A vibrant leader, a man of deep convictions, a friend of God and countless others, Ken Gehrels, pastor of Ontario’s First Christian Reformed Church of Kemptville (KCRC), died peacefully at home May 10 after a year and a half battle with cancer. KCRC rallied around him at the time of his diagnosis, exemplifying the body of Christ. In addition to a private graveside ceremony, the community and church family honored him and expressed their sorrow through a funeral procession past the cemetery.
Ken was first a chemical engineer before completing a Master of Divinity degree at Calvin Theological Seminary. Ordained in 1987, he served Collingwood CRC, followed by Calvin CRC in Ottawa. Along the way he earned a doctorate in worship studies from the Institute of Worship Studies in Jacksonville, Fla. Ken ministered to the congregation of KCRC for nine years and guided the process of adapting the congregation’s worship to the constraints of the 2020-2021 pandemic.
He also brought his faith to bear on the needs and cares of the wider community. For example, he led the community to welcome two refugee families to a new life in Kemptville. He was only beginning his ministry as Padre (chaplain) to Kemptville’s Royal Canadian Legion Branch 212 when his illness forced him to step down after a year.
Ken and his wife, Sharon, made a great team for over 40 years, whether curling, sailing, or at home together. Ken was a runner—a natural fit for his quiet, competitive spirit. He ran distances of 5 km to marathons. Ken will be lovingly remembered by Sharon, their four children and families, including six grandchildren, and by his entire extended family.