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History of Southwest Protestant Reformed Church

On May 30, 1926, nineteen families with their 54 baptized children and 5 individuals requested the consistory of Eastern Avenue Protesting Christian Reformed Church to organize them formally as Roosevelt Park Protesting Christian Reformed Church, later changed to Roosevelt Park Protestant Reformed Church. The first place of worship was a large room above what was later known as Jurgens and Holtvluwer Department Store on Grandville Avenue.

Within one year of our organization, nine of the original families left our fellowship when we became involved in the “Danhof controversy.” Notwithstanding this disappointment, the congregation continued to persevere with God’s help. In 1929, Rev. Bernard Kok became our first minister. Our congregation had grown by this time to 27 families and four individuals. We then were able to move to a building on Roosevelt Avenue Hill for our worship services. By 1939, our congregation had grown to 67 families and 11 individuals.

In l936, Rev. Kok accepted a call to be Home Missionary, and Rev. Richard Veldman became our next pastor. At this time it was necessary to find a less expensive building to meet in and a member of our congregation donated a parcel of ground on Ellen Street and Rathbone Avenue and he offered to construct a building for us which was later purchased along with a house right next to the church. At this time the congregation changed our name to Second Protestant Reformed Church.

Rev. Veldman accepted a call to be associate pastor with Rev. H. Hoeksema and our next minister was Rev. Marinus Schipper. After laboring in our midst for about 5 years, Rev. Schipper accepted a call to South Holland PRC. In l945, Rev. Sebastian Cammenga of Iowa became our next pastor. In l948, Rev. Cammenga left us to serve in Rock Valley, Iowa and Rev. John Blankespoor was our next pastor.

In the fall of 1953, a serious doctrinal controversy split the Protestant Reformed Churches and Rev. Blankespoor left us along with several members and was given the church property. Having lost our property, we had to start looking for a meeting place. The Seventh Day Adventist Church rented us their facilities and we continued to hold services in this building until December 1957. We rented a store building on Belden and Lee Street for our society meetings.

Rev. Marinus Schipper again accepted our call for the second time in 1954. In 1957, it was decided to change our name to Southwest Protestant Reformed Church and we also made a decision to buy the present property of Beverly Christian Reformed Church located on the southeast corner of Porter and Meyers Avenue.

In 1962, Rev. Schipper accepted a call to Southeast PRC and two years later Rev. George Lubbers became our pastor. In 1964, a parsonage was purchased on Central Avenue in Wyoming Park In 1970; Rev. Lubbers left us to labor on the mission field in Jamaica. In l971, Rev. Herman Veldman became our next pastor. In 1977, we were vacant once again after Rev. Veldman requested emeritation on November 23, 1977.

Major repairs were needed on our church building and looking to the future growth of our congregation, relocating our place of worship was needed. Property on Ivanrest Avenue was purchased and a three phase building project was approved. The first phase would be a fellowship room, the second would be the parsonage, and the third phase would be the construction of a new sanctuary. Until we could occupy our new building, our worship services were held in the Wyoming Park Christian School building and later in the Hope School all-purpose room, and catechism classes were held in the new seminary building. Consistory meetings were held in the basement of Elder Fred Ondersma’s home and the society meetings were cancelled for the remainder of the season. Occupancy of the new building took place July 2, 1978.

Candidate Michael DeVries became our next pastor and he was installed on October 31, 1978. Because repairs were needed to our parsonage and the need for our young pastor for additional space to raise a family, we sold the parsonage on Central Avenue and construction of a new parsonage began in April of l981.

In May of l985, Rev. DeVries accepted a call to Edgerton, Minnesota and again we began calling another minister. Rev. Marvin Kamps came to us in February of l986. Only a few months later, a committee was appointed to study the possibility and feasibility of constructing the sanctuary to complete our long-range building plans. The first worship service in our new sanctuary was held on September 18, l988.

We went through another painful period when it became necessary to remove our much-loved pastor, Rev. Marvin Kamps, with the approval of Classis East on January 14, l993. Rev. Ronald Cammenga became our next pastor and he was installed on September 23, l993. In l998, the synod of our churches appointed Southwest PRC to be the calling church for a second home missionary. Rev. Jai Mahtani accepted this call and was installed as missionary to the Eastern United States on August 9, l998. He has served in this position until 2005 when he accepted a call to Bethel PRC. Rev. Wilbur Bruinsma is currently the home missionary to the Eastern United States.

In early 2003, we completed our balcony, remodeled our fellowship room and bathrooms, and redecorated our sanctuary. During this renovation, which took a few months, we held our worship services in the gym of Covenant Christian High School and held our catechism classes and society meetings at Adams Christian School.

After many years as our pastor, Rev. Cammenga accepted a call to Faith Protestant Reformed Church in October of 2004. We extended a call to Rev. Arie denHartog who was then laboring in Singapore. He accepted our call and is now our present pastor.