Not many churches can claim a list of worship service locations like Southeast Protestant Reformed Church (SE PRC). On March 7, 1944, thirty-three families met and organized as Fourth Protestant Reformed Church (Fourth PRC). The meeting was held in a vacated butcher shop in Boston Square (a grouping of retail stores) located in south Grand Rapids. The organization of this congregation was occasioned by the rapid growth of First PRC, then over 500 families. Shortly thereafter, the congregation purchased a two-story gas station just south of Boston Square on Kalamazoo Ave. After renovation, this location was home for this small group. In 1952, a new church building was erected. During construction, the congregation held worship services in the chapel of Grand Rapids Christian High School. The first worship services were held in the new building on March 26, 1953.
The split of 1953 affected Fourth PRC. Fifty-three families left, 36 remained. Four years later the group that left purchased (with legal guidance) the Kalamazoo property and church name. Part of this transaction was the transfer of ownership of property on Cambridge Avenue to the displaced group. Without a home, the small group decided to hold worship services in the gym of Adams Christian School. Plans were made for a church and parsonage on Cambridge. This construction took place in 1959 and the name was changed to Southeast PRC. The congregation survived a contentious split in 1962 with significant loss of families (only 18 families remained). In 2018, the congregation began discussions on the long-term viability at the Cambridge location. A vote was taken, the property was sold, and the final worship service was held on September 2, 2018 (see picture below). While a committee develops long-range plans, the congregation (now 55 families) is meeting in the Adams Christian School gym on Byron Center Ave. in Wyoming, MI.
This congregation has endured splits that caused much suffering. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, their church home has been temporary. A constant through its history has been the record of excellent ministers: Rev. R. Veldman 1944-1962, Rev. M. Schipper 1962-1978, Rev. C. Haak 1979-1985, Rev. S. Key 1986- 1991, Rev. Dale Kuiper 1992-2003, Rev. W. Langerak 2003-2018, Rev. J. Maatman 2020-present. Seven men have served as shepherds to this church. Four came as recent graduates of our Seminary. Four additional men, born of this congregation, served as ministers in our denomination…but not at our church. Three retired ministers were members of SE. One current member is a student in the Seminary.
“And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah” (Is. 1:8, 9).