A modest man who was committed to loving and serving his heavenly Father the best he could, James Bultman enjoyed simple pleasures: singing around the piano with the family, eating ice cream, laughing at his own corny jokes, and taking long walks. According to his loved ones, the daunting challenges Bultman faced drove him even more to seek refuge and direction from his God. His peaceful and gentle spirit was evident throughout his struggle with dementia during the last 13 years of his life. Bultman died on May 3 at Resthaven Care Center in Holland, Mich. He was 92.
Growing up on the family farm in Oak Harbor (Whidbey Island), Wash., significantly shaped Bultman. He always referred to western Washington as “home.”
In his 20s, Bultman took a train to Grand Rapids, Mich., to begin pre-seminary studies at Calvin College. At the time, he wrote, “I am not absolutely certain whether or not this is my calling . . . I did not feel as though I should simply resign myself to becoming a farmer without ever trying something else. . . . I think that we should be very sure that we spend our life as God would have us do. I hope that I may live to that end also.” He went on to graduate from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1953.
Several of the Christian Reformed congregations Bultman served were in rural communities, a perfect fit for a farmer-turned-pastor. Over the years, he pastored the following churches: Bethel CRC in Allison, Iowa; Iowa Falls (Iowa) CRC; Trinity CRC in Denver, Colo.; Decatur (Mich.) CRC; and Colton (S.D.) CRC (now called Faith Community). After his retirement in 1986, Bultman continued to serve in interim positions in Texas and Michigan and as short-term missionary in Russia and Ukraine.
Bultman was predeceased by his wife, Alida (Vander Weit), in 1992. He is survived by their children, Lydia and Keith Frens and Thomas and Betty Bultman, and by several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.