>After waiting two years for a new pastor, the United Reformed Church of Doon, IA, will have to wait at least a few more months.
Doon URC called Simon Lievaart in July of 2010 and Mr. Lievaart successfully sustained his candidacy exam at Classis Central US in September of 2010. For the past six months, the church has been working through the immigration process that would allow Mr. Lievaart, a Canadian citizen, to take up his calling in Doon. But the United States government recently denied the visa request.
“The news was very disappointing,” says Mr. Clyde Lems, Vice-President of Doon’s Council, “and the congregation was in a state of disbelief, shock, and tears were shed. But after those initial human emotions were in check we were very much encouraged by a letter from Mr. Lievaart to the congregation reminding us that we are ‘always being shepherded by the Lord,’ and to keep ‘worshipping, praying, trusting and serving Him….’”
In consultation with Mr. Lievaart, the Council of Doon URC has determined to re-apply for the R-1 petition. The process is expected to take a few more months.
“This means that the church in Doon, which is now vacant for two years, will have to wait a little longer, and we too will have to wait before we can settle down as a family in the congregation God, through His church, has called me to,” explains Mr. Lievaart.
Mr. Lievaart is a 2009 graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary who served Rehoboth URC of Hamilton from May 2009 through February 1020. He spent some time in Doon during the spring of 2010, and since May has been serving the congregations associated with Parkland Reformed Church in Ponoka and its church plant in Lacombe. He and his wife, Jodi, have two young children.
The Doon Council is working with Rev. Todd Wagenmaker (an OPC pastor and immigration attorney) to resubmit documentation and re-apply. The hope is that Mr. Lievaart and his family will arrive at Doon in the spring.
“The plans for the next few months are similar to the past two years,” says Mr. Lems. “We have been very blessed to have had faithful preaching/pulpit supply from other area URC pastors, retired ministers, and we are very thankful for the RCUS pastors who have been filling our pulpit. We already have most of the Sunday services filled through March. We have also maintained our family visitations and our visits to the sick. By God’s grace the church has gained members, has had professions of faith and baptisms.”
“As elders and as a congregation,” he continues, “I feel that we have grown through even this trying situation. We have had times of disappointment, questions, and doubt, but by God’s grace we see more and more our dependence on the Lord and not our earthly circumstances. We are strengthened by the providential care of our Lord for His church and as a church of Christ we take comfort in what we confess in Heidelberg Catechism Q. & A. 27 and 28 [regarding God’s providence].”
“This is a disappointing reality,” Mr. Livaart says, “nobody likes to wait. We long to be home in Doon…. But these things are out of our hands, and this is another time in life where we are called to trust God’s ways and His timing.”
“And we have many blessings,” he adds. “I am still serving Parkland Reformed Church and am thankful that I can bring God’s Word to His people. The congregation here is glad to have me serve as I wait for the visa. It has been a blessing to work with Rev. Ramkissoon and to be part of the Parkland Reformed Church as they continue the process of establishing a daughter church. Though we are eager to move to Doon, we are very thankful to be where we are.”
This article by Glenda Mathes appeared on page 8 of the February 02, 2011, issue of Christian Renewal.