Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Patrick Gill was raised in Southern Illinois and first came to Kentwood Christian Church as a 20 year veteran in the ministry. After graduating from David Lipscomb University with a major in New Testament Theology (emphasis in preaching and minor in Greek), he ministered full time for over two decades bringing growth in spirit and number to the churches he led. Coming from Newnan, GA he has now been serving Kentwood Christian Church as Sr. Minister for five years along with his high school sweetheart, Danielle, whom he married in 1984. Their family includes their son, Jabez (21), daughter, Ashley (25) and son-in-law Jonathan.
With the birth of his first child, he felt a call towards ministry that was confirmed during his years in seminary and beyond. Patrick brings a passion for Christ, having known in his own life what it means to be redeemed and blessed by the grace of Jesus. Patrick holds a deep concern and conviction that the 21st century religious culture most often elevates man made church traditions above the powerful and simple truth of God’s Word found in the Bible. His desire is to help people hear God’s voice in the midst of all the noise. He brings a great love of preaching with a desire to connect the people of God to God’s Word and to the life that God created them to live. His enthusiastic preaching style relays the message in a passionate and relevant way that encourages and challenges people to understand that salvation is found in no other name than Jesus.
He sees in Kentwood Christian Church a wonderful heritage of service to the community, a great wellspring of giftedness in the congregation, and the opportunity for the church to be a blessing to many. Patrick loves being a husband and father. He and his wife, who works as a respiratory therapist, enjoy gardening, cooking and reading. Patrick is an avid cyclist who relishes watching movies and spending time with his family. Patrick’s vision for his life, his family and his congregation can be summed up in the verse found in Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Brian Criner grew up in a Christian home. He grew up in primarily the American Baptist church but through the years also attended Methodist and Congregational churches. Due to the needs of a small community and shortage of musicians, Brian also became active in helping to lead music in the local Catholic Church. After moving to Grand Rapids with his wife, Kelly and children, Brian and Amy, they were looking for a good vibrant church. While attending a retreat held by the MSU Campus Ministries they were told about Kentwood Christian Church and were immersed in baptism by Larry Carter in 1984 and became members.
When the Lord laid it on Brian’s heart that he was being called into the ministry, Brian was a youth sponsor for Kentwood Christian Church and a full-time professional musician and music teacher. Brian was prompted to explore the idea of finishing his music degree, only this time at a school where he could get a minor in Bible. Brian took one small step to explore this option and the doors starting opening with such speed that it was readily apparent that this was where he was being called. After graduating with honors and receiving his Bachelors of Music degree with a minor in Bible, while still leading worship part-time at Kentwood Christian Church, Brian became a Guitar and Contemporary Ensembles Adjunct Professor at Cornerstone University. Not soon after, the Worship Minister at Kentwood Christian Church announced that he was going to the mission field and Brian was offered the Interim Music Minister position. Brian was then ordained as the Worship Minister at Kentwood Christian Church.
Brian’s desire is to teach and lead people to a greater understanding of worship and how that impacts their daily lives.
Brian and his wife, Kelly, have been married for 30 years and have two children, Brian and Amy. His son, Brian, lives in Brooklyn, New York and his daughter, Amy, currently lives in the Grand Rapids area. Brian enjoys reading, music, nature, and sports, especially football.
John isn’t quite what some would think of when thinking of a minister. Entering the ministry later in life, John accepted Jesus into his life in 1990 at the age of 39 at Kentwood Christian Church where he served in several capacities. During that time frame, his love for the motorcycle community and Jesus led him into taking the Word into the local motorcycle clubs. That evangelistic desire became his passion resulting in his accepting his call to ministry in 2000, graduating from Great Lakes Christian College with a Bachelors of Religious Education and starting Roadbed Ministries Inc., an outreach ministry to bikers and truckers. Keeping his close relationship with KCC, John also serves as the Adult Bible Education Minister.
One of the most notable points about John’s life is until age 37; he had never lived anywhere longer than three years. Born into a military family, John upon graduating from high school followed his father’s footsteps into the military life. He served in the U. S. Navy submarine forces for thirteen years attaining the rank of Chief Petty Officer and earning several degrees and awards along the way. Marrying his high school sweetheart Amy in 1971, they have two sons, Scott and Seth, of whom they along with their families are very proud of.
John believes strongly in the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ as his own experiences in drugs, alcohol, the sometimes violent world of motorcycling and his subsequent redemption attests. No one is beyond the love of Christ and he believes it is the responsibility of Jesus’ followers to take that good news out to them. He couples relationship evangelism, a passion for preaching and teaching God’s Word and a love for people to reach out to a very difficult part of today’s society as well as serve at KCC. This all works together as John feels today’s church, more than ever, needs to strongly disciple those who come to Christ through sound biblical teaching and mentorship.
Whether John and Amy are riding their motorcycles with Roadbed, filling in at the pulpit or helping organize and equip teachers to disciple others, John sees Kentwood Christian Church as critical link in God’s plan for its community. His belief in that is summed up in the tattoo on his right arm, a cross with John 3:16 emblazoned beneath it.
Bernie was born in the Detroit area in 1985 and then at the age of 2 moved to the Caledonia area, and grew up there. Bernie graduated from Caledonia High School, then moved on to go to Baker College and worked on her degree in Early Childhood Education. after being at Baker for one year, she felt God calling her to go and do something different. So after lots of research on where and what to do she decided to head south and attend Johnson Bible College. Bernie graduated in 2008 with her degree in early childhood education and children’s ministry. She has interned at a church in Knoxville for 3 years, during college. then moved back to Michigan to the Caledonia area. Bernie has considered KCC her home church ever since she moved to the Caledonia area. She has helped with VBS, SuperStart, teaching sunday school, and teaching the Open Skies kids. Bernie was hired on to the Kentwood staff in 2010 and absolutely loves her job. Bernie also is assistant director at a nearby Child Care Center. Bernie’s entire family goes to KCC. her Dad is an elder, her mom is the deacon of women’s ministries. her brother and sister in-law help out with the high school Youth services. Her sister and brother in law, just had a beautiful baby girl named Mia. Bernie just got engaged in March and will be married to a wonderful man named Tim, in November of 2011. Tim also helps in the children’s ministry area.
Children’s Bible Class Coordinator
As a freshman in college I attended meetings at His House Christian Fellowship on the campus of Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. It was there that I saw what I was lacking in my life – a personal relationship with the Lord. I was saved and baptized that year by the campus minister. It was during this time that I met my best friend and future husband, Troy.
Shortly after my marriage, I felt a strong desire to minister to children. For over a decade now, I have worked teaching all age groups of children and have loved doing it! I have served as a volunteer Youth leader, Sunday School Coordinator, coordinator of Vacation Bible School programs, and since 2010 have served as the “Children’s Bible Class Coordinator” for Kentwood Christian Church.
The children’s Bible program is named the DOCK and is an acronym for the “Discovery of Christ’s Kingdom.” The DOCK has as its goal to prepare our children to become fishers of men as they walk with Jesus. We use a great curriculum that helps each child to grow in their understanding of God. My goal for each child is summed up in the Bible verse of Matthew 4:19: “And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”. I am blessed to be a part of this ministry and love each and every child. The DOCK meets in the lower level of the church and is decorated and painted with bright and beautiful Bible scenes. These murals remind the children as they go to class of the great works of God from ‘Creation to the parting of the Red Sea by Moses’.
In 2005 the Lord blessed us with a beautiful little boy from South Korea named JT. He is a precious gift from God to us, so I understand how precious children are to their parents. I want the very best for my son and I am committed to give your child the best too. Kentwood Christian Church understands that parents want their children to be in a positive, safe, and holy environment, as they learn about Jesus. To insure the safest setting for children all of our teachers and helpers go through a yearly background check and must have a sincere love for working with children. I look forward to meeting you and your children at the DOCK.
In 1955 Amy’s parents purchased a service type business, remodeled the existing building to accommodate living quarters for the family and raised their children “while working at home.” Amy’s mother and grandparents made sure the children attended church on a fairly consistent basis but it was not a priority.
In 1971 Amy married her high school sweetheart and proceeded to follow him all over the world, complements of the U.S. Navy, while raising their two sons Scott and Seth. Despite the constant moving both boys became Eagle Scouts and both graduated from Western Michigan University. However, no matter where they were living, Amy knew something was missing. There was an empty place that people, place and things could not fill.
After the 15th move, this time to Kentwood, MI, Amy along with her husband, John and their youngest son, Seth, started attending KCC in February of 1991 and all three were baptized in March. Their oldest son, Scott, while home on leave from the Navy, accepted Christ and joined KCC in 1995. They finally found the emptiness could only be filled by the saving grace of Jesus Christ and through a relationship with God. Jeremiah 29:11-13 11“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Everything her parents taught her about customer service, the financial aspects of running a small business, organization, persistence and some tough life lessons, are all being used to serve the Lord. .” Joshua 24:15 became the verse they lived by – “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
Amy has been serving as KCC’s Administrative Assistant since Feb. 12, 1992 and the Lord continues working in John and Amy’s lives. They also continue to serve in the ministry they founded in September of 2000, Roadbed Ministries Inc. (www.roadbed1.org), an evangelistic outreach to bikers and truckers. They are passionate about sharing the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ with others especially those who ride a motorcycle. When asked what is next, Amy’s answer is always “I don’t know, but the Lord does and he will let me know when he is ready. So far it has been an awesome roller coaster ride – we’ll just hang on and have fun.”