To give leadership in the same pulpit for a quarter-century is impressive–so much so that a southwest Ontario church took time out on Sunday, October 4, 2009 for celebration. Rock of Help Christian Centre in Essex, 38 km south of the Windsor/Detroit metro area, honored Senior Pastor Bob Verkoeyen, who first came to town as a young 23-year-old pastor when Pierre Trudeau and Ronald Reagan were in power.

Since then, Pastor Bob has led the church to a new location, shepherded a name change (from Ebenezer), founded a private Christian school in 1990, led missionary trips to New York City as well as the islands of Haiti and St. Vincent, and guided a steady congregation. Many of the same members are still involved as when he and his wife, Eleanor, first arrived in May 1984.

Dignitaries came last Sunday to express their congratulations: Member of Parliament Jeff Watson, Essex Mayor Ron McDermott, FCA pastors from as far away as the Toronto area (Patrick Rimple) and Cornwall (Brad Montsion), plus other ministers and guests. Rock of Help’s youth pastor, Fred Prinsen, organized the occasion, which included an all-church lunch afterward.

Included in the audience of over 170 were approximately 30 motorcycle club members, the result of Pastor Bob’s outreach to local bikers since 2006. Each week, the church features “Coffee at the Rock,” through which many have come to know Christ. One of the club leaders gave a tribute during the service to Verkoeyen’s friendship and service to this group. “He just has a way of relating to everyone,” the man said.

The morning message, by Pastor Rimple, centered on how the love of God is shown through our hands, Pastor Bob being a prime example.

Congratulations, Bob Verkoeyen, for your outstanding gift of long-term leadership!

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