We know a great deal about the life of Rev. Cornelius Van Der Meulen, the fact that he was an agnostic, a civil engineer in Rotterdam until personal tragedies turned him to God. We know that he became a pastor to 12 congregations at the same time in Zeeland Province when the church at Goes (HOOS) called him, that he led one-third of the Separatists on their way to America. When he died in Grand Rapids, a special funeral train carried him here to this spot that he and Elizabeth had chosen.
But, we can’t know the hardships and inner turmoil that came with the decision to come to America. Adrian Van Koevering, in “Legends of the Dutch” draws us into that story.
Rev. Van Der Meulen served the Congregation of Zeeland as its pastor and community leader for twelve long and strenuous years; during the years of its organization and difficult years of it establishment; during the years when there were many doubts and misgivings, of privations, of suffering, of discouragement, of disease and death; the years when families deserted the church through poverty and economic failure, to seek better conditions elsewhere; when other families came to take their places only to again depart; years when conditions grew brighter, when reassuring hope dawned in his heart as well as in the hearts of his followers, and years when he felt that his work of leadership and guidance had been completed, when the load of responsibility should be lifted.
He had been the pastor and spiritual advisor, who instilled hope and courage in their flagging souls and bodies, who suffered with them in their sickness and misfortunes, who grieved with them in their sorrow, who went hungry and naked with them in their scarcity, who suffered from cold and lack of shelter with the rest of them, who labored with his hands to provide for his family, who had such care for others added to his own, who had the courage and endurance to face all obstacles through trust in his God, that his colonial venture might establish the realism of his faith, that he had fulfilled a God-given mission on earth and his church.
This dedication was written by Dorothy Vos for a dedication of new cemetery stones for Cornelius Van Der Meulen.