The controversy of 1924 was the cause of much agitation in the fair city of Holland, Michigan. Many were dissatisfied with the action of the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church. This was to be expected for several of these individuals had heard the Biblical Reformed preaching of the Rev. H. Hoeksema for over four years, while he was their pastor in the 14th Street Christian Reformed Church in that city. At the time that he was cast out, therefore, many appeared eager and ready to organize a Protestant Reformed Church in Holland. It soon became evident, however, that much of this enthusiasm was not of the proper kind. Gatherings were held at the home of some of these brethren, but they did not result in the organizing of a congregation.
Shortly after the deposition of Rev. Hoeksema a very interesting event occurred in Holland. He had been asked to speak on the “Three Points” and came to Holland to comply. So great was the interest that it was necessary for him to repeat his lecture to accommodate the crowd. On one evening, capacity audiences filled the Women’s Literary Club auditorium twice, to hear the topic of the hour. But sad to say, this enthusiasm soon waned and by the year 1929, it was almost gone. There remained, however, a few who continued to be dissatisfied with the teachings of the Christian Reformed Church, “common grace” in particular. They were convinced that the teaching of the Protestant Reformed Churches was the true, Biblical teaching of God’s Word.
In the early part of 1929, Mr. Henry Kamps, who at this time attended the Protestant Reformed Church at Hudsonville, took steps to attempt the organization of a Protestant Reformed Church in Holland. This attempt, by God’s grace, was successful and on the evening of July 3, 1929, the First Protestant Reformed Church of Holland was organized in the Women’s Literary Club Rooms. On that occasion the Rev. H. Hoeksema spoke from II Timothy 2:19 and led the organizational procedure. There were 11 families as charter members. A Protestant Reformed Church in Holland had become a reality!
From that date on regular services, society meeting, catechisms and a Sunday School nourished the new daughter. Our first place of worship was a small building which had been used as a bakery. The dough had to be scraped from the floor before it was fit to use. It served its purpose, however, and we experienced the joy of the Word of God: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them”. Our services were faithfully conducted by our students.
In September of 1932, Candidate M. Gritters became our first pastor. He served us with blessing until April of 1938. It was during this time that a young man from our midst felt the call and desire to study for the Ministry in our churches. This son of our congregation serves the church at South Holland at present, the Rev. M. Schipper. It was also during this period that the congregation moved from its first place of worship to a basement Baptist church across from our present parsonage. Steps were likewise taken to procure a place of worship that we might call our own. Two lots were purchased on the corner of 20th and Maple Avenue where our church building now stands.
From the basement church the congregation moved to North River Avenue. For about a year and a half, we worshipped in a Gospel Hall there. The flock at this time was shepherded by the Rev. P. De Boer. His pastorate extended from June, 1938 to December 1943. It was during his pastorate that the new church building was completed. The Lord had provided us a place of our own where we still continue to worship Him from week to week. To this we had looked forward and consummated with joy.
All things in this life have an end, as also the labors of Rev. De Boer, who, when called to another portion of God’s vineyard in 1943, felt it to be the Lord’s will to leave Holland for sunny California.
The congregation was not long without a pastor. Our present pastor, the Rev. W. Hofman, who was then a Candidate, accepted our call and became our third under-shepherd.
The congregation at Holland can and must say “Ebenezer, hither hath the Lord helped us!” To Him be the praise alone! He has abundantly provided with material goods, but above all with spiritual blessings. We are blessed to be instructed in the Reformed Truth which is the Word of God.
The Scripture teaches us, that in the measure we receive these blessings, so also, our responsibility increases. We are only stewards and must give account to Him Whose are all things and Who alone is worthy of all praise and adoration. He calls His own out of darkness into His marvelous light that we may be pilgrims and sojourners in the earth, manifesting that we are of His Party.
The Truth of the Sovereign Grace of God is not popular in our day and really never has been. As we look back at our history that is also evident. We did not grow by leaps and bounds, but God gave the increase in His own time and way. By His Spirit and Truth, through the years of our existence, we have grown in grace and numbers. The organization that began with 11 families now numbers 45.
May the Lord continue to bless us as a congregation and as churches. May we have faith ever to be vigilant, sober and to continue in the Truth; once delivered unto the Saints.