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Rev. Clarence Boomsma

1917 – 2007

Rev. Clarence Boomsma, a longtime prominent denominational leader, passed away May 28 at Whispering Wood Nursing Care, Grand Rapids, Mich. He was 90.

Born in Hammond, Ind., Boomsma grew up in Lansing, Ill., and Demotte, Ind., where he attended local Christian schools. He graduated from Calvin College in 1940 and from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1943.

Boomsma pursued graduate studies at New College, Edinburgh, Scotland, and at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Va. He married Shirley Balk in 1954.

In 1943 he accepted a call to Imlay City (Mich.) CRC, which he served for four years. Only one more church followed: Calvin CRC in Grand Rapids, from which he retired 36 years later. It proved to be one of the most influential ministries in the Christian Reformed Church.

Though a generalist, Rev. Boomsma excelled in many areas of his calling. He was a superb preacher—his sermons evidenced a deep concern for his parishioners and a thorough knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures. He was an avid reader in many areas: theology, history, philosophy, political trends, and current events. The church at large, too, profited from his considerable administrative and visionary gifts. On four occasions he served as president of the CRC’s annual synod. And for many years he served as secretary of the CRC’s Interchurch Relations Committee. In that capacity he represented the denomination on every continent of the world. He earned the trust of church leaders in South Africa and contributed significantly to the constructive contacts between the CRC and the post-apartheid South African churches. As adviser of the Reformed Ecumenical Council, Boomsma made nine trips to South Africa.

In times of confusion the CRC turned to Rev. Boomsma for leadership. His book Male and Female, One in Christ went a long way toward making a biblical case for opening all church offices to women in the CRC. He served the Grand Rapids Child Guidance Clinic as a board member and its president.

Boomsma is survived by his wife, Shirley; by their children, Robert and Sylvia Boomsma, Joan Boomsma, and Paul Boomsma; and by five granddaughters.

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