Andrew Zylstra, 86, a pastor with a servant heart, died on May 3 from unknown causes.
Rev. Andrew Zylstra
Zylstra was born near Duvall, Wash., where he attended school and helped with the family farm. He enrolled in Western Washington State College to study horticulture, an interest that stayed with him his whole life.
At an Intervarsity meeting he felt God calling him to become a minister of the Word. He enrolled at Calvin College in l946 and went on to graduate from Calvin Theological Seminary in l953.
Zylstra served the following congregations: Rusk (Mich.) CRC; Bethel CRC, Lynden, Wash.; Second CRC, Pella, Iowa; First CRC, Kalamazoo, Mich.; Spring Lake (Mich.) CRC; and Cedar (Iowa) CRC. He retired in l988.
Zylstra was a quiet man but never timid. He was gifted musically and vocally. At seminary he was a member of the choir, and for 15 years of his retirement he did a weekly hymn-sing in a rehabilitation facility. His thorough knowledge of the Word enabled him to write in-depth sermons that he presented well, not depending much on sermon notes on the pulpit.
Zylstra belonged to that generation of pastors who were expected to do it all: preach twice a Sunday, teach all the catechism classes, lead council meetings, and visit widely in the congregation. His servant heart enabled him to carry this load with a quiet sort of joy. Leading people to the faith was a real concern to Zylstra, a sense of calling that went back to his seminary days.
After retirement, Zylstra continued his servant life. He conducted services in a retirement community, and on three occasions he and his wife traveled to China to teach English. Growing flowers and making flower arrangements remained a cherished activity through his retirement years. Poor health slowed down this active pastor during his last few years.
Zylstra is survived by his wife, Thelma, and their children Helen and Bernard Hoogland, Philip and Barbara Zylstra, Kathy and Henry Ronda, Karen and William Kamphuis, Marie and Steven Van Andel, Joanne and Jack Karsten, Bryan and Ruth Zylstra, and Arlene and Ross Hoogewerf, as well as 29 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.