The Story of Hope CRC
Twenty-four families gathered for worship on a cold winter Sunday in January, 1961. They were ready to celebrate a new beginning, and eager to give thanks to God for the families and members who had encouraged one another through difficult times. Pastor John De Jong led the members in worship, and the church known as Hope Christian Reformed Church was born.
It was not an easy birth. Some churches are born with the fanfare of pipe organs and trumpets; some churches are born in the protective embrace of a mother church. Other churches, however, are born in the midst of conflict, controversy, division, and separation. Such was the beginning of Hope church.
The story of Hope church actually begins many years ago in 1924. It was a time when the Dutch immigrants who had established the Christian Reformed Church were finding it difficult to adjust to the culture of the American society. Even though they realized that it was impossible to live in isolation from the local community, these immigrants still wanted to keep as much of their ethnic culture intact as possible. Dutch or American? The debate was intense.
In the church, however, this debate was conducted on the fringes of the great theological doctrines of sin and grace. How can the church present the gospel to the World? The question was whether it’s permissible to speak of God’s revealed grace as more than one kind of grace. Some were convinced that God displays his grace to the world only in a saving grace to the elect. But others argued that God also display his grace to the world in common non-redemptive ways, which effectively restrain the power of sin in the heart of the sinner. They could not agree, and in 1924 those who believed that God’s grace is given only to the elect left to form the Protestant Reformed Church.
Thirty years later, in 1954, several Protestant Reformed churches decided to seek reunification with the Christian Reformed Church. Twenty-four families of the church in Hull, including Rev. John De Jong and all the members of the consistory, decided to affiliate with the Christian Reformed Church. They were convinced that the church not only could reach out to the community, but that God’s grace displayed in the world was the very reason that the church should reach out to a broken, unregenerate world.
So it happened on a cold, winter Sunday in January, 1961 that this struggling congregation began to worship as Hope church. Why did these families choose the name “Hope” for their church? The years of conflict and debate had been painful and divisive, splitting both families and friends. In the context of this painful beginning, however, these families realized that a church cannot truly represent the Lord of the church to the world if it is constantly embroiled in controversy. They knew Christ had called them to a “ministry of hope” in the midst of a broken world.
From the very beginning, therefore, members of Hope church faced the task of developing a unique ministry within this community. It was not an abstract theological question or a disturbingly divisive doctrinal issue. They simply knew that the uniqueness of Hope church made it necessary to have a vision of ministry that would significantly touch the lives of its members and the life of this community
Worship services were held for some months in the all purpose room at Western Christian High School. Then on August 18, 1964 the congregation decided to build a new church and parsonage on the corner of 6th Street and Chestnut in the northeast corner of Hull. Members who served on the Building Committee during this construction were Peter Dykstra, Fred Van Schepen, Rev. Jack Matheis, Gerrit Oldenkamp, Ralph Oostra, and Fred Van Engen. Dedication services were held a year later on Wednesday, December 1, 1965.