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Historical Series books

The Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America was inaugurated in 1968 by the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, acting through the Commission on History. Its purpose is to communicate the church’s heritage and collective memory and to reflect on our identity and mission, encouraging historical scholarship that informs both church and academia. 

A Commentary on the Minutes of the Classis of Holland 1848-1876, by Earl Wm. Kennedy. A detailed record of persons and issues, civil and religious, in the Dutch Colony of Holland, Michigan

A New Way of Belonging: Covenant Theology, China, and the Christian Reformed Church, by Kurt D. Selles

The American Diary of Jacob Van Hinte, edited by Peter Ester, Nella Kennedy, and Earl Wm. Kennedy
This is an annotated translation of the travel diary of Jacob Van Hinte (1889-1948), author of Netherlanders in America. In the summer of 1921, Van Hinte traveled for five weeks from Hoboken (New Jersey) up the river to Albany (New York) and then on to the Dutch-settled villages in the midwest. In addition to hearing how the migration to America was a blessing, he also listened to the stories of pain and struggle.

Americanization of a Congregation, by Elton Bruins.

The Arabian Mission’s Story: In Search of Abraham’s Other Son (Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America), by Lewis R. Scudder III
This book tells the story of over one hundred years of missionary endeavors by the RCA in the area of the Arabian Gulf.

Aunt Tena, Called to Serve: Journals and Letters of Tena A. Huizenga, Missionary Nurse to Nigeria, edited by Jacob E. Nyenhuis, Robert P. Swierenga, Lauren M. Berka (with essays by Harry Boonstra)
As Huizenga ministered to the people of Lupwe, Nigeria, she recorded her thoughts and feelings in a diary and in countless letters to family and friends. The extensive letters from Tena’s brother Pete (Waste Management Inc.) offer insights into the Dutch Reformed subculture of Chicago’s West Side.

“B.D.”: A Biography of My Father, the Late Reverend B.D. Dykstra, by D. Ivan Dykstra
This book profiles B.D. Dykstra, a Reformed Church minister who was also a scholar, dynamic preacher, author, newspaper editor, pacifist and the “man on the bicycle” who peddled his self-printed books door to door.

By Grace Alone: Stories of the Reformed Church in America, by Donald J. Bruggink and Kim N. Baker
This tells the exciting and hope-filled story of the RCA from its roots in Europe to the current church. It also highlights incredible stories from people within the RCA.

The Call of Africa: The Reformed Church in America Mission in the Sub-Sahara, 1948-1998, by Morrell F. Swart
This book records the story of the RCA’s first 50 years of mission in sub-Saharan Africa, told through the eyes of a missionary, wife, and mother who experience the joys of birth and the tragedy of death.

Can Hope Endure?: A Historical Case Study In Christian Higher Education, by James C. Kennedy and Caroline J. Simon
This book examines the history of Hope College in Holland, Michigan, as it has struggled to find a faithful middle way between secularization and withdrawal from mainstream academic and American culture.

Chinese Theological Education, 1979 to 2006, edited by Marvin D. Hoff
This book offers insight into the emergence of the Christian church after Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Hoff’s reports of his encounters with Chinese Christians, especially those involved in theological education, are a historic record of the church’s growth—and growing freedom. ContentsSample Chapter

The Church Speaks (Volume 1): Papers of the Commission on Theology, 1959-1984, edited by James I. Cook
Formed in 1959, the Commission on Theology of the RCA serves the church by articulating its theological understanding of contemporary issues.

The Church Speaks (Volume 2): Papers of the Commission on Theology, 1985-2000, edited by James I. Cook
Here the contemporary doctrinal positions of the RCA, as presented by its Commission on Theology, are gathered into one convenient reference work.

The Church under the Cross: Mission in Asia in Times of Turmoil, A Missionary Memoir (Volume One), by Wendell P. Karsen
Karsen’s memoirs are an exciting story of confrontation with injustice and oppression, governmental in Taiwan (1969-1973) and commercial in Hong Kong (1974-1984, 1990-1998). ContentsIntroduction

The Church under the Cross: Mission in Asia in Times of Turmoil, A Missionary Memoir (Volume Two), by Wendell P. Karsen
Wendell Karsen continues his memoir in volume two with a focus on his work in an eyewitness, behind-the-scenes account of his work in China and Indonesia. Karsen’s personal reflections offer a personal understanding of mission in the context of cultural and social developments in a growing Asia. Karsen also raises important issues relating to mission in that part of the world today. Contents/PrefaceSample Chapter

A Collegial Bishop?: Classis and Presbytery at Issue, edited by Allan J. Janssen and Leon van den Broeke
The papers, collected and edited within this volume, are from a conference hosted by New Brunswick Theological Seminary entitled, “Classis and Presbytery: Problem or Possibility?” Presenters from three continents and five denominations participated. Through the publication of the papers, it is hoped that the conversation will continue. Introduction

Concord Makes Strength: Essays in Reformed Ecumenism, edited by John W. Coakley
While the RCA has traditionally resisted the idea of church mergers, it has nevertheless been active throughout history in working toward church unity. This book chronicles this important effort.

Constitutional Theology: Notes on the Book of Church Order of the Reformed Church in America, by Allan J. Janssen.
This commentary explains the roles of elder and deacon, classes and synods, and details procedures necessary in the life of the church.

Deacons Account, 1652-1674: 1st Dutch Reformed Church of Beverwyck-Albany New York, by Janny Venema, translator and editor.
The deacon’s account book of what is now the First Church of Albany provides a fascinating look into church life in the early decades of the Dutch Reformed Church in America.

A Digest and Index of the Minutes of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, 1906-1957 and A Digest and Index of the Minutes of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America 1958-1977, by Mildred W. Schuppert.
These indispensable reference guides to the Minutes of the General Synod contain alphabetical listings of the persons and subjects referred to in the minutes, along with a brief summary of action taken.

Divided by a Common Heritage: The Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America at the Beginning of a New Millennium , by Corwin Smidt, Donald Luidens, James Penning, and Roger Nemeth
Insight into the present character of both the RCA and CRC as well as prospects for the future.

Doctors for the Kingdom: The Work of the American Mission Hospitals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by Paul L. Armerding
This book tells the amazing yet little-known story of the medical mission of the Reformed Church in America in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Dutch Chicago: A History of the Hollanders in the Windy City, by Robert P. Swierenga
This book is a colorful, comprehensive history of the Dutch Americans who have made their home in the Windy City since the mid-1800s.

The Dutch Reformed Church in the American Colonies, by Gerald F. DeJong
This book traces the early years of the Reformed Church in North America, from the establishment of a Dutch church at a mill in New Amsterdam to the early years of an indigenous American denomination.

Ecumenical Testimony, by Arie Brouwer
The volume’s three sections of “The Healing of the Nations,” “For the Unity of the Church,” and “For the Renewal of the Tradition,” document the significant role of one of the leaders of the RCA on the level of world, national, denominational, and personal commitment.

Elephant Baseball: A Missionary Kid’s Tale, by Paul Heusinkveld. This fascinating book recounts the up-and-down experiences of a missionary kid growing up overseas away from home in the 1960s. A sensitive autobiographical exploration of the universal trials of adolescence, Paul Heusinkveld’s Elephant Baseball luxuriates in narrative fluidity—truly a riveting read.

Elim: A Chicago Christian School And Life-training Center For The Disabledby Robert P. Swierenga
This book traces the history of Elim Christian School in Chicago, the first Christian school in the Reformed tradition to provide educational services to those with developmental and physical limitations.

The Enduring Legacy of Albertus C. Van Raalte, by Elton Bruins. These ninety-four letters of Albertus C.Van Raalte, founder of the city of Holland, Michigan, to Philip Phelps Jr.,who became the first president of Hope College, are significant for two reasons in particular.

Envisioning Hope College: Letters written by Albertus C. Van Raalte to Phillip Phelps, Jr. 1857 to 1875, edited by Elton J. Bruins and Karen G. Schakel. Correspondence between Van Raalte and Phelps sheds light on the origins of Hope College. Phelps was the administrator of the new school and the correspondence highlights the fundraising, the struggles, and the social and ecclesiastical life of the college and the community. Insights into Van Raalte emerge and the volume proves to be a valuable addition of source material about the history of higher education in America and Hope College in particular. ContentsSample

Equipping the Saints: The Synod of New York, 1800-2000, edited by James Hart Brumm
A team of RCA pastors and scholars recount the engaging story of the Synod of New York during the past two centuries.

Family Quarrels in the Dutch Reformed Churches in the 19th Century: The Pillar Church Sesquicentennial Lectures, by Elton J. Bruins and Robert P. Swierenga. Focusing on the religious history of the Dutch Calvinist immigration to West Michigan, this book includes the church struggles of the first settlers.

For Better, For Worse: Stories of the Wives of Early Pastors of the Christian Reformed Church, by Janet Sjaarda Sheeres. In For Better, for Worse, Janet Sjaarda Sheeres highlights the lives of the wives of the first ten pastors of the Christian Reformed Church. Beginning in 1857, when the CRC was founded, Sheeres proceeds in the order in which the first ten pastors joined the church.

Forerunner of the Great Awakening: Sermons by Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen (1691-1747), edited by Joel R. Beeke
This work of historical interest introduces the life and sermons of Theodore Frelinghuysen, one of the most important precursors of the Great Awakening.

Freedom on the Horizon: Dutch Immigration to America, 1840-1940, by Hans Krabbendam.
This book seeks to understand the settlement process of an unproblematic and relatively small immigrant group during the century when the door to America was wide open and Dutch emigration reached its apex. It takes a closer look at the transatlantic ties to explain the formation of a new Dutch-American identity. This is the English translation of Krabbendam’s Dutch book, Vrijheid in het verschiet. Nederlandse emigratie naar Amerika, 1840-1940, adapted for an American audience. ContentsIntroduction

From Mission to Church: The Reformed Church in America Mission to India, by Eugene P. Heideman
This work by a missionary to India analyzes the causes for the shift in missionary emphasis in India, illuminating in the process an intriguing yet little-known component of the RCA’s witness.

From Strength to Strength: A History of Northwestern, 1882-1982, by Gerald F. DeJong
This book follows the history of Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, from its beginnings as an academy in 1882 to its present status as a four-year college.

Gathered at Albany: A History of a Classis, by Allan J. Janssen
A superbly researched volume that tells the story of the Classis of Albany, New York, from its beginning in 1771 up to 1979.

A Goodly Heritage: Essays in Honor of the Reverend Dr. Elton J. Bruins at Eighty,by Jacob E. Nyenhuis
This series of essays covers church history and theology; the life and influence of the Reverend Albertus Van Raalte (founder of Holland, Michigan); and local history.

Growing Pains: How Racial Struggles Changed a Church and School, by Christopher Meehan. In the 1960s, black parents from Lawndale Christian Reformed Church in Chicago tried to enroll their children in an all-white Christian school in the suburb of Cicero. A power struggle ensued, taking the matter to synod and inspiring the creation of the Office of Race Relations.

Hendrik P. Scholte: His Legacy in the Netherlands and in America, by Eugene P. Heideman.

Grace in the Gulf, by Jeanette Boersma
This autobiography bears witness to Jeanette Boersma’s lifetime of service in Iraq and Oman as a missionary nurse.

Henry J. Kuiper: Shaping the Christian Reformed Church, 1907-1962, by James A. De Jong
This singular biographical study will interest readers wanting to better understand the Christian Reformed Church during the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, particularly in comparison with the Reformed Church in America. Kuiper stands at the center of the change from an immigrant denomination to a denomination becoming a part of a much larger culture during the the twentieth century.

Herman J. Ridder: Contextual Preacher and President, edited by George Brown, Jr.
This volume contains a collection of Dr. Ridder’s sermons. Writes William Willimon, “Ridder is one of the most eloquent voices in the contemporary Reformed tradition…he preached vibrant theology in his sermons.”

Historical Directory of the Reformed Church in America, 1628-2000, by Russell L. Gasero
This volume contains the names of all the more than 6,000 ministers and missionaries who have worked for the RCA from its beginning in 1628 to the present.

Holland, Michigan (3 Volume Set): From Dutch Colony to Dynamic City, by Robert Swierenga. Holland, Michigan: From Dutch Colony to Dynamic City is a fresh and comprehensive history of the city of Holland from its beginnings to the increasingly diverse community it is today.

In Peril on the Sea: The Forgotten Story of the William & Mary Shipwreck, by Kenneth A. Schaaf.

In Remembrance and Hope: The Ministry and Vision of Howard G. Hageman, by Gregg Mast
This book chronicles the life and ministry of Howard G. Hageman (1921-1992), respected pastor, teacher, president of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and weekly columnist for the Church Herald.

Iowa Letters: Dutch Immigrants on the American Frontier, by Johan Stellingwerff, edited by Robert P. Swierenga, translated by Walter Lagerwey
An important collection of immigrant letters relating to the midwestern frontier–penned by religious dissenters from the Netherlands Reformed Church between family members who remained in the homeland and those who colonized Iowa in the mid-nineteenth century.

Jack: A Compassionate Compendium, Edited by Donald A. Luidens and Johannah M. Smith. A tribute to Dr Jacob E. Nyenhuis, scholar, servant, and leader. Nyenhuis served as a professor of Classics at Hope College (Holland, Michigan) and later served as its Provost, before becoming the director of the Van Raalte Institute.

KEMP: The Story of John R. and Mabel Kempers, Founders of the Reformed Church in America Mission in Chiapas, Mexico, by Pablo A. Deiros. 558 pp.
This is the story about the RCA’s work in Chiapas, Mexico. John and Mabel arrived in Chiapas in 1926 and started a mission that grew into a large, solid church. They spread God’s message of love and devotion committed to their slogan, “Chiapas para Cristo.” Pablo Deiros has written a wonderful narrative history of their life and work. Kemp is an enjoyable read illustrating the transformative power of the gospel.

Kingdom, Office, and Church: A Study of A. A. van Ruler’s Doctrine of Ecclesiastical Office, by Allan J. Janssen
This book is a look at the implications of A. A. van Ruler’s theology for the church today.

Letters To Hazel: Ministry within the Woman’s Board of Foreign Missions of the Reformed Church in America, by Mary L. Kansfield
This volume is a valuable history of the ministry of women in the RCA with a comprehensive history of the Women’s Board of Foreign Missions.

Liber A, edited by Frank A. Sypher
This volume presents the translation of the first record book of the Collegiate Dutch Reformed Church in New York City, New York.

Liber A Part 2, edited by Frank A. Sypher
This volume presents the translation of the first record book of the Collegiate Dutch Reformed Church in New York City, New York.

Liturgy Among the Thorns, edited by James Hart Brumm
Leading liturgical scholars in the Reformed Church take an informed historical look at various aspects of RCA worship life—sacraments, congregational song, architecture, prayer—and explore how congregations can address their worship tradition creatively and meaningfully in a time of dramatic and rapid change.

Meeting Each Other: In Doctrine, Liturgy, and Government, by Daniel J. Meeter
This popular study of church history tells how the RCA adapted itself to the new order of society in the aftermath of the American Revolution.

Ministry Among the Maya: A Missionary Memoir, by Dorothy Dickens Meyerink
Dorothy Meyerink provides a fascinating glimpse of the life of a missionary working in Chiapas, Mexico, among the Maya. This is mission as seen from the inside and offers a wonderful story of the power of God in a new and growing church. The historical reflection placed in the context of the present church will provide a helpful resource for new missionaries and mission executives as well.

Minutes of the Christian Reformed Church, Edited by Janet Sjaarda Sheeres. Classical Assembly 1857-1870, General Assembly 1867-1879, Synodical Assembly 1880.

The Netherlands Reformed Church, by Karel Biel (translation and introduction by Allan J. Janssen)
Beginning with its formation in 1571 during the upheavals of the Reformation, the Netherlands Reformed Church follows a dynamic path through over 400 years of history, culminating in the ecumenical joining of 2004.

New Brunswick Theological Seminary: An Illustrated History, 1784-2014, by John W. Coakley. This volume marks the 230th anniversary of New Brunswick Theological Seminary and the reconfiguring of its campus by retelling the school’s history in text and pictures. John Coakley, teacher of church history at the seminary for thirty years, examines how the mission of the school has evolved over the course of the seminary’s history, focusing on its changing relationship to the community of faith it has served in preparing men and women for ministry.

A New Way of Belonging: Covenant Theology, China, and the Christian Reformed Church, by Kurt D. Selles
A thorough account of the CRC China mission work, this volume covers 1921-1951. The analysis of the cross-cultural dynamics of this ministry makes this volume also of interest to those curious about the successes and failures of Christian mission. ContentsIntroduction

The Not-So-Promised Land: The Dutch in Amelia County, Virginia, 1868-1880, by Janet Sjaarda Sheeres. After establishing a successful Dutch colony in Holland, Michigan, in 1847, Albertus Van Raalte turned his attention to the warmer climes of Amelia County, Virginia, where he attempted to establish a second colony. This volume by Janet Sheeres presents a carefully researched account of that colonization attempt with a thorough analysis of why it failed. Providing insights into the risks of new settlements that books on successful colonies overlook, this is the first major study of the Amelia settlement.

Oepke Noordmans: Theologian of the Holy Spirit, by Karel Blei. Oepke Noordmans was one of the major Dutch theologians of the twentieth century, whose recovery of a vital doctrine of the Holy Spirit placed him at the center of thought on the nature of the church and its ministry.

Old Wing Mission: Cultural Interchange as Chronicled by George and Arvilla Smith in Their Work with Chief Wakazoo’s Ottawa Band on the West Michigan Frontier, edited by Robert P. Swierenga and William Van Appledorn
This book includes the entire diary and reminiscences of Arvilla Powers Smith and the portion of George Smith’s voluminous memoranda and diaries pertaining to the Old Wing Mission (1838-1849) located in the Black Lake watershed of Lake Michigan. The Smiths came to Old Wing with a goal to spread the Christian gospel to Ottawas and Potawatomis. The Smith diaries reflect the sustaining role their Christian faith played and the new communities forming as Euro-Americans and Indians met and mediated their cultural differences.

Our School, by Harry Boonstra. The history of Calvin College is a fascinating one. The school’s rise to prominence on the landscape of Christian higher education has been accompanied by important milestones in its relationship with the Christian Reformed Church. This volume chronicles the development of Calvin College, focusing in particular on the interaction and mutual influence between the college and the church.

Patterns & Portraits: Women in the History of the Reformed Church in America, edited by Renee S. House and John W. Coakley
Through the exploration of women’s history and experience in the RCA, this book begins more fully to tell the whole story of the RCA.

Piety and Patriotism 1776-1976, edited by James W. Van Hoeven.
Eight essays explore the interaction of the Reformed Church with American culture. Each essay corresponds to an important area of American experience.

Pioneers in the Arab World, by Dorothy F. Van Es
This first-person account of the author’s 40 years in the Reformed Church mission to the Arabs reveals much of the significance of the missionary movement, both for the world and for the churches that support it.

Pioneers to Partners: The Reformed Church in America and Christian Mission with the Japanese by Gordon D. Laman
Pioneers to Partners begins with Japan’s early exposure to Christianity, follows its subsequent persecution and prohibition, and then delves into Japan’s re-opening in the nineteenth century, with missionaries from the Reformed Church in the forefront. The book details the new challenges to Christianity during the rise of the Japanese empire and the outbreak of World War II. It then continues the account of Reformed Church partners in mission in Japan in the midst of post-war devastation, finally leading to a full participatory partnership with a mature Japanese church.

The Practice of Piety: The Theology of the Midwestern Reformed Church in America, 1866-1966, by Eugene P. Heideman.
The title of this book reflects the concern of Dutch pietists to live a holy life. Attention is given to the nature of the piety that the immigrant members of the midwestern Reformed Church in America practiced after arriving in America. Reformed piety has its focus on God rather than on the development of one’s self. The practice of piety among the Dutch Reformed immigrants was as concerned for theological integrity as for personal devotion to God. Thus, this book sets forth a history of theological thought in the midwestern RCA. That history provides insight into the ways in which the leaders sought to remain faithful to their theological and ethnic heritage while adjusting to the new demands of modernity and American culture. It was a time when the immigrants were coming to terms with their calling to live a life to the glory of God in the New World. Contents/Preface

Raising the Dead: Sermons of Howard G. Hageman, edited by Gregg A. Mast
These powerful, Christ-centered sermons by a master of the pulpit stirred hearts and minds when they were first delivered. They are no less powerful today.

The Reformed Church in China, 1842-1951, by Gerald F. De Jong
From the arrival in Amoy of pastor David Abeel in 1842 to the expulsion of the last missionaries by the communists in 1951, this volume records the RCA’s work in China.

Servant Gladly: Essays in Honor of John W Beardslee III, edited by Jack D. Klunder.
This is a historical description of this servant of the church, together with essays spanning his interest in Reformed dogmatics and his antipathy to war and apartheid.

Sing to the Lord a New Song: Choirs in the Worship and Culture of the Dutch Reformed Church in America, 1785-1860, by David M. Tripold
This is an engaging account of the early history of the RCA through the examination of its music, specifically the development of choirs. It is the first volume in the series to include an accompanying CD.

Sources of Secession: The Netherlands Hervormde Kerk on the Eve of the Dutch Immigration to the Midwest, by Gerrit J. Tenzythof
This book outlines the Dutch church life out of which the midwestern RCA was born, spanning the period from 1790-1840.

Structures for Mission, by Marvin D. Hoff
This book chronicles and analyzes the RCA’s creative experiments in organizing for mission in America and around the world, recording the successes and shortcomings of a great variety of structures through which the church seeks to do Christ’s work.

Supporting Asian Christianity’s Transition from Mission to Church: A History of the Foundation for Theological Education in South East Asia, edited by Samuel C. Pearson
This volume includes more than seventy years of history of the Board of Founders of Nanking Theological Seminary and its successor, the Foundation of Theological Education in South East Asia (FTESEA). This is an insightful source of information to all those who are interested in theological education in the Protestant churches in China and South East Asia. ContentsIntroduction

Taking the Jesus Road: The Ministry of the Reformed Church in America among Native Americans, by LeRoy Koopman
This book tells how in 1895 the Women’s Board of Domestic Missions sent a Choctaw evangelist to witness among the Chiricahua Apache prisoners of war and Comanches camped at Fort Still in Oklahoma.

Tools for Understanding: Essays in Honor of Donald J. Bruggink, edited by James Hart Brumm
Beginning with Bruggink’s notion that “history is a tool for understanding,” these dozen essays, honoring Bruggink’s eightieth birthday, are tools for understanding four areas of his life and ministry: Western Theological Seminary; the study of history; theological education; and the nature of God and the church (architecture is integral to an essay in the final section).

Transatlanic Pieties: Dutch Clergy in Colonial America Transatlantic Pieties: Dutch Clergy in Colonial America explores the ways in which the lives and careers of fourteen Dutch Reformed ministers illuminate important aspects of European and American colonial society of their times.Based on primary sources, this collection reexamines some of the movers and shakers over the course of 250 years. The essays shed light on the high and low tides, the promises and disappointments, and the factors within and beyond the control of a new society in the making. The portraits humanize and contextualize the lives of these men who served not only as religious leaders and cultural mediators in colonial communities, but also as important connective tissue in the Dutch Atlantic world.

Travels Of An American Girl, by June Potter Durkee
Just prior to the outbreak of World War II, 10-year-old June accompanied her parents on a tour of the Reformed Church’s mission fields in the Middle East and India.

Two Centuries Plus: The Story of New Brunswick Seminary, by Howard Hageman
The noted author, preacher, and former president of New Brunswick Theological Seminary tells the story of American Protestantism’s oldest theological seminary at its bicentennial.

Vision For A Christian College, by Gordon J. Van Wylen.

Vision from the Hill: Selections from Works of Faculty & Alumni, Published on the Bicentennial of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, edited by John W. Beardslee III
As the oldest Protestant seminary in North America, New Brunswick Theological Seminary has frequently been in the forefront of Christian thought. This is a collection of essays on missions, social action, and biblical scholarship written by New Brunswick professors and alumni.

Word and World: Reformed Theology in America, edited by James W. Van Hoeven
From its beginning the Reformed Church gave a prominent place to intellectual discourse and insisted that its theology inform and judge all its actions.