The Rev. Ralph Bronkema will be preaching this Sunday. Ralph has a long history with Eastminster Presbyterian Church. As a soon to be retiring Air Force Chaplain in 1986, a hospital call to visit a young boy put Ralph and then pastor of Eastminster, Roy McCormick, in the same room. Roy and Ralph had good chemistry and Roy asked Ralph to be on staff at Eastminster upon his retirement from the chaplaincy. Ralph agreed and served as an interim pastor for three years, the maximum allowed. Ralph then went to serve a church in the Midwest for several years only to be called back to Eastminster. For many years now, Ralph has served with distinction as the Visitation Pastor here.
One of the enduring vignettes of Ralph’s ministry is his care for his first wife, Louise. After Louise had a stroke, Ralph lovingly cared for her through her years of illness in a way that many members hold up as a “gold standard” example of “compassion in action.” Later, Ralph became reacquainted with Annette, the widow of his seminary roommate, to whom he is now happily married. God’s goodness to them in times of grief and joy is a heartwarming story of faithfulness and God’s provision.
Currently Ralph visits hospitals and the homebound twice per week. He teaches the Brown Bag Bible Bunch every Wednesday at noon. Ralph also officiates at funerals and sends condolence booklets and letters to those who are grieving. He helps with our Stephen Ministry in training situations, assists in worship, and sings in the choir with his wife, Annette, who is an active partner in ministry with him. Ralph and Annette are seasonal residents who spend their summers in Michigan and travel to visit relatives and friends.
Last fall, as the staff formed goals for the coming year, Ralph indicated that he would like Eastminster to find a replacement for him as Visitation Pastor as his “bucket list” was growing. Eastminster’s Personnel and Administration Team reviewed the Visitation Pastor description and sent a revised version to Session which approved it. We know we can’t replace Ralph, but we can certainly appreciate his faithful ministry and strive to continue his legacy of loving pastoral care, insightful teaching and faithfulness to God and Christ’s Church.
Thank you Ralph and Annette for your ministry at Eastminster and your example as a Christian couple! We are inspired by your presence and witness!