On May 3, 1932, Rev. Gise Van Baren became the son of John and Grace Van Baren. He was born at home in South Holland, Illinois.
As a boy, Rev. Van Baren attended South Holland Christian School. When he started attending this school, it was a two-room school with eight grades. It had outhouses for toilets, and a pump was used on the school grounds for their water supply. After grade school, Rev. Van Baren attended Illiana Christian High School in Lansing, Illinois.
While he was growing up, Rev. Van Baren’s hobbies were collecting coins and postage stamps. Today he still has these collections, but his biggest hobby now is working on the Internet and the PRC web site.
Rev. Van Baren believes that the peer pressure he experienced as a teenager was not much different than the peer pressure young people experience today. There are just so many other evils available to young people today. Peer pressure can lead young people to do things which were not even available when Rev. Van Baren was a young person.
During high school, the Lord led Rev. Van Baren to begin to consider preparing for the ministry. After he graduated from high school, Rev. Van Baren enrolled in the pre-sem course at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
After he graduated from Calvin College, Rev. Van Baren continued his education at the Protestant Reformed Seminary. His parents were pleased when they learned that he desired to enter the Seminary. He was a student at the Seminary at the time of the split of 1953. The most memorable events of these years were the debates and discussions which centered around the issues of the split.
During the time of the split, Rev. Van Baren remembers hearing Rev. De Wolf’s sermons which caused much debate in the churches. He also was able to hear the court trial concerning the property of First Church in Grand Rapids.
On January 25, 1956, Rev. Van Baren married Clara Buiter. They were married in South Holland, Illinois. The Lord has blessed them with four sons and four daughters who are all married. They also currently have twenty-four grandchildren.
Rev. Van Baren was ordained in October, 1956. His first charge was in Doon, Iowa, where he labored for 5 1/2 years. When his work in Doon was finished, the Lord called him to labor in Randolph, Wisconsin. After 3 1/2 years of preaching the Word in Randolph, the Lord called Rev. Van Baren to labor in First Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After 12 years of labor in First, the Lord sent him to Hudsonville, Michigan. He served the church in Hudsonville for 17 years. His last charge was in Loveland, Colorado, where he labored for 5 1/2 years until he became a Minister Emeritus in 1999.
One of Rev. Van Baren’s most memorable experiences in teaching the children in catechism was teaching the very young children. He was teaching them how Abraham and Sarah did not have Isaac until Abraham was 100 years old. He remembers: “One little boy pointed out that they had a cow which had a calf every year. Quite a comparison!”
During his ministry, it has been very rewarding for Rev. Van Baren to hear the young people make confession of their faith and also marry in the Lord.
After the split of 1953, the Protestant Reformed Churches faced other controversies. Rev. Van Baren remembers the controversies regarding the care of Rev. Herman Hoeksema. He also has memories of the questions concerning divorce and remarriage.
Rev. Van Baren has advice for men considering the calling to be ministers of the Word. “They should think and pray carefully about this. It is a blessed calling, but involves also hard work and oftentimes great strife.”
Rev. Van Baren feels that the young people should consider Scripture and the confessions more and place much less emphasis on sports. He is encouraged to see the young people attending church faithfully and learning their catechism lessons well.