Rev. Neil Culbertson, 58, was an eloquent messenger of the gospel, a thoughtful theologian, and the recipient of a high distinction from the government of Guam. He passed away on January 29 from brain cancer.
Born and raised in Oregon, Culbertson, he volunteered for military service during the Vietnam era when he was not yet 18. That was also when he found the Lord; he counted himself blessed when the military entrusted him with a coffee house ministry on the base at Fort Lewis, Wash. Through contact with Chaplain Paul Vruwink, he came to embrace the Reformed world and life view.
In 1975, he enrolled at Dordt College, graduating with a major in classical languages. Subsequently he graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary and entered into ministry in the Christian Reformed Church.
A one-year internship in Ottawa, Ontario, affirmed a call to serve with Christian Reformed World Missions. In the fall of 1983, Culbertson and his wife moved to the island of Guam, where they would serve for 27 years. Culbertson was pastor of Faith Presbyterian Reformed Church in Mangilao.
In 2010 the Culbertsons returned to the U.S. to serve the Christian Reformed Community Church of Tacoma, Wash., a ministry cut short by Culbertson’s illness.
He was in many ways a gifted person. A serious believer with a delightful sense of humor, his heart beat warmly for those in need and distress. He also had a deep concern for maintaining the truth of the Reformed faith. Not given to small talk, he was a gifted speaker and preacher known for his skill in Hebrew and Greek.
Well acquainted with Guam’s social and political life, Culbertson served on a number of civic committees and did chaplaincy duties in the Guam Legislature. The Guam government awarded him its highest distinction: the Ancient Order of the Chamorri. He was a fine musician and also president of the Guam Running Club, and could regularly be seen running his miles.
Culbertson is survived by his wife, Janie-Lou, and their son, Paul.