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Vander Stoep, Floris (1903-1996) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Vander Stoep, Floris (1903-1996)

Historical Note:

Son of Dutch immigrants, Floris Vander Stoep was born in Oak Harbor, Washington, on May 3, 1903. Vander Stoep's father passed away when he was still a student at Hull Academy in Hull, Iowa. At that time, he had to sacrifice finishing his education to help support his mother and siblings.  Although this was a time of great financial hardship, he was encouraged by his catechism teachers and pastor, Rev. A. Terpstra, to finish his education and pursue a career in ministry. After hearing a speech by Jacob Bolt about his ministry work among the Navajo people, Vander Stoep was determined to become a minister.

Once he received his high school diploma, Vander Stoep enrolled at Calvin College.  He continued his education at Calvin Theological Seminary where he earned his B.D. in 1935.He was ordained on March 22, 1935 in Ocheyedan, Iowa and served there until 1940.  An opportunity opened up for Rev. Vander Stoep to became a missionary at Two Wells, New Mexico. He finally met his goal of working with the Navajo people.  He stayed in Two Wells for two years and then transferred to Shiprock, New Mexico. where he would spend the remainder of this career. During the course of his career in New Mexico, Rev. Vander Stoep became well versed in the Navajo culture and history, even learning the language. After 28 years in Shiprock, Rev. Vander Stoep retired from active missionary work in 1968. Before leaving the Navajo, he taught the Navajo Christians to become leaders in their own churches, encouraging them to take on the responsibilities of managing them. Rev. Vander Stoep also served a number of times as a delegate to synod.

In 1931 Rev. Vander Stoep married Elizabeth Vertregt. She also shared the passion for missionary work with the Navajos. She was a nurse and was able to assist in the missionary field alongside her husband. Together they had 6 children. On August 22, 1996 Rev. Floris Vander Stoep passed away at the age of 93. He was preceded in death by his wife in 1994 and two of their children. Four of the children survived him.

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