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Rev. Michael de Vries, Visiting Scholar

It is a pleasure to have Rev. Michael de Vries, retired pastor of the Pillar Christian Reformed Church of Holland, Michigan, in residence at the Van Raalte Institute. At his retirement about a year ago, he was commissioned to write a new history of Pillar Church, which was founded in Holland in 1847, the year the city and colony were founded. It is the oldest congregation in the city, and its sanctuary is the most historic public building, occupying a key site at the center of the town.

The congregation has an unusual history: it began as a congregation of the Reformed Church in America. As an aftermath of the divisive controversy over the issue of membership in a secret society, the majority of members of the congregation voted to leave the Reformed Church in 1882. Two years later the members united with the Christian Reformed Church.

A lawsuit to gain control of the property was initiated by the minority of members who wished to remain with the Reformed Church. However, the minority lost its lawsuit and the sanctuary and all official church records were awarded to the majority of members.

Rev. de Vries plans to concentrate his research on the first fifty years of the history of Pillar Church, a period of great interest to us because Rev. Albertus C. Van Raalte was the founding pastor and served the congregation for twenty years. During Rev. de Vries' research, Institute files have been opened to him and space at the Institute given to him for his work.