Craig has been involved in local church ministry for over 20 years. He has served as a youth pastor for almost 5 years, and as a senior pastor for 15 years in a number of churches in the Chicago area. He began his ministry at First Covenant Grand Rapids in May, 2004. Craig and his wife Susan are both natives of the northern suburbs of Chicago. They have two very young and very energetic children - Scott and Alita.
Craig studied political science at Wheaton College, before getting his Master's degree at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL. He has done further study at North Park Theological Seminary (the Covenant seminary) in Chicago. He loves to run and work out, and enjoys reading, music and movies. And he's learning quickly what it means to be a parent. (Pray for him!)
Neal HerrPastor of Congregational DevelopmentEmail Neal
Neal has been involved in local church ministry for over 5 years. He served as associate pastor in Leawood, KS, and Springfield IL, prior to joining the staff of First Covenant. Neal enjoys reading, music, movies, and sports. He loves to see the Gospel change lives and the Church making a difference in the world.Neal graduated from North Park University in Chicago with a degree in Biblical and Theological Studies. After serving in the corporate world for a couple of years he started seminary at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL, and completed his Master of Divinity in 2006. He met his wife, Meryl at Trinity, and they were married in 2005. They have one son, Jeremiah.
Ben ZabelYouth PastorEmail Ben
Ben and his wife Andrea have lived in Grand Rapids for 3 years. Since moving here they have added Isaiah and Evangeline to their family. Ben loves sports, music, reading, and drinking coffee. He loves the outdoors and skateboarding. He is often seen at Starbucks, which he refers to as his second office. He is passionate about God's people discovering what God's mission is in our world and partnering as a community with God in the work of restoration.
Ben graduated from North Park University in Chicago, with a degree in Philosophy and a degree in Biblical and Theological Studies. After serving as a youth pastor in Connecticut for 2 years, Ben got married and moved back to Chicago to attend North Park Theological Seminary. Part way through the program he took the call to move here to Grand Rapids and serve at First Covenant Church. He is scheduled to graduate with his Master's of Divinity through NPTS in May, 2012. He plans to ride across the stage on his skateboard to accept his diploma!
Michelle has been a part of First Covenant Church for over eighteen years. After serving in various aspects of children's ministry for many years, she officially started working for the church the summer of 2005 as our Children's Ministry Director. Michelle has a background in child development and worked in management for a company you may remember, Witmark, for over 10 years. She is an enthusiastic and energetic member of our staff and loves to have fun. She is passionate about Children's Ministries and building relationships with kids and their parents. Her family keeps her busy, but when time allows she loves to head to Portage Lake Covenant Bible Camp, read a book or scrapbook!
Michelle and her husband Eric grew up in West Michigan and were actually high school sweethearts. They have two wonderful daughters, Amanda and Allison and they love spending time together with friends and family.
Jeremy Hoekstra has been leading worship for over a decade now. Jeremy attended Hope College and was a part of the vibrant worship ministry there as part of the Hope College Worship Team. Jeremy has been on staff at numerous churches in West Michigan leading worship and starting new worship services. Jeremy came on staff at First Covenant in May of 2002.
Many wonder what exactly it is that Jeremy does as a worship leader. At First Covenant Jeremy oversees the Contemporary Worship service and is actively involved in the service as the leader of the worship band. Jeremy not only picks out and arranges music but he also oversees the technical team and creates many of the graphics and videos used in the contemporary service.
Jeremy loves music! His favorite bands include Mat Kearney, Glen Phillips, Nickel Creek, The Civil Wars, U2 and Coldplay. Jeremy is also a die hard Detroit Pistons fan. You will often see him sporting his Pistons gear and he can tell you anything you need to know about the team. Jeremy is married to his wife, Lindsay, who is an interior decorator. If you're up for a good story, ask him how they met.