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Rev. Jacob D. Eppinga


Rev. Jacob D. Eppinga, preacher, theologian, author, family man, and a leader among pastors, passed away March 1 at age 90, following a brief struggle with cancer. As his children stood around his bed and he breathed his last, he said, “I see many angels. . . .”

Eppinga was born in Detroit in 1917. As a child he was already tri-lingual: Dutch at home, German in the Grosse Pointe Lutheran Grade School, and English among friends. It was the beginning of his lifelong interest in languages and literature.

He graduated from Calvin College in 1939, whereupon he enrolled at Westminster Theological Seminary, graduating in 1943. He and Anne Gertrude Batts married in 1940.

After an additional year at Calvin Theological Seminary, Eppinga accepted a call from Dearborn (Mich.) Christian Reformed Church. In 1951 he became pastor of Highland Hills CRC of Grand Rapids. And in 1957 he accepted a call from LaGrave Avenue CRC of Grand Rapids. He served there till his retirement, 33 years later.

Eppinga continued his theological studies by doing graduate work at Union Theological Seminary (1961-1962) and at Westminster Theological Seminary (1970). Westminster awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 2007.

Many CRC members became acquainted with Eppinga through his writings in The Banner, where his “Cabbages and Kings” column became immensely popular. Readers recognized themselves in Eppinga’s gentle, perceptive, and often humorous observations.

Eppinga was a man of many achievements. He authored 10 books, which found a wide readership. He was a frequent delegate to the Christian Reformed Church’s annual synods, serving three times as president. Numerous denominational boards profited from his competent leadership. Several civic organizations did too.

Through his decades-long ministry, LaGrave Avenue CRC made an enormous contribution to the denomination’s missionary outreach. He and Anne were tireless advocates of Christian education. His imaginative ministry made LaGrave a leading congregation in the CRC. But for Jacob Eppinga, the pastoral ministry had the love of his heart.

Eppinga is survived by his wife, Anne; their children, Dick and Judy Eppinga, Jay and Shirley Eppinga, Susan and Mike McCarthy, and Dianne and John De Vries; and by five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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