Harderwyk Church, Holland MI

Harderwyk Church
First, a note about names. In the 19th century, when Dutch immigrants arrived in western Michigan, many of them stayed in clumps with other people from their home villages. They might name a village, or even a church after that village. Thus, the name that looks strange at best to non-Dutch speakers.

My dad was an associate pastor here in the early 1980s. He was ordained here, my brother and my youngest sister were baptized here. I have my first real memories of church here. Some of the things this congregation taught me:

  1. How to sing the Doxology and the Gloria Patri. Lessons I have used in many churches since then.
  2. Congregations are usually pretty forgiving of things like the 5-year-old daughter of one of the ministers jumping rope down the center aisle of the sanctuary during the week.
  3. Some people always have candy in their pockets for little kids. And that leads to a larger lesson: the whole congregation cares for its children, using whatever gifts they have.
  4. Rich tradition can be a good thing. Look at that beautiful building. And the name: think about the connection to a congregation of a completely different time. If you look at their website today, it’s clearly a very different vision of church than those 19th century immigrants had. It’s different than what I remember. But there’s still a connection to history (I remember a big anniversary celebration that involved congregation members coming in costume of different eras, and even in traditional Dutch dress!)
  5. And, a lesson I just learned in composing this post–sometimes we’re not sure what to do with rich tradition. The picture of their church edifice was buried on their website. I’m sure there was thought behind this: does the building fit with the ministry image we want to have? (An interesting and valid question, too. Our buildings say something about who we are. What happens when that vision changes?)

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