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Note: This article references a program that has since been disbanded. Contact information for the program has been removed since the original publishing of the article.

Bryan Keeley, Cyndee Viel, and Joy Koning are among the first people to receive credentials to serve in ministry as part of a new process underway in the Christian Reformed Church.

Even before receiving credentials, the three had been involved in ministry at Third Christian Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Viel is part-time director of children’s ministry, Koning is part-time worship coordinator, and Keeley is the church’s full-time youth pastor.

Rev. Ken Baker, senior pastor of the church, said he is grateful that the CRC’s Pastor-Church Relations Office has developed the program, offering credentials to qualified applicants who have gone through an individualized program of study.

“I welcome the credentialing program because it affirms the gifts, qualifications, and experience of valuable members of our ministry team,” said Baker.

He continued, “It is too easy to under-appreciate the professional ministry skills cultivated by these staff members over the years. They have no diploma on the wall that identifies their training for their work in ministry. Now they have something to hang on the wall and hold to their hearts. . . .”

“The credentialing process made me review what I have done in the children’s education area of our church and denomination. I was able to reflect on the changes and improvements that have been made since I began this journey with my church children and young families,” said Viel.

“It was a blessing to me to pause and reassess what I am doing for the children of my church. It acknowledged that I have the professional background, and experiences to accomplish the job that God has called me to do.”

Credentialing was identified by denominational leadership in 2009 as one way to encourage leadership development among church staff ministry leaders.

The staff ministry team connected to the Pastor-Church Relations Office was mandated to create such a process. The last step in making this program a reality came in September 2013, when the CRC’s Board of Trustees endorsed the Credentialing for Church Ministry Staff Program.

“This program is for those who are recognized as having the knowledge, skills, and character to do this well,” said Jeanne Kallemeyn, staff ministry specialist for the Pastor-Church Relations Office.

“It is for those who have a Reformed perspective and wish to apply and use it in their ministry work. We want to let people know that this process is now available and we are putting it into place for those people who either have or are seeking to have broader responsibility for ministry in their churches.”

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