A compassionate man with a desire to serve others, Gerard Bouma initially planned to be a physician. However, after one semester, God called him to ministry and he graduated instead from Kampen Theological School in the Netherlands in 1950. Bouma, who had a deep love for the Christian Reformed Church, died on February 11 at the age of 94.
Bouma first served the church in Cappelle aan den Ijssel near Rotterdam. In 1952, he accepted a call from Essex Christian Reformed Church in Ontario, becoming the first minister called from the Netherlands to a CRC in Canada. He welcomed many Dutch ministers who followed, and together they worked to establish Christian Reformed churches among the immigrants in southwestern Ontario.
In 1958, Bouma accepted a call to Talbot Street CRC in London, Ont. A staunch supporter of Christian education, he rejoiced when the Christian elementary and high school were started during his time there. In 1972, he accepted a call to East Paris CRC in Kentwood, Mich. He retired from there in 1985. Through the years, Bouma served on numerous boards and committees, among them the steering committee for Holland Christian Homes in Brampton, Ont., and the Board of Trustees of Calvin College during the time of transition to the Knollcrest campus.
In retirement, Bouma began working for Freedom Flight, supporting Vietnamese refugees in the Grand Rapids area, and came full circle back to how he started out in Canada—helping immigrants. He also served as interim pastor in a number of churches both in Canada and U.S., making many dear friends along the way. He discovered a love of gardening and enjoyed photography, reading, and telling stories about WWII or the history of the CRC.
Bouma is lovingly remembered by his wife, Margaret, and his children Tom and Micky, Martin and Brian, Keith and Laura, and Joanne; and by 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.