Michael De Vries was passionate about proclaiming Jesus as the boundary-breaking, socially transforming Savior and Lord. Ecumenically minded and forward thinking, he embraced change. As early as 1973, De Vries promoted gender equality and the full participation of women in all church offices. “Christ is Lord of all,” he frequently said.
His pastoral care was filled with humanity. Tender and gentle, he could sit with people in their darkest hour. He knew the importance of spiritual care for mental health. De Vries, who battled cancer for 28 years, died on May 27 at the age of 81.
After graduating from Calvin Theological Seminary, De Vries continued studies for a Master's degree at Westminster Theological Seminary. He also did graduate work at the Free University of Amsterdam and received his “doctorandus” degree (doctorate).
De Vries served congregations in both Canada and the U.S.: Fleetwood CRC, Surrey, B.C.; Rehoboth CRC, Toronto, Ont.; Maranatha CRC, York, Ont.; Hope International CRC, Arcadia, Calif.; Harderwyk Ministries, Holland, Mich.; and Pillar Church, Holland, Mich. He was delighted when Pillar Church became a dual-affiliated congregation of the CRC and RCA.
Through those years, he also participated on several CRC denominational committees and was chosen twice to be president of synod, the annual leadership meeting of the CRC. He co-authored a book in 2015 entitled Pillar Church in the Van Raalte Era.
In 2000, after becoming pastor emeritus of Pillar Church, De Vries continued to engage in pastoral work and preaching on a part-time basis in various nearby congregations. He was frequently sought after for his lively and inspiring messages.
De Vries loved reading and called the bookstore his “candy store.” He had a great sense of humor and loved telling jokes, especially pastor jokes.
Left to mourn his death is Patricia, whom De Vries married in 2007; his children Jim, Catherine, Jennifer, and their spouses; 4 step-daughters; 15 grandchildren; and 5 great-grandchildren. De Vries was predeceased in 2005 by Marianne, his wife of 45 years.