Criminal Justice Chaplaincy ministers to the ex-offender, to the criminals and their families, and their victims, staff of various correction systems in Kent County, and serves as a liaison with the church community. The collection consists of minutes, reports, finances, slides, and a periodical.
The concept of the aftercare and reentry of ex-offenders came from a group of people in the late 1970s from the Church of the Servant CRC, headed by Prof. Leonard Sweetman, Ken Andree and Rev. Don Griffioen. The Christian Reformed Church supported the idea and provided funding. This new ministry, Criminal Justice Chaplaincy (CJC), directed at assisting ex-offenders. Rev. James Vander Schaaf was appointed as CJC’s Executive Director.
The mission of the CJC was to aid people whose lives were affected by crime to experience justice, mercy and healing through reconciliation to victims and perpetrators. The CJC opened their first office in the Heartside area of Grand Rapids. New therapy projects were administered such as the Take Charge Program (Life-Skills Education) developed by Kathy Laarman in 1982 and the Horticultural Therapy Program in 1999 along with Chris Boender. Volunteers have also played an important role in the development of the CJC. Currently over 150 volunteers have served CJC in some capacity, such as assisting with programs, mentoring, and assembling care packages. Throughout the years, CJC has provided many services such as Community Reentry Fellowship lunches, a Bicycle Program, and Case Management to name a few. For over 35 years, CJC has been serving the community of Grand Rapids, and continues as of the time this history was written.