Today Neil and Lenore Tolsma celebrate their fifty-fifth wedding anniversary. They grew up in the same church. Neil sang in the Sunday school choir when Lenore was baptized. With a three-year difference in age, they got to know each other by going out after choir practice. OP pastor Tom Champness performed their wedding ceremony in 1959—the same year their church, Community OPC in Garfield, New Jersey, came into the OPC.
Neil graduated from Shelton College in Ringwood, New Jersey, in 1962, then earned his bachelor of divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1965. That November he was ordained by the Presbytery of the South to serve as pastor of Bethel OPC in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Neil had a “burning zeal” to fulfill his new calling so he organized a Bible class in a condominium that drew sixty people, served as Sunday school superintendent, and held two morning worship services. The church constructed an educational wing and a manse during his nine-year tenure.
In 1974, Neil was called as pastor of Falls OPC in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. In the course of Neil’s three decades as pastor there, the church added men’s leadership training classes, regional Bible studies, catechism classes, evangelism training sessions, a ministry to a Laotian refugee family, and an addition to their facility. The congregation also divided to start Covenant OPC in New Berlin, Wisconsin. Neil retired in 2004 after thirty-nine years in the ministry. The Tolsmas have three daughters and eight grandchildren.