Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Ministerial Anniversaries

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Early next year three of our ministers hope to celebrate very special anniversaries. On January 2, 2003 Rev. Gerald Hamstra will have served forty years in the ministry of the Word, while on the 20th day of the same month it will be twenty-five years ago that Rev. Carl Schouls became a minister of the Gospel. Two weeks later, on February 3, Rev. Pieter VanderMeyden also may look back on a quarter of a century of service in the Church of Christ.
Rev. G. Hamstra
We will begin with Rev. Hamstra, not only because his anniversary comes first, D.V., but also because he is the oldest and has served the longest. It was on January 2, 1963 that our brother was ordained to the ministry in the Bloor East Presbyterian Reformed Church in Toronto with Prof. John Murray officiating. After a ten-year pastorate there, Rev. Hamstra was called by the Free Reformed Church of Dundas to succeed his father, the Rev. J. Hamstra, who had served that congregation since 1950. This call was accepted and for five years he laboured in that part of GodÕs vineyard. Then in 1977 a Ôcome over and helpÕ call was extended to him by the Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk of Alphen, the Netherlands, which he could not turn down. So he left Canada and moved to his native country where he not only served Alphen (1977-81) but also Elburg (1981-84). In late 1984 he was called back to North America by the Clifton (now Pompton Plains) N.J. Free Reformed Church, where he was installed on January 25, 1985. Seven years later, pastor Hamstra received a call from the Toronto FRC, which he accepted, and so he returned once more to Canada to serve that small congregation for another seven years, whereupon he retired in 1999.

Rev. Hamstra still keeps busy preaching almost every LordÕs Day and he also serves as a vice-chairman of the Trinitarian Bible Society (England). The Lord has blessed him with good health so that he has been able to labour all these years almost without interruption. Rev. Hamstra is known for his faithful preaching with a strong emphasis on the necessity of the new birth and the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing sinners to Christ. It is our prayer that God may enable our aging brother to remain active in His service for some time to come in the confidence that his labours have not been and will not be in vain in the Lord (1 Cor.15: 58). May you and your dear wife and daughters have a blessed anniversary in January. Soli Deo Gloria!

Rev. C.A. Schouls
The second minister to celebrate an anniversary is Rev. C. A. Schouls, pastor of the Free Reformed Church in Chatham, Ontario. He began his ministerial calling in Mitchell, where he was ordained as pastor and teacher on January 20, 1978. The officiating minister at the ordination service was his father-in-law, the late Rev. J. Tamminga. The ordination text was Isaiah 62:6,6, while the inauguration sermon was based on 2 Corinthians 3:5,6a: ÓNot that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament.Ó

Rev. Schouls faithfully and patiently ministered to this rural congregation for about six years, after which he accepted a call from the Vineland FRC. He was installed there on June 18, 1984 and as it turned out he was to stay in the beautiful Niagara region for more than 15 years. As often happens when ministers go to their second congregation, they can build on the experience gained in their first charge and improve their skills. While in Vineland, Rev. Schouls developed into an able exegete and preacher as well as a caring pastor and teacher. Towards the end of his labours there, this congregation had become so large that plans were put in motion to start a daughter congregation in the Wellandport area. This development, which now has become a reality, is no small indication of the blessings our brother has seen on his ministry. For this and many other reasons, pastor Schouls felt right at home in Vineland and often thought he was going to stay there for the rest of his ministry.

But the Lord had other plans for His servant. In the summer of 1999 Chatham came calling and our brother just could not say no. On September 3 of that year, the installation in the Chatham FRC took place. By now he has shepherded the LordÕs flock there for over three years. A new church often brings new challenges and this was also the case in Chatham. Problems, especially in the area of strained marital relations, have tested not only the pastor but the consistory and congregation as well. Increasingly these are issues facing all our churches. Despite these difficulties, however, our brotherÕs ministry is being blessed and increasingly appreciated. So when D.V. January 20, 2003, pastor and Margaret Schouls will celebrate this silver anniversary with family, congregation and friends, it will no doubt be with gratitude to the Lord who called, equipped, gifted and sustained our brother all these years in His service to the glory of His Name and the upbuilding of His Church.

Rev. P. VanderMeyden
One more anniversary remains to be mentioned. Just a few weeks after the ordination of his friend and classmate, Carl Schouls, Pieter VanderMeyden began his ministry in the Vineland Free Reformed Church. The date was February 3, 1978. The installer was Rev. C. Pronk who preached the ordination sermon on Acts 26:18. The inaugural sermon was based on Ephesians 6:19 where the apostle Paul urges the Ephesians to pray for all the saints including himself: ÒAnd for me, that utterance may be given unto me that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.Ó The young minister--he was only 25--had some difficulty at first adjusting to pulpit work and life in the parsonage. Being by nature and temperament somewhat withdrawn, it was not always easy for him to do all that is involved in a ministersÕ work. His stay in Vineland was relatively short: 3? years. His second congregation was Langley, B.C., where his labours began on September 25, 1981. It was in the West that the still youthful minister developed and matured considerably, becoming an able expositor of the Word and an effective teacher as well as pastor. After nine years of faithful and diligent work and being appreciated by many, he accepted a call from the Grand Rapids, Michigan FRC. The installation there took place on October 26, 1990. While in this American congregation he continued to grow in various ministerial abilities, especially in the area of exegesis and doctrinal precision. Having faithfully served this unique congregation in this city of churches with its many pulpit orators for more than 10 years, another door of service opened up to him. In the spring of 2000 he received a call from the Vineland FRC, which he initially declined, but having no peace with this decision, he was led by the Lord to request a second call, which was immediately extended and accepted. Thus the by now much older and more experienced minister returned to the congregation where he had begun his ministry. The Lord indeed moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform! The installation took place on June 19, 2001 and the preacher for that occasion was his predecessor, friend and former classmate: Rev. Schouls.

May February 3, 2003 be a day of joy as well as humility for you Pastor and Margaret VanderMeyden, together with loved ones, congregation and friends. Above all, may there be thankfulness to the Lord Who not only forgives all our iniquities, but also never forsakes the works of His own hands (Psalm 103:3; 138:8).

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