Rev. Albert Helder, 69, whose godliness made the Scriptures come alive to the churches he served, whose challenging ministry made people think, and whose example helped people integrate their faith into everyday life, passed away suddenly from heart complications following surgery the previous week.
Helder was born in Cutlerville, Mich., the son of Alfred and Kathryn Helder. He attended Jenison Christian School and Unity Christian High School. He graduated from Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary and was a doctoral candidate at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, Calif.
Helder was concerned not only about the spiritual but also the mental and emotional aspects of the ministry. Thus he began his ministry in the Christian Reformed Church in the chaplaincy of Pine Rest Christian Hospital, Cutlerville, where he served from 1968 to 1969.
Later in 1969 he accepted an internship with Appalachian Region in Harlan, Ky. Helder’s parish ministry began in 1970, when he was installed as pastor of Trinity CRC, Iowa City, Iowa.
In 1978, Helder began serving Immanuel CRC, Fort Collins, Colo. In 1991 he became pastor of the Pacific Community CRC of Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1996, he moved to Canada after accepting a call to First CRC in New Westminster, British Columbia.
Helder married Sandy Dieken in 2001.
In 2002, he became the interim minister of Classis Central California. He became senior pastor of Modesto (Calif.) CRC in 2009.
Helder was a winsome person. He deeply loved the congregations he served and was equally devoted to the CRC denomination. In his preaching he made the Scriptures become alive and relevant to today’s world. Under his guidance churches became more inclusive communities of unconditional love. Amid the demands of a busy ministry, Helder remained fun-loving and a person of charisma.
He is survived by his wife, Sandy, his children Chris and Lucy Helder and Chad and Tshombe Helder, and three grandchildren.