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Van Raalte, Albertus C. (1811-1876) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Van Raalte, Albertus C. (1811-1876)

Historical Note:

Albertus Christian Van Raalte was born in the small village of Wanneperveen in the Netherlands on October 17, 1811.  When Van Raalte was a junior at Leyden University, he changed his course of study from medicine to theology.  During this time Van Raalte joined a small circle known as the "precise ones," who were considered religious revolutionaries. When the time came to take his final exam in 1834, he was asked if he knew and agreed with all the Regulations of the Reformed Church.  When he was unsure of his answer, he was sent away to research this question in further detail. Upon his research, he concluded that the Regulations were in contradiction of the word of God. When he approached the Reformed Church Board, he told them of his conclusions. The Board denied his admittance to the Reformed Church.

Van Raalte decided to join the followers of the Afscheiding. He was examined by the Christian Reformed Church synod and was ordained. He began to preach throughout the province of Overijssel. Van Raalte and the other secessionists encountered persecutions and oppression from the liberal government. Van Raalte wanted a place of religious freedom, and so he decided to leave the Netherlands.

In 1846 Van Raalte journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean to settle in the United States for sanctuary. After much debate and investigation, Van Raalte and his group decided to settle down in present day Holland, Michigan to begin their colonization. Settlement in the Michigan wilderness proved to be a difficult task for the group. Van Raalte remained a pillar of strength for the immigrants and continued to inspire them. Van Raalte ultimately wanted his people to experience religious freedom, develop their economy, and gain a higher education. In 1851 Van Raalte began the ground work for Hope College. Only a few short years after celebrating Holland's 25th anniversary, Van Raalte passed away on November 7, 1876.

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