Pastor, visionary, church planter, leader, and mentor, Michael Reitsma had a huge heart for both God and people. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at age 48, Reitsma was able to serve in ministry for another 10 years before retiring. Even during the last few difficult years, he was an inspiration to many. Reitsma died on May 12 at the age of 73.
After graduating from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1970, Reitsma served the following Christian Reformed congregations: Raymond (Minn.) CRC; Calvary CRC, Edina, Minn.; Fresno (Calif.) CRC; and River Park (formerly First) CRC, Calgary, Alta.
“What I remember most about Mike,” said a pastor colleague, “is his earnest and unrelenting embodiment of the Christian mission. His vision for church planting led to the starting of a church that I pastored for 20 years. His vision for prayer led to the creation of a CRC pastor/peer group that still meets today. His vision for the city of Calgary led to his leadership of a city-wide ministerial association. His vision for relationships led to a strong marriage and faith-filled family. Even as Mike's body was betraying him in his last months, he still talked vision.”
Another pastor and close friend said, “Mike Reitsma was a spiritual leader who led with conviction, passion, and a capacity to influence others. He was a man of deep integrity. Mike had a capacity to spot potential leaders and had a passion to raise up future leaders. He helped catalyze church planting in Calgary and served as president of the board of [Christian Reformed] Home Missions.”
Reitsma loved sports and excelled at basketball, which he played for over five decades. He completed several marathons. An avid outdoor enthusiast, he enjoyed fishing and hunting with friends and family.
Reitsma is survived by Ruth, his wife of 51 years; their children Laura, Kara, Ann, Chris, and their spouses; and by 13 grandchildren.