Rev. John B. Hulst, 83, second president of Dordt College, visionary for the kingdom, tactful but firm, modest but energetic, died from a sudden onset of metastatic brain cancer.
Hulst was born in Grand Rapids, where he attended Seymour Christian School, Grand Rapids Christian High School, Calvin College, and Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1954. He earned his master-of-theology degree in 1973, and in 1981 was awarded a doctor-of- theology degree by Iliff School of Theology, Denver.
A remarkable and productive career was to follow his seminary days. He served the following congregations: Ireton (Iowa) CRC; First CRC, Orange City, Iowa; and Twelfth Avenue CRC, Jenison, Mich.
From 1968 on, John’s life, with all its considerable gifts and energy, would be devoted to Dordt College, in Sioux Center, Iowa. In his ministry there he served as professor of theology, campus pastor, dean of students, and from 1982 to 1996 he served Dordt as its president.
Hulst embodied many wonderful gifts: integrity, scholarship, vitality, prudence, engaging winsomeness, and a deep love for kingdom and church. During his tenure, Dordt witnessed steady growth. International connections grew significantly, a master-of-education program proved successful, the scholarly capacity of the teaching staff deepened and expanded, and material support increased dramatically.
Hulst was a gifted speaker, preacher, and writer. He lectured widely, both nationally and internationally. He worked tirelessly to promote a Christian understanding in politics, education, and life in general. He was a co-founder of the National Association of Christian Political Action, later known as the Center for Public Justice, based in Washington, D.C. Other organizations profited from his leadership: the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto, the Reformed Ecumenical Council, the International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education, and others.
But Hulst will be remembered most for his Christ-like demeanor and as an encourager of people around him. In 2011, Calvin Theological Seminary honored him with its “Distinguished Alumni Award,” calling him a Christian statesman. Dordt College named its renovated library the John and Louise Hulst Library.
He is survived by his wife, Louise, their children Lizbeth Hulst, Susan and James De Young, and Mary Hulst, and seven grandchildren.