Exactly 150 years to the day from its first church service, Central Avenue Christian Reformed Church gathered for a special service of celebration on November 8. Located in the heart of Holland, Mich., the congregation has spent much of the year celebrating its sesquicentennial.
Guest preachers throughout the year included former pastors and pastors who grew up in the church. “Having eight Central Avenue pastors stretching back to the 1950s part of the celebrations at some point has been humbling,” said current pastor Chad Steenwyk. “God has us here for a time to serve him and his people, but he is the one who builds his church generation to generation.”
The first CRC in the City of Holland, Central Avenue is a daughter church of Graafschap CRC, located just outside the city. It was known as Market Street CRC until 1903, when its street was renamed. It was the largest congregation in Holland until the 1960s, and “helped birth a dozen new congregations,” according to Robert Swierenga, chair of the anniversary committee. Central Avenue also started Holland Christian School, which met in the church’s basement during its first academic year, 1901-02.
Swierenga published a 526-page history of the congregation entitled Faithful Witness: A Sesquicentennial History of Central Avenue Christian Reformed Church, 1865-2015. Supported by donors, each household in the church received a copy of the book, which Steenwyk said has been unifying for the congregation. “Many members are new in the past decade and only a minority are life-long, generational members,” he said. “But celebrating together has anchored us together in the diligent ministry of Christ’s church here throughout our entire history and far beyond.”
Former pastors Tom Vanden Heuvel, John L. Witvliet, and Ronald Noorman, with current pastors James Scholten and Steenwyk, gathered with church members at a gala dinner in October for a time of reflection and celebration. The official celebrations wrap up in November.