Ben wigger is a member of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan.
Rev. C. Hanko, a former pastor of the First Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, perhaps said it best. “We build churches not for the past, or the present, but for the future.” And judging from the new facilities of First Church, the church building should serve their needs for some time to come.
On Thursday, October 16, the flock of First Church along with many friends and well wishers from surrounding churches met to dedicate what God has so graciously provided. It proved to be both an enjoyable and inspirational evening.
The program for the evening started with an organ prelude by Mrs. Mary Velthouse. This gave many the opportunity to hear for the first time the newly installed Wicks Pipe Organ.
Mr. Edward Ophoff Sr., vice president of the consistory, then opened by reading Psalm 150 and leading in prayer. He also pointed out that the program was being both video and audio tape recorded. It just might be the first time a dedication of one of our churches has ever been video recorded.
Those in attendance then got their first chance to sing along with the Wicks Pipe Organ, which this time had Miss Bonnie Talsma as accompanist.
Mr. Kenneth Vink, chairman of the New Organ Committee along with Mrs. Mary Velthouse then presented the anatomy of the organ, which was a short discourse on the parts and sounds of the new organ. This particular organ is smaller than the pipe organ on Franklin St., the site of the old First. Church. The organ has nine hundred total pipes along with chimes, but only ninety pipes are visible in the front of the auditorium.
The program continued with greetings from two former pastors of First Church. Rev. Cornelius Hanko based his remarks on Psalm 126:3: “The Lord has done great things for us; whereof we are glad.”
Rev. Hanko pointed out that God has made this building possible. But He has also done much more than that. He has kept us and our children, and in some cases also their children, in the truth. God has indeed preserved us in our generations. Without God’s grace we have nothing. And even though this is a beautiful church, we have nothing to boast of. Rev. Hanko also mentioned that he had been present at the dedication of the first First Church some sixty years before.
Rev. Gise Van Baren also had greetings for the congregation. Rev. Van Baren spoke of the changes First Church has gone through over the years. It used to be a neighborhood church. The vast majority of its members lived within walking distance. Now it is a commuter church; no one walks, everyone drives. He also pointed out the stability of the church. Even though it has seen some difficult doctrinal times, the truth has been maintained. Rev. Van Baren also pointed us to the Word of God found in I Peter 1:8: “. . . ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory”. We have joy unspeakable because of what God has given. However, the church is only a tool to be used to praise our God.
Rev. Meindert Joostens, the present pastor at First Church, also had some remarks to make. He led us to Scripture, found particularly in Psalm 26:8, .which speaks of the saints of the Old Testament and the love they had for God’s house, the Holy Hill of Zion: the place where God’s honor dwelt. Here His glory ‘was revealed. And so it should be for us. Our church is where we are open to the Word of God. Who is great like unto our God?
The dedication program also consisted of several numbers sung by First Church’s choir under the direction of Mr. Roland Peterson. A poem written and presented by Mrs. Sue Looyenga entitled “Fitly Framed” and remarks by the chairman of the building committee, Mr. Thomas Newhof Jr., followed.
The program came to a close with Prof. Robert Decker, a son of First Church, who had a few brief remarks to make based on II Thessalonians 2:15. The one fundamental truth we have maintained and must continue to maintain is the absolute sovereignty of God: Without that we no longer exist as churches. We need the pure preaching of the Word. If we have that, we will continue to be strong. He also challenged the congregation to let those in the neighborhood know who they are. After the program, opportunity was given to tour the building and enjoy refreshments in the basement.
From Southwest we find a note from Rev. and Mrs. Kamps thanking the congregation for their many expressions of love and support during Nancy’s time of recuperation from surgery. The meals that were prepared, the cards, prayers, visits, and hours of labor on their behalf were expressions of the communion of the saints.
From Redlands we also learn that Rev. and Mrs. Houck’s son, Jeremy, has had a reoccurrence of his kidney infection. Compounding the concern is that be also has developed a hernia which needs surgery, but which must be postponed until the kidney infection clears up.
The Adult Bible Class of Isabel, SD., has decided to do something this year that neither they nor their pastor has ever done before. Rev. D.H. Kuiper informs us that they have begun the study of the Gospel of Mark instead of an epistle or an Old Testament book. This study will allow the members, in fact, require of the members that they exercise the first rule of Scripture study: compare Scripture with Scripture! What an abundance of truth is uncovered when a passage is studied in light of the other gospel narratives, as well as the Old Testament prophets!