The Full Story
The history of Crete Protestant Reformed Church (Crete) is one with the history of the Protestant Reformed Churches of America (PRCA). The reason for Crete's formation was the same doctrinal issue as led to the formation of the PRCA: the maintenance of the truth of God's sovereign and particular grace over against the denial that truth by the adoption of the doctrinal error known as common grace in 1924 by the synod of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). There were those in the area of Lansing and South Holland, Illinois, who were opposed to the denial of God's sovereign grace by the CRC's adoption of the three points of common grace. Through the labors of deposed Christian Reformed ministers, Rev. Herman Hoeksema and Rev. George Ophoff, these people were instructed in the issues and eventually organized on August 24, 1926 as the Protestant Reformed Church. Later the name was changed to the Protestant Reformed Church of South Holland.
With her sister churches in the denomination, Crete has shared the triumphs and joys of proclaiming the gospel of sovereign grace; and with these churches she has endured as well the hardness and persecution of those who stand for the gospel of sovereign grace. By the grace of her covenant God she has been privileged to stand unwaveringly for the truth of the gospel upon which she was founded so many years before. Her confession today is the same as it was when she was founded: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8).
God founded her.
The history of our congregation is a history of God's blessing through trial. In her earliest days there were paltry numbers. Seven families were originally organized. Two left almost immediately. Two of her original four officebearers left. She possessed no building of her own, but met in Bock's Hall, a rented building above a hardware store in Lansing, Illinois. Through the years, however, God has caused her to grow both spiritually and numerically.
God preserved her.
In 1932, four years after her organization, she received her first pastor, Rev. Peter de Boer, a young recent graduate of the Protestant Reformed seminary. During his pastorate the congregation experienced numerical growth, expanding to nearly forty families. Early in his pastorate the congregation built her first building in the village of South Holland that would serve her needs as an edifice for the proclamation of the gospel of God's grace until 1965.
God blessed her.
When Rev. de Boer accepted a call to another Protestant Reformed church, the congregation called Rev. L. Vermeer. During his pastorate there were numerous struggles in the congregation, internal troubles, and a significant loss of families.
God tried her.
After the departure of Rev. Vermeer to the Protestant Reformed congregation of Pella, Iowa, Rev. M. Schipper accepted our call. He shepherded the congregation through the severe controversy that arose within the PRCA over the sovereignty and particularity of God's grace in the covenant. The covenant, more peculiarly Reformed than the doctrine of election and reprobation, is a precious and dear doctrine to Reformed churches.
From its beginning, the Protestant Reformed Churches taught that the covenant promise of God to believers and their seed is to the elect alone and is unconditional. There were ministers in the denomination who were corrupting that doctrine of the covenant in the late 1940s and early 1950s by teaching a general, conditional promise to all the baptized children. The issue was settled officially by churches in a document entitled The Declaration of Principles, which stated the conviction of the Protestant Reformed Churches that the three forms of unity teach an unconditional promise of God made only to his elect people. The controversy reached its climax in a schism in the churches caused by the statements of Rev. H. de Wolf promoting this view of the covenant from the pulpit of the largest Protestant Reformed church at that time, First Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and who subsequently led out over half the ministers and membership of the churches. The congregation in South Holland did not escape the reach of the controversy, but was involved in a lengthy struggle over possession of her property with those who agreed with Rev. de Wolf and brought a lawsuit against the church for her name and property.
God strengthened her.
Since her organization and through the years and struggles, she has enjoyed a vibrant congregational life and has been active in the development and promotion of the Reformed faith.
Believing that it is the calling of parents to provide Christian education for their children, in the spring of 1961 members of the congregation commenced construction on a school building for her newly formed Protestant Reformed Christian School for kindergarten through 9th-grade education. Since that time they have maintained that school for the instruction of her covenant youth in the truth of God's word in all their education. In 1996 under the blessing of God, Heritage Christian High School was formed in order to give a distinctively Protestant Reformed high school education to our children.
In the course of her existence as a church, she has constructed three new buildings to hold the growing congregation for worship. From her membership several ministers in the Protestant Reformed Churches have come as sons of the congregation, and three of her ministers have been called to be professors at the Theological School of the Protestant Reformed Churches. She has always been active in evangelism efforts in the community, witnessing to the distinctively Reformed faith as maintained in the Protestant Reformed Churches. Because of her numerical growth, two area daughter congregations, Peace and Cornerstone, have been formed.
God has also blessed our congregation with his shepherds throughout the years. The first pastor to accept the call was Rev. Peter de Boer in 1932. From 1938 to 1945, Rev. Leonard Vermeer was minister of the congregation. Rev. Marinus Schipper shepherded the flock from 1945 to 1954. Before taking a call to the Protestant Reformed seminary, Rev. Homer Hoeksema was pastor of the congregation from 1954 to 1959. From 1959 to 1969, Rev. John Heys was minister of the congregation. In 1969 Rev. Robert Decker took the congregation's call and stayed as pastor until 1973, when he accepted the call to become professor in the denomination's theological school. From 1974 to 1988, Rev. David Engelsma ministered in the congregation until he too was called to be a professor in the seminary. From 1989 to 1996, Rev. Charles Terpstra was pastor of our congregation. In 1998 Rev. Allen Brummel accepted the congregation's call and ministered in the congregation until 2007. In 2007 Rev. Nathan Langerak became the tenth pastor of our congregation and ministered in the congregation until 2021. In 2021, Rev. Joshua Engelsma took the congregation's call and became the eleventh pastor or our congregation.
With the saints of all ages we confess that hitherto has the Lord helped us (1 Sam. 7:12).