New Faces in Chaplaincy: June 2021

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Chaplaincy and Care Ministry welcomes Daniel Roels, Hannah Smele and Blake Phillips. Learn more about their work and ministry below!

Blake Phillips
Blake Phillips is a chaplain candidate for the Air Force and recommended as a student by the CRCNA. He is from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and currently attends Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, MA. He is pursuing the master of divinity degree and intends to seek ordination with the CRC as well as serve as a chaplain with the U.S. Air Force.

Before attending seminary, Blake served as a campus staff minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Longwood University in Farmville, VA, for 4 years. These formative years clarified God’s call on his life to pursue full-time ministry no matter the cost. He attended Old Dominion University where he studied Philosophy and Religion and met his wife, Melissa. Together they have a little girl named Sophia who just turned two months old. 

Blake is excited to serve with the CRC as his new denominational home after growing up in the Baptist tradition. He is confident God will work mightily through him in ministry with the CRC.

Hannah Smele
I was raised in the Christian Reformed church and schools my entire life. I attended Redeemer University College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Religion and Theology, with a psychology minor. Then I attended Calvin Seminary and received my Master of Divinity. In 2016, I was ordained as a Minister of the Word in Classis Toronto. 

I have completed my 4 units of CPE and am currently working through a Master of Pastoral Studies degree. This degree will include a Certificate in Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy. I live and work in Toronto, ON, with my husband, Mina. I work as a Spiritual Care Practitioner in Mount Sinai Hospital. It is my passion to see spiritual care integrated into every program of the hospital. In my work, I bring my variety of spiritual and cross-cultural experiences to provide compassionate care for all people. Above all, I am convinced that God wants us to be healed and experience love.

Daniel Roels
I grew up in southeast Grand Rapids, MI, and watched my church and institutions struggle to adapt to local racial change. Already as a teen, I wanted to be a bridge between different social groups. By the time I studied at Calvin University, the Holy Spirit was calling me into ministry, so I felt free to pursue a degree I simply enjoyed, knowing that plentiful theological training would come later. I chose Spanish. It wasn't long before I had my eyes opened to the obvious fact that Spanish can be incredibly useful in church ministry in North America. After completing my M. Div at Princeton Seminary and the EPMC program at Calvin Seminary, I served two churches hoping to reach out across linguistic and cultural lines (Montello Park Church, Holland, MI, and New Hope Church, Lansing, IL). Yet in between those sole-pastor roles, God was orchestrating some highly positive short-term teaching experiences at Potter's House High School in Wyoming, MI and Holland Christian High in Holland, MI. After a decade plus in church ministry, I knew that someday I'd have to teach high school or else I would always wonder.

Now my family and I are headed to Santiago de Los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, where I will be the school chaplain and a Bible teacher at Santiago Christian School. God, who does all things well, has equipped each of us wonderfully. My wife, Bethany, has taught every level from preK through 12th grade and held various other roles in educational settings. Our daughters, Rachel, age 10, and Cora, age 7, have learned Spanish in our home and at the local Christian school's Spanish immersion program. We look forward to being "school rats," and I look forward to the incredible daily opportunity to invite curious students to know Christ and those who do know Him to serve in His Kingdom. As a chaplain, I also am eager to provide staff care in a team setting where all my previous training and experiences will contribute. It's a new adventure for all of us and one more peek into the Revelation 7:9 vision.

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Welcome! It was a joy to learn a little about each of you. Blessings on your work!