Who We Are

Chris Schoon – Team Leader

Chris serves as the Director of Faith Formation Ministries. Before joining Faith Formation Ministries, he served as a pastor at First Hamilton CRC (ON) and at Plymouth Heights CRC (MI). Whether through consulting with church leaders, leading workshops, preaching, or teaching in classrooms, Chris loves walking alongside others as they seek to grow in their calling and capacity to make disciples. Along with contributing regularly to The Banner and Reformed Worship, Chris is the author of Cultivating an Evangelistic Character (Wipf & Stock, 2018), which explores worship and discipleship in the missional church movement. He is married to Hennie, and they have four children. When opportunity allows, Chris enjoys hiking, board games, and backyard BBQs. Contact Chris at cschoon@crcna.org. (Learn more about Chris in this CRC News article.)


Karen De Boer – Creative Resource Developer

Karen De Boer is the Creative Resource Developer for Faith Formation Ministries. The author of Home Grown Handbook for Christian Parenting, and the contributing editor of  You’re Invited: a Week of Devotions for Families on the Lord’s Supper and God’s Big Story Cards, Karen has been involved with children since she was a kid herself and says some of her favorite people are 4 years old. Karen and her husband Ron have four daughters and live in Kitchener, Ontario. Connect with her if you have any questions related to faith formation and children, families, and/or intergenerational ministry. Contact Karen at kdeboer@crcna.org. (Learn more about Karen in this interview.)


Sandy Swartzentruber – Resource Coordinator

Sandy Swartzentruber is the Resource Coordinator for Faith Formation Ministries. As such she manages the production of new FFM resources and helps identify and curate helpful faith formation resources from other sources for churches to use. Before joining the FFM team, Sandy served as associate editor for Faith Alive, where she also focused on helping create resources for faith formation for congregation members, from preschoolers to adults. A graduate of Calvin College and a member of Sherman Street Christian Reformed Church, Sandy lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her husband, Lon, and their two teenage children. Contact Sandy at sswartzentruber@crcna.org. (Learn more about Sandy in this interview.)


Paola Fuentes Gleghorn – Communications Strategist

Paola Fuentes Gleghorn serves as the Communications Strategist for Faith Formation Ministries. She is passionate about spreading the work of Faith Formation Ministries through numerous communications channels so that people have the opportunity to connect with others and the resources they need. She graduated from Calvin College with a degree in International Development Studies and a minor in Business. Paola is originally from Costa Rica, but grew up in Nicaragua where her family were missionaries working alongside local churches in the areas of pastoral training, youth leadership development, and evangelism. Paola and her husband, Jeff, live in Holland, MI, where Jeff is attending Western Theological Seminary. Contact Paola at pfuentes@crcna.org. (Learn more about Paola in this interview.)


Christine Dekker – Administrative Coordinator

Christine Dekker works as the Administrative Coordinator for FFM. She is working on making everything FFM does run smoothly. She makes sure “i's” are dotted, “t's” are crossed and that the processes in place are working and being followed. Christine has a background in administration and loves to be able to further the kingdom by using her skills to assist others in completing the bigger tasks. Christine and her husband, Jim, a ministry professor at Cornerstone University, moved to Grand Rapids from Chicago in the snowstorms of December 2013. They are transplanted Canadians, so the snow was a familiar friend. They have two daughters and a son-in law. Christine loves to cook and is a strong believer in the holy hospitality of food and fellowship. Contact Christine to assist with planning workshops and general questions at cdekker@crcna.org. (Learn more about Christine in this interview.)


Martin Contant – Team Consultant and Coach

Martin serves as Team Consultant and Coach to our Regional Catalyzers and advisor to the FFM team. He retired recently after 40 years of ordained ministry in the CRC. Martin pastored congregations in Ancaster, ON; and Langley, BC; and then joined Christian Reformed Home Missions as Regional Leader for Western Canada. In that capacity, he worked extensively with local congregations, pastors, and leaders, encouraging and facilitating greater engagement in God's mission in the local context. He also helped to catalyze new church planting work and campus ministries. Martin now serves as a spiritual director, coach, and consultant to local congregations. Mart and Sue have three adult married sons and 11 grandchildren. They live in Surrey, BC, and have been members of Willoughby CRC in Langley for 36 years. Contact Martin at mcontant@crcna.org. (Learn more about Martin in this interview.)

Dwell Curriculum Coordinator - Jill Benson

Jill Benson is the Dwell Curriculum Coordinator. She has previously interacted with Dwell as a teacher, parent and Children’s Ministry Director and is passionate about bringing the big story of the Bible to kids of all ages. Jill enjoys in-depth study of God’s Word and holds degrees in Biblical Languages and Old Testament from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She lives just outside of Pittsburgh, PA with her husband, Steve and their two children. Jill fills her spare time with reading, drinking coffee, knitting, writing and enjoying God’s beautiful creation with her family. If you have any questions related to the Dwell curriculum, contact Jill at jbenson@crcna.org.

 

Children and Youth Catalyzers

FFM has appointed two catalyzers to support CRC churches in their commitment to children’s ministry and youth ministry.

Children's Ministry Catalyzer - Mimi Larson

Mimi Larson is FFM’s Children’s Ministry Catalyzer. One of Mimi’s greatest joys is being with people, learning with them, and encouraging them on their ministry journey. For over 25 years, Mimi served in local church ministry in both small and large churches and has written curriculum for Faith Alive Christian Resources, Big Idea/Veggie Tales, and the 50-Day Spiritual Adventure. Get to know Mimi in this short video. If you have questions or challenges about faith formation in children, choosing curriculum, equipping volunteers, and more, contact Mimi at childrensministry@crcna.org.

 

Youth Ministry Catalyzer - Ron DeVries

Ron has been working to strengthen youth ministry in the CRC for more than 20 years. As Youth Ministry Catalyzer for the CRC, his work focuses on supporting and equipping the denomination’s youth leaders. Read more about Ron in this CRC News article and this interview. Ron is also FFM’s Regional Catalyzer for Alberta, and serves as Canadian SERVE director for Youth Unlimited. Ron can help your church with strengthening faith formation with teens and youth, reaching today's young people, connecting with Classis Youth Ministry Champions, and more. Contact Ron at youthministry@crcna.org.

 

 

Regional Catalyzers

FFM’s Regional Catalyzers (RCs) have one goal: to help you strengthen the faith formation efforts in your congregation.

Our Regional Catalyzers are experienced ministry leaders who are here to

  • encourage and equip your church’s faith formation leaders
  • lead workshops on a variety of faith formation topics
  • gather cohorts of CRC churches around specific topics
  • connect you with helpful ministry resources from the CRC and beyond.

There is no charge to your church for consulting with a Regional Catalyzer, so feel free to reach out any time!

How to Connect with Your Regional Catalyzer

Check out the list of regions below to locate the Regional Catalyzer who serves your congregation. Then just send an email to introduce yourself and request a meeting by phone, videoconference, or in person. (If your region is not represented on this list, contact us at faithformation@crcna.org.) We look forward to talking with you!

Alberta—Ron deVries

Ron has been working to strengthen youth ministry for more than 20 years. He serves as FFM’s Regional Catalyzer for Alberta and also as Youth Ministry Catalyzer for the CRC and Canadian SERVE director for Youth Unlimited. His work focuses on supporting and equipping youth leaders. Read more about Ron in this CRC News article and this interview. Contact Ron at youthministry@crcna.org.

 

 

California/Korean Churches—Ron Chu

Ron is FFM’s Regional Catalyzer for Korean churches in California. He also serves as the Global Ministry Pastor at Ttokamsa Mission Church and is a regional catalyzer for the CRC’s Connections Project. Ron has a passion for raising leaders for Christ and discipling millenials, and he believes ministry should be FUN! Learn more about Ron in this interview and contact him at rchu@crcna.org.

 

 

California—Kristen Rietkerk

Kristen and her husband Tim, a retired US Army chaplain, have been married for 27 years and have 4 children and a lovable dog named Lady. Kristen has a deep love for connecting people in meaningful ways and served for 10 years as a small groups and leadership development consultant for local churches near military installations. Kristen holds a Bachelor’s degree from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI and a Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership from Azusa Pacific University in Southern California. In her free time, you’ll find her listening to bluegrass, reading fiction and eating a York peppermint patty. Her greatest joy is listening to people share their stories about life, love and the eternal search for meaning. Contact Kristen at krietkerk@crcna.org.

 

Eastern Canada—Lesli van Milligen

Lesli is FFM’s Regional Catalyzer for Eastern Canada-Winnipeg to Halifax. She is ordained in the CRC and has co-pastored in both Canada and the U.S. with her husband, Tom. Along with supporting local congregations in strengthening their cradle to grave faith formation practices, Lesli is passionate about building into the next generation of leaders through leadership workshops for youth, young adults, and church councils.  Learn more about Lesli in this interview, and contact her at lvanmilligen@crcna.org.

 

Iowa/Heartland—Joel DeBoer

Joel serves as FFM's Regional Catalyzer and Coach in North West Iowa. He is currently a Pastor for Bridge of Hope Ministries, Sioux Center Iowa. With 30 years ministry, primarily in rural settings and churches, Joel has coached and resourced churches and pastors in Minnesota, Iowa, and northern Illinios in working with the Connection's Project from 2016 - 2019. Joel enjoys walking along side churches and leaders helping them discover how God is working in their context and finding resources that will enhance God's work in that local setting. Joel and Deb have three adult children and two grand daughters. Joel loves coaching, resourcing, developing distinctive discipleship resources, and finding ways to help local church pastors and workers be revitalized and equipped. If you would like Joel for resources, coaching, or faith formation events in rural ministries, contact him at jdeboer@crcna.org.

Michigan—Laura Keeley

Laura Keeley is FFM’s Regional Catalyzer for congregations in Michigan. She also serves as director of children’s ministries at Fourteenth Street CRC in Holland, MI. Laura is the author of the Church Staff Handbook, several units of Faith Alive’s WE curriculum, and co-author with her husband, Bob, of articles on faith formation, Christmas dramas, and the books Celebrating the Milestones of Faith and Psalms for Families. Learn more about Laura in this interview, and contact her at laurakeeley@crcna.org.

 

Midwest (MN, IA, WI)—Trudy Ash

Trudy is our regional catalyzer in the Midwest Region (Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin). She lives in Minnesota, and feels blessed to also work for the CRC’s Connections Project. In 2017 she opened up a coffee and ice cream shop called King Sparrow Coffee & Soda Shop in her hometown of Milaca, Minnesota. Trudy has a deep passion for local churches and loves to hear their stories over a cup of coffee! Learn more about Trudy in this interview and contact her at tash@crcna.org.

 

Vancouver/BC—Liz Tolkamp

Liz is FFM’s Regional Catalyzer for British Columbia, Pacific Northwest, Columbia and Yellowstone. She also serves as an ordained commissioned children’s pastor at her home church, Willoughby CRC in Langley, BC. She’s especially passionate about faith formation with children/families and involving children and youth in the life of the church. Learn more about Liz in this interview, and contact her at ltolkamp@crcna.org.