Classis Grand Rapids South has about 9,000 members today and several of the churches are in the Cutlerville area. But who was the first minister in this area we call Cutlerville? How much did he serve the church in Cutlerville?
According to my findings, and to the records provided by Richard Harm in his book, Historical Directory of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (2004), the first minister in Cutlerville was Rev. Sjoerd S. Vander Heide. He was born on born on December 3, 1869 in Ferwerd, Friesland region in the Netherlands. It seems that Sjoerd immigrated to the States and was trained for ministry of the Word and Sacrament at Calvin Theological Seminary. He received a diploma in 1899.
Sjoerd was ordained at the age of 30, the same year he graduated from the Seminary, and was called, ordained and received his first charge in First Cutlerville CRC in Michigan. One may assume that he served several years in his first call, but he only stayed in his first call for 3 years.
He served the First Cutlerville Church from 1899 until 1902, when he was called to a CRC church in Beaverdam, Michigan, and served there from 1902-1904. He took a call to the First CRC of Grand Haven, Michigan, and serve there for five years, then moved to the First CRC in Chicago, where he served for nine years, 1909-18. His last charge was Northside Church in Passaic, New Jersey, where he served until his retirement, being their minister from 1918 to 1929.
Pastor Sjoerd Vander Heide served five churches during his thirty year career in ministry. He passed away on the same year he retired, September 11, 1929, while living in Passaic, NJ.
The faithfulness of these men of God that served the church about 100 years ago is still a source of inspiration for us, serving the church in the 21st century.
Ministry has changed today and more and more ministers serve longer at a particular church, and it is not unusual today to find ministers who even in our classis have served over 20 years in the same church.