The life of Earl Marlink epitomized the words of 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Although Parkinson's Disease had taken his strength and his voice, it did not take Marlink’s faith, and he was able to minister to the end of his life. Visitors who went to minister to him left feeling ministered to by him. Marlink died Nov. 19.
After graduating from Calvin College (now University) and Seminary and ordination in 1955, Marlink first served Ackley (Iowa) Christian Reformed Church, then Oak Park (Ill.) CRC. Around this time a group of African American parents from another Chicago area church—Lawndale CRC—had sought unsuccessfully to enrol their children in an all-white Christian school in the suburb of Cicero. Marlink had been collaborating with and learning from the leaders of Lawndale CRC and so began advocating for them in countless sermons and meetings, urging school and church leaders not to make their decisions based on race and fear. When told to stop speaking out, he began a prayerful search for a new church to pastor. In 1966, he accepted a call to Sacramento CRC (now Living Stones CRC), a church with a multicultural congregation where he remained for 16 years. Marlink had a gift for bringing people together to bridge differences and to fellowship joyously.
He then served Christian Reformed Home Missions (now part of Resonate Global Mission) for 13 years as an interim ministry specialist. Because he loved to travel, these years in places such as Honolulu, Zuni, Calgary, and Corvallis, to name a few, were a perfect fit.
Marlink was predeceased by Lenore, his wife of 61 years and partner in ministry, and by granddaughter Amy. He is survived by five daughters and their families. He doted on his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, never missing a concert, ball game, or graduation and performing many of their baptisms and weddings.