Stefanie Unger, Nanaimo
Classis British Columbia (NW/Vancouver Island)
Stefanie lives in Nanaimo, BC, and works as an organizational development consultant, helping nonprofit organizations solve organizational challenges, develop effective leadership and plan for the future. A lifelong learner with a background in education, research, professional writing and facilitation, she feels called to help nurture cultures of service and collaboration in the church. She and her husband, Jeff, have been part of Christ Community Church in Nanaimo since 2009.
Gary has served 3 terms as deacon, including 2 terms as chair and 1 term as treasurer. He has served as chair of the Diaconal Ministries Canada board (2002-03), and was involved in the formation of Diaconal Ministries Canada in the mid 1990s. He believes diaconates are empowered when each deacon develops his or her own workplan.
Alberta & Saskatchewan
Lucinda is a homemaker and spends her day "filling in the cracks" of school, church and community. She enjoys visiting families and seniors, supporting school programs, teaching Sunday school, and participating in worship services. She has served Inglewood CRC as a deacon and continues to stay in contact with several of the community members she met during her term. Her latest gig is holding coffee chats the twice a month for anyone who wants to pick her brain about diaconal work! Read about it here!
Jean works full time as a practical nurse at the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon. She has served as deacon at Bethel CRC in Saskatoon and enjoys involvement with refugee families her church has sponsored. Jean's focus is encouraging deacons in their role within the church and local community, and bridging the isolation churches in Saskatoon and Regina can experience.
Teda Heerema, Thunder Bay
Classis Lake Superior
Teda Heerema belongs to Hope CRC in Thunder Bay, ON. She has served as a Deacon for one term and has come to understand the importance of the deacon role in our churches. Over the years she has also served with Teen Club, Gems, Sunday School and VBS. With her wealth of experience in ministry, she is excited to now serve as a Diaconal Coach!
Teda is married with three grown children and is a grandmother. Her lifelong profession is in Critical Care Nursing. She enjoys sewing and the outdoors: canoeing, hiking, and gardening. "My God and Saviour has helped me through many rough patches in my life and I long for others to have assurance of this in their life as well."
Teda will be serving the churches in Thunder Bay and Emo, Ontario!
John Klein-Geltink, Ingersoll
Classis Ontario South-West (formerly Chatham)
John has served 5 times as deacon, 14 years as a Diaconal Coach, and as a board member/volunteer with a local outreach ministry. His passion is to help the Church have a bigger vision of what the local community could become and walk alongside deacons as they lead the local church. He wholeheartedly supports and encourages asset-based community development so that churches can avoid harming the ones they aim to serve. Confused? Ask him about it!
Helen VanBeilen, Ancaster
Classis Hamilton & Niagara
Helen's passion to see churches equipped to share the love of Christ is what brought her to serve with Diaconal Ministries Canada. She has served in her church as the adult ministry coordinator for 15 years and worked as the Lead Debt Coach at Christians Against Poverty (for 5 years).
Helen recently completed New Leaf's Transformational Coaching program. She is eager to empower deacons to build bridges within their own communities, through facilitating conversations: conversations that celebrate blessings and navigate through challenges. Helen's heart is for the vulnerable and marginalized. As churches strive to become missional in their communities, she believes they will experience their own transformation and lead from within that.
Helen lives in Ancaster and is married to her wonderfully supportive husband, Ed and they have launched three adult sons. Helen loves to play the piano, and sit and have coffee with friends. She currently volunteers for Open Homes Hamilton (one of our NewGround partners!), tutors, and loves to work with refugees. For fun, Ed and Helen plan the occasional walking trip in Europe.
Alicia currently lives in Ancaster, ON and works remotely as the Director of Mission Advancement for the Nehemiah Center, Nicaragua. As well, Alicia does consultant and coaching work with non-profits seeking to strengthen the effectiveness of their board of directors, develop clear and innovative strategic plans and enhance their organizational capacity.
In 2020, Alicia, her husband, Maynor and two kids moved to Canada after 13 years in Nicaragua. Alicia is a member of First Hamilton CRC. In her free time, you can find Alicia hiking the Bruce Trail with her kids.
Fred is a member of the Blyth Christian Reformed Church and lives on a farm where he and his wife Henrietta raised five children, who are all out of the house by now.
Fred has served as a deacon several times and as a Diaconal Coach he has been a helpful resource to fellow deacons in Classis Huron for many years.
Mark is currently serving as a deacon in Crosspoint CRC in Brampton, ON. Mark and his wife, Nancy, returned to Canada in 2019 after spending 28 years working with World Renew in Haiti and Nicaragua. He is looking forward to opportunities to use the skills he learned overseas in a Canadian context. Mark and Nancy have five children, three of which are still living at home. Mark is currently self employed and studying to be a personal finance counselor in his spare time.
Carol is currently serving as a deacon in Immanuel CRC, Caledon, and has come to truly appreciate the work of Diaconal Ministries in her role as deacon. She is passionate about working with people, especially newcomers to Canada, and has been part of two refugee sponsorship teams from her church and is working on a possible third application this fall.
She has also served two terms as an elder, is a member of her church’s Safe Church team and spent eight years as her church’s Youth Ministry Director. Carol retired in 2017 after spending 17 years as the ServiceLink Director at the CRC office in Burlington. In that role, she worked with people and churches across Canada, facilitating numerous mission opportunities and in the last few years assisting churches in best practices for volunteer engagement.
Since retiring, Carol has served on the Classis Toronto Safe Church team and has enjoyed some travelling. Carol loves photography, spending time with friends and family and daily morning walks where she tries to capture the beauty of God’s creation on her camera. During the Covid winter of 2021, she took the challenge of virtually walking the Camino de Santiago trail, completing the 780kms in three months.
Carol’s focus as a diaconal coach is to encourage deacons in their role and helping build their capacity in serving as Christ’s hands, feet, heart and voice.
Bill worked for a number of years for the Ministry of Agriculture & Food out of Brighton, ON, and is now enjoying retirement. He has lived in several parts of the province over the years, and has been a member of CRCs in Cornwall, Mount Brydges, Hagersville, and Frankford. He has served on council in three of those churches and is a graduate of the Eastern Canada Leadership Development Network. Bill's focus as a Diaconal Coach is to encourage deacons in their efforts to further Christ's kingdom in the region.
René Wall, Lower Debert, NS
Classis Eastern Canada (Maritime churches)
René has worked for the Province of Nova Scotia for over 25 years as a Web Application Developer and Business Analyst. She serves as a deacon at John Calvin CRC in Truro, NS. She has been the coordinator for the Maritime Day of Encouragement (also known as SPARK!) for many years and is passionate about leadership development and making sure people have the tools they need to lead effectively. René loves to sing, craft, read and take naps with her cats. She lives on a hobby farm with her husband, Jamie, where they raise vegetables, chickens, guinea fowl, and the occasional pig!
Don't See a Coach in Your Area?
Contact our Head office or one of our Field Staff and they will be able to help you out!
Diaconal Ministries Canada
Telephone: (905) 336-2920
Mark Vanderwees - Eastern Canada (Manitoba - Maritimes)
Rachel Vroege - Western Canada (BC - Sask)
Become a Coach
As a Coach, you will help diaconates in your area connect with resources, generate vision, set goals, and fulfill the greatest sense of their calling as church leaders. These part-time positions come with compensation and full training.
If you are feeling the pull of the Lord’s leading, get in touch with us - we'd love to chat!
Diaconal Ministries Canada
Telephone: (905) 336-2920