Today in OPC History

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July 26

Hattie DeWaard

On this day in 1895, the future Mrs. Hattie DeWaard was born to Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Smitter, who were farmers near Grand Rapids, Michigan, and strongly committed to the Reformed Faith. At age 24, Hattie entered nursing school, although her father initially resisted the idea. She graduated and became a registered nurse. At that time she attended Sherman Street Christian Reformed Church, then pastored by R. B. Kuiper. There she met a young pre-seminarian student from Calvin College named John DeWaard.

Although Hattie initially tried to discourage John’s interest, they were soon courting. According to their youngest daughter, Mary Miller, “They both loved canoeing, long walks, and singing the Psalms in Dutch.” In 1923 Hattie married John, then a student of Geerhardus Vos at Princeton Seminary. After graduation, John was called to a PCUSA church in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin. When he discovered modernism had spread, he took a stand and was removed from his pulpit by their General Assembly. When John told her that he would take a stand, and that they might lose everything as a result, she said, “Just do what’s right, John.” With Hattie’s full support, John then organized Calvary OPC in Cedar Grove. Later they took a call to Memorial Presbyterian Church in Rochester, New York.

In 1959, the same year that John retired from the ministry, God called him home to glory. At age 64 Hattie found herself a widow. She remained actively involved in the life of the church, helping to start the Spencer Mills OP congregation in Gowen, Michigan. Her strong theological convictions were a great encouragement to many of the young people she encountered.

This godly lady graduated to the church triumphant on November 25, 1988, having touched many lives for Christ during the days of her earthly pilgrimage.

Picture: Hattie and Mary Dewaard

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