Rich Hamstra pastored his congregations with energy, enthusiasm, and love. He took his work and faith extraordinarily seriously without taking himself too seriously; he believed it was important to have fun. He blessed both old and young with his gift of storytelling. He was grateful for the tremendous gift of God's grace and treated everyone with dignity, respect, and kindness, regardless of their situation in life. Hamstra died May 15, two-and-a-half years after being diagnosed with cancer. A private family service took place at Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church, where he was ordained in 1983.
After graduation from Valparaiso University, Hamstra graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary and also obtained a Master of Theology degree from the University of Notre Dame. After ordination he served Neland Avenue CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich. He then pastored Olentangy CRC, Columbus, Ohio; First CRC, Grand Haven, Mich.; and New Community CRC, Newaygo, Mich. He retired in 2017.
Hamstra loved history, theology, teaching, encouraging people to think, and supporting issues of social justice. Always active, he enjoyed fly fishing, woodworking, travel, and time with family. In 2011 he received a Clergy Renewal Grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc., a grant given to ministers as a time of renewal to “do something that makes your heart sing.” Hamstra spent the summer working with Yellowstone National Park’s fisheries department gathering scientific information about fish species and populations, also focusing on the stewardship of God's creation.
He is survived by his wife, Sue, and by three sons, two daughters-in-law, and two grandchildren, with three more on the way.