Larry Van Landuyt

Jerry and Judy Van Landuyt
Larry and Judy Van Landuyt

Larry Van Landuyt pastors two GCI congregations in California: North Valley Christian Fellowship in Chico, and GCI in Redding. He was born in Grenada, Mississippi, where his father was in the Army, preparing to leave for Europe during World War II. Referring to himself as “an army brat,” Larry and his family moved frequently: “To Oregon, South Carolina, Maryland, New Mexico and Alaska. Then my father finished his military career at Fort Ord, California.”

Larry’s formative years were spent on one of America’s first rocket bases—White Sands Proving Grounds, New Mexico (later renamed White Sands Missile Range). “Along with rockets and rattlesnakes, my older brother and I spent many hours exploring the desert around the base on our bicycles and hiking the nearby Organ Mountains that lay between the base and the town of Las Cruces.”

Larry’s family has been part of GCI for a long time. “My mother’s family began listening to Herbert Armstrong when he was broadcasting from Portland, Oregon, in the 1930s or 40s. My maternal great aunt was baptized in the mid- to late 40s. Her sister, my grandmother, was baptized sometime later. Then my mother became a member of the Radio Church of God at a spring festival in Big Sandy in 1953 or 54. Her older brother and younger sister also became members. I first attended the Feast of Tabernacles in Big Sandy with my mother about this same time; I was 10 or 11. We never lived in a church area, however, so our contact with the church was only through the radio broadcast, The Plain Truth magazine, the Bible Correspondence Course and the many doctrinal booklets.”

While living in Fort Ord, Larry’s dad traveled to Fresno on Saturdays to attend church. “There he met Herman Hoeh and obtained provisional permission for me to finish high school at Imperial in Pasadena. I attended my senior year there, worked on the college grounds crew that summer and entered Ambassador College in the fall of 1960.”

Larry met his wife-to-be, Judy Olsen, the summer before attending college. “She had graduated from high school and had come to Pasadena from Michigan with her brother Morgan, who was attending Ambassador at the time. We both entered Ambassador College the following fall. We had no interest in each other before or during college. We began dating in summer 1965, a year after my graduation. She had left college after her junior year to pay down her college debt by working full-time in the church’s co-worker department. We were married in Ambassador’s lower gardens on January 2, 1966, mid-way through her senior year of college. Judy always says, “It was a God thing.” I’m sure she’s right; it’s lasted over 48 years. We have four daughters: Chantel, Sheila (deceased), Sharina and Christine, and six grandchildren: Gina, Alexander, Kayla, Dacota Jade (DJ), Nikko and Asher. They range in age from 18 months to 25 years, and in location from the house next door to Christchurch, New Zealand.”

Larry worked as an elementary teacher in Imperial Schools from 1963 until it closed in the mid-70s, and again when it reopened until its final closing in the early ’90s. “God’s love and power are undeniable considering he took a youngster who didn’t like school and wasn’t a particularly gifted student and used him for over five decades to teach children and adults of all ages the value of learning and the joy of God’s righteousness.” When Imperial closed for the second time, Larry was given the opportunity to answer letters in the church’s personal correspondence department. This job helped fulfill one of Larry’s passions, “studying and learning from human history—especially biblical history, which reveals God’s wondrous purpose for his human creation.”

Larry didn’t plan on being a pastor. “I was ordained in a surprise (to me) ceremony in Pasadena on May 14, 1994. About a year later, as headquarters began drastically downsizing, I was offered pastoral training in the Los Angeles church serving under Curtis May in preparation for being given a field assignment. In the summer of 1996, we were assigned to pastor the Chico and Redding congregations, where we continue to serve.”

Of Judy’s involvement in ministry, Larry says she is “2/3 of the ministry of Jesus in which we have had the privilege to participate. She is accompanist, soloist, befriender, consoler, prayer partner, wife, mother, grandmother, refreshment maker, master potluck cook, children’s ministry leader and faithful supporter of the one who does little more than prepare, preach and pray.”

When asked what he enjoys most about being a pastor, Larry said it is “being able to share the joy of God’s grace and love, the really Good News with others whom God is calling.” About being part of GCI, Larry said he enjoys “the sincere bond of fellowship and love among the members and the leadership of the denomination. I also deeply appreciate all the varied opportunities I have been privileged to be a part of in the 60+ years that the Spirit has been leading us through RCG, WCG and now GCI.”

Larry says his most memorable moment as a pastor was “when God opened my eyes, mind and heart to see the joy and peace of his new covenant life of freedom in Jesus Christ, and then having the opportunity to share that joy with others.”

Asked when he feels closest to God, Larry said, “It’s when I’m far away from the accomplishments of humans and surrounded by the beauty and majesty of God’s marvelous creation.”

3 thoughts on “Larry Van Landuyt”

  1. Thanks for sharing, Larry! Memories of you & Judy are rich in our memories as we reflect on the years gone by. You & yours are one of those families that comes to us in our continued prayers for that “eternal family” of God that we are so thankful/blessed to be a part.

    The Sniffens…Memphis COF Congregation.

  2. I witnessed God working through you when you were my teacher for two years at imperial. Thank you for all your service.

  3. That’s great to read how God has used you both over the years and is still using you. Memories of both of you go back so many years to Ambassador and the events there from ’59 and the early 60’s. I remember you in Imperial at the back of where I lived in my first year. Then in college from then on.
    May God continue to bless, help and encourage you both as you continue to serve Him.

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