January 28, 1925 – June 21, 2008
Rev. Bernard Byma, 83, a diminutive pastor with a huge servant heart, a true churchman, and a consensus builder, died June 21 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was the 15th member of Calvin Theological Seminary’s class of 1953 to pass to glory.
Byma was born in Ureterp, Friesland, the Netherlands, and immigrated at age 5 with his parents, Ralph and Augusta Byma, to the U.S.
Rev. Byma grew up in Bellflower, Calif., where his father operated a dairy farm. He attended Bellflower Christian School and Compton High School. Following high school he served his country in the military and was stationed in Korea as part of the U.S. occupation forces there.
In 1946 Byma began the pre-seminary course at Calvin College, and upon graduation in 1950 started Calvin Theological Seminary, from which he graduated three years later. He married Ann Werkema in 1952.
In 1953 the young couple accepted a call from Elmhurst (Ill.) Christian Reformed Church, which they served until 1960. In that year they moved to Lynden, Wash., where Byma became pastor of First CRC.
In 1970 Byma accepted a call from Second CRC of Denver, Colo. He served the congregation of First CRC in Hudsonville, Mich., from 1975 until 1988, the year of his retirement.
Byma was foremost a shepherd of the flocks he served. He was genuinely interested in the lives of the members, young and old. It was said of him that he remembered all the names of the members of the churches he served, children included.
Byma’s sermons reflected the deep concern he felt for the well-being of his people. He loved the Christian Reformed Church; he knew its history, its teachings, and current events.
At pastoral get-togethers it quickly became clear that this humble pastor was an avid reader. A poor left-handed golfer, he enjoyed being on the course with his friends. He also collected stamps for many years.
Following his retirement he and Ann pursued the love of their life: making pastoral calls. In his 80s, Alzheimer’s drew this faithful man into its shadows.
Byma is survived by his wife, Ann, and their children and spouses: George and Donna Byma, Gary and Beth Byma, Bill and Judy Byma, John and Evonne Byma, Jerene and Reg Schierbeek, and 17 grandchildren.