PRC History – Dutch Worship Services

Back on October 22 we raised this question in connection with some research being done on the Dutch services in the PRC:

While we are on the subject of Dutch services, we may put the question before you: when did Dutch services end in the PRC? We have checked several congregations now, and you might be surprised to learn when these services came to an end.

It is (over) time that we returned to this matter. Research on several PRCs revealed the following concerning when the last Dutch service was held:

  • First PRC, Grand Rapids, MI – April 7, 1957
  • Roosevelt Park (SW) PRC – 1945
  • Rock Valley, IA PRC – 1957

As I hinted at in my comment at the end of the question about when Dutch services ended in the PRC, the 1957 year took me by surprise. I suspected 1940s, so the Roosevelt Park date did not surprise me. But the others did; I did not expect the Dutch services to have lasted that late in our history.

As you may guess, there was progression in this decision to end Dutch services in the PRC. If First PRC is indicative, this is how the bulletin announcements went, stretching back to 1945 (keeping in mind that First had two English services and two Dutch services in those days):

  • “At the last congregational meeting it was decided that the consistory call on those that have need of the Holland language in church services before eliminating same. This has been done and it has been found that with very few exceptions they were all willing to discontinue the first service [8:30 am!]. So it has been decided to make this change in our services from four to three, commencing the first Sunday in October.” [April 29, 1945]
  • “The Consistory has decided to conduct Holland services every other Sunday beginning today, hence there will be no Holland service next Sunday.” [Dec.2, 1956]
  • The Consistory has decided to discontinue the Sunday afternoon [Dutch] services (effective immediately) because of the small attendance.” [That service was at 2:30 pm and later 2:00 pm.] (April 14, 1957)

And thus it was, that on April 7, 1957 (the Sunday before) the final Dutch sermon was preached in First PRC.

I would also be interested in hearing from our readers about any memories they have of attending Dutch services in a PRC congregation, whether as an adult or as a child. Feel free to leave a comment in the comment box. That would include comments about when services ended in your congregation, if you can find that out (it would be profitable to expand our list!).

And I might add here – speaking of Roosevelt Park, that the last Dutch service I attended was in the Roosevelt Park CRC (which decided to close in July of this year) in the late 1980s when I was a student at Calvin College and taking Dutch for our pre-Sem requirement.

But now, I may also ask an interesting trivia question: Who preached the last Dutch service in the old First PRC? And if you really want to be challenged, what was the sermon topic? (Hint: If you pay attention to the date and season of the year, you may able to at least guess what kind of sermon it was.)

Published in: on November 12, 2015 at 4:19 PM  Comments (1)  

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  1. Mr. Terpstra, Use this if you would like. Recently I read a new by Connie Meyer enttiled Gottschalk: Servant of God . In this book, she tells the story of a monk named Gottschalk who was sent to a monastery by his parents at an early age in order to serve as a monk. In his study of the Bible, he discovered how the elect are saved by grace alone and not on the basis of their own works. Gottschalk wound up going on trial for his beliefs, resulting in lifelong imprisonment. This book has nice, short chapters with easy-to-understand text. It’s meant for a junior high to high school age reading level, but all would profit by reading this book and seeing what sacrifices one of God’s servants was willing to make for the sake of the truth.


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