John de Witt ’57
Dr. John R. de Witt, former senior minister of First Presbyterian Church and former Moderator of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian General Synod, passed into glory on Sunday, September 30, 2018. The service will be held Wednesday, October 3rd at 2:00 in the sanctuary at First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC. Burial will be in the Churchyard followed by visitation in Jackson Hall. Dr. Derek W.H. Thomas and Rev. David H. Lauten will officiate. The Elders of First Presbyterian Church and members of the Men’s Bible Class are invited to serve as honorary pallbearers. Shives Funeral Home, Trenholm Road Chapel, is assisting the family.
Born in Zeeland, Mich., John Richard de Witt was the son of Gary and Elizabeth Petranella Van Vliet de Witt. A son of the manse, he had a strong Dutch heritage and had conformed the spelling of his last name to the Dutch style. He graduated from Hope College with the B.A. degree and from Western Theological Seminary with the B.D. degree. He earned the Th. D. degree from the John Calvin Academy of the Theological University of the Reformed Churches in Kampen, the Netherlands, serving as an academic assistant while a student there. He was awarded the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Rhodes College.
He was ordained by the Classis of Passaic, Reformed Church in America, on July 16, 1959. He became minister of the Sixth Reformed Church in Paterson, N.J., in 1959-64, and was assistant minister of Grove Chapel, Camberwell, in London, England, in 1967-69. He served as pastor of the Williamsburg Presbyterian Church, Kingstree, S.C., in 1970-75 and as professor of church history and then of systematic theology at Reformed Seminary in Jackson in 1975 – 82. He was senior minister of Second Presbyterian Church, Memphis, Tenn., in 1983-93, and senior minister of the Seventh Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1993-2000. He was installed as senior minister of First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, S.C., on Feb. 25, 2001 where he served until his retirement in 2005. He was a trustee of the Banner of Truth Trust and an associate editor of the Banner of Truth. He was the author of Jus Divinum: The Westminster Assembly and the Divine Right of Church Government; Amazing Love; and an article, “What ls the Reformed Faith?” He translated Paul: An Outline of His Theology by Herman N. Ridderbos.
Dr. de Witt is survived by his sons, Robert Gregory Epps (Kelli) de Witt of Memphis, Tenn., Frank A. (Sally) Brown, of Charleston, S.C., and son-in-law, Duane (Lawton) Shuler of Kingstree, S.C.; grandchildren, Jonathan D. (Amanda) Shuler, Elizabeth B. (Keith) Griffin, Alexandra Epps de Witt, Olivia G. de Witt; one great-grandchild, Charles Shuler Griffin; brother, Mark (Viv) de Witt of Winchester, Va. Dr. de Witt was preceded in death by his wife of 41 years, Jane Epps de Witt; daughter, Glenda Brown Shuler; and brother, James de Witt.