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Hebrews 11 lists a number of biblical characters who were commended for their faith. And in Hebrews 12, the author reveals that the purpose for publishing these short narratives was for our encouragement: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”

Likewise, the Eastern Christian community is comprised of countless individuals past and present who have walked by faith, upheld by the promises of God. And so this spring over social media, Eastern Christian School asked our community to tell us about these individuals: the specific people in our midst who inspire others, encourage others, and support others along their journey. Following in this blog series are the results, and the stories of just a few of the people in our great cloud of witnesses.

Ralph Rypkema

“With the shortage of teachers and substitutes at the high school during COVID, you will often find Ralph covering classes, sometimes multiple classes. He has a willing servant’s attitude and a kind heart. It’s hard to say how ECHS would have gotten through the spring without Ralph.” – Nominating quote

There aren’t too many substitute teachers who also hold 15 US patents. But there’s at least one, and he currently works at Eastern Christian School.

Ralph Rypkema, an EC alumnus, enjoyed a 30-year career working as a research and development chemist, as well as working in product development with a specialty in surface cleaners, sanitizers and disinfectants. In addition to his satisfying professional life, he also served as a mentor to teenage kids for VIP, Volunteers In Protective Services of Bergen County.

“I’ve always enjoyed sharing knowledge with others, especially kids,” he shares. “I always enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing kids advance. When I retired, I decided I wanted to work with kids.”

In 2011, Ralph heard Eastern Christian was looking for substitute teachers, but they had a greater need in transportation. So he earned his CDL and worked as both bus driver and substitute. As COVID raged on and so did absences, Ralph Rypkema became a daily presence at Eastern Christian, a kind and familiar face, and an EC hero.

Enjoying this blog series? Read more stories in the fall edition of The Herald, publishing late August 2022.

Would you like to celebrate another member of the EC community for being an inspiration? Send your nominations to and we may feature your nominating quotes in our final Cloud of Witnesses blog. EC reserves the right to edit/omit submissions.

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