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Craig Swanson
Senior Pastor
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Craig has been involved in local church ministry for over 30 years. He served as a youth pastor for almost 5 years, and as a senior pastor for 14 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 children, Scott and Alita, who are high school students.

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 and is currently working on a Doctor of Ministry degree at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, CA.  He loves to run and work out, and enjoys reading, music and movies. Most of all, he loves Jesus and his wife and kids.

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Neal Herr
Pastor of Congregational Development
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Neal has been involved in local church ministry for almost ten years.  He served as associate pastor in Leawood, KS, and Springfield IL, prior to joining the staff of First Covenant in August 2012. 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 two sons, Jeremiah and Caleb.

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Michelle Ludge
Director of Middle School Ministries / Children’s Ministries Team Leader
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Michelle and her family started attending First Covenant Church in 1990. 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 & Youth Ministries and building relationships with kids and their parents.

Michelle and her husband Eric grew up in West Michigan and were actually high school sweethearts. They love to spend time with their family and are especially enjoying time with their first granddaughter. Spending time with family and the youth group keeps her busy, but when time allows she loves to head to Portage Lake Covenant Bible Camp, read a book or go for a hike!

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Jeremy Hoekstra
Contemporary Worship Director
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Jeremy Hoekstra has been leading worship for well over a decade now.  He began leading worship at First Covenant in May of 2002 and continues in that role to this day.  He is a graduate of Hope College in Holland, MI.

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 that 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! He writes, records, and performs regularly (check him out online: Spotify, iTunes, etc.). His favorite bands include Mat Kearney, Peter Bradley Adams, Toad the Wet Sprocket, U2 and Coldplay. Jeremy is married to his wife, Lindsay, who is a brilliant, creative person!

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Karin Alferink
Children's Ministry Coordinator
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Karin began working in the role of Children’s Ministries Coordinator in February of 2016, although she has served in a number of volunteer roles in children’s ministries over the last decade. Karin graduated from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Business. She is a lifelong member of First Covenant and is excited about the opportunity to help nurture and grow the faith walk of our First Cov kids. She also enjoys leading worship on occasion and singing on the First Cov worship team.

Karin met her husband Ross while they were both involved at GVSU’s Campus Ministry and were married in the fall of 2000. She has 4 kids, Chloe, Ethan, Elsa, and Linnea, who keep her on her toes. In her spare time she enjoys taking walks with Ross, spending time with family and friends, singing, volunteering at her kids school, enjoying a good cup of coffee, and heading up to Portage Lake.

 

Josh Hinken
Senior High & Young Adult Pastor
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Josh has been involved in local church ministry for over ten years.  He served as the Director of Youth Ministry and Young Adults in Byron Center, MI, prior to joining the staff of First Covenant in July 2017.  He is a graduate of Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, MI and is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI.

Josh and his wife Emelie met in West Michigan.  They have two young children, Paxton and Hazel.  Josh loves hiking, playing soccer, chilling at the cottage, & spending time with family and friends.  He loves to see students changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Katelynn Wenz
Nursery Coordinator
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Katelynn and her sister Kayla started attending First Covenant In December of 2015. They moved from the east side of the state to Grand Rapids for school in the fall of 2013. Katelynn, along with her sister, started a Worship Dance group here at First Covenant. Katelynn began working as our Nursery Coordinator Spring of 2018, and has been loving it. She is a full time nanny and has a degree in Culinary Arts. She worked in the restaurant industry for a few years when she felt a calling to leave and work with children. She loves what she does now and truly believes this is where God wants her.

In her spare time she enjoys walks with her dogs as well as hanging out and meeting new friends. She is excited for the years to come and the growth of the kids and their passion for Jesus; even at a young age they still know who He is.