Bud Ipema, who died on April 14, leaves a 60-year legacy of urban ministry on Chicago’s south and west sides, where he was instrumental in promoting racial reconciliation and social justice. As one friend said, “Bud was tough and never backed down from a challenge. He challenged young people to think about life as hopeful through Christ, instead of [as] hopeless. Bud didn’t stop with just challenging youth, however. He also challenged the race-biased systems that were factors in creating environments of hopelessness in the inner cities.”
In 1968, while still finishing his studies at Calvin Theological Seminary, Ipema joined Young Life Urban Mission in Chicago, later moving to Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood to minister among gang members there. He also served as the Chicago central director of Young Life and later as its national urban trainer. In 1975, Ipema became associate pastor at Chicago’s Lawndale CRC, a position he held until his death.
Ipema launched or played a leadership role in many organizations, foundations, and projects, including the landmark creation of Atrium Village, one of Chicago’s first mixed-income housing developments. He also served as co-director with Karl Westerhof of the Synodical Committee on Race Relations (SCORR), from which the CRC’s Office of Race Relations emerged.
The Ipemas loved to travel. He loved woodworking, 1957 Chevys, British comedies, and a good debate. He enjoyed spending summers at his son’s home in Holland, Mich. At the time of his death, he was in the process of finalizing his memoir.
Ipema is survived by two children and their spouses, a daughter-in-law, and seven grandchildren. He was predeceased in 2012 by Donna, his wife of 52 years; and by his son, Brad, in 2013.