Aug31ThuAugust 31, 2023
Jeff McCrea, approved for Provisional License, August 14, 2023
Jeff graduated from Emmanuel Bible College in Kitchener, Ontario, with a Bachelor of Theology in Christian Ministries in 1987. He was employed for 32 years at Ray of Hope, a not-for-profit Christian ministry that provides a wide array of services to vulnerable men, women, families and youth. While at Ray of Hope, Jeff worked with youth in a custody and detention setting, with his final 13 years as a Program Director. In 2019, government cutbacks brought a sudden end to his career. In his mid-fifties, Jeff was left wondering what he was going to do.
Jeff was born into a Christian family and remembers when he was four years old, praying with his mother to receive Jesus while they were at Glen Rocks Bible Camp in the Muskokas. Some years later, after his father left the family, his mom gave him a Bible verse. It was Psalms 27:10: “If my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up.” (NRSV). His mother assured him that even though she couldn’t be his father, God could, and she encouraged him to trust Him. “All right,” thought Jeff. “That verse has always stuck with me, and it was the beginning of my Christian growth and development.” His family was attending Faith EMC in Kitchener at that time. During his high school years, he went adrift spiritually, but in 1980, there came a change in his thinking. “I need to get my life in order and decide who I’m going to be and who I’m going to follow.”
Unsure what to pursue after high school, Jeff took a year off and got a factory job. God used this experience to help him set a course. “I felt God wanted me to talk specifically to the guys I worked with about Him.” Jeff was dubious, and a conversation and deal with God ensued. “Ok, Lord, I’ll talk to them, but they are going to have to bring it up,” said Jeff. “I felt God agreed to my terms. Back at work, I again heard God say, ‘You need to talk to them.’ I reminded God that we had made a deal. I went back into the work area, and one of them said, ‘The Bible is full of contradictions.’ We had never talked like this before. I made a few comments, and one of them asked, ‘Are you a Christian? A Christian Christian…or a born-again?’ I said I was a ‘born-again.’ I was 18. From then on, I was Brother Jeff, or Father Jeff or Rabbi Jeff, but also from then on, privately, one or another of them would call me over and ask me to pray about something or ask me a spiritual question.”
After about a year of this, Jeff decided to go to Bible College. He did an internship at Faith EMC, and, after graduating, returned to factory work. Six months in, he heard of the position at Ray of Hope and, in this way, fulfilled his calling to ministry until the door abruptly closed in 2019.
Wanting to pursue another ministry, Jeff went back to school for further training, this time to Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario, where he earned a Master of Theological Studies. He was interested in chaplaincy. Since 2013, Jeff and his wife, Liz, have been attending Bethel Church in New Dundee, Ontario. When the senior pastor was heading into retirement, and the then associate pastor was transitioning to lead pastor, Jeff was asked to help out. This was the first time the congregation had seen Jeff function in a pastor-like capacity. Shortly after the new lead pastor was in place, Jeff was invited to serve as associate pastor. Recently, Jeff has obtained a chaplaincy position and is now bi-vocational—half-time with Bethel and half-time as a prison chaplain.
At Bethel, Jeff shares the preaching with the lead pastor, enjoys teaching, and is active in discussions concerning the church body and discernment of God’s future direction for the congregation. He enjoys conversation about the Bible and spiritual issues and enjoys time he is able to spend connecting with seniors.
Jeff loves digging into the Word of God, and with his spiritual gifts of teaching and preaching, his position at Bethel gives him ample opportunity to share his discoveries. The hardest is finding so much in a scripture passage but having to leave so much to the side for another time.
Jeff and Liz have been married since 1990. They have two grown children: son Riley, living on Vancouver Island, and daughter Erin, in Oshawa. Jeff enjoys preaching and Bible study. His favourite brand of self-care is photography, specifically macro photography of bugs, spiders, and flowers. Another loved outdoor pursuit is motorcycling, something he and Liz do together as each one has a bike.