We are pleased to present those in our EMCC church family who have recently been approved for EMCC credentials. Our congratulations to each one.

Krista Bennett, Approved for Licensed Minister, April 1, 2022

“I am passionate about leaders authentically following Jesus in a way relevant to the world around us and that fulfills the great commission and the great commandment.” 

A member of the EMCC National Team, Krista is excited as she begins a new role as National Coach for Leader Development. She previously served as EMCC’s Resource Manager. Now, her primary responsibility will be to support our female pastors and connect with future leaders who are sensing a call to future expressions of the church. As a Certified Life Coach with a decade of experience and spiritual gifts of leadership, intercession, evangelism, administration, and prophecy, Krista brings much to her role. She has served within EMCC since 2000, first as a Youth Director, then as a member of the National Board, in local church ministry, and in camp ministry.

Krista is married to Marty Bennett and is the mother of two sons, Tucker (15) and Riley (13). The family lives in Chilliwack, BC where Marty and Krista are a pastoral couple at Cross Connection Church.

Krista was born in Edmonton, Alberta. The family experienced a number of challenges and Krista wondered at an early age what was the purpose of life which led her to start asking questions about Jesus. When she was 15, a new girl moved to town. “I knew I needed to be her friend,” even though Krista’s partying buddies weren’t interested in accepting her. With the friendship came sleepovers. During one of these nights, Krista’s new friend asked if she could read the Bible to Krista. Nobody at home read to her, so this was very special. When her friend decided to be baptized, she invited Krista, who made it clear she wasn’t interested in going to church. Her friend replied, ‘good friends go to a friend’s baptism.’ As her friend went into the waters of baptism, Krista erupted in unexpected tears and felt cleansed. A woman sitting nearby saw her and took her aside, explained the good news and told her Jesus wanted a relationship with her. “I said, ‘this is what I’ve been looking for. What do I do?’ I was ready the minute she shared the gospel.” Transformation of several lifestyle areas was an immediate result. Four months after meeting Jesus, Krista also met Marty, and they started to date. But they were in different places spiritually, with Krista wanting to grow and Marty in the midst of a Christian rebellion. Although Marty was convinced Krista was his future wife, they broke up.

After high school, Krista spent a year travelling in Europe figuring out what she really wanted. “I had a lingering past, but I knew I was fully committed to follow Jesus even though it was going to mean disappointment and confusion for my unbelieving family. “I didn’t know what my next steps were. I was driving when I experienced a loud, strong thought, so real that I had to pull over. ‘Go to Bible College. You are going to be a missionary.’” Still digesting this, she later met a ‘random’ guy in a ‘random’ location who invited her to a Christmas banquet at a Bible College. The banquet was in December and she enrolled there at North American Bible College in Edmonton, Alberta, in January 1997. She graduated with a Bachelor of Christian Studies in 2000. Marty returned to Jesus during this time, and  Krista and Marty rekindled their relationship and got married while Krista was still in Bible College.

“Marty and I served as youth directors after College, and we were encouraged to apply for EMCC credentials. Marty started through the process, but I wasn’t interested. I was a pastor’s wife in the next years, served on the National Board, and did contract work for EMCC. When I was about 33, I heard a specific call to leaders in the EMCC. This surprised me because I’ve always thought quite differently than the local church often does, yet the denomination welcomed the voice God has given me. This has been a prayerful journey of discovering who God has made me and finding the courage to live authentically in His calling.” 

Again, Krista was encouraged to go through credentialing; this time, she could see the benefit of the many aspects involved in preparing a credentialing application. “It was a great process of revisiting what I believe and why, 20 years after Bible College.” She now knows from experience what is being asked of people as they embark on the credentialing process. She feels having this understanding will help her relate as she coaches future leaders in their Kingdom calling. 

Among her aspirations for her new role as National Coach for Leader Development, Krista says, “I long to see leaders flourish in their relationship with Jesus, with themselves, and others.”

John Estabrooks, Approved for Recognition of Previous Ordination, February 22, 2022

In October 2021, John became Lead Pastor at Bonavista Church in Calgary. He began in ministry with Crossroads CC, an Associated Gospel congregation in Calgary, where he served for 20 years. After stepping down in 2018, he did 3 years of transitional work with 3 different denominations. A mutual friend gave his name to Bonavista’s search committee. They were seeking a transitional pastor following the retirement of long-term pastor Murray Swalm. John sent his resume, but the timing was wrong; he couldn’t be available for another year. Intrigued by what they read in his resume and sensing that he might be the right fit for Bonavista, they asked if he would be interested in applying for a full-time position when his transitional work ended. This past spring, the conversation resumed and, after finishing his transitional role in Lethbridge, John was installed on Thanksgiving Sunday. 

John and Jennifer are the parents of two grown children, Stephen and Rachel. John was born in Saskatchewan while his father studied at Briercrest Bible College. Faith was always an important aspect of John’s life, as both his dad and grandfather were pastors. When John was six, a visiting Vacation Bible Club leader said to him, “You know you don’t get to go to heaven just because your dad is a pastor, right?” It clicked that he needed his own relationship with Jesus, and he prayed right then and there on the steps of First Baptist Church, Red Deer.

God used a dramatic instance of his healing power to set John on a new course when he was 16. Several years earlier, his parents had divorced, leaving John “angry at God, angry at Christians.” Nevertheless, he was at a youth retreat, and his dad was there too. While playing a boisterous game in the pool, trying to topple others from their perch on their partner’s shoulders, suddenly a popping noise came from John’s dad’s neck. He suffered an appalling, visible injury to his neck muscles on the left side down to his shoulder, and his head slumped into the water, and he couldn’t lift it. “We didn’t know what to do. Someone ran for help, and somebody said, ‘We should pray.’” They laid hands on him and did just that. When they opened their eyes, he was turning his neck and lifting his head. John recalls, “We were probably more freaked out by the healing than the injury!” Later that afternoon, God continued His work during a time of communion. “In a physical, tangible way, the Holy Spirit breathed in the room, and people were weeping, seeking forgiveness. It was an overwhelming experience. I heard the Lord say to me, ‘I want you to go to school. I have work for you to do.’” John already had a career in mind but said, “I will go to school, and we’ll see. ‘God, if you want me to stay there, you’ll have to change my heart’…and He did.”

As Lead Pastor at Bonavista, John works closely with the elders, supporting and encouraging the staff and ministry leaders while getting to know the congregation and overseeing the pulpit ministry. “It’s my job to equip the body of Christ to do the work of ministry.” He and Jennifer love hospitality and are resuming this as restrictions relax. “I love spending time with people and hearing their stories of God at work in their lives.” John also sets high value on community engagement. “When I step out of our building and into the community, I must be deeply involved and willing to set the pace. I deeply enjoy this aspect of ministry and enjoy ‘surprising’ people when they learn who I am. Modelling and teaching the importance of this missional way of existing is one of the most important and valuable things I can do.”

Spencer Smith, Approved for Ordained Minister, February 24, 2022

“I love Jesus. I love teenagers and I love seeing them mature in Him.”

When Spencer was just 16 years old, he heard God’s call to someday work with teenagers. He was at a camp retreat and at the time, had been leaning towards a future as a carpenter. But the calling was quite clear. After grade 12 he left Vancouver, where he grew up, to attend Peace River Bible Institute in Grande Prairie, Alberta. He graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Religious Education. Of his decision to choose PRBI, instead of choosing something local, he said, “It was a step of faith for me to head out on my own and let Him be my support.”

His first position was the Youth Pastor at McDougal Chapel in Sundre, Alberta, where he served for four years. Spencer and his wife, Kelsey and their two children, Addison and Jacob, moved to Didsbury, Alberta, in October 2015 when he accepted an invitation to serve on staff as Youth Pastor at Zion EMC. A full-time position, Spencer’s ministries include Youth Group leadership, facilitating a senior high prayer time, co-leading a Heroes program in the local public middle school, and some community events. He has been at Zion long enough to see some in Grade 6 when he first came, now graduate. It brings him joy to have this opportunity to walk with students all through their teenage years. 

“I love to see students find abundant life in Jesus, whether they are experiencing this for the first time or whether they are developing Christian maturity over the years. I want to help them discover that temptations and struggles can’t match up to Jesus. He is the greatest thing they can have from now through forever.”

Kapil SundaralingamApproved for Certified Minister, February 28, 2022

“I encourage people towards faith. I want to see the lost won to Jesus and grow in the Lord.”

Kapil has attended Christian Family Worship Centre for about 15 years and is married to Tharshy. His volunteer ministry position at the church is Caregiver/Leader. Christian Family Worship Centre is a church that serves upwards of 300 people of all age groups. Services are offered in Tamil and in English, and the church is home to those from numerous backgrounds.

Kapil was born in Switzerland and moved with his family to Canada in 1997 for educational purposes. Growing up, his Christian mother took him with her to church, but he did not understand the need for a personal relationship with Jesus and thought of it more as a ritual to perform. When he was about 18, his choices and actions landed him out of the house with no place to go. Phone calls to friends didn’t resolve his immediate problem of no roof over his head. In desperation, he reached out to God in prayer, and to his surprise, he had an encounter with Jesus. “I realized that He was always there for me. He was the only one.”  After this experience, Kapil wanted to be more committed to Jesus. He started attending church more often, and Pastor Solomon Arumainayagam, Sr Pastor at CFWC, spent time with him, helping him grow in his new relationship with Jesus. “I also started to pray more and began experiencing answered prayer.”

“I had a desire to do more for the Lord, to serve Him, and I sensed a calling to ministry.” He enrolled in the Christian Ministry and Leadership 2-year diploma program at World Impact Bible Institute in Toronto and graduated in 2014. This provided him with tools for practical ministry and a theological foundation. He would like to be a pastor in the future.

As a caregiver/Leader at CFWC, he is responsible for caring for a few families — praying for them, counsel. He also assists Pastor Solomon, and his Certified Minister credential will allow him to take on further responsibility if called upon. He is active with NextGen, teaching, counselling and spending time with them. He uses his gift of evangelism to share Christ with homeless people he encounters in the community. 

Throughout the years at CFWC, he has helped in the church wherever needed; everything from stacking chairs to ushering to greeting. Slowly the responsibilities have increased. Sometimes he leads worship and has also been given opportunities to do Bible teaching and preaching. 

“I spend quite a lot of time at church. I love to serve the Lord.”

Vince VanderveenApproved for Licensed Minister, February 24, 2022

“I believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the best news and is what every human heart is longing to hear. I love proclaiming it and proclaiming the power that comes through the gospel.”

On January 3, 2022, Vince began serving as Pastor at Chestermere Christian Fellowship in Chestermere, Alberta. 

Vince grew up in Brantford, Ontario and was raised in a Christian home. He attended church as a child and teenager and went to a Christian school. He never left the church and always believed in God, but when he was in his early 20s he felt a conviction of sin and his need for a Saviour, and his commitment to Jesus became personal.

God’s call to pastoral ministry came gradually. Right out of high school, he enrolled at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario. He became a Canadian Naval Officer and eventually left this career to earn a teaching certificate from Redeemer University in Hamilton, Ontario. He taught at Christian high schools in British Columbia and Ontario. Although he loves to teach, Vince soon realized that he really wanted to give spiritual instruction more than teach the students French or Literature. “Spiritual instruction feels natural to me, and I began to feel a call to spiritual leadership.” He is also passionate about mentoring and discipleship. Exploring this leading further, he enrolled at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto. He earned a Master’s degree in Theological Studies and graduated in 2016.

“I looked into the possibility of becoming a university chaplain. While doing so, I came across other opportunities – pastor positions. I came on this unexpectedly, but I could see myself being a pastor even back when leaving the Navy. It was always in my heart. Maybe someday.” As Vince reflects on his life, he is aware that God has called him to lead and believes that God has used his education and previous careers to prepare him for pastoral ministry. He served an independent community church in Orangeville, Ontario, for a while and continued to look for a permanent pastoral position.

After connecting with the Search Committee at Chestermere, he flew out to meet them in Sept 2021 to preach and discern with them if this was the Lord’s call. After a second visit in November, they invited him to come as pastor. Vince’s primary responsibilities are preaching, teaching, discipling and pastoral care. When asked what he loves most about his position, Vince says, “Being in the Lord’s will. I’m where God has called me to be. I’m looking to him for the equipping part. It is a privilege to preach the Word of God. And to pray for someone and see God work. I truly believe that Jesus is the answer for every problem, every difficulty we face.”