Rev. Ronald Hanko

Rev. Ronald Hanko was born in 1954 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His parents are Prof. Herman Hanko and Mrs. Wilma (Knoper) Hanko.

Until he was nine, Rev. Hanko lived in the house that is now the residence of the principal of Hope Christian School. He grew up in the area of Hope Protestant Reformed Church, though the present church building was not built at that time. His father was the minister of Hope Protestant Reformed Church, and then he took a call to the Doon, Iowa, Protestant Reformed Church in 1963. The Hankos lived in Doon until 1965, when his father took the call to the Protestant Reformed Seminary. They moved back to Grand Rapids and lived first in the second parsonage of the old First Protestant Reformed Church on Bates Street in Grand Rapids, near the old Calvin College campus, and later they moved back in the area of Hope Protestant Reformed Church.

Rev. Hanko attended Hope School until half way through third grade. Then he went to Doon Christian School (we did not have our own school there at the time) for the other half of third grade, fourth and fifth grades. When his family moved back to Grand Rapids, he went to Adams School for sixth, seventh and half of eighth grades, and he went to Hope School again for the other half of eighth grade and ninth. He spent his high school years at Covenant Christian High School.

After he graduated from high school, Rev. Hanko attended Calvin College, Grand Valley, and the Protestant Reformed Seminary for his college training. He also received his seminary education from the Protestant Reformed Seminary.

Peer pressure to conform to ungodly and inappropriate behavior was always difficult for Rev. Hanko to resist when he was growing up. Those pressures are still there today for our young people and have increased due to the decline of family worship and family life.

In 1975, Rev. Hanko married Nancy Cammenga the Lord has blessed with eight children. Nancy has been a support to him, has willingly moved to many different places far from her former home and family, and has shown herself to be “full of good works and alms deeds.”

When Rev. Hanko was very young, God began to prepare him for the ministry. He was often asked if he would be a minister like his father and grandfather. He hated those questions and always denied that he would be; but when he was in high school, he began, nevertheless to feel the call to the ministry. He spoke to both his father and grandfather about it and they encouraged him. Several high school teachers also encouraged him.

When Rev. Hanko decided to enter Seminary, his parents and grandparents were pleased, but up to that time they had never put any pressure on him to do so. That was probably a good thing, since pressure from them, along with the questions of those who thought he ought to be a minister because it “ran in the family,” might have had an opposite effect. He struggled for a time after deciding to enter Seminary with his own feelings because he was unable to determine whether it was for his parents’ sake or for God’s sake that he had made the decision.

One of the more memorable events of Rev. Hanko’s years in Seminary was a humorous one. It occurred during a class with Prof. Homer Hoeksema, whom he loved dearly and whose preaching and work in the churches he misses very much. At the climax of a Dogmatics lecture, Prof. Hoeksema misspoke himself and called Adam a bird, and a little later discovered the seminarian who is now Rev. Carl Haak squatting on a table, flapping his arms and squawking.

The most memorable experience was the practice preaching sessions and the rigorous criticism of sermons at the end of those sessions. Although he can see the value of those sessions, at the time it was difficult for him to see how beneficial they were. There were a number of times when he returned from such sessions and told his wife that he was finished at Seminary.

After he was ordained in 1979, Rev. Hanko’s first charge was in Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Wyckoff, New Jersey. In 1986, his labors at Covenant Protestant Reformed Church were finished when the Lord sent him to Trinity Protestant Reformed Church in Houston, Texas. In 1993, he was called to leave Trinity to become the missionary to Britain and pastor of the Covenant Reformed Fellowship (later Covenant Protestant Reformed Church) until 2001. Since July, 2002 he has been the pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of the Lynden, Washington, Protestant Reformed Church.

One of Rev. Hanko’s most memorable experiences with teaching the young children in catechism was teaching the miracles of Jesus to the youngest class. He asked if any of the children knew what leprosy was, and he called on the only child who had raised his hand and whose arm was waving frantically, only to hear a description of leprosy that went something like this: “First your fingers and toes fall off, then your hands and feet, and then the other parts of your body until only your head is left. Then you die.” The other children, of course, were wide-eyed at this description.

As a minister, it has been rewarding for Rev. Hanko to witness the steadfastness of God’s people in the face of adversity, and the spiritual growth of the young people.

During his ministry, Rev. Hanko says it has been wonderful to have lived and worked in so many different places. “We have missed family members, but have learned and grown though contact with many different people of God and have seen many different places. The faces and faith of many dear friends and fellow believers, some across the ocean and some in Heaven are always with us, as are the warm summer evenings in Houston sitting under the live oaks, the green hills of Ireland, the busy streets of London and New York, and the mountains of Colorado and Washington.”

While he was growing up, Rev. Hanko enjoyed reading, orchids and stamp collecting, which has an honorable history among ministers, in that Arthur Pink took it up as a hobby in his later years.

Now Rev. Hanko enjoys collecting and reading antiquarian books including theology, water-color painting, and photography.

Rev. Hanko has advice for men who are considering the ministry of the Word to be their calling. He says that they be very sure that they are called by God, since the ministry, especially in these times, is difficult, often burdensome, and with many discouragements and trials.

Concerning the thinking, attitudes, and behavior of the young people, Rev Hanko would like nothing so much as to see more spirituality on the part of the young people, especially in the area of personal devotions, preparation for catechism, and an interest in the truth.

Rev. Hanko is encouraged that there are always, by the wonderful grace of God, young people who are spiritually minded and who are not ashamed of their faith and of living by their faith.