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1948–1951

Rev. Lamain’s labors centered on the large congregation of Grand Rapids that had been vacant to twenty-five years after the departure of Rev. H.A. Minderman. Of Rev. Lamain’s early years of ministry on Grand Rapids, the 100th Anniversary notes:

“It was agreed that Rev. Lamain would preach at Division Avenue Sunday morning and evenings, and at Ottawa Avenue Sunday afternoons and at the midweek services, with this arrangement Sunday afternoon services at Division Avenue would be in the English language.”Two weeks after he arrived, Rev. Lamain began his studies of the English Language under the tutorship of Professor Albertus J. Rooks of Calvin College.

With one minister serving two congregations with separate consistories, it soon became apparent that joint action would lead to union. The Division Avenue consistory called a congregational meeting on May 19, 1947 to consider union with the Ottawa Avenue congregation. This was overwhelmingly approved. The Ottawa Avenue congregation approved the consolidation at a congregational meeting on May 26, 1947. The new consolidated church was to be officially known as the First Netherlands Reformed Congregation.

In October 1947, the order of worship services was changed whereby Rev. Lamain preached in Dutch in the Division Avenue Church on Sunday mornings and afternoons. He conducted the evening service in the Ottawa Avenue Church in English. At first he read his sermons which had been translated.

By the summer of 1949, the large attendance at the Sunday evening services made it necessary to seek larger accommodations. Consideration was given to expand the Ottawa Avenue building, but it was decided to seek a more permanent solution. Therefore, a congregational meeting was held on June 13, 1949 which authorized the building of a new church and the sale of the two existing church properties. Until the new church could be completed, it was decided to rent the Fountain Street Church for the Sunday evening worship services.

The Crescent Street building under construction

A building committee was appointed to work with Architect James K. Haveman for the design of a new church to be built on the site on Crescent Street which had been purchased in 1946. The contract for the new building was signed on April 7, 1950. After the foundations were in place, Rev. Lamain placed the mortar for the laying of the cornerstone in a ceremony on a Saturday afternoon in June.

Although most members were looking forward with anticipation to worshipping in the new church, there was a feeling of nostalgia in the closing of the old buildings, especially on Division Avenue. This building had served the congregation for seventy-seven years, and even though it was not an elaborate structure, many regarded it as the house of God. After preaching an appropriate sermon on Sunday, May 6, 1951, based on Psalm 72:20, “The prayers of David the SON of Jesse are ended,” Rev. Lamain ceremoniously closed the Book of books for the last time in the old building.

The sermon preached on the same Sunday which terminated the use of the Ottawa Avenue building was based on Revelation 21:6: “And He said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely”.

It was with happiness and joy that the congregation assembled in the new church on Wednesday evening, May 9, 1951. The large Bible lay closed as Rev. Lamain ascended the pulpit platform for the first time. As he intoned the familiar, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth”, he formally opened the Book, thus signifying that the Word of God was to be dominate in the life of the new congregation as they dedicated the new church. The text for the dedicatory sermon was, “In this place will I give peace, saith and Lord of Hosts” (Haggai 2:9).

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