October 2011‎ > ‎

8 - In Memoriam: Gerald Vanderzande

How will I remember Gerald?

We met 56 years ago. Never a man you meet casually, he made his presence felt. My life changed, my future became interwoven with his. We became friends and his friendship could never be merely personal. His energizing vision for his community and its challenges were included. Engagement with labor, politics, social justice and education clothed his spirit.

Gerald’s vision had enormous scope. He immersed himself in the development and governance of the Institute for Christian Studies not as another vocation, but because an embodied vision for social justice required educating future leaders. CLAC, CPJ, ICS, Christian education and church all focused his life equally, though only one as employer. ICS thanked Gerald with an honorary doctorate.

These are things I will remember about Gerald. What will I remember him for? His reach beyond his heritage without sacrificing his loyalty, requiring profound personal change, will always inspire me. All of us who initially struggled with the meaning of our faith for public life promoted a vision of Christian witness in opposition (we called it antithesis) to other visions. For Gerald conflict marked true faith. But in time deeper layers of faith allowed him to trust God’s yearning for justice as a spiritual dynamic transcending one faith community. Seeds of love and kindness in his inner being took root and he became an inspiring example of God’s wide embrace of humanity. The grace of God became manifest in Gerald’s friendship and cooperation with people of all faiths or no faith. He knew himself thus to be following the Spirit. I will always draw encouragement from this. May we all. Thank you Gerald.

Henk Hart