1922 - 2005
After a long ministry devoted to missions and evangelism, Rev. Dr. Dick L. Van Halsema died peacefully at home in his sleep Nov. 12, following a decline from Parkinson’s disease.
Born into a pastor’s family, Van Halsema graduated from Calvin College and Calvin Seminary, and received a doctorate from Union Theological Seminary, New York, in 1956. Between attending college and seminary he served from 1943 to 1946 with the U.S. Army in the Pacific during World War II. Later, from 1952 to 1982, he was a chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserve, retiring with the rank of colonel. He married Thea Jane Bouma in 1948.
Under CRC Home Missions, Van Halsema helped revitalize New Hope CRC, Monsey, N.Y., from 1949 to 1957, then spent a year organizing First CRC, Miami.
Called to work out of the CRC’s U.S. denominational headquarters, Van Halsema became Home Missionary-at-Large in 1957, and the first denominational minister of evangelism in 1959. From 1963 to 1966 he pastored Central Avenue CRC, Holland, Mich. And for 21 years after that (1966-1987), he served with distinction as president of Reformed Bible College, Grand Rapids, Mich. As part of his work “Dr. Van” developed and led missions orientation programs in Mexico, Central America, and the Middle East. In addition he was editor of Missionary Monthly magazine and president of the Paul Society for many years. When he retired from RBC in 1987, he founded I.D.E.A. Ministries and through it continued his service in missions until he was 80.
Van Halsema was a man of prayer, a visionary, and an energetic creator of programs that served the Lord and blessed others. He reached out to people with compassion and encouragement and had friends from many backgrounds and cultures around the world. He was kind but firm, ecumenical but committed to the Reformed faith. He inspired many to make missions their life’s calling. And his love of music-- directing, accompanying, composing--was woven into all that he did.
Van Halsema is survived by his wife, Thea; their children David and Darlene Van Halsema, Nancy Tess and Mark Lindholm, Clark Van Halsema, Emily Van Halsema, and Dick Jr. and Melissa Van Halsema; and by 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.