After more than 15 years in existence, British Columbia’s Leadership Development Network (LDN) continues to build up lay leaders for ministry in the province’s Christian Reformed churches.
LDN graduate Perry Daciuk of Langley (B.C.) Immanuel CRC refers to LDN as one of the CRC’s best kept secrets. “Too many still don’t know what LDN is or what a phenomenal blessing it is for leadership development and theological training within the CRC,” he said.
The British Columbia LDN began in the late 1990s in response to a need for more church planters in the region but gradually shifted to a broadened program for all church leaders. It provides Reformed theological training in several ways: a three-year training program, one-day classis-wide topical events, tailored training for local churches, and website resources.
Wilma van der Leek serves as commissioned pastor of education for Classes BC North West and BC South East, the two regional groups of churches that run the LDN program. She has taught over 40 LDN graduates who serve the CRC in a variety of ways—as commissioned pastors, elders, deacons, youth and children’s pastors, worship leaders, and other ministry roles. One graduate is starting a Master of Divinity degree.
“We have a pretty beautiful thing going here,” van der Leek said, “trying to offer a holistic, spiritually formative, and experiential way for lay leaders in the CRC to meet God in Scripture and then become people who can lead others there as well.”
Mary-Ann Groeneweg’s husband, Jake, of Living Hope CRC in Abbotsford, enrolled in LDN after a cancer diagnosis that left him uncertain about his ability to continue farming. She explained that LDN was a stimulating and strengthening experience for him. “To me, it was his head knowledge turned into heart of God knowledge,” she said. Jake passed away recently, but his ministry is remembered as a blessing to many.
Program graduate Carolyn Gerber of Hope Community CRC in Surrey serves her church in the areas of worship planning and small groups. Gerber, a busy mom, felt able to commit to the monthly meeting and homework of the LDN program. “I joined LDN because it was a local opportunity to develop leadership and ministry skills to equip me in my personal spiritual journey as well as enhance the work I was doing for our local congregation,” she said.
Melissa Van Dyk of First CRC of Vancouver works full time for Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver’s downtown eastside. She explained that the skills learned in LDN become a unique part of its graduates. “The fingerprints of the training are all over everything I do.”