posted May 13, 2014

Book Features Enduring Legacy of Holland Founder Albertus C. Van Raalte

Work by scholars from two continents is featured in the book “The Enduring Legacy of Albertus C. Van Raalte as Leader and Liaison,” published recently through the Van Raalte Institute at Hope College.

The book is appropriately timed.  Its publication coincides with the celebration of the 20th-anniversary year of the institute, which is itself named for Holland’s founder.

The volume features essays originally presented during the international conference “Albertus C. Van Raalte: Leader and Liaison,” which was held at Hope College and in the city of Ommen in the Netherlands in the fall of 2011.  The conference was scheduled in conjunction with the bicentennial of Van Raalte’s birth in October 1811, as a celebration of the lasting difference that he made when he brought his group of Dutch religious separatists to West Michigan in 1847 and continued to play a leadership role for nearly 30 years more.

“The Enduring Legacy of Albertus C. Van Raalte as Leader and Liaison” has been published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. of Grand Rapids/Cambridge and by the institute’s Van Raalte Press as part of the Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America.  The editors, who were also the conference’s co-chairs, are Dr. Jacob E. Nyenhuis, who is director of the A.C. Van Raalte Institute and provost emeritus and professor of Classics emeritus at Hope; and Dr. George Harinck, who is a professor of the history of Neo-Calvinism at the Free University of Amsterdam and a special professor in church history at the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches (liberated) at Kampen, the Netherlands.

The essays are grouped within three general sections:  biographical, thematic and reception studies.  Topics range from Van Raalte’s education as preparation for his role as a social reformer, to the life of his wife Christina, to Van Raalte’s role as a community leader, to religious division in Holland in the 1850s, to the way that the view of Van Raalte has changed across time, to an overview of the institute bearing his name.

In addition to Harinck and Nyenhuis, the contributing authors are:  Dr. Henk Aay, Dr. Gerrit Jan Beuker, Dr. Elton J. Bruins, Dr. Michael J. Douma, Dr. Peter Ester, Dr. Richard H. Harms, Dr. Eugene Heideman, Dr. Earl Wm. Kennedy, Nella Kennedy, Dr. Hans Krabbendam, Dr. Rein Nauta, Janet Sjaarda Sheeres, Dr. Robert P. Swierenga, Dr. Mees te Velde and Dr. C. Leon van den Broeke.

The book’s six appendices include an extensive bibliography of other works about Van Raalte; the program of the conference in both Holland and Ommen; the text of the welcoming addresses presented at the conference; an overview of the five-day, community-wide Founder’s Festival held in October 2011; the program and text from the bicentennial community worship service held at Pillar Church on Oct. 23, 2011; and an overview of media coverage of the bicentennial.  The appendices featuring the events include multiple photographs.

Established in 1994, the Van Raalte Institute is located in the Theil Research Center at 9 E. 10th St. and specializes in scholarly research and writing on immigration and the contributions of the Dutch and their descendants in the United States.  The institute is also dedicated to the study of the history of all the people who have comprised the community of Holland throughout its history.  Since its founding, the institute and its affiliated scholars have published 35 books.

Copies of “The Enduring Legacy of Albertus C. Van Raalte as Leader and Liaison,” are available for $60 at the college’s Hope-Geneva Bookstore, which is located on the ground level of the DeWitt Center, 141 E. 12th St., and can be called at 800-946-4673 or (616) 395-7833.  Additional ordering information may be obtained by e-mailing the Hope-Geneva Bookstore at bookstore@hope.edu.