For the next several months I will participate with you as readers/writers in talking about the work of elders. We will consider questions and observations around situations you may face.
No two situations are quite alike, but there are also many similarities and so we can share experiences, consider possibilities, learn together and even advise each other.
Elders have played a prominent part during my ministry years. Foremost, of course, during my years as a parish pastor. (I served congregations in British Columbia, Alberta, Iowa, and Ontario). But then also when I served, for a dozen years, in the denominational Pastor-Church Relations ministry. It was there that I learned even more how important elders are to their pastors, and, broader, to their congregations.
Soon after I began that ministry, a development took place of which I had, initially, not seen the importance. I was regularly invited to lead elders' workshops. They became important experience to me. Many questions surfaced there. I made it a practice to always write them down. Still further along, I wrote little essays on each of those questions. All that, in due time, led to writing the ELDER'S HANDBOOK which enjoyed broad interest. Many councils gave the new elders a copy for their personal use. (Faith Alive also published a companion volume, the DEACON'S HANDBOOK, around that time.)
Following my retirement, I began a twelve-year volunteer ministry with Chr. Ref. World Missions. This enabled World Misisons to provide some pastoral care to world missionaries. My wife Jean and I traveled to most mission areas and conducted retreats for missionaries and national leaders.
Jean and I grew up in the Netherlands, spent several years in Canada and have lived in Grand Rapids since 1980. We have six children (of whom the youngest died in a traffic accident) and ten grandchildren.
I am looking forward talking things over with you.