Joe Vugteveen was a humble man with an ecumenical spirit and a warm, welcoming smile. Some describe him as an encourager. He exhibited a forthrightness in standing for things he considered essential and worked hard to help those who needed an advocate. In the sixties he was involved in racial justice issues in Classis Chicago North. He was also an advocate for women in ecclesiastical office during the seventies and eighties, serving on the synodical committee in 1978. He was a mentor to many young SWIM (Summer Workshop in Missions) team members and seminary interns over the years. Vugteveen died on February 1 at the age of 84.
After attending Calvin College and Seminary, Vugteveen began ministry in 1962. He served the following CRC churches: Birnamwood, Wisc.; Winfield, Ill.; Westmount, Strathroy, Ont.; Trinity, Broomall, Phil.; and Unity, Prospect Park, N.J. Much of Vugteveen’s ministry had an evangelistic emphasis. In Classis Hackensack, he served as Home Missions board member and president, and was part of the denominational regional Home Missions team for several years. He retired in 1998.
Following retirement, as part-time ministry coordinator for Classis Georgetown, Vugteveen helped establish homes for adults with special needs — Harbor House Ministries and Georgetown Harmony Homes. As interim pastor at First CRC in Paterson, N.J., Vugteveen helped the church undergo closure and transform into Bridgeway Community Church, now a multi-cultural CRC congregation with a community-focused ministry. He was also a fine photographer.
Vugteveen is survived by Marlene, his wife of 57 years, and by four children and their spouses and 9 grandchildren.