Bert VanAntwerpen—known to many as Pastor Van or “PV”—was joyful and tenderhearted with a ready smile and a great sense of humor. He had a deep, booming voice that served him well in the pulpit and in the choir, and a love of music that extended from the hymns of the Psalter to the sounds of gospel and bluegrass. A Christian Reformed pastor who has known Bert since her youth said, “His calm wisdom has always inspired me, and his rare mix of genuine compassion and deep-hearted humor taught me to lighten up and love well. I will always be thankful for his life and ministry and for the opportunity I had to learn from him.” Bert, 85, died Jan. 10. He had recently been hospitalized for heart and respiratory failure.
Born in Grand Rapids, Mich., Bert graduated from Calvin College (now University) and Seminary, was ordained in 1962, and then served Emden Christian Reformed Church, Renville, Minn.; First CRC, Sheldon, Iowa; Immanuel CRC, Hudsonville, Mich.; Cadillac (Mich.) CRC; Avery Street CRC, South Windsor, Conn.; Napa Valley (Calif.) Community Church; and Princeton CRC, Kentwood, Mich.
After retiring from full-time ministry in 2002, the VanAntwerpens moved to a small home at the edge of the Clam River, outside Cadillac, Mich. For almost two more decades a series of interim pastorships in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Montana, Washington, and further assignments in rural Michigan, extended VanAntwepen’s ministry.
With his wife, Marie, Bert traveled through all 50 of the United states and across the world, making visits to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.
He is survived by Marie, his wife of 47 years; five children and their spouses; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.