The pulpit at First Netherlands Reformed Congregation remained vacant for two years although it was faithfully and frequently served by its moderator, Rev. Herman Hofman, then of the Kalamazoo, Michigan NRC. During these years, a bond of love developed between the congregation and Rev. Hofman. After a number of calls were extended to various ministers, Rev. J.R. Beeke accepted a call and was installed on December 9, 1986 by Rev. H. Hofman from I Corinthians 16:10. Rev. J.R. Beeke preached from 2 Corinthians 4:5, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus our Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
A spiritual bond was soon laid between the congregation and its new minister. As Rev. Beeke took up the ministerial staff of serving a flock of over one thousand souls, the manifold needs of our congregation were soon pressed upon him. During the first year, in addition to preaching three times each Lord’s Day, Rev. Beeke taught over sixty catechumens after the morning service and thirty confession of faith attendees after the evening services. During this time, Rev. Beeke also completed his theological doctorate and served as theological instructor for the denomination. In addition, the minister served as served as editor of the Banner of Truth and on several denominational committees.
During the following years the First Netherlands Reformed Congregation experienced many joys and sorrows. Sadly, through the faults and sins of men, the First Netherlands Reformed Congregation was disincorporated in the early 1990s.
Two newly incorporated groups emerged from the dissolution: our Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation remaining at Crescent Street (which has become part of a new denomination – the Heritage Reformed Congregations) and the First Netherlands Reformed Congregation located on Beckwith Avenue (which remains affiliated with the Netherlands Reformed Denomination). These churches continue to share considerable common ancestry, history, and doctrinal heritage.
The Plymouth Christian Schools (now an independent corporation) continues to be jointly operated through an ongoing love for our children’s education and a zeal for their eternal welfare. The elementary school sustained a fire in April of 1987, and received two more additions dedicated by our pastor in January of 1988 and October of 1990. Presently the schools, from pre-K through Grade 12, have more than five hundred students.
At the evening service on October 29, 1995, our pastor, in commemoration of our forefathers’ organization of a congregation 125 years ago, preached on Matthew 16:18b, “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” It is evident that our congregation has been led through fire and through water, but we must still testify, “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22). The Lord has tried us sorely, but has not cast us off. Reflecting on the way the Lord has led us and has patiently borne with our infirmities and backslidings ever since our inception as a congregation, we must say that, although man remains man and is prone to sin, “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday and to day and for ever”.
The year 2001 was another year of transition for our congregation. On Friday, September 14, 2001 the congregation rejoiced as an additional pastor, Rev. Foppe VanderZwaag was ordained and installed to minister among us. Rev. VanderZwaag graduated from the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary earlier in the year. He has been a Christian school teacher for 23 years, the last 12 years as principal of a small church school in Ontario, Canada. He and his wife Elina, and their nine children have been warmly welcomed by the congregation.
On February 28, 2010 Rev. Maarten Kuivenhoven was ordained into the sacred ministry and installed as a pastor in our congregation. He graduated from Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and is also pursuing a Th.M. degree. He and his wife Jennifer have three children.
While Dr. Beeke still faithfully serves within the congregation as co-pastor with Revs. VanderZwaag and Kuivenhoven, his primary responsibilities involve leadership and instruction within the HRC denomination’s Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, given his formal appointment as Professor by Classis in 2001.
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