Crescent Street building, 1951-1993


The First Netherlands Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was begun by several dozen Dutch immigrants dissatisfied with the Reformed and Christian Reformed congregations with which they had affiliated. The group called Rev. Cornelius Kloppenburg of OudVosmeer, the Netherlands, who came in August 1870. After failing to convince the believers to affiliate with the least objectionable local church, Kloppenburg oversaw formal organization on October 30, 1870. The church chose the name Christian Reformed Congregation of Grand Rapids.

The 1870 U.S. Census showed Grand Rapids as a city of 16,507, twice the population of a decade earlier. But the Dutch-born percentage increased at a much faster rate; at 2,944, it was 3.4 times greater than in 1860. Not counting their American-born offspring, the Dutch-born comprised 18% of the city's population.

In 1875 the congregation affiliated with the mother church, the Christian Reformed Church in the Netherlands. In 1877 the congregation established ties with the church of Lodi, New Jersey, choosing the denominational name of Netherlands Reformed. Affiliation with the Lodi church ceased with the organization of a new congregation at Passaic, New Jersey, formed in 1883. A third congregation was added in 1886 when the True Holland Reformed Church of South Holland, Illinois, joined.

Over the years, congregations in Sheboygan, Wisconsin (1906),; Paterson, New Jersey (1907); and Kalamazoo, Michigan (1909) would join the small denomination.

West of the Grand River was another congregation with similar beliefs, the Turner Avenue church. It had organized for worship in 1876 and as a congregation in 1887. At a joint meeting of the consistories of both Grand Rapids congregations on January 3, 1918, the Turner Ave. church joined the Netherlands Reformed denomination.

It soon became imperative that these churches offer English-language worship, especially for the sake of the youth. The two churches united in offering English services, then sponsoring a third Netherlands Reformed congregation, known as the Ottawa Avenue church due to of its location at 337 Ottawa Ave. NW. The Ottawa Ave. congregation was organized on April 6, 1923.

In 1946, the Division Ave. and Ottawa Ave. congregations jointly called Rev. William Cornelius Lamain as their pastor. His acceptance ended twenty-five years without a pastor. Shortly after Rev. Lamain's arrival, the two churches united as the First Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Grand Rapids. It was about this time that the Turner Ave. church left the denomination; it returned in 1987 and is now known as the Netherlands Reformed Church of Grand Rapids or the Covell Ave. church.

The Dutch-speaking and English-speaking congregations continued to worship in separate facilities until the Ottawa Ave. congregation grew too large. For Sunday evening (English) services, the group rented the Fountain Street Church until a new structure was built on Crescent Street. The new building was dedicated on May 9, 1951. Growth continued and membership exceeded 1,300 in the late 1960s.

Rev. Joel R. Beeke was installed on Dec. 9, 1986. During the following years, the First Netherlands Reformed Congregation was torn by internal struggles. This was resolved in July 1993, when the church was dissolved and two new congregations emerged: a continuing First Netherlands Reformed Congregation (now located on Beckwith Ave. and affiliated with the Netherlands Reformed denomination) and the [file:///hnrc/mi/gr/index.shtml Heritage Reformed Church], which formed the core of a new denomination.

Historical Details


  1. Christian Reformed Congregation of Grand Rapids (1870-96)
  2. Nederduitsch Reformed Church of Grand Rapids (1896-1947)
  3. First Netherlands Reformed (1947-present)


  1. Swedenborgian Church, 201 N Division Ave, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 (1870-73)
  2. 322 N Division Ave, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 (1873-1951)
  3. 540 Crescent St NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 (1951-93)
  4. 1261 Beckwith Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505 (1993-present)


  1. Kloppenburg Cornelius Kloppenburg, 1870-76
  2. Cornelius Vorst, 1877-91
  3. Martin Vander Spek, 1892-93
  4. Gerrit Wolbers, 1896-1904
  5. Cornelius Pieneman, 1906-09
  6. H. A. Minderman, 1911-21
  7. William Cornelius Lamain, 1947-84
  8. Dr. Joel R. Beeke, 1986-93
  9. Cornelius Vogelaar, June 1996-2003
  10. Johan B. Zippro, 2006-present

Daughter Church

Ottawa Ave. congregation: co-sponsored with Turner Ave. church; merged 1947.
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