It is not entirely uncommon to find several pastors in one family. And then there’s Rev. Tim and Rev. Heidi De Jonge, both Christian Reformed pastors. Both have also led an installation service for their father, most recently on Friday, March 28, when Heidi led the service for her dad, Rev. James Petersen, at Morrison (Ill.) Christian Reformed Church.
“Twenty years ago, on March 5, 1994, my dad first asked me if I had ever thought of being a pastor,” said Heidi. “At that time, I had never thought of it, as I had never seen it! At that time, no women were ordained in the CRC. Now here we are, 20 years after that conversation, me serving in my second church and my dad being installed in his seventh. I am so grateful for God’s faithfulness and for how he has used my dad to encourage me, and me to encourage my dad.”
Heidi, who is the pastor of Westside Fellowship CRC in Kingston, Ontario, preached from Jeremiah 1:9, words she said are important to her dad. At the end of the sermon, her family joined her in signing the doxology in harmony and a cappella.
“He is a passionate steward of God’s Word,” Heidi said, “still studying it in its original languages, memorizing and singing it, and passing it on in his preaching and pastoral care.”
Petersen did not grow up in the CRC but noted that he was “infected with the Neo-Kuyperian worldview at Dordt College” and it transformed his vision for life.
“How could my wife, Winnie, and I not want to pass that on to our children?” Petersen said. “Perhaps in that Reformed ecosystem it’s not strange to think that all of our children would follow Christ passionately and that one of them would vocationally choose to become a pastor.”
Petersen preached at his daughter's ordination at Faith CRC (Holland, Mich.) and her installation at Westside, while Tim’s father, Rev. Philip De Jonge, preached at his son’s ordination at Faith CRC.
Tim then preached at his dad’s installation at Seymour CRC (Grand Rapids, Mich.). Not to neglect a connection, Philip De Jonge also preached at Heidi’s installation at Harderwyk Ministries (Holland, Mich.), a church he himself had pastored in the early 1980s. Tim and Heidi also both have grandfathers who were pastors.
“I could see Heidi’s passion when wrestling with Christian worldview questions and her budding love for God and his people, and that the gospel ministry just might be the right fit for her vocationally,” Petersen said. “It was a prophetic God thing that does not happen very often for me. I ‘saw’ Heidi becoming a Minister of the Word. And what a pleasure it was for me to sit at the feet of Jesus as I sat at her feet.”
“Both Tim’s dad and my dad are very thoughtful and effective Reformed theologians and pastors,” Heidi said. “They whetted our appetites for learning and for God, and Tim and I both pursued our Reformed studies in the colleges of our fathers. Our dads, though, being great dads, have encouraged us to be who we are in ministry, and to find our own voices. Tim’s dad has been an extremely helpful coach to me and I know my dad has encouraged Tim as well.”