Second Christian Reformed Church
2021 Sheldon Rd, Grand Haven, MI 49417

The History of our Church



Clicking on a pastor's name will bring you to a brief summary of their time at our church.
The majority of this brief history was extracted from the book:   "100 Years in God's Favor",
which was published in 1982 in celebration of our church's 100th Anniversary.
Ron Kuiper had a large role in working on our church's history as penned in that book.



Our church was born out of the Reformed Church controversy over the lodge membership in 1881.  A group of 75 families, the pastor, The Rev. Roelof Duiker, three elders and four deacons, left the downtown Grand Haven First Reformed Church in the fall of 1881.

On October 12, 1881, it was decided to start an independent church, The Free Independent Reformed Church.  Rev. Duiker received the call to become the pastor having received all 75 votes, his pay was $600 annually.


By January 22, 1882, a new church had been constructed on lots near Columbus and Fifth, purchased for $1,200.  The cost of the church was $2,425.  In the summer, a parsonage was built on the corner at a cost of $1,844.

Our church joined the Christian Reformed denomination on October 18, 1882.


In 1887 Rev. Duiker changed his mind about his opposition to the lodge, and accepted a call to the Grandville Reformed Church.  He consequently was denied the opportunity to preach a farewell sermon.

Rev. Gabriel D. DeJong became our second pastor on May 1, 1888, and served our church for 15 years.  In 1889 our church membership was 105 families and 525 members.   At that time the church was heated by two large wood stoves in the center of the auditorium, and kerosene lamps were used for light until December 4, 1892, when gas lights were installed.




Rev. DeJong laid the groundwork for the coming language change from Dutch, as he conducted the first English service on May 6, 1895.  He preached his farewell sermon on May 3, 1903.  On May 18, a proposition to consolidate with First CRC was turned down.

Rev. Lambertus Veltkamp began his two and one half year tenure here in  May of 1904 as our third pastor.   Rev. Veltkamp gradually promoted the increasing usage of the English language in our services


A new pipe organ was installed at a cost of $1,008 in the summer of 1904.  In 1905, the church was remodeled, the roof was replaced,  and since our church didn't look like a church, a new front was built, and a steeple was added.  These improvements cost $1,948.





Our fourth minister, Rev. Peter D. VanVliet came in 1907, and faced the difficult task of implementing the necessary change from Dutch to English as the language of the church services.  At the start, in 1908, the young people asked that the evening service be conducted in English.   Many who preferred Dutch, transferred to the First CRC, while others from the First CRC who preferred English, transferred to our church.  Still others would not leave our church, but would not attend the English services.  Finally in March of 1910, Rev. VanVliet conducted all three services in English.


Our fifth minister, Rev. James. M. Ghysels, came in 1913.  In October of 1914, the Sunday Worship services were reduced from three to two.

In 1915, the consistory decided that our church would have a choir.   On Feb. 24, 1919, the consistory voted (not without controversy) to ban the common communion cup in favor of individual cups.  Finally the merger with First CRC again raised it's head, about which Rev. Ghysels wrote that we did not wish to reenter the language controversy, which we had considered settled many years prior.




Dr. George Goris came in July of 1921 to serve as our sixth pastor.   The congregation defeated a motion to support a missionary in 1924, but a month later, after the pastor had explained the issue, the people overwhelmingly overturned this decision and voted to jointly sponsor a missionary with First CRC.

This was a difficult time for our congregation as the issue of "movie picture show" attendance came up during professions of faith at a consistory meeting.  One young man said that "he would try to break the habit".


Rev. Richard J. Karsen came to our church in September of 1927, and served for 15 years as our seventh pastor. 

During the greater part of Rev. Karsen's tenure here, our country was suffering from the Great Depression.  Many in our congregation were unemployed and food stamps and unemployment compensation hadn't been invented yet.  The church's Benevolent Fund was able to supply money for food, coal, and rent for those unable to make ends meet.  Rev. Karsen led by example as he returned $200 from his 1931 salary, and indicated he would continue this if the depression continued.




In February of 1943, Rev. Edward J. Tanis became our eighth minister.  During his ministry, a $70,000 improvement program resulted in a 3 story parish house addition being built, the sanctuary was remodeled, and the organ we use today was purchased in 1949.

A significant decision was made by the consistory to get an option on lots on the corner of Sheldon and Robbins Road, the site of our church today.

Rev. Tanis retired from the ministry in 1956, and stayed in the area until his death in 1958.


Rev. John A. Peterson 1958-64

In the fall of 1957, 2 lots were purchased at the Sheldon-Robbins Road corner for a parsonage, and it was decided to purchase 10 lots across the street at a cost of $22,000 for the new church site.

Rev. John A. Peterson became our ninth pastor in December of 1958, he was the first pastor to live in the new $37,000 parsonage

Twenty people had to sit in the church basement during services, due to overcrowding.  This resulted in action that led to the hiring of an architect in 1963, and the beginning of the design phase of our new church.

In 1961, Lois Veenstra presented the consistory with a petition to allow women to vote at congregational meetings.  The women were given equal voting rights one week later.


Rev. John Pott became our tenth pastor on Oct. 4, 1964.  On October 19, the congregation approved the building project and gave the consistory the mandate to proceed with plans to begin construction of a new colonial style church to be constructed at the corner of Robins Rd. and Sheldon at a cost of about $325,000.




In our 85th year as a church, on Easter Sunday, April 3, 1966, our new sanctuary was dedicated at the 10:00 A.M. service.  Rev. Pott led the Dedication Service during which the congregation sang "Hymn of Dedication", written and composed by our pastor.

Rev. Pott retired from the active ministry in 1974.

The old church and parsonage were sold to the city and razed in 1966, the property became parking for 60 cars east of the existing Community Center.


Rev. Eugene Los joined us on September 8, 1974 as our 11th pastor.  His wife Shirley, 4 children, and water-skiing dog Waldo were a hit with the congregation.

Rev. Los helped create a climate that made some significant changes possible.  During his tenure a "during church" Church School was formed, a "Percentage of Income" budget system was implemented, missionary support increased to 12 missionaries, and the office of Deaconess was established.

In 1982, our church celebrated it's 100th year of existence.    A 64 page book "100 Years in God's Favor" was published highlighting the first 100 years of our history.

Rev. Los will always be remembered for his warm personality, his sense of humor, and his love for God and people, especially children.  We were fortunate to have him serve us for almost 16 years, but in August of 1990, he felt God was calling him to serve in Jamestown.

During Los' tenure, we were fortunate to have retired ministers serve as associate pastors.  Rev. Thomas VanEerden served from 1973 to 1980, and Rev. Theodore J. Jansma served from 1978 to 1985.  Al Breems came as a Seminary Intern, then served from 1985 to 1989 as a youth pastor.  Joel Kok served from 1989 to 1991 as youth pastor.



John D. Hellinga came to us in 1991 as our 12th pastor.  In 1 Corinthians 1:17 Paul writes about the necessity to "......preach the gospel - not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power."  Rev. Hellinga took this text seriously.   He firmly believed in exegetical preaching, in a textual rather than a topical approach to preaching.  Beyond this he was Reformed to the core of his being and he believed that Reformed  people should have a clear understanding as to how their doctrine differs from that of other devout Christian people.  To that end he diligently preached the Heidelberg Catechism and with fervency taught it to the young people of the church.

While the building expansion project raised its head during his tenure, its time had not yet come.  During his ministry our church experienced both struggle and growth.  That growth may have been because Rev. Hellinga's primary focuses were to articulate the Reformed faith and to be a faithful preacher of the Word.  

After Rev. Hellinga left in 1994, Rev. Clarence Vos served as an interim pastor until about 1997, helping Rev. Tamminga in his new post.

Rev. John D. Hellinga 1991-1994


Rev. Clarence Vos

Rev. Edward Tamminga 1995-2004

"Preach not calmly and quietly as though you were asleep, but preach with fire and pathos and passion."  Charles H. Spurgeon

Rev. Edward Tamminga came to the Second Christian Reformed Church in 1995 to serve as our 13th pastor.  He brought with him a penchant for getting things done in an organized and efficient way.  Toward that end he promoted a significant restructuring of Council, he effected the streamlining of meetings and as one wit put it, reduced the number of them.  He stalwartly supported and promoted a large construction project, the building of the North Hall, and thus the providing of badly needed classroom and other space on the lower level of the new addition. His parishioners knew him also as a pastor who taught, counseled and mentored, and did all of this motivated by a sense of humble service.

One should add, however, that he had a strong focus on strong, effective, Biblical preaching.  His sermons were well prepared and effectively delivered.  He preached with the pathos and passion of which Spurgeon spoke, and the members of Second CRC were the beneficiaries of this commitment.

On September 26, 2004, the occasion of his retirement after 41 years of active ministry, this good, kind and gracious servant of God preached his farewell sermon to a sad congregation.

Rob Byker came as an intern in 1997, was ordained in 1998, and served as an associate pastor and worked with the youth ministry until 2001.

Dan Houston served as a youth pastor from 2001 to 2007.

Dan Houston


Rev. Michael D. Koetje began working as our 14th pastor on Dec. 1, 2004 and preached his first sermon in January of 2005.  He came from Hull, Iowa after serving there for 4 years.

A Hudsonville area native, he is happy to be back in Michigan with his wife Mindy, and children Alyssa, Nathan, and Mattias.

As a young boy, Pastor Mike used to ride past our church, and dreamed of the day when he could preach at Second of Grand Haven.  That dream was fulfilled on August 22, 2004 when he first preached here.  The dream was more than fulfilled upon accepting the call of the Lord to become a pastor at Second CRC. 

Pastor Mike says that his family has been wonderfully welcomed and cared for by our Second Church family.  It is his heartfelt desire that our congregation would glorify God not only in worship experiences, but in all of life, to grow together as members of the body of Christ, and to give of ourselves among our church family, our community, and throughout our world. 

One of the major happenings in our church since Pastor Mike's arrival is our participation in a worship renewal grant.

In 2009 we welcomed Mark Smith as Pastor of Student Ministries. He worked in this capacity until 2011.

In June of 2011, Rob Wagenmaker accepted the "Coordinator of Student Ministries" position.

A study of proposed updates in the sanctuary which began in 2008, eventually culminated with final installation in February of 2014. The sanctuary received new carpet, updates to the stage, additional lighting, a new projector, video system, and audio system.

Pastor Koetje accepted a call to Westwood Christian
Reformed Church in Kalamazoo and ended his work in Grand Haven in October of 2014.

In January of 2015, Rev. Duane Kelderman was welcomed as our Interim Pastor.

Rev. Michael D. Koetje

Mark Smith

Rob Wagenmaker

Rev. Duane Kelderman




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