Dr. Elton Bruins

Retired Faculty
Portfolio image

Dr. Elton Bruins’ professional career began as pastor of the Elmsford (New York) Reformed Church (1955–1961) and pastor of the Reformed Dutch Church in Flushing, New York (1961–1966). He began teaching at Hope College in 1966 as a member of the religion department and became chair of the department in 1977. Dr. Jack Nyenhuis, dean for the Arts and Humanities Division, asked Elton to succeed him in 1984 when he became the provost of the college. Dr. Nyenhuis took a sabbatical in the fall of 1989 and asked Elton to fill in for him as acting provost. Elton returned to full time teaching in 1990 after a sabbatical.

Following retirement in 1992, Elton taught part-time time for a few semesters until he was asked to be the founding director of the Van Raalte Institute, where he still works today. 

AREAS OF Expertise

Elton’s area of expertise is religion in America. He specialized in Dutch-American studies, history of the Reformed Church in America and the history of Hope College.


  • Ph.D., New York University, 1962
  • STM, Union Theological Seminary, 1957
  • B.D., Western Theological Seminary, 1953
  • B.A., Hope College, 1950


  • Festschrift, A Goodly Heritage: Essays in Honor of the Reverend Dr. Elton J. Bruins at Eighty, Dr. Jacob E. Nyenhuis (editor), 2007
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, Western Theological Seminary, 2010
  • President’s Award, Midwest Archives Conference, 1999
  • Achievements in Dutch-American Studies Honor, Dutch-American Heritage Committee, 1999
  • Friend of History Award, Holland Historical Trust, 1998
  • Endowed Chair, Evert J. and Hattie E. Blekkink Professorship, 1980

Outside the College

Elton has served on the board of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, the board of the Holland History Trust, as a faculty representative on the Board of Trustees of Hope College, as President of the Alumni Council of Western Theological Seminary, as chair of the committee that founded the Joint Archives Council, as treasurer of the Dutch-American Historical Commission, and president of the Classis of Westchester and Holland, Reformed Church in America.

Elton has published 185 items that include author or co-author of six books, several essays, book reviews, pamphlets, and family histories and miscellaneous pieces.

Books available for purchase

Envisioning Hope College

Envisioning Hope College

Elton J. Bruins and Karen G. Schakel, eds
Van Raalte Press; Eerdmans, 2011

These letters written by Van Raalte to his close friend, Philips Phelps Jr., reveal the mind and the heart and the deep inner struggles of the founder of Holland as not seen before.

Albertus and Christina

Albertus and Christina

Elton J. Bruins et al.
Eerdmans, 2004

This volume is an extended genealogy of Albertus C. Van Raalte and his wife, Christina de Moen, following their descendents from the birth of their first child in 1837 to the year 2001. 

Albertus C. Van Raalte: Dutch Leader and American Patriot

Albertus C. Van Raalte: Dutch Leader and American Patriot

Jeanne Jacobson, Elton J. Bruins and Larry J. Wagenaar
Hope College, 1996

Fully illustrated, this volume examines Van Raalte’s vision for the future of the Holland colony and what it looked like 150 years after its founding.

Family Quarrels

Family Quarrels

Robert P. Swierenga and Elton J. Bruins
Eerdmans, 1999/2015

This is an examination of the church struggles of the early Dutch Calvinists; the authors explore the reasons for their emmigration to the United States and the major events in their history.

A Goodly Heritage

A Goodly Heritage

Jacob E. Nyenhuis, ed
Eerdmans, 2007

Fifteen essays celebrating the career of Elton J. Bruins cover the topics of church history and theology, the life of Van Raalte and local history.

Portfolio image
Dr. Elton Bruins

Phone Number616.395.7678

Theil Research Center-Room 113 9 East 10th Street Holland, MI 49423-3513
Retired Faculty