Rev. Harold Petroelje, 94, who was conscientious and methodical in all his doings, a diligent pastoral visitor, ahead of his time in using educational helps, and a lover of music, passed away on April 27 from congestive heart failure at Bethany Home in Ripon, Calif.
He and his classmate, Rev. Gysbert Rozenboom, held the record for number of years in ordained CRC ministry—71.
Petroelje was born in Byron Center, Mich., where he attended Byron Center Christian Schools and public high school. He enrolled at Calvin College, graduating in l938. In 1941 he graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary and accepted a call to serve Holland Center CRC in Lodgepole, S.D.
That was followed by a call to Cedar (Iowa) CRC and then to First CRC of Waupun, Wisc. Petroelje’s last congregation was Alameda (Calif.) CRC. He retired in 1981.
Petroelje had a consummate sense of duty, and his ministry activities were meticulously prepared. He made sure to know the needs of the various age groups in the churches he served. His teaching and preaching ministries were enhanced by his gift of storytelling.
Petroelje’s interest went far beyond the local church. Classis Pella (the regional group of churches) profited from his administrative gifts by appointing him stated clerk. He was a member of the Board of World Missions for nine years.
In Waupun he was active in prison ministries. For more than 20 of his retirement years, he organized food donations to Ripon Interfaith Ministries. He also helped to organize a church in Big Springs, Calif.
Petroelje needed to know how things worked and appreciated good craftsmanship. He and his wife, Joanne, were known for their warm hospitality. His children remember the well-planned vacation trips the family made.
Petroelje was predeceased by his wife and his daughter-in-law Bettijane. He is survived by his children Lloyd and Harriet Petroelje, Jean and Timothy Brown, Paul Petroelje, and Lee Petroelje, nine grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
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