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1876–1883

On August 12, 1876, the minister being ill and very weak, told the consistory he had met a student, Cornelius Vorst, who had received instruction in preparation for the ministry in the True Holland Reformed Church. He invited him to visit them and on Sunday, September 3, he spoke before the consistory decided to ask Mr. Vorst to preach for them once a week and to perform other labors which Rev. Kloppenburg could not do because of his physical condition. The account of the loss of the new congregation’s first minister is quoted from the consistory minutes:

Today, September 6, 1876, the Lord took from us by death our well-beloved and faithful minister, the Rev. Cornelius Kloppenburg. For some time he had foreseen his approaching end, and at moments he had a strong desire to depart and to be with his dear Lord Jesus, whom as a youth he had already learned to know. The care and welfare of his present congregation weighed heavily upon his heart. He might indeed believe that his faithful Covenant God would fulfill His promise, so that he often comforted his consistory, pointing to God’s faithfulness as was experienced by His humble servant. He promises no less than that when He took Moses away, He gave a Joshua; and He took away Elijah, He gave an Elisha, and would do the same for this congregation. This he spoke for their encouragement. But the blow was heavy and was keenly felt when the sad tidings went through the city, “Rev. Kloppenburg is no more!”

On September 8, 1876, Rev. Kloppenburg was buried. Rev. Dosker spoke on Hebrews 13:7. Rev. Boer made a few concluding remarks. The church was filled to capacity with a mourning congregation. Burial records indicate that Rev. and Mrs. Kloppenburg are buried in Fairplains Cemetery.

Rev. Cornelius Vorst

After five months Mr. Cornelius Vorst (1826 – 1889) was examined and accepted for the ministry by the consistory in 1876 at the age of fifty. He accepted the congregation’s pastoral call and was ordained by Rev. W. C. Wust from Lodi, New Jersey on January 14, 1877 from Isaiah 62:6-7. That same afternoon Rev. Vorst preached his inaugural sermon from 2 Thessalonians 3:1. The year 1877 was also significant denominationally. At the consistory meeting of January 8, attended by Rev. Wust and one of his elders from Lodi, New Jersey, the two consistories agreed to unite under the name of Netherlands Reformed (although the Grand Rapids church decided to retain the name of “Christian Reformed” under which it was incorporated).

Rev. Vorst was very active in seeking to establish new denominational ties, but these efforts often met with complications. The 100th Anniversay summarizes these struggles as follows:

Rev. Vorst organized a congregation consisting of thirty adults and thirty-nine children in East Saugatuck in February 1884. The affiliation apparently did not last long, as the consistory minutes make no mention of this church after l885.

Affiliation with the church at Lodi, New Jersey was terminated at the time of the organization at Passaic, new Jersey in 1883. The denominational ties were taken up with the Passaic church and with Rev. Wust who had become their pastor.

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