Pastor, church planter, traveler, and family historian, Howard Spaan holds the record for longest-serving stated clerk of classis after serving 46 years in Classis Columbia, a regional group of churches in Oregon and southern Washington. He retired at age 91. Into his 90s, he continued gardening, turning the earth each spring, and walked daily until he was 95. Spaan died on October 19 at the age of 97.
Spaan had only one sibling, a younger sister who died of rheumatic fever when she was 9 and he was 14. During his first year at Calvin College, his father also died. Spaan returned home to help support his mother by working on local farms until he had the opportunity to return to Calvin College and then went on to Westminster Theological Seminary.
After ordination in 1947, Spaan served the following Christian Reformed congregations: Community CRC, Saginaw, Mich.; West Park CRC, Cleveland, Ohio; Calvin CRC (now ParkLane); and Oak Hills Church, Beaverton, Ore. After a year of clinical pastoral education, Spaan spent his final years as full time pastor at Corvallis CRC (now Re:new) until he retired in 1985.
Throughout the years, Spaan had a great interest in church government and wrote a book on the subject. He loved to travel, sharing his love of history and geography with his sons. He also liked to hike in the high Cascades, the Columbia Gorge, and the coast range. He was very active in the Boy Scouts in Portland.
After retirement, and for the next 15 years, Spaan accepted numerous temporary pastoral assignments throughout the states of California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Colorado. He wrote and published his memoirs at the age of 90.
Spaan is survived by Margaret, his wife of 70 years; by their four sons, Harlow, Randall, Curtis, and Scott and their spouses; and by two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Enjoyed this article?
Don’t miss this week’s must-read articles:
- Feature: Tending God’s Creation
- Exposing Harassment of OSJ Raises Questions, Hope for Humility
- Book Review: Something’s Not Right