Christian Reformed Home Missions is excited to announce new regional leadership in Canada. In the Western Canada region, Rich Braaksma started as Regional Mission Leader on October 31, 2016. In Eastern Canada, Kevin DeRaaf has accepted a Regional Mission Leader position starting May 1, 2017.

These new leaders will serve important roles in the new mission agency even as the work to join Home Missions and World Missions continues. We look forward to returning to Synod 2017 to celebrate the beginning of this new agency.

Western Canada – Rich Braaksma

Rich (pictured - right) will serve the Western Canada Region, which includes British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Additionally, Rich is currently a pastor at New Hope Hillside church, in Calgary, AB where he took part in leading the congregation through a process of embracing a missional vision and was also part of merging two church plants into one congregation. Previously, Rich served as a church planter and developed The Talking Stick, a community coffeehouse in Venice and Santa Monica, CA. Rich will continue to serve alongside the pastoral leadership at New Hope Hillside.

Eastern Canada – Kevin DeRaaf

Kevin (pictured - left) will serve the Eastern Canada Region, which includes Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Maritimes. Kevin is currently a pastor at Faith CRC, in Burlington, ON. Previously, Kevin has served as a member of the Eastern Canada Home Missions Regional Team and a representative on the Home Missions board. “I have been inspired and challenged in my own ministry journey by Adrian VanGiessen, Ben Vandezande and John VanTil, those who have served in this role before me,” said Kevin. “I pray that as I transition into this role, God would use me to inspire and strengthen the mission that the Spirit calls all of us into as the CRC in Canada.”

Regional Mission Leaders in the US

Home Missions appointed two other regional leaders at the end of 2016—Marco Avila and Ben Katt.

Marco Avila- Avila is the new leader for the Eastern U.S. region, serving classes and congregations from Maine to Florida with the Regional Mission Team. He lives in Paterson, N.J., where he planted New Horizon church, now a thriving church that is looking forward to buying its own property. Prior to his ministry in the CRCNA, Avila taught K-12 in Honduras. Currently, he serves as a co-leader for the CRC/RCA Reformed Leadership Initiative in his region. He also provides regional leadership for Consejo Latino, through which he has linked local Hispanic congregations with a two-year program at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, resulting in the enrollment of 24 new students.

Ben Katt- As the leader for the Western U.S. region, Katt and his team will serve classes and congregations from California to Washington and Colorado to Texas. Katt planted and pastored Awake Church in Seattle, Wash., a new church that continues to focus on intentionally finding ways to follow Jesus into their neighborhood on Aurora Avenue. The needs in the neighborhood inspired Katt and his church to launch Aurora Commons, a neighborhood living room and resource center, where he served as executive director until recently. Katt’s desire to see more churches learn to incarnationally love their neighbors led him to co-found the Parish Collective and the Inhabit Conference. Today, Katt shares what he has learned about developing these missional practices with leaders and churches through his RePlacing Church podcast and coaching relationships.

These leaders will join Peter Kelder (Central US), Amy Schenkel (Great Lakes), and eight international Regional Mission Leaders. Please continue to pray for them in this transition and for the new mission agency as it continues to develop.