I once read that we are changed by the people we meet and the books we read. I am a person changed by Pastor Case Admiraal.
Pastor Case served three congregations: Bethel CRC in Fulton, Illinois; Immanuel CRC in Ripon, California; and 2nd CRC in Fremont, Michigan. On Saturday morning, September 20, 2014 Pastor Case died at the age of 66 years old.
The family knows that this was a sudden death, but they are comforted in knowing that Case was “ready.” His widow, Karen, noted prior to the funeral service that Case had already outlined the service, which helped guide the grieving. This also reminded the family that Case had a living faith in his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I was a thirteen year old teenager when a new pastor and his wife came into town. The story is told how initially he intended to decline the call to Bethel CRC, but was not at peace in that decision. As a result, a “no” became a “yes” and Case and Karen Admiraal arrived to minister at Bethel CRC and within the community.
Pastor Jim Kuiper of 1st CRC of Fremont led the funeral service and provided words of remembrance. Others who knew Case during his forty years of ministry also shared testimonies and memories. My wife, Jackie, said, “The testimony is always the same.” The Case that I knew was the Case that others knew.
Case was my pastor for my profession of faith and was also a participant in my inauguration as President of Calvin Theological Seminary. One of the times Jackie and I saw Case and Karen was at the 40th Class Reunion of the Calvin Seminary Class of 1973. That class included Professors Carl Bosma, John Bolt, Arie Leder and Ron Nydam; that was some class! Case Admiraal might be seen as an “ordinary” pastor in that grouping, but he was more than ordinary.
October has recently been identified as Pastor Appreciation Month. I know that having a separate Appreciation Month has a mixed reception in the church, but I would like to give thanks for “ordinary” pastors by providing the following list of what I am thankful for when I think of Pastor Case Admiraal and so many others:
- A smile, a ready laugh, and a caring spirit that encouraged people in every conversation.
- An inquisitive mind and an appreciation for a faith that was for the mind and heart.
- Willingness to serve (including as a crossing guard in Ripon).
- Prepared (even writing sermons a couple of weeks ahead) so that the interruptions of life were seen not as interruptions, but as ministry opportunities.
- An ability to remember names and stories that made everyone feel like their story mattered not only to the pastor, but to God.
- A desire to keep growing in faith.
- Being a loving husband, father, and grandfather.
Case was a person of humility. He saw himself as an “ordinary” pastor. At the same time, I do know that God uses “ordinary” people for His “extraordinary” purposes. Please join me in giving thanks for “ordinary” pastors and “ordinary” people of faith!