Rev. Ron Klimp, director of the Christian Reformed Church’s Chaplaincy and Care ministry, is retiring in April after nearly 40 years in ministry—a career that also included parish ministry and 11 years as a workplace chaplain in Cadillac, Mich., where he is still a member of Cadillac Christian Reformed Church.
During Klimp’s tenure, Chaplaincy and Care Ministry changed significantly, with more interest from a wider variety of applicants, increased standardization of national credentials, and a broader scope of opportunities.
“Chaplaincy is spreading to all different arenas that we wouldn’t have expected,” said Klimp. “With over 150 ordained chaplains, it could be viewed in terms of simply raw numbers of ordained individuals as the largest outreach we have in the CRC, yet with the smallest budget.”
Christian Reformed chaplains serve in hospices and hospitals, and in government positions. There are chaplains for professional baseball teams and chaplains training new chaplains. The ministry has an estimated value over $10 million, but over 95 percent of the costs are paid by non-church employers.
“Chaplaincy is not just a sidebar ministry. The current reality is that many are choosing chaplaincy right from seminary. From prisons to the Pentagon, our chaplains are serving in positions of influence,” explained Klimp.
Klimp was drawn to chaplaincy nearly 20 years ago when he helped pioneer the idea of workplace chaplains. “I was convinced that chaplaincy was where I was called to serve,” he said. He continued to develop this ministry, which grew to include 21 chaplains during his time at Cadillac Workplace Chaplains.
Klimp said he has loved being a chaplain, seeing God’s guidance as the ministry grew and noting how respected Christian Reformed chaplains are in their roles and by fellow colleagues—amazing growth and influence that should be recognized and be celebrated by the CRC.
“It’s been a privilege to serve in this role,” said Klimp. “I will miss meeting with my fellow chaplains.”
After retirement, Klimp plans to spend more time in Cadillac at his home nestled between a lake and a national forest. Between exploring God’s creation, enjoying his grandchildren, and waiting to see where God will lead him next, Klimp hopes to “take a breath and slow down for a while.”