Corey Buchanan is the Associate Director of Chicagoland Prison Outreach (CPO), as well as the Director of Mercy and Justice Ministries with First Reformed Church of South Holland – and has no plans to drop either of those roles.
He says, “I hope I can always be bi-vocational and be in a place where I can minister to the lost. Where I can meet people who are lost and need hope.”
Lost is something he knows. Unlike many people in ministry in the Reformed Church, Buchanan didn’t grow up in the church, let alone in the RCA. He met Jesus while he was in prison, committing his life to the Lord through a CPO ministry – a recipient of the very ministry he now provides.
After rejoining society, Buchanan went to Moody Bible Institute, where he appreciated that “their undergrad program is designed for individuals to graduate and go right into ministry. Much of what we covered was similar or parallel to an MDiv.” He graduated with a B.A. in Pastoral Studies and Biblical Exposition and went straight into ministry.
So what does the Commissioned Pastor program bring to someone who already has such powerful ministry knowledge and experience?
It brings him a grounding in his chosen denomination.
He’s grateful for how available the leadership of the CLC make themselves to students. The classes he points to as being the most influential are those on denominational history and the constitution of the church: “It’s helpful to be able to understand more deeply how the RCA functions and how it works, especially being new to the RCA.” While he knows this will help him become even more of a leader in the denomination, he finds it even more valuable when he talks to those outside the RCA.
“My circle is very wide and I talk to a lot of non-RCA people.” Which means he spends a fair bit of time explaining his denomination to people who don’t know much, if anything, about it. His CLC courses have given him a clear-eyed view of the RCA: “The church has tended to stick to themselves. It hasn’t done well with missions locally, but done fantastically with international missions.”
As someone who coordinates both local and international missions at First Reformed, and works intensively in local prisons, Buchanan is committed to addressing that imbalance – both for the sake of those who need Jesus and for the health the denomination.
His main concern: “People should know that they’re welcome.”