Long-time Abbotsford pastor Vern Heidebrecht passed away on Nov. 18 at the age of 77.

Long-time Abbotsford pastor Vern Heidebrecht passed away on Nov. 18 at the age of 77.

Chapel to be named in memory of long-time Abbotsford pastor

Vern Heidebrecht, who led Northview Church for years, died Nov. 18

The new Tabor Village seniors’ care complex in Abbotsford will have a chapel that will be named in memory of an Abbotsford pastor who died on Nov. 18.

Vern Heidebrecht and his wife Carol served for 15 years – from 1988 to 2003 – as the lead pastoral couple of Northview Community Church on Downes Road.

Heidebrecht, who battled Parkinson’s disease for many years, died at the age of 77 after a long career in ministry.

His career in Abbotsford began in 1988 after a 25-year stint in the U.S. (mostly California), where he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees.

Over the years, he developed his oratory skills, becoming an adept and engaging public speaker.

At one point, Heidebrecht was conducting up to five sermons a week, in addition to weddings, teaching seminars and leadership conferences.

Northview Church, which held its first service in Mennonite Educational Institute in 1980 before purchasing its own land in 1982, grew considerably under Heidebrecht’s leadership, becoming one of Canada’s largest evangelical congregations.

During his time there as senior pastor, the church’s membership grew from around 400 to almost 2,000, with four services offered. In 2000, there were 12 pastors and 35 full-time staff.

Around that time, Heidebrecht began to notice changes in his body. He became increasingly anxious before his sermons and speaking engagements, and his voice became weaker.

His walking also became more laboured, and a visit to the doctor, followed by a referral to a neurologist, resulted in a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

Heidebrecht then took a four-month break from work, during which time he wrote a book titled Journalling is for Real People. It depicted the therapeutic and spiritual role that journal writing can play in people’s lives.

His second book, Hearing God’s Voice, was published in 2007, followed by his memoirs, The Best is Yet to Be, in 2012.

READ MORE: Minister to sign copies of new book

Heidebrecht continued to serve as senior pastor at Northview but resigned from that position in 2003, when he felt that he could no longer keep up with the demands of the job. He then served as associate pastor of discipleship and prayer, and retired around 2012.

Heidebrecht returned to his speaking engagements after his diagnosis, often using his life with Parkinson’s as a theme of his presentations.

“I think that when all is said and done, people will forget my sermons, but they’ll remember how Vern dealt with life,” he said in a 2005 interview with The Abbotsford News.

He spent the last four years of his life at the Valhaven location of Tabor Village in Abbotsford. The seniors’ care complex is currently in the midst of a campaign to raise money towards the construction of a new “Centre for Living” complex-care facility.

A new chapel in the facility will be named in Heidebrecht’s memory, and his family has asked that memorial contributions be designated to the campaign. Donations are accepted online at campaign.taborvillage.org.

A memorial service for Heidebrecht takes place Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 1 p.m. at Northview Community Church, 32040 Downes Rd.

READ MORE: Almost $3.8 million raised so far for new seniors’ care complex

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A mallard duck swims through Salish Pond in Chilliwack on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
WEATHER: Snow, rain in forecast for Fraser Valley

Fraser Valley has been treated to more than a week of mostly sunny weather, but it’s about to end

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment, hits milestones in break-out year

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near Chilliwack secondary

Third high-school related assault Rob Iezzi’s cameras have captured since beginning of 2021

A free online series on advance care planning is being hosted by two Abbotsford organizations on Jan. 27 and Feb. 3 and 10. (Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash)
Online workshop series addresses ‘advance care planning’

Three sessions hosted by Abbotsford Hospice Society and Association for Healthy Aging

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

Giants defenceman Bowen Byram has recorded his first NHL career point (Rob Wilton/special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants Bowen Byram records first NHL career point with Colorado Avalanche

Player with Langley-based WHL franchise assisted on goal against the Ducks

Surrey Fire Service responded to a fire in the industrial area of 192nd street and 54th Avenue early Saturday morning (Jan. 23, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews respond to fire in industrial area

Fire happened early Saturday morning

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Most Read