John Groen is described as a caring pastor, towering evangelist, a man of deep convictions, and one who knew the Holy Spirit’s power, work and fruit. “Romans 6:1-14 were perhaps his ‘signature’ verses,” said one pastor and friend. “His entire ministry, and much of his preaching, was centered around the truth that we are ‘dead to sin’ and ‘alive to God in Jesus Christ’.” John, 93, died Oct. 3 following complications from a hip-fracture. A family member said, “His trademark optimism remained to the end.”
Born into a market gardening family in the Netherlands, John completed a B.Ed. before his family emigrated to Canada in 1950. He then studied at Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1957, after which he completed an M.A. in Theology at Amsterdam’s Free University.
John was ordained in 1959 and served Wallaceburg (Ont.) Christian Reformed Church, CRC of Kentville, N.S., and First CRC in Owen Sound, Ont. He served as a seminary instructor and missionary in Mexico City, which proved a life-changing experience, and then pastored Bethel CRC, Waterdown, Ont.; Nelson Ave. Community CRC, Burnaby, B.C.; and Westside Fellowship CRC, Kingston, Ont. He also served on the Board of Trustees of Calvin Seminary.
John served as an interim pastor with his wife, Nell, in several churches in British Columbia and Ontario before retiring to Holland Homes in Brampton, Ont. In his later years John corresponded with inmates through the Prison Fellowship Canada program and enjoyed playing piano and maintaining his foreign language skills.
A devoted husband, family touchstones included backyard horseplay, weekly hikes, board games and annual camping pilgrimages with children and grandchildren, sustained well into his 80s.
Predeceased in 2022 by Nell, his wife of 66 years, John is survived by his two children and their spouses, and five grandchildren.