Rev. Dante A. Venegas
October 5, 1933 – April 13, 2007
Rev. Dante A. Venegas, 73—whom people said was too large to be confined to one culture, one New York City borough, one church, one denomination, one job, or one profession—passed away April 13 in Grand Rapids, Mich., after a long battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Venegas was born in Spanish Harlem from Puerto Rican parents. His early years in the streets of New York were fraught with hardships. But in May 1964, while incarcerated for a crime he had not committed, the Lord saved him for a life of Christian service.
Venegas married Jacquelyn Mulder in 1970. In May 1978 he accepted a call to pastor Madison Square Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. In 1981 he was ordained to ministry in the CRC on the basis of exceptional gifts.
In 1996 Venegas became chaplain of Alternative Directions in Grand Rapids. And in 1999 he was appointed pastor of City Hope Ministries in Grand Rapids. Having graduated earlier from La Guardia Community College in New York, he took numerous courses at Calvin Theological Seminary during his ministry years.
Dante and Jacquelyn retired from the active ministry in 2002. Dante continued his services as a part-time chaplain for Health Intervention Services.
Rev. Venegas was a pastor of multidimensional ability and remarkable spiritual stature. He was an over-comer and a bridge-builder, traveling with the suffering, the lonely, the sorrowing, the addicted, and those rejected by society. His life was a testimony to the power of Jesus Christ to redeem human brokenness.
Venegas loved to read the classics and had a special gift with words and language. He remembered people’s names, believing that everyone is special in God’s eyes. He paved the way for pastors of color to enter CRC ministry. Though an able organizer, he was far more concerned with people than with programs and organizational intricacies. He will be remembered as a loving husband and father and a loyal friend.
Venegas is survived by his wife, Jacquelyn; by their children Andrea and Jason Venegas-Rook and J. Michele Venegas; and by five grandchildren.—Louis M. Tamminga