Archie Vander Hart, 64, pastor, theologian, and scientist, passed away on February 15 after a fierce eight-week battle with cancer.
Vander Hart was born in Pella, Iowa, where he graduated from Christian schools. Intending to become a marine biologist, he earned his undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry at Calvin College and his master’s degree in biological oceanography from Oregon State University.
It was while studying for his Ph.D. that Vander Hart responded to God’s call to become a pastor. He returned to Grand Rapids, Mich., and enrolled in Calvin Theological Seminary to pursue study for the ministry. While a student there, he taught in the biology department of Calvin College.
Vander Hart served the following Christian Reformed congregations: Faith Community CRC in Colton, S.D.; Fuller CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Hope CRC in Grandville, Mich.; and Faith CRC in New Brighton, Minn. He did not reach retirement.
A man of considerable height and strength, and with a booming voice, Vander Hart stood out as an outstanding sportsman. At Pella Christian High he earned many honors and set records that have not been broken. As a pastor, he liked children and was known for the art of storytelling. The ministry was for him a deeply personal practice as well as a thoughtful expression of scholarship. His sermons evidenced careful preparation but also his love for congregants. He had a strong vision for outreach and was a skilled and compassionate counselor. He was a frequent delegate to synod and a member of several denominational boards and committees. Family and friends alike treasure memories of his hearty laughter, bone-crushing hugs, and lively wit.
Vander Hart was predeceased by his infant daughter, Nanette, in 1981. He is survived by his wife, Sandra Meyer, whom he married in 1994; by his children Chanda Vander Hart Grascoeur and Olivier Grascoeur, Brent Vander Hart, and Kyla Kay Vander Hart; and by one grandchild. He is survived by his parents, Case and Rachel Vander Hart. He is also survived by his stepchildren Carey Greg Haley, Cory Bultman, and Michael Bultman; and by five step-grandchildren.