Sarah took a chance on an option she had never before considered (working with veterans) and discovered a "passion she didn't know existed." Find her story below! 

November 15, 2017 0 2 comments
Resource, Guide or Toolkit

As a church, it can be hard to know what to say to our veterans or military chaplains. But I encourage you to identify and reach out to the veterans in your congregation. This sample email may help guide you. 

November 12, 2017 2 1 comments

The Christian Reformed Office of Chaplaincy and Care is excited to introduce Adie, Jacob, Bernie, and Trent, our newly endorsed chaplains! 

August 24, 2017 0 0 comments

During our annual Chaplaincy and Care conference, I had the honor of meeting two pioneers who courageously overcame many challenges and paved the way for my ministry as a chaplain.  

June 27, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Workshop or Training, Facilitated by Others

The Clinical Pastoral Education program is offered to pastors from both CRC and RCA churches in communities throughout the United States and Canada. Read more about it here.

June 16, 2017 0 0 comments

Rather than being thanked on Memorial Day, we veterans want to join with everyone else to remember and grieve our lost friends. Here are some tips for remembering the lives lost too soon.

May 26, 2017 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

How do you create space for remembering in your church or around your dinner table? If you'd like, please feel free to share the name of a loved one you are remembering this Easter.

April 13, 2017 0 8 comments
Discussion Topic

Recent developments in the world of chaplaincy have encouraged a more positive image of the field. Have you observed a greater awareness of and/or appreciation for chaplains? 

February 1, 2017 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

He spends two paragraphs 'guarding the meanings of words' and 'maintaining the integrity of this word,' only to goof it up by calling God a sent one? That is a very difficult proposition to swallow.

November 1, 2016 0 0 comments

Pray with us for the safety and effectiveness of chaplains who represent our denomination and our King in many places you would not expect: from aircraft carriers to children's hospitals and from boiler rooms to board rooms. 

October 5, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Check out this article about a CRC pastor involved in chaplaincy work with police officers in central Iowa. 

October 3, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Conference or Event

On June 9 - 11​, 2016,​ many of our chaplains from near and far (U.S., Canada, and possibly some overseas military) will come together at the Prince Center in Grand Rapids, MI.

May 9, 2016 0 0 comments

Wounded healers are strong in their weakness. Working as a hospice chaplain showed me that scars and wounds are not a hindrance to the Gospel, but rather a source of connection. 

November 11, 2015 0 3 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

As a representative of classis or as a Synodical Deputy, you are sometimes asked to arrange for, counsel, or oversee the ordination and/or placement of men and women as Ministers of the Word or Commissioned Pastors. 

October 8, 2015 0 0 comments

I expected CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) to be really difficult, and it is—but not for the reasons I expected. I anticipated emotional distress from being around critically ill people, but instead I found...

July 28, 2015 0 5 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar explores the topic of addressing spirituality in patient care, describes the rationale and research that justifies doing so, and examines a “spiritual care team” model.

May 29, 2015 0 0 comments

“Ministry of presence” is a favorite phrase of chaplains to describe how they work -- with or without words -- to be the vehicle of God’s love. Some speak of this as “incarnational ministry.”

December 15, 2014 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

As a chaplain, I care about people in crisis and try to be particularly attentive to "the least of these." But I sense that we are no longer giving a lot of attention to the immense issue of abortion...

December 4, 2014 0 4 comments
Discussion Topic

Chaplains intersect with individuals and families at the most critical times when life is most challenging. How can the broader church focus more attention on this important area of ministry?

August 27, 2014 0 0 comments

If you could spend eight to ten million dollars a year of someone else’s money to touch the lives of several hundred thousand hurting individuals with the love of Christ, how would you do it and what might the results be? Putting chaplains in locations where hurting people are congregated might be a choice worth considering...

February 11, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Ron Klimp has served three churches over the course of 21 years in parish ministry. In 1999, he became a chaplain and have loved chaplaincy ever since.

July 23, 2013 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar was recorded on: Wed, 02/13/2013 In this webinar we'll discuss the definition and causes of moral injury, how it differs from post-traumatic stress disorder and what is involved in the recovery process.

February 13, 2013 0 0 comments

I’ve spent four years in the Army as a Chaplain, and 19 of those months I’ve been deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan. Many with whom I serve have seen combat all over; Panama, Bosnia, Iraq (the first and second time), as well as Afghanistan. I know several who have six or more deployments in their careers. 

November 8, 2012 0 0 comments

     I have been thinking for the past couple of years now, about how connected I feel to my local church. I am an Army Chaplain, so I am geographically removed from my sponsoring Church. In some ways, this has led to a sense of disconnection. It places a burden on my heart to stay connected...

February 23, 2011 0 2 comments

I have been inquiring about becoming a Chaplin through my local church, BCRC (Bradenton Christian Reformed Church). I am a member of a local motorcycle club who is in need of a club Chaplin. I feel this would be an incredible opportunity to minister to a fairly large group of folks who are for...

January 4, 2011 0 3 comments

Congratulations Sarah

Congratulations Sarah!  Blessings on your ministry!

Sarah 10 times back at you God bless Chaplain Bob J


Eric Westra - good friend




We have lost two children....both adults,  and both with families

My sister Jeanet....



Gladys (Boven) Tacoma - my mom


 Wounded healer rather that walking wounded ? Of course! I needed no explanation for that one.  The walking wounded are in such bad shape they can't help anyone else.  This fate may await caregivers who don't or can't take time off to attend to their own needs and become so drained that they eventually fall apart.  Relatives of people afflicted with degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's often experience that because private nursing care is expensive, and governments often cut costs at their expense, so they shoulder most of the care themselves unless they can--and are willing to--place the loved one in a nursing home.  Caregivers of psychiatric patients can suffer this also, and maybe even more than the caregivers of Alzheimer's because it is acknowledged whereas many Christians still harbor the ill-conceived notion that mental illnesses are merely a spiritual problem that goes away if people confess their sins.  At the outset of my illness I confessed all the sins i could think of, both real and imagined, and the illness never went away.  I hope that those who still hold this notion will snap out of it because they're being a burden for those who suffer as well as their caregivers.

posted in: Wounded Healer

For more information on CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) and its counterpoint in Canada SPE (Supervised Pastoral Education) go here: (for Canada)


here (for U.S.)

posted in: Wounded Healer


Thanks for re-publishing this from another source and thereby drawing attention to both Chaplaincy and Advent. As a cancer survivor can speak better than anyone else to a newly diagnosed cancer patient, so those who have fully felt the brokenness of sin and the healing grace of God can speak best to others feeling trapped in that brokenness.

posted in: Wounded Healer

Thanks for your comment, Ron. I'm one of those in the parenthetical category (preparing for parish ministry). I'm actually seeking ordination in another denomination (The Episcopal Church), and I, along with the majority of my classmates, was required to take one unit of CPE as part of my seminary studies. One of the staff chaplains at the hospital noted that there's a difference in the tenor and attitude of those who are electing to take the unit vs. those who are required, which seems obvious, but still struck me as an interesting observation. We talked a fair amount about introversion/extraversion in my group, and noted how each of us had different areas of comfort/discomfort (for instance, while I had a great deal of discomfort and anxiety around cold-calling, I felt virtually none of that in responding to arrest pages, which in turn caused discomfort and anxiety for others). While there are times I think it would be handy to be a tad more extraverted, I think it's pretty great that the Church is filled with so many people who have so many unique gifts.

posted in: Beyond Words

Hi, John,

Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, and sorry it took so long for me to reply—it turns out the last couple of weeks of CPE are even more all-consuming than the earlier portion!

In writing about one slice of my CPE experience and my personality, I highlighted and maybe even exaggerated the moments of silence. I like to think that when the time comes to say something, I can (and do). In fact, I actually like engaging people in "crucial conversations" (though I'm new to the book/concept, and look forward to checking it out), and a good conversation can override my exhaustion. What I think is different for me is that I prefer having such a conversation when I've already begun cultivating a relationship. The most difficult—and exhausting—part of CPE for me was that many, even most, of my visits were "cold calls," uninvited visits to patients/families who may or may not want to talk to someone about their spiritual well-being, support networks, etc. The newness and unfamiliarity of the relationship would make me feel anxious, and all those introductions would deplete my energy stores.

I don't have good a solution for how to keep going in that situation—and if you do, I'd love to hear it, because I could sure use something during the introduction phase in a new church. In CPE, I usually responded by doing some work that didn't involve human interaction (e.g. charting, planning a service). If that wasn't an option, I might try to eat something, as I've found that "hangry" is a real emotion for me, and sometimes even a quick snack can move me from grouchy and overwhelmed to at least something approaching stable.

All to say, I think there is a place for conversation and words—I enjoy writing and reading immensely; I'm not about to give up verbal communication. I've also seen the pain that can come when one is not able to communicate verbally and wants to—that is a huge loss. However, I also think there is a place for silence, and I think that silence can be as meaningful as words.

Thanks again for writing!


posted in: Beyond Words

Staci (and Alissa),

Thanks for posting this thoughtful reflection on the value of CPE, especially for those who are thinking of preparing for chaplaincy (or the parish ministry, but want to be better prepared to do quality pastoral care). The combination of intense pastoral care exposure and repeated reflection with a supervisor and small group has a remarkable ability to grow one's self-awareness and effectiveness as a pastoral caregiver (aka: agent of God's love in difficult situations). And thanks to John for broadening the perspective from a different personality type. I hope some of our current and/or prospective CRC chaplains see this and comment on their CPE experiences.

posted in: Beyond Words

Hi John: 

Thanks for the thoughtful comment! This post was written by Alissa. I will alert her to your comment and question! 

Thanks again!

posted in: Beyond Words

First a question: who is the introverted CPE student, Staci or Alissa? Since that was unclear, my personal response to a very personal post will need to be addressed:

To whom it may concern :)

I really appreciated your candid sharing of the challenge you felt when forced to be outside your comfort zone. My own CPE experience, now almost 40 years ago, was similar in that I, an extrovert, had been placed (deliberately, it turned out) in a wing of the psychiatric hospital occupied with mostly elderly, non-verbal, senile patients, where my excellent verbal skills were of little or no use. My best pastoral presence required quietly holding someone's hand, supporting someone walking down a hospital hallway, or helping to spoon feed someone no longer able to feed himself. You might have felt right at home there, but a full day of this left me "exhausted, anxious, and grouchy".

And therein lies the professional pastor's conundrum. Because it is a rare pastoral position where we always get to decide which type of pastoral interaction we need to be engaged in. In fact, it is a rare personal relationship where we are permitted to always operate within our comfort zone. For me, it will always be a challenge to "shut up and just listen". For you, it appears to be a challenge to verbally interact, face to face, with the people around you.

I appreciate that in your post you underscored that even in our conversations with God our personality style is revealed. Over time God has proven Himself quite patient, listening to my verbal meandering, but at times He has found it necessary to use drastic measures to get me to shut up and listen. I won't go into the details, but it wasn't pretty.

I also appreciate that God can get through to you in ways other than verbal. God is pretty cool that way! And I am sure that there are many people who would greatly appreciate your soothing, quiet presence at a time when in every other way they are surrounded by chaos and turmoil.

But what of the people who need you to say something, or even to have a Crucial Conversation with you, at the end of what for you already was a long day of people, people, and more people? You are already exhausted. You are already beginning to feel anxious. How do you keep from sounding grouchy?

My wife wants to know.

posted in: Beyond Words

Anita, it may be logical to say that after looking at the diversity and balance of creation one must acknowledge a creator.  But it's not logical to say that he created it in seven consecutive days only some 8,000 years ago when science argues for a much longer process.

When one looks at an intricately crafted piece of jewelry, one knows there is a jeweler who crafted it. When one looks at the world in all its diversity and balance, one knows there must be a Creator. That's not primitive; that's logical.

Thanks Ron for your article questioning the loss of interest in the abortion debate.  Although some of your concern is justified, I’m not sure if your (or John Zylstra’s) target of blame is altogether justified.  I find that in many arguments a person who wants to justify their own position, does so by painting the other side at such an extreme that even the other side wouldn’t agree with the position painted.  To think that if discovering evolution was a fraud would  somehow remove the doubts in regard to committing abortions, that is going to such an extreme.  I don’t think, for the most part, that committing abortions and belief in evolution are related.  I can see how you might make such an argument, but I doubt that those who believe in evolution, Christian or otherwise, would agree with you. What discredits the Biblical creation account, is that it is tied so tightly to a very primitive perspective of reality that does not correlate to reality or reason as we experience reality today.  Perhaps the creation account makes sense to someone explaining the sound of thunder as God bowling in heaven.  But that doesn’t sit well with very many people today.  So if evolution was completely disproved, that wouldn’t mean that people would return to a Biblical view of the origins of earth and life.  People would still look for an explanation that correlates to reality as we know it today, and not some primitive explanation of reality.  So, I doubt that abortion and doubts about Biblical creation really relate to each other, as you suggest John.  I know that the issue of the image of God and the sanctity of life are embedded in the creation account, but I doubt that these issues will change the thinking in regard to the right to life debate.  And I doubt, Ron, that questioning these issues will lead to the devaluation of human life or the unabated moral decay of humanity, as you suggest.  Just a casual reading of history will call into question such a perspective. Perhaps, such straw men that you have presented will convince a narrow segment of Christianity, but not most people.

Well said.  It would be ironic if discovering that evolution is a fraud, would save more lives than an actual pro-life campaign.  As I am reading Exodus 21 and 22 right now, and re-discovering all the laws and rules and guidelines for living, it is clear that being fair and considering the welfare of others is fundamental to those laws.  Those laws were the foundation of most of our western civilization laws, and even find parallels in other eastern societies as well. Those rules included a need to care for the widow and orphan.   Imbedded in those rules was this one:  If two men are fighting, and accidentally injure a pregnant woman, and she gives birth prematurely, then if the child is healthy, only a payment of damages to the family (husband) will be required as he stipulates.  But if injury results, then eye for eye, foot for foot, etc.  The unborn child was treated with respect and consideration.  

Under an evolutionary system, the weak and helpless are worth less than others, because the fit survive.  Dramatically different ethics.  This difference is well masked by rhetoric and fine sounding words, but it impacts how laws are made and enforced.  

The thing I remember about the Spartan civilization of ancient Greece, was the common practicide of infanticide through deliberate neglect.  If this world survives another thousand years, what will be remembered about our civilization is abortion of millions of children.  

Excellent idea! I hadn't thought about that. Thanks.

Hi Richard,  It is possible to set up skype up to talk during a service which would be a good way to have virtual precence.

Thanks for seving,



I'll throw in a comment or two here:  In my task at the denominational candidacy committee office I end up giving direction to many regarding the office of Ministry Associate.  This is the office through which you would most likely be ordained to be a chaplain for the motorcycle club. 

In order to be ordained in this office, you church will have to both recognize and have a sense of ownership of this work as "ministry" -- effectively you will be asking them to "send you in the name of Christ and His church" to care for and reach out to the members of this club.

I can tell you of some ministry experience I have had with members who are "chaplains" in clubs:  In one case, the local baseball team booster had a "chaplain" -- the function seemed to be not much more than opening the meetings with prayer.  In another case, the local VFW hall had a chaplain,  and this person also opened meetings in prayer,  He also did a lot of hospital visits, met with families during illness of a member, even helped plan the funerals of  members.  Now, in my personal view, the first person as chaplain was simply a member/officer of a club, and the second person was doing "ordainable ministry" -- that is, the second person was doing an extension of the work a pastor would do, and pastors can't be everywhere....  This later rationale is  the idea of the broader use of "Ministry Associates." 

The truth here is that what I personally think is not so relevant -- it is in the body of a community of faith that recognition of what tasks are "ordainable ministry" is made.  So, it seems to be, one good next step would be to talk to your pastor and/or a couple of the elders to discuss your vision, even your sense of "calling", and see what sort of reaction you get.   You can feel free to refer any of them to me, or you can call me yourself to discuss this further. 

For you information you will find material on ministry associate ordination on a document on line on the candidacy committee web page:  Go to and look for the information dealing with ministry associates.

Blessings to you as you look into this matter and listen to God's prompting!

David Koll

Director of Candidacy for the CRC; ph. 877-279-9994 ext. 2779




Thanx so much for your response; I would be interested in pursuing this more, please let me know what I must do to get started. My church has started a discipleship class to help persons like myself get started however I would like to try to accelerate the process if at all possible.


I am responding from the Chaplaincy and Care office of the CRC. I certainly would encourage your interest in serving this motorcylce club. If you have some church leadership or pastoral care training (or just have a heart for serving people) this group will probably welcome you as a chaplain. 

As far as official denominational endorsement as a chaplain, you would have to be ordained, then complete at least two units of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education). If you want to pursue that, please contact me at 616-224-0733 or

Ron Klimp