 when the “other” group confiscated and later sold the lots the Holland Church had purchased for the purpose of building their own school. In 1956-57 they started transporting their children to Hope School via station wagon and later purchased a 24 passenger bus and later a 48 passenger and eventually a 66 passenger bus.
As the congregation spread it became more and more difficult to have only one bus route, some children had to leave before 7 A.M. and would not return until after 5 P.M. They then purchased two vans and had a North and South run.
Holland has an Evangelism Committee to distribute literature, Standard Bearers and sponsor lectures and assist the consistory in “Church Extension” activity in their area.
In a news letter to their congregation of Southeast, the Evangelism Society reports on several items. One was a thank you to Mr. Ken Rietema, Sr. and Mr. Ken Rietema, Jr. Over the last couple of years they have taken care of recording each issue of the Standard Bearer onto cassette tape, making several copies and mailing them out to a list of blind and infirm individuals who have requested the tapes.
Our church in Grandville held a congregational meeting recently and approved the hiring of an architectural firm to prepare a preliminary design for a new church building.
Since only a few reservations were received, this year’s Young People’s Spring Banquet was cancelled, What a shame! The Spring Banquet used to be a very important occasion. Maybe some young person can tell me why this no longer seems to be true.
How fast the school year flies by! No sooner has it begun in September than it’s May and almost over, and many of our bulletins contain announcements about Kindergarten Round-ups. For some of our covenant youth school is almost over, for some it is just beginning.