Mr. Wigger is an elder in the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan.
History of Hope Church, G.R.
Seventy-eight years ago the area west of Grand Rapids, Michigan was a farming community quite isolated by the Grand River bending its way from south to north. Reformed people living there had to travel some miles north or take a ferry west across the river to satisfy their desire and need for spiritual nourishment on the Lord’s Day. These conditions prompted the church fathers of the Hope P.R.C. in Walker, Michigan to meet on Sunday, January 25, 1916 at the home of Mr. R. Newhouse and request by unanimous decision that a mission station of the Christian Reformed Church be established at “Riverbend.”
Only six months later, on June 6, 1916, the Hope Christian Reformed Church was a reality.
They were financially poor and, lacking the means to build a house of worship, held all meetings in various members’ homes.
In 1917 a decision was made to proceed with building a church at an estimated cost of $2,300.00.
A prayer of thanksgiving arose from the congregation when Candidate G.M. Ophoff became their first pastor in January 1922.
The year 1924 saw the unity of the Hope C.R.C. shattered. True to his calling, Rev. Ophoff fought openly for the cause of the truth. He expressed his disagreement with the demands of the Three Points. Consequently he and his consistory were forced out of the Christian Reformed Church. He, along with his consistory and congregation that remained, took an active part in the early formation of the Protestant Reformed Churches.
After seven years Rev. Ophoff left, and another seven years passed before God sent Candidate H. DeWolf in 1936 to become their second pastor.
In 1930, having lost their first church in 1925, they made formal plans to construct a church building for an approximate cost of $2,100.00.
Rev. DeWolf left in 1940, and was followed shortly by Candidate J. Heys, who served in Hope for thirteen years.
In 1953 Hope weathered another split in their congregation. This time the issue was the whole idea of conditional theology and how it related to the covenant. From a total membership of 40 families, 15 left.
After Rev. Heys left, Candidate H. Hanko accepted the call and became Hope’s fourth pastor. During the years Rev. Hanko was there, the congregation experienced a steady growth. Catechism attendance in 1955 showed 40; in 1963, when Rev. Hanko left, it showed 110 in attendance.
Rev. Hanko was followed in 1963 by Rev. H. Veldman.
The numerical growth in Hope meant that the present facilities were no longer adequate. With a view to building once more the congregation purchased three lots about a block away from the old church. May 16, 1965 the first worship service was held in the new sanctuary.
Rev. Veldman left in 1966 and was succeeded by Rev. J. Kortering. Rev. Kortering was followed in 1972 by Candidate R. Van Over-loop. The latter was in turn followed by Rev. R. Flikkema in 1981; and Rev. J. Slopsema became Hope’s current pastor in 1986.
Hope presently has a total of 94 families and a total membership of around 400.
Next month will mark the 28th anniversary of the “Hope Heralds,” an all male singing group from Hope who are dedicated to the heralding of Gods praise in song.
Two sister churches have had their beginnings in Hope Church. Faith, with 20 families, organized in 1973; and Grandville, with 26 families, in 1984.
There are only a couple of farmers left in Hope. There are some home-builders and factory workers. There are five teachers, a number of office workers, some self-employed, and some retirees. And there are a lot of children, five of whom are handicapped.
Hope continues to experience the blessing of God in their church life, and they feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to witness for so many years.
Rev. Carl Haak has declined the call from the First P.R.C. in Holland, Michigan.
Rev. Wayne Bekkering has declined the call to serve as missionary in Jamaica, and he has received the call to serve in the Hope P.R.C. in Isabel, South Dakota.
Prof. Robert Decker has received the call to Faith P.R.C. in Jenison, Michigan. He was chosen from a trio that included the Revs. Ronald Van Overloop and Barry Gritters.
On August 28 Rev. David Engelsma was scheduled to preach his farewell sermon in South Holland, Illinois. A divine worship service was then scheduled for August 31st in the South Holland P.R.C., at which time Rev. Engelsma was to be installed as Professor of Theology in our Seminary.
On Sunday, August 28, the Sunday School of the Hudsonville P.R.C. in Hudsonville, Michigan sponsored a Children’s Singspiration at 2:00 P.M. The songs sung were chosen especially with the children in mind. There were also a couple of special numbers by several children in Hudsonville’s congregation. A very large group turned out for this first-of-a-kind event held in our churches. Maybe more will follow.
In response to interest shown, the consistory of the Grandville P.R.C. in Grandville, Michigan has decided to encourage young couples in their church to organize a Mr. and Mrs. Society.
Final thought, from Across the Aisle of First P.R.C. in Grand Rapids, Michigan: “God gave us two ears and one mouth. That ought to tell us something.”