Dec. 26, 1921 – Feb. 21, 2006
Rev. William De Witt Ribbens passed away on February 21 following a struggle with bone marrow disease at Montgomery Regional Hospital at Blacksburg, VA.
Ribbens was born in Sheboygan, Wisc., where he attended grade- and high school. He graduated from Calvin College in 1943, after which he joined the US armed forces, serving in France and Germany, where he saw significant combat action. His World War II experiences were a significant factor in choosing the ministry as his vocation. He enrolled at Calvin Seminary and graduated in 1949.
He married Clarice Van de Kieft in l945, and the young couple accepted a call to serve the CRC of Goshen, Ind., in 1949. They always felt a strong desire to be at the cutting edge of the CRC evangelism vision, and so in l955 they agreed to be responsible for the parish evangelism program of the CRC of Rochester, NY. In l959 Ribbens became the pastor of The Back to God Hour Chapel in Marion, Mich. Five more charges were to follow: Harvest Community CRC of Lake Odessa, Mich., 1963; Emmanuel CRC of Sauk Village, Ill., 1969; Grace CRC, Burke, Va,. 1975; Christ Community CRC, Virginia Beach, Va, 1981; and Zuni, N. Mex., 1986. The Ribbens retired in 1987.
Ribbens was known as a compassionate man deeply concerned for the salvation of people in the wider areas around the churches he served. His quiet determination and friendly optimism encouraged congregations to be involved in personal evangelism. In four of his congregations, new church edifices were erected. Preaching was, for him, equipping the believers for service. During their retirement the Ribbens conducted 19 short-term ministries in 15 churches, many of which had no pastor of their own. Ribbens also pioneered the Christ for Russia program, which brought helpful ministry to the Donetz Bible College in the Ukraine.
Rev. Ribbens is survived by his wife, Clarice; and their children Marjorie and James Gray, Nancy and Marvin Jager, William and Martha Ribbens, Joyce and David Campbell, and Calvin and Kathy Ribbens; as well as 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.