A Cup of Coffee with Howie

Here at Calvin Seminary we are in the midst of remembering the life and work of Howard Vanderwell.  Howie passed away March 23, 2018.

Howie offers the blessing over my wife Jackie and I at my inauguration in 2011.

Howie served as a Pastoral Resource Specialist at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and as an adjunct professor of worship here at Calvin Seminary.  More personally, he was a mentor and friend.

Howie leaves behind a legacy that is rich and far reaching.  He authored a variety of books that speak to the practical ministry experience of church leaders.  When he asked me to write the foreword for his last book, Letters to Growing Pastorswhich came out just before his death I was honored and humbled.

In remembering Howie, allow me to share what I wrote in the foreword.  My hope is that these few words capture some of the leader, mentor, and servant that Howie was, not only to me, but to so many others.  We invite you to share your own words and memories on our Facebook page. Thank you!


Foreword to Letters to Growing Pastors by Rev. Howard Vanderwell

I first met Rev. Howard Vanderwell in 1990 as he took up the position of President at the annual, bi-national (U.S. and Canada) general assembly of pastors and church leaders for the denomination that we both serve.  Howie had been voted in to his position by those who were delegates to the assembly.  I did not know Rev. Vanderwell, but over the next two weeks I came to know through his words and actions that the delegates had been right in their selection.

Howie’s most recent book Letters to Growing Pastors

Before me stood a pastor who was honest, hopeful and deeply in love with the Church.  The Church in that moment was in deep conflict and division.  He stood at the center and with gentle humor and deep devotion, he pastored and led.  I never forgot his work then and I am privileged to now count Howie as a colleague, mentor and friend.

You may not be able to physically sit down and talk to Howie and hear his wisdom, insights and encouragement, but this book is the next best thing.  He has written this book with you in mind.

In twenty-one concise chapters, you will find a tapestry that combines spiritual memoir, testimony, thoughtful reflections and key questions no matter how long you have been a pastor.  Howie’s own ministry was marked by his desire to grow as a pastor.  His reflections and probing of not only his own journey, but also his invitation for you to join the journey comes from a heart that has been captured and formed by the grace of God.

I have had many mentors in life.  This book is written by a mentor who has lived where you now live and who, despite the difficult times in ministry, continued to model along with his wonderful wife, Ellie, grace, humility, joy and servanthood.

Rev. Howard Vanderwell is a leader in the church of Jesus Christ.  He never fully retired because he continued to pastor.   Through teaching, conferences and many articles and books (like this one), he has continued to lift up the proven promises of God.  May you enjoy “sharing a cup of coffee” or other beverage with someone you will come to know as a colleague, mentor and friend.

Thank you Howie for the letters you have written to us!

Rev. Jul Medenblik

President of Calvin Theological Seminary