Corey Dykstra has finally cleared the last hurdle in a long, but unexpected delay to beginning his ministry at Walker United Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, MI.
The immigration-related delay arose after Dykstra accepted the church’s call in May of 2011. Although Walker URC sought to avoid a delay by having Corey (a Canadian citizen) apply for a work visa, that visa was initially denied. Since Corey’s wife, Jill, is an American citizen, Corey then applied for a green card under her sponsorship. But in the meantime, the work visa ruling was appealed. On January 1, 2013, the Dykstras were informed that the appeal had been sustained.
“This is a time of great joy and happiness for Walker and my family,” says Corey. “It has been a long time, but through it all the Lord has richly blessed and taken care of us. The congregation at Walker also endured this difficult time with much grace and patience, evident to us by all their notes and cards the past 20 months.”
The Walker URC has been vacant for five and a half years. Corey Dykstra is a 2010 graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary who has served internships at Grace Reformed Church in Kelowna, BC, and at the United Reformed Church of Thunder Bay, ON. He most recently has been serving the Hope URC in Brampton, ON.
Since Dykstra successfully sustained his candidacy exam in Western Michigan in January of 2011 and his Classis Michigan ordination examination in September of 2011, he has met the requirements for ordination at Walker, but the Dykstra’s move depends upon when the final approval notice is received from the US immigration agency.
He says, “Until that time I will continue my labors with the Hope URC in Brampton, which has also been a constant source of love, strength, and blessing to us.”
Corey Dykstra ordained at Walker URC
Walker United Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, MI, waited a long time for their new pastor, but in the end things moved quickly.
As reported earlier in Christian Renewal, the church had been vacant for five and half years. Corey Dykstra accepted the church’s call in May of 2011, but an inexplicable visa denial created a delay in his arrival. On January 1 of 2013, he was informed that the visa appeal had been sustained, but he still awaited official notice before entering the United States.
Only two days after that notice was received, Corey and his wife, Jill, and their almost three-year-old son, Kyle, moved to Grand Rapids. Although they were a bit nervous about the border crossing, the move proved smooth.
“The move went very well,” he writes. “Despite all our apprehensions, we sat at the border for only two minutes! It likely went very easily since I had already crossed the border once before in order to finalize the work visa and be granted entrance.”
And only four days after the Dykstra family arrived in Grand Rapids, Corey was ordained and installed as Minister of the Word and Sacraments at Walker URC in a ceremony that took place on Friday, February 15, 2013.
Rev. Jeph Noble, minister of Eastmanville URC in Coopersville, MI, and Corey’s seminary classmate, officiated at the service. Rev. Harry Zekveld, minister of the URC in Strathroy, ON, who supervised Corey’s first summer assignment, spoke on “Shepherding Lessons Learned at a Pastors’ Retreat” from Mark 6:30-44. Rev. Mark Vander Hart, Associate Professor of Old Testament Studies at Mid-America Reformed Seminary, gave the charge to the minister from John 13. Dr. Nelson Kloosterman, former professor at Mid-America who is now Executive Director with Worldview Resources International, gave the charge to the congregation from Revelation 1. Retired URCNA ministers Rev. William Renkema and Rev. Syburn Voortman were also present and participated with all the pastors and the Walker URC elders in the laying on of hands.
“A couple members from the Hope Reformed Church in Brampton, ON, where I had been serving for 10 months, also made the six-hour trip to witness the ordination,” says Rev. Dykstra.
Corey Dykstra is a 2010 graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary who successfully sustained his candidacy exam in January of 2011 and his Classis Michigan ordination examination in September of 2011. In addition to serving URC congregations in Kelowna, BC, and Thunder Bay, ON, he worked briefly for his family and for a roofing company before serving Hope Reformed Church prior to his Grand Rapids move.
Walker URC consists of 311 souls in 78 families. The congregation meets for Sunday worship at 9:30 AM and 5:50 PM at 1985 Randall NW in Grand Rapids.
Rev. Dykstra describes the church “united and committed,” adding that the congregation has warmly received his family and they all look forward together to God’s work in the future of Walker URC.
“My goal for the church is simply that we grow together in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he says. “There are always more glorious truths to learn of Christ, room for greater appreciation of all that He has accomplished for us, all of which is to feed our desire to know and glorify Him more and more every day. It is my hope and prayer that we come together as a family that is captivated by Christ and who are thereby encouraged to serve and live for Him in all we say and do.”
The first article above appeared on page 12 of the January 16, 2013, issue while the second article is slated to appear in the March 2013 issue of Christian Renewal. Both articles were written by Glenda Mathes.