Mr. Lotterman is a member of Southwest PRC.
In thankful commemoration of God’s faithfulness, Southwest Protestant Reformed Church is pleased to announce the seventy-fifth anniversary of its organization. In celebration of this historic event, Southwest will hold an anniversary program the evening of September 7, 2001, D.V., beginning with a supper for their members and followed by a program of remembrance for the enjoyment of their members and members of the sister congregations. The theme of their celebration is “Thankful Commemoration of God’s Faithfulness,” and they have chosen Psalter number 408, a versification of Psalm 149 as their theme song.
Southwest PRC was organized on July 12, 1926 as the Roosevelt Park Protestant Reformed Church, located at that time in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood of southwest Grand Rapids in the Grandville Ave. and Clyde Park area. Services were held in a rented (garage) building on Roosevelt St. hill. Their beginnings were small, numbering only nineteen families with fifty-four children and five individuals. The names of most of the charter members are not familiar to us now, although there are presently a few grandchildren of two of the charter members who are members today. And there are children of families who joined Roosevelt Park Church shortly after their organization who are also members today.
The congregation grew under the pastorates of Rev. Bernard Kok and Rev. Richard Veldman, so that during the decade of the thirties the congregation increased in number from twenty-seven families in 1930 to sixty-seven families in 1939. This was the decade of the great nationwide depression, and many of the men of the congregation were unable to work or worked at minimum wages at the area factories. Often the consistory was confronted with the “union question,” and many times they met weekly into the late hours of the night to lead the congregation in the light of the Word of God.
The congregation found it necessary to erect a church building of their own on the corner of Ellen Avenue and Rathbone Street just north of Godfrey Avenue. The dedication of the building took place on the evening of November 16, 1939. It was also necessary to change their name to Second Protestant Reformed Church. Rev. M. Schipper was chosen to be their pastor during the decade of the forties, a decade of war and unrest nationally. Many of the young men of the congregation were sent off to war, and two of the young men paid the supreme sacrifice for their country.
Rev. Schipper accepted the call to the South Holland, IL congregation in 1945, and Second Church chose Rev. S. Cammenga to become their fourth pastor. The years of Rev. Cammenga’s pastorate were relatively calm and peaceful, although the “union question” still presented some difficulties. But for all that, the congregation grew together in a strong bond of fellowship and love. Although we know that blessings are not measured by numbers, it is interesting to note that during the pastorate of Rev. Cammenga the congregation welcomed into their fellowship twenty-six new families, witnessed twenty-five confessions of faith, and had twenty-five baptisms. Of course, there were also those who transferred their membership to other of our churches, and there were some families who left the pure preaching of the Word as proclaimed from our pulpits. But our faithful God continued to bless Second Church.
After Rev. Cammenga accepted the call to our (then) church in Rock Valley, Iowa, Rev. J. Blankespoor became their pastor. This was the decade of the fifties, the decade of the schism in our churches, and Second Church also experienced the rending of the church and families so that on October 9, 1953 two deacons led the congregation to continue in the truth of God’s Word and the confessions as maintained by the Protestant Reformed Churches. The congregation was reduced from about eighty-five families to less than forty, and as history was to show, they lost the church building and their name and had to “begin over.”
Rev. M. Schipper was called to lead them during these difficult times, the second time they had this servant of the Lord minister to their needs. Their name was changed once again, this time to Southwest Protestant Reformed Church. Prior to the purchase of their own church building, they met for a few years in the building of the Wyoming Park Seventh Day Adventist Church, and their weekly meetings were in an old, drafty, rented store building. In 1958 they purchased a church building on the corner of Porter Street and Meyers Avenue in the Beverly Park neighborhood, and in 1964 they purchased a parsonage on Central Avenue for Rev. G. Lubbers, who followed Rev. Schipper as pastor in 1964.
Rev. H. Veldman became their next pastor, and it was during his stay with them that it became necessary to build larger facilities. The property on Ivanrest Avenue was purchased in 1974. The first phase of their “three-phase building project,” the building of the fellowship room to be used as a temporary meeting place, was dedicated for their use in July 1978. The second phase of their building project, that of the building of a parsonage, was finished in time for their next pastor, Rev. M. DeVries, and his young family to occupy in 1981. The final phase of the building project, that of the new sanctuary, was finished and dedicated in September 1988. With thanks to our faithful Father, the congregation was notified in 1998 that the entire building project was paid in full.
Rev. M. Kamps followed Rev. DeVries as pastor in 1986, and their present pastor, Rev. R. Cammenga, was installed on September 23, 1993. The congregation has experienced steady growth during the past several years, so that, at the end of the year 2000, they numbered about one hundred families. And they continue to make financial provisions for the completion of the balcony in the sanctuary.
Since 1998 Southwest has been privileged to be the calling church for the Eastern Home Missionary, Rev. J. Mahtani, who is presently laboring in Pittsburgh, PA. Southwest has an active Evangelism Committee, which sponsors the very successful “Summer Lecture Series,” and is responsible for the dissemination of the distinctive doctrines of the Protestant Reformed Churches through the publication and distribution of pamphlets and tracts.
Through all these seventy-five years God has kept Southwest faithful to His Word, not because of their worthiness but because He changes not! Let God then receive all the praise and glory. And let us pray that He will continue to bless them and their children for many more years to come for His name’s sake.