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Henry Keegstra (1871-1955) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Henry Keegstra (1871-1955)

Historical Note:

Henry Keegstra came from the Netherlands in 1890.  His parents, Kornelis and Elizabeth Keegstra, were spiritual descendants of the Secession of 1834 in Niehove in the province of Groningen where Henry was born February 14, 1871.  After about three years in the United States, Henry became a student in the Preparatory Department of the Theological Seminary at Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He graduated from the Seminary in 1900 and was listed as an alumnus in Leighton, Iowa, in the 1900-1901 “Catalogue” van de Theologische School te Grand Rapids.

Rev. Henry Keegstra served the Leighton CRC until 1903 when he accepted a call to the First Allendale CRC in Allendale, Michigan.  After five years he moved to First Fremont CRC in Fremont, Michigan (1908-1919), and then to Sixteenth Street CRC in Holland, Michigan (1919-1928).  Few ministers serve a congregation a second time; Keegstra did.  He returned to Allendale where he ended his active ministry in 1941.  However, he continued to serve as editor of De Wachter for another seven years.

During the years of his active ministry, he also served the denomination.  He was repeatedly delegated to Synod, was a board member of the Young Men’s Federation, an active promoter of Christian education and a member of the Curatorium of Calvin College and Seminary.

After a long period of failing health, Henry Keegstra died on his birthday in 1955. His wife and two of their seven children preceded him in death.

When Rev. Henry Keestra died, the Grand Rapids Press headlined the obituary notice with the words: “De Wachter Editor Dies.”  He had served as editor-in-chief for twenty-six years beginning this task in 1922 when he was a full-time pastor of the Sixteenth Street CRC and continuing to serve after his retirement from the active ministry in 1941 until 1948.

Editor Keegstra was a man of positive convictions but he did not prompt controversies.  “In his writing he was always on his guard against extreme statements.”

In his preaching, “He was above all exegetical in his presentation of the truth and frowned on motto-preaching.  He was always fresh and perfectly natural in his preaching and withal practical,” according to his classmate, Louis Berkhof.

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