Rev. Gerrit Heersink, 85, diligent pastor of rural churches, ecumenical in outlook, student of church history, and one-time beekeeper, died on May 12 in Peterborough, Ontario, from a blood clot following a routine operation.
Heersink was born the second-youngest of six children in Aalten, the Netherlands, a small village near the German border. The Heersink family ran a bakery in which the children did their share of the work.
Heersink’s countryside experiences flavored his ministerial choices for serving rural and small-town congregations. His deep interest in world history and political developments was undoubtedly stimulated by World War II experiences during his teenage years.
Heersink studied theology at the Free University in Amsterdam, graduating in l957. His first congregation was the Gereformeerde Kerk of Hasselt, the Netherlands. While there, he and his wife experienced a growing longing to serve the immigrant communities in Canada.
In l961 Heersink accepted a call to the Grace Christian Reformed Church of Cobourg, Ontario. Four more congregations would follow: Clinton (Ontario) CRC, l964; Blenheim (Ontario) CRC, 1967, Woody Nook CRC, Lacombe, Alberta, 1977; and Barrhead (Alberta) CRC, l984. He retired in l991.
Heersink was a man of broad interests and intellectual curiosity. Writing sermons was a serious challenge to him. He was deeply interested in ecumenical issues. He followed denominational developments with a lively interest.
He loved to explore nature; the Heersink family were great campers.When necessary, he would gladly fill in as church organist. Heersink credited his wife for being his partner and model in pastoral calling.
During their retirement years, while they were members of Cephas CRC in Peterborough, Ontario, they remained active in ministering to the elderly with whom they felt a deep kinship.
During the last year and a half of his life, as his wife, Iefke, had been taken from his side, Heersink became more tender and felt free to respond to the love extended to him by children and friends. During his latter years his sermons became more spontaneously Christ-centered.
Heersink was preceded in death by his wife. He is survived by his children: Roland and Elizabeth (Drost) Heersink, John Heersink, and Paul Heersink and Laura Peetoom; seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.