Syd Hielema, most recently campus chaplain of Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, will begin working full time for the Christian Reformed Church, assisting in its efforts in discipleship and faith formation ministries.
“My longing and my dream is to participate in the larger process of challenging and encouraging and setting congregations free to be more and more transformed by grace to become more like Jesus,” Hielema said.
Hielema, 60, has served as a high school teacher, a theology professor, and ran Redeemer’s youth ministry certificate program. He is also a commissioned pastor in the CRC. A member of Meadowlands Fellowship CRC in Ancaster, Ont., he will remain in Ontario with an office in Burlington, but report to the denomination’s executive director.
Hielema comes to the new position having laid groundwork over the past year directing a faith formation initiative one day a week and making “toddler steps” as he put it, working one day a month as youth ministry ambassador for Ben Vandezande, until recently the interim director of Canadian ministries.
Hielema said this appointment shows that the denomination recognizes that intentional discipleship and faith formation is central to the calling of the local congregation and therefore needs greater support.
“I feel deeply privileged to be invited to participate at a time that I think is very significant in our denominational history,” he said. He describes a fork in the road where ‘same-old’ is equivalent to disobedience and instead he senses a shift the heart of which “is a rediscovery of the power of grace” in our congregations.
“That’s what I long to see,” Hielema said, “congregations shaped by grace and that shaping happens through intentional cradle-to-the-grave discipleship.”
The new position, which does not yet have a finalized title or job description, provides leadership to the Faith Formation Collaborative Working Group -- part of the CRC’s wider refocusing on Five Streams of ministry.