Children and Youth

Our goal is to help our children become true disciples of Jesus Christ by building relationships with them, being examples for them and teaching them God’s Word.

Age-Groups

Nursery/Toddlers (Nursery Room 5)
Preschool - 5th Grade (Rooms 6-8)
Jr. High - 6th through 8th Grade (Room 9)
High School - 9th through 12th Grade (Room 10)

Safety

All teachers are required to submit to a thorough background check. In addition, all teacher helpers must attend training

Biblical Teaching

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Our Staff

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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Ginny Ahrens

Pastor of Congregational & Staff Development

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Ginny began serving at First Covenant on April 1, 2020.  She previously served and led for 15 years at First Covenant, Rockford, IL in a variety of capacities ranging from Director of Children’s Ministry to Pastor of Spiritual Formation.  Ginny received a B.A. in Christian Ministries from Oak Hills Christian College and a M.A. in Christian Ministry from North Park Seminary.  She was ordained to Word and Service through the Evangelical Covenant Church in 2017.  Her role as Pastor of Congregational and Staff Development engages her passions for organization, congregational vitality, systems, personal development, spiritual practices, and transformational spiritual formation.  Her hobbies include solitude and silence, journaling and great conversation.

Ginny has been married to Dave for 35 years.  Dave is also ordained to Word and Service through the ECC and has most recently served as a Juvenile Detention Center Chaplain after serving as a Youth Pastor for 25 years.  They are parents of two daughters, Rachel and Hannah.

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Josh Hinken

Pastor of High School & Young Adults

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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 has graduated with a master’s degree from 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.

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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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Karin Alferink

Children's Ministry Coordinator

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/karin.alferink

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.

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Jack & Paula Winn

Traditional Worship Coordinators

Jack and Paula Winn were blessed to provide leadership for the music ministry at First Covenant for nine years during the 1980’s and early 1990’s.  In 2014, they accepted the commitment to lead the music ministry in the Traditional Worship services.  Their focus includes the organization and direction of the Chancel Choir, Covenant Bell Ringers, and Orchestra, as well as a personal emphasis on sacred repertoire for both organ and piano. 

The Winns received their undergraduate degrees in music education from the Conservatory of Music at Wheaton College.  Their graduate studies were completed at the University of Michigan School of Music, where they each received a Master of Music degree, and Jack earned his Ph.D, all in music education.  Both the Winns devoted their professional teaching careers sharing their passion for musical expression with students in several area public school systems and local colleges. 

They have four loving adult children with their spouses, and nine beloved grandchildren.

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Laura Lentini

Office Manager

Laura became a Christian in high school and most of her life has focused on being a follower of Christ. Laura and her husband Vito moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1990 from Champaign/Urbana IL. She started working for FirstCov in the office in 2008. She enjoys art, music and taking her dog for walks.

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Judy Marsh

Communications Coordinator

Judy Marsh has been attending First Covenant Church for almost 20 years.  She taught Sunday School when her boys were little which led her to working in Children’s ministry for 10 years.  She was retired for 2 years when she  came back in 2018 to join the church office working part time. Judy recently became the Communications Coordinator at FirstCov, which fits right in with her desire to learn new technology.  Judy and her husband Mike have 2 adult sons, Riley and Caleb.  Her favorite place to visit is Ludington, Mi.

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Roberta Wibalda

Finance Manager
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Ben Bailey

Interim Contemporary Worship Coordinator

Ben is a graduate from Cornerstone University, where he created his own major. He studied worship and outreach-based ministry, his degree encompassed a passion for worship and a love for broken people. Ben has worship leading experience from church, camp, and at the collegiate level.  Ben is originally from a small town called Caro, on the east side of Michigan. He grew up around worship music and in high school he joined a traveling worship ministry. Ben’s passions include music, people, and nature. He hopes to continually grow in his relationship with Christ and to minister to those through story and song.