Jacob Kuntz thrived in congregational ministry. He loved to preach God’s grace—from the pulpit or on the Dutch radio program Zingend Geloven. He was an encourager, ending every visit, even during his final week, with a fervent hands-raised “Lift up your heart!” Kuntz, 93, passed away Nov. 3.
Born in the Netherlands, Kuntz felt the pull of the ministry from a young age. He began ministry in Tzum (Friesland) and Schoonebeek (Drenthe) and served as an army chaplain for a year before immigrating to Canada in 1958 to pastor First Christian Reformed Church in Orillia, Ont. He went on to serve First CRC, Owen Sound, Ont.; New Westminster CRC, Burnaby, B.C.; Maranatha CRC and Covenant CRC, both in St. Catharines, Ont.; and Community CRC, Kitchener, Ont., ending his ministry with several years as chaplain at Holland Christian Homes in Brampton, Ont.
Kuntz had a hearty laugh and did everything with gusto. He had a deeply pastoral heart for the lonely, for those on the edge, for those who were a minority in any way. He practised a “freedom in Christ” that others found liberating and non-judgmental. He is remembered for running up to the pulpit two steps at a time and for perfecting the 15-minute pastoral visit, leaving people feeling they had a truly meaningful encounter. He loved children and was one of the first to advocate for welcoming children to the communion table in the 1980s.
Kuntz enjoyed cottage vacations with family, fishing, and good food. He kept a daily journal for 60 years. He and his wife swam for half an hour, 5 days a week, for 50 years.
He is survived by daughter Evelyn Hielema, son-in-law Syd, three grandchildren, and a great-grandson. He was predeceased by daughter Mathilda (1981), son Don (2001), and his wife Maria (2013).