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In Memoriam: Rev. Henry Bajema


June 17, 1919 – July 25, 2008

Rev. Henry Bajema, 89, Christ-like preacher of the Good News, gentle companion of the suffering, thoughtful student of theology, and man of ready wit, died July 25 from Alzheimer’s disease.

Bajema was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he grew up and attended Westside Christian School. He graduated from Grand Rapids Christian High School in 1937.

From a young age he longed for a career in the gospel ministry, so he enrolled in Calvin College, from which he graduated in 1941. He then entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1944. For the next two years he attended Princeton Theological Seminary, completing a pre-doctorate in theology in 1946.

Bajema married Ruth Weemhoff in 1945, and she became a congenial partner with him in ministry. In 1946 the couple accepted a call to Lebanon Christian Reformed Church near Sioux Center, Iowa.

Six more congregations were to follow: Parkview Heights CRC, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1949; Immanuel CRC, Hudsonville, Mich., 1954; First CRC, Lacombe, Alberta, 1959; Volga (S.D.) CRC, 1964; First CRC, Hanford, Calif., 1969; and Holland Center CRC, Lodgepole, S.D., 1980. They retired in 1984.

Bajema was a man of unassuming kindness and friendliness. Though well-trained theologically, at get-togethers he was more a listener than a talker.

Visiting the sick and needy was the love of the Bajemas’ hearts. Many of those visited testify to the healing touch that accompanied their ministry. Bajema’s preaching was aimed at building his congregations in Christ.

Following their retirement Henry and Ruth engaged in a calling ministry for Sunshine Community CRC, Grand Rapids, until they were in their 80s.

Bajema is survived by his wife, Ruth, and their children and spouses: Ruth Ann and Michael Reitsma, Mary Sue and Larry Gerbens, Christine and Don Prys, Philip Henry and Edith Bajema, Laura Lynne and Randy Laninga, and Amy Beth and Paul Johnson; as well as by 20 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.

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