Rev. John De Jong, friend of parishioners, mission promoter, faithful preacher, man of quiet humor, and careful administrator, passed away on February 11, as a result of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
De Jong was born in Echten, Friesland, The Netherlands, the oldest of ten children. The family migrated to the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, Canada, in l947, where they took up farming.
In l953 De Jong married Gertrude Jansen and they settled on a farm in Deroche, B.C. But soon after, De Jong felt the desire to devote his life to Christian ministry, so in August 1954 the young couple moved to Grand Rapids, Mich., where De Jong enrolled at Calvin College. He entered Calvin Theological Seminary in 1958, graduating three years later.
The couple served the following Christian Reformed congregations: Iron Springs, Alberta, 1961; New Holland, South Dakota, l965; Essex, Ontario, 1968; Fruitland, Ontario, 1972; Georgetown, Ontario, 1978; and Smithville, Ontario, 1988. They retired in 1996.
Following retirement, De Jong continued to be actively involved in church life, frequently leading worship services.
De Jong was a soft-spoken, kindly pastor. He did his work with thoughtfulness and thoroughness. Honest and straightforward, his parishioners confided in him as their friend. He was well-read and pursued interests beyond theology. His sermons never lacked compassion for his people in their struggles of life. De Jong was actively involved in the denomination’s mission ministry.
John is survived by his wife, Gertrude, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, and their children: Helen and Bill Opthof, Joanne and Rob De Jonge, Steve and Debra De Jong, Tom De Jong, Sandra and Bill Haan, and Sharon and Steve Stafford. A son-in-law, Eric Kort, preceded John in death. De Jong had 12 grandchildren and five great- grandchildren.