James Van Tholen (1964–2001)
American pastor. Van Tholen attended Calvin Theological Seminary before becoming the pastor of Rochester Christian Reformed Church in Rochester, New York, at the age of thirty-one. Just two years later he was diagnosed with a severe and fatal form of cancer that forced him to leave his congregation for seven months while he underwent an array of aggressive treatments. When the sermon he gave upon returning to the pulpit, “Surprised by Death,” was published in Christianity Today, it was immediately recognized as a classic assertion of spiritual courage in the face of mortality. A collection of Van Tholen’s sermons was published posthumously as Where All Hope Lies: Sermons for the Liturgical Years (2003). See also christianitytoday.com.