Dressing Up for Reformation Day

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What was your costume for Reformation Day? John F. Schuurman donned the identity of renowned 19th-century preacher Charles H. Spurgeon.

Schuurman, a retired Christian Reformed pastor from Wheaton, Ill., performed a dramatic impersonation for a crowd of over 100 people at Fourteenth Street CRC in Holland, Mich. Props on the stage included a desk, an antique parson’s chair, and a bust of Martin Luther. Schuurman’s Spurgeon addressed a supposed reunion gathering of the class of 1861 of London’s Pastor’s College (now called Spurgeon College), which Spurgeon founded.

With animated anecdotes and witty insights (“I’ve always said sermonettes are for Christianettes”), the Reformed Baptist preacher’s monologue constructed a theological self-defense against various newspaper editorials of the time that had dismissed him as eccentric and lacking in propriety.

The evening’s event, “Eccentric Preachers,” was part of an annual effort in Holland to gather and reflect on the legacy of the Protestant Reformation.

Marge Grass of Maranatha CRC was pleased to attend such an event. “After all, it’s Reformation Day,” she said. Her husband, Norm Grass, found the performance “delightful.” Holland resident Ann Shearer attended because her husband, a former pastor in the Reformed Church of America, loved Spurgeon’s writings.

Organizers Louis Wagenveld, a retired missionary, and Marvin Hofman, pastor of Fourteenth Street, have worked to keep these events going over several years, seeing value in using “different ways of rescuing some of the significance of the past,” according to Wagenveld’s opening remarks.

Wagenveld said the goal is to highlight important rediscovered practices of the 16th-century Reformation, one of which was evangelical gospel preaching. “Who better to illustrate this,” read the program, “than the ‘Prince of Preachers,’ Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon?”

About the Author

Susan Vandenberg is a freelance writer.