Rev. Ron Lokhorst Celebrates 60 Years of Ministry
February 8, 2023
MAKING THE STRANGER KNOWN
At age 85, Rev. Ron Lokhorst doesn’t preach many sermons. But on July 31, 2022, Ron delivered the message for all three services at Central College Presbyterian Church, where he volunteers as the Parish Associate in Westerville, Ohio.
The occasion was the 60th anniversary of Ron’s ordination as a pastor. On August 5, 1962, he was ordained and installed as a Minister of Word and Sacrament at the Reformed Church of Port Ewen, New York. In the years between, Ron served in the following roles:
- Lead Pastor, St. Thomas Reformed Church, Virgin Islands
- Executive Director, Warwick Conference Center, New York
- Lead Pastor, Good Samaritan Church, Gahanna, Ohio
- Interim pastor, 5 different churches in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the Virgin Islands
- Lead Pastor, Reformed Church of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania
- Pastor of Visitation, Mifflin Presbyterian Church, Gahanna, Ohio
Having grown up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, Ron attended a one-room elementary school and a small high school. In 1959, Ron graduated from Hope College in Holland, Michigan. Next, Ron chose New Brunswick Theological Seminary to further prepare him for his call to serve the Church. NBTS introduced him to ministry in an urban setting. Ron learned that to be effective, “one must first understand and fully appreciate the setting.”
Attending NBTS informed Ron’s thinking and perspective. Professors challenged his biblical and theological interpretations. Deep relationships with fellow students taught him to value authenticity (“being real”) and inclusivity.
Ron recognizes that during his seminary years (1959-1962), inclusivity at NBTS was more aspirational than actual: Ron graduated in a class of 25 white men. He is impressed by the diversity reflected today in NBTS’s faculty, staff, and students.
So what text does one choose on the anniversary of 60 years in ministry? Ron chose John 1:26, where John the Baptist refers to Jesus when he says to the priests and Levites, “Among you stands one whom you do not know.” This same passage was used by NBTS professor Dr. Vernon Kooy at Ron’s ordination. Ron borrowed the same title also: “The Well-Known Stranger.” Ron remembers Dr. Kooy saying, “Ron, there is one reason you are ordained to the ministry: you are to make the stranger Jesus known in the lives of people you are called to serve.”
Sixty years after graduating from NBTS, Ron continues to serve, both in his church and in the memory care unit where he lives with his wife Karen, who has dementia. “Blessed to be a blessing” is his mantra and his witness.