Immanuel Reformed has been vacant for about four years, since Rev. John Byl left in the spring of 2011. Rev. Boekestein, a 2007 graduate of Puritan Theological Seminary, has been serving Covenant Reformed Church in Carbondale, PA, for the past seven years.
During that time, the Lord blessed Rev. Boekestein and his wife, Amy, with two more children for a total of four: Asher (9), Evangelia (8), Mina (6), and Hazel (6 months).
“Despite the expected challenges that come from living and serving in a fallen world, my time in Carbondale has been an absolute gift,” Rev. Boekestein says. “The elders have been extremely supportive and encouraging. The memories we have forged with congregation members will continue to be a blessing in the coming years. It has been profoundly formative to begin a life of ministry with a congregation made up of dear saints from a variety of backgrounds. We have learned together to treasure the gospel and to share our hope with those who are yet outside of the family of God. I have also greatly enjoyed the high level of fraternity that exists in Classis Eastern U.S.”
Immanuel Reformed Church organized in 1974, about twenty years prior to the advent of the URCNA, and remains independent today, although the church is involved with a network of other churches and is considering more formal federational commitment.
“Immanuel is in a somewhat similar situation to what Covenant Reformed was when I accepted that call,” explains Rev. Boekestein. “Independent, but with a growing desire to be a member of a Reformed denomination. My experience in Carbondale seemed to line up with some of the needs in Kalamazoo. Added to that were the positive interactions I have had with members of Immanuel both recently and during precious times of ministry in that church during seminary.”
The Boekesteins hoped to sell their home in Carbondale and purchase a house in Kalamazoo prior to moving around the first of May. As Rev. Boekestein anticipates this new chapter of ministry, he prays for both congregations.
“My main goal for my ministry at Immanuel is to shepherd the congregation in the life-changing reality of the person and work of Christ and to proclaim this same gospel to the unconverted with compassion and power,” he says. “My hope and prayer for Carbondale is that they would secure a good minister who would continue to encourage them in the gospel and hold out that same hope to the people in our community.”
The above is a slightly edited version of an article by Glenda Mathes that appeared on page 16 of the February 25, 2015, issue of Christian Renewal.