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Brink, J.R. (1872-1960) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Brink, J.R. (1872-1960)


Historical Note:

The Rev. Mr. Brink was born in Onnen, Groningen, the Netherlands, on 13 November 1872, the youngest of eight children.  His father was a carpenter, a loyal member of the Gereformeerde Kerk.  When relatives in the United States wrote urging the family to join them, his parents decided to emigrate.  They settled on a farm near Jamestown, Michigan.  Early days were beset with hardship.

After about five years the family moved to Holland, Michigan, where his father resumed his carpentry trade, but died within a year.  John was eighteen and went to work in a furniture factory to support his mother.  The following years were spent teaching in the Grand Haven Christian School, studying for a year and a summer at Hope College, and teaching for two years at a Christian school in Chicago.

Although he enjoyed teaching, he still strongly felt the call to the gospel ministry.  When Classis Holland granted him $175 a year for theological study, he and his mother moved to Grand Rapids.  Six years later, in 1902, he graduated from Calvin’s “Theological School.”  That same year he married Helen Noordewier, daughter of Rev. Jacob Noordewier, the Christian Reformed pastor after whom Noordewier Hall (at Calvin College) is named.

His first congregation was the Reeman, Michigan, Christian Reformed Church, where he served with joy until 1905.  During those years he paid back the money borrowed from classis for his education.  Two children, Johanna and Ralph, were born in Reeman.  After this he served as home missionary in Grand Rapids until 1907, when he moved to the East Side Church of Cleveland, Ohio.  Daughter Catherine was born there, but died at the age of thirteen months.  When the Second Church of Englewood called him for a second time, he accepted the call and moved to Chicago in 1911.

In 1913 he was called a second time to serve as home missionary for Classes Grand Rapids East and West.  He accepted the call, since this work had always had a big place in his heart.  He was particularly well-suited to this pioneering in church extension.  Strong and energetic, he was perpetually optimistic about the potential for growth in small congregations.  He took special delight in watching the development of leadership and spiritual growth in these young churches.  During these busy, active years he served in more than twenty locations, starting sixteen new congregations, including some in Canada.  Two more daughters, Ruth and Lois, were born during those years.

Classis Illinois called him to the same kind of work in 1928.  While based in Chicago, he worked in wide-ranging fields, starting ten new congregations in less than ten years.  From 1938 to 1942 his work was again centered in Grand Rapids.  The two years before his retirement as home missionary were difficult ones.  An accident, in which a train seriously injured his foot, and the lingering illness and death of Mrs. Brink, took their tolls.  However, he was able to get the Boston Square Church started before his compulsory retirement as missionary in 1943. A brief period of service at Rehoboth, New Mexico, and three years as pastor in Conrad, Montana, preceded his second retirement in 1946.  His last years were spent in Grand Rapids, where he passed away on 22 July 1960.






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