Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Acton, Ont., has been very intentional about positively impacting the community around it—and that community is responding. Bethel’s pastor, Ray Vander Kooij, was named Acton’s Citizen of the Year for 2018 in recognition of his contribution to the town.
The selection was made by a team from the Rotary Club of Acton. Unaware of his nomination, Vander Kooij was surprised to get a phone call informing him that he had been selected. He was honored at a dinner on October 16 in Acton Town Hall, surrounded by community representatives, family and friends, members of Bethel CRC, and past Citizens of the Year for Acton.
Vander Kooij’s involvement in the life of the town reflects some of the issues that he and Bethel CRC find important. He serves as chair of the Housing Taskforce for the Community Support Network Halton Hills. Earlier this year, he supported a move within Halton Hills to create more affordable housing, an urgent need in the area, and he has continued to play a key role in addressing the issue.
He is also part of the Youth Services Network of Halton Hills, representing social issues affecting youth. An active member of the Acton Ministerial Association, he helps to coordinate an annual unity service for the interdenominational group. He helps plan monthly community dinners as part of the Acton Together team and has captained teams in the MS Bike Tour as well.
“As Bethel’s ministry motto expresses, this is all about ‘Shining Light & Showing Love’,” said Vander Kooij. “I am thankful for the opportunities this provides for lifting up Jesus and sharing the needs in our community.” He noted that media coverage around this honor has provided an opportunity to build bridges and to engage with many more people in the community.
Olivia Kamminga, another member of Bethel CRC, was also honored this year; she was crowned Miss Acton at the town’s annual fall fair.