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Pillar Christian Reformed Church in Holland, Mich., hosted a community church service last fall as part of the city’s Founder’s Day Festival celebrating the 200th birthday of Rev. Albertus C. Van Raalte.

Hope College Chapel Choir sings at Pillar CRC during the community worship service.

(Photo by Gerard ter Horst)

Van Raalte was Holland’s founder and the pastor of its first church, now Pillar CRC.

The service was led jointly by Van Raalte’s successors, Rev. Chris De Vos, of Pillar CRC, and Rev. Dan Gillett, pastor of First Reformed Church of Holland.

The congregation was part of the Reformed Church in America before becoming Pillar CRC.

Van Raalte immigrated from the Netherlands with a small group of followers and settled in West Michigan in 1847. He showed bold leadership, according to De Vos, that “shaped pockets of immigrants that came and settled here and [shaped] Holland itself. . . . His desire was that a community would be unified around [the] desire to serve God in a kingdom way.”

The church service included a celebration of communion, a word of greeting from Holland’s mayor, and music by the Hope Chapel choir. In attendance were visiting scholars from the Netherlands and a number of Van Raalte’s descendants.

“It was really good for me to see Pillar Church itself being used in a collaborative way between the church [Pillar] and the institutions [Hope College and the RCA] that once were so tightly knit together in mission,” said Rev. De Vos. “That was a pretty special moment that I wish would really grow not only in our church but in the churches in general.”

Other events during the festival included a play about Van Raalte’s move to America as well as Holland Chorale and Holland Symphony Orchestra concerts featuring works by Dutch composers.

The Founder’s Day Festival was held in conjunction with a conference hosted by the A.C. Van Raalte Institute.

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