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On May 10, 2021, with family surrounding him, Ken Gehrels of Kemptville passed away peacefully at home after a valiant battle with cancer. Ken was a vibrant leader, a man of deep convictions, a friend of God and countless others. One of the ways in which Ken served others was in his role as Regional Pastor in Classis Eastern Canada. At the request of the family, Jack Van de Hoef, the current Regional Pastor, wrote these words for a memorial video being put together by the family. May this testimony of Ken’s work also be an encouragement to others in your work as Regional Pastor.


I want to first of all thank the Gehrels family for this opportunity to speak on behalf of my colleagues in Classis Eastern Canada.  

Very soon after my wife and I moved to Brockville 12 years ago, we had an invitation from Ken and Sharon to meet together over lunch. That initial welcome was a typical and true expression of Ken’s heart.

He had an official title and role as “Regional Pastor” for the pastors serving churches of our denomination in Eastern Ontario and Montreal. A regional pastor is someone who is the Pastor to the pastors.

For Ken, this was not just a title or a job to do. He had a deep concern for the well-being of his colleagues. I speak for the others when I give thanks for his faithful leadership and support. This was expressed in personal contact as well as his leadership in our monthly gatherings.

We would get a regular email reminder before each gathering time. Usually it would end with some line like, “if you can let me know if you're coming or not, that'd be helpful for grub planning purposes," or, “Please RSVP so's we can have an appropriate amount of grub.”

Or, one year, when we were wondering about whether we should be meeting in December, we received this email after our November meeting:

Thanks to all of you who came out last Thursday.

So, it seems that the spouses who met made a decision for us.

Ah yes, the world is as it should be!!

The spouses said: "Peer group meeting - the third week in December.

When everything else is nutsy kookoo busy? We don't think so."

There you have it.

We dun bin told.

And probably for the best.

Yup, Ken’s typical humour. It expressed welcome and it provided a comfortable setting where we could share our joys as well as pain, where we could speak honest opinion and struggle together. It set a tone of support for our relationships as colleagues, not only at these meetings but also building friendships beyond the monthly gatherings.

For the last few years Ken hosted these gatherings at the Kemptville church. That meant grocery shopping, making coffee, and setting out the lunch. Ken did this with a cheerful spirit and a servant heart. It was an encouragement and an example to each of us. It was always appreciated, even if the pizza might have been a bit overcooked.

Hosting these gatherings communicated the value and importance of mutual support, not just from our Regional Pastor but to each other. It expressed clearly the spirit of Hebrews 10:24, 25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together...but encouraging one another.”

We also benefited from Ken’s organizational skills as he did the paperwork needed to apply for funds from our denomination for our gatherings. This allowed us to have some 2-3 day retreats with our spouses. Behind the scenes, Ken was investing time and effort to provide that mutual support that he knew we needed as colleagues.

Ken’s leadership and thoughtful comments were appreciated in discussions at our Classis meetings. The occasional quirky comment would also help to keep life in perspective. Yes, things might be serious, but let’s not take ourselves too seriously.

Ken’s ministry in our Classis and to his colleagues has blessed and supported us. It is a testimony of the value and the necessity of being there for each other. We cannot and should not try to do ministry alone. Sharon, we thank you for your support for Ken in his ministry, for sharing him with us in this way. We offer to you our continued support and prayers.

Thanks be to God for his faithful servant. Thanks be to God for his grace and blessing through Ken, our colleague and friend.


Thank you, Jack, for this honest memoriam. I never knew Ken well, but appreciated his pastoring at Calvin where we came to know him a bit when we visited our daughter and son-in-law and family there. His death comes, of course, as a blow to his parents, who have now suffered the deaths of three of their children. May God have mercy and provide comfort for all. 

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