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HistoryEdit

Fourth Reformed was organized in 1875 as a daughter church of Second Reformed to deal with the fact that Second was bursting at the seams.

This church was organized Sept. 25,1875 by the Classis of Grand River. A house of worship being completed, on Nov. 26, 1875, the church, with 30 families, extended its first call and soon welcomed the Rev. L. J. Hulst, of Danforth, IL to the new church and its parsonage.

In 1882, the lodge issue came to a head. The smaller Christian Reformed Church did not allow its members to belong to secret societies, while the Reformed Church allowed its members to do so. This went against the tradition in the Netherlands and widely impacted Dutch speaking churches. Many left for the CRC, including the majority of some congregations, and from that point forward the bulk of Dutch Reformed immigrants would join Christian Reformed congregations.

Rev. Lammert J. Hulst led a majority of the Fourth Reformed congregation (154 of 177 families, 676 of 778 members) out of the Reformed Church and into the Christian Reformed Church. This was the origin of Coldbrook (later Beckwith Hills) CRC .

About these events, Baxter writes:

"The increase from Holland immigrants, who, to this day, settle numerously in that part of the city, was a great factor in the growth of the church, and in the spring of 1880 the church edifice was greatly enlarged, and the report in 1881 showed 177 families and 273 members. The AntiMasonic agitation, originating in the First Reformed Church of Holland, Mich., in the summer of 1880, reached this Consistory June 29, 1880, and profoundly disturbed the peace of the church. At the congregational meeting of Sept. 16, 1880, it was resolved by a large majority to present a memorial to the aforenamed Classis, having jurisdiction over them, setting forth their conscientious protest against further toleration of the church membership of Masons, and members of other secret societies and that, unless the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America should grant a deliverance in accord with their views, they would take steps to be released from present ecclesiastical connections. Accordingly, on Sept. 8, 1881, the congregation assembled, and, by a large majority vote, severed its relation to said denomination, changed its name, and, one year later, joined the denomination known as 'The Holland Christian Reformed Church.' By decision of the courts, it holds the church and parsonage property, now valued at $5,000. Sixteen male members, however, remained loyal to the denomination by whose aid the Church had grown, and these continued the original organization, which now flourishes on North Ionia Street, opposite the school house. The number who refused to join in this secession was soon found to be thirty seven communicants and twenty-one families, whom the Classis recognized as the lawful organization. They at once formed a new Consistory or Board of Trustees, composed of Elders Francis Van Driele and Wm. Bommelje, and Deacons H. W. Hofs and Justus C. Herstein. Deprived of their house of worship, they met for a time in an old building on Coldbrook Street, between Ottawa and Ionia Streets, which had been used as a grocery store. Here Reformed ministers of this city, and supplies granted by the Classis and occasional lay reading services, maintained their worship until they secured their present pastor, the Rev. Peter De Pree, who was installed Nov. I6, 1882...."

The congregation soon began to recover lost ground and drew many new immigrants. In February 1883 Fourth Reformed needed to find a larger worship space. The church grew so much that in 1887 the Consistory resolvedto erect its own house of worship, with the aid of the Board of Domestic Missions.

Baxter says:

"A substantial and elegant frame edifice succeeded, built in Queen Anne style, at a cost of $7,000. It has an auditorium that will seat 520, and a basement with the best facilities for Sunday school, prayer meeting and other purposes, which latter rooms were opened with appropriate exercises March 11, 1888, and used for public worship until July 1, 1888, when the completed house was dedicated. An organ costing $I,000 was then among its furniture."

During the pastorate of Rev. Cornelius Kuyper (1904-11), the church added English language evening worship in addition to its morning and afternoon services in Dutch. A once-a-month morning English service was introduced in February 1919, and a second weekly English service was begun during the pastorate of Cornelius Muller (1920-28). English replaced Dutch in the written word - the annual financial report was first published in English in 1922. Regular Dutch services ended around 1940.

Go to the Fourth Reformed Church website.

LocationsEdit

  1. 1140 Ionia NW (near Walbridge), 1875-81
  2. Coldbrook between Ottawa and Ionia NW, 1881-88
  3. 1031 Ionia NW, 1888-1955 (seating for 520)
  4. Ladies Literary Club, 61 Sheldon Ave. SE, 1955-56
  5. 1226 Union Ave. NE, 1955-present (seating for 660, education spaced added in 1966)

PastorsEdit

  1. Lammert J. Hulst, 1876-81, led 87% of congregation into CRC
  2. Peter De Pree, 1882-91
  3. Peter A. Bouma, 1892-94
  4. John W. Waarnshuis, 1895-1900
  5. Jacob Van Houte, 1900-03
  6. Cornelius Kuyper, 1904-11
  7. Gerrit Bosch, 1912-15
  8. Harke Frieling, 1915-19
  9. Cornelius Muller, 1920-28
  10. James D. Ellerbroek, 1929-41
  11. William A. Swets, 1942-49
  12. Henry P. Kik, 1949-58
  13. Russell E. Horton, 1959-68
  14. Arvin H. Wester, 1969-73
  15. Jerome W. Batts, 1974-77
  16. Arthur C. Johnson, associate, 1976-77
  17. Peter J. Breen, 1979-84
  18. Kenneth W. Kuiper, 1984-??
  19. Terry Thole, 1991-present

Daughter ChurchesEdit

  1. Seventh Reformed, 1890
  2. Bethel Reformed, 1906
  3. Plainfield Reformed, 1913-23

Membership OverviewEdit

Fourth Reformed got off to a fast start, reaching 1,000 total members in the early 1890s (even after giving birth to Seventh Reformed in 1890) and again around 1906, when it launched Bethel Reformed.It achieved another peak in 1913, at which point it launched Plainfield Reformed.

4th-rca-members

Membership data, Fourth Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, MI

Overall Membership DataEdit

Heavy lines: green (lower) shows membership in families; blue (middle), professing members; red (top), total members. Thin lines: magenta (middle), non-professing members; orange (lower), inactive members; black (top), average worship attendance.

4th-rca-rates

Membership ratios, Fourth Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, MI

Membership RatiosEdit

Red line (middle) shows nonprofessing members as a percentage of total membership (inactive members exluded); green (lower), inactive members as percentage of total membership; and blue (higher) average worship attendance of total membership.

4th-rca-delta5

Five year growth rate, Fourth Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, MI

Five Year Growth RateEdit

Red line shows five year growth rate. A five year growth rate between 10% and -10% is considered stable; greater than 10% indicates a growing congregation; one below -10% indicates a church in decline. This makes no allowance for daughter churches.

Data source: Acts of Synod of the Reformed Church in America. Dates are year prior to publication date since data is gathered at the end of one year and published in the next.

Sources

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