Meet the Staff


Jon Berends, Program Director

In 2018, Jon moved to Hamilton to develop and launch Act Five. He lives here with his wife, Aimee, and their three young children, and they are growing to love this place more and more. Along with a background in high school education and a Master’s in Theological Studies, Jon brings to Act Five a love for discipling young people, developing new creative approaches to education, adventures in the wilderness and all that community life has to offer.

Seeing Act Five take off these past few years has been amazing to witness, and Jon is grateful and excited to see what God has in store for another group of students for 2021-2022!

You can contact Jon directly at

Lena Scholman, Spiritual Life Facilitator & Faculty

Lena Scholman first fell for Hamilton in 1997, looking out at the city from Sam Lawrence Park. She put down roots in the east end twenty years later and has been discovering the secrets of this evolving metropolis ever since. An educator, storyteller, wife and mother, Lena is committed both to the TrueCity movement­ — she delights in the revival of ecumenism­­ — and New Hope Church, the faith community that has nurtured her faith for the past decade. Transformed by a gap year abroad years ago, she is thrilled to walk alongside young people at Act Five and bear witness to lives changed through intentional living — rooted in place and anchored in Jesus.

Alyssa Zilney, Program Manager

Alyssa is joining Act Five for her third year on staff, now as a Program Manager who will oversee everything from international partnerships to alumni programs. She’s married to David, and has a degree in International Development and Environmental Studies from Redeemer (2019). Alyssa is an enthusiastic lover of good food. She’s currently completing a Sustainable Local Foods certificate program at Mohawk College, and can often be found caring for the gardens of Blake St when not working, hanging out with friends, reading… and eating, of course!
She has a heart for discipleship, Christian community, and the place-based nature of Act Five. She loves learning alongside students and seeing them explore new perspectives and discover their gifts. Alyssa has loved her years with Act Five thus far, and is really looking forward to her new role in September!

Abby Lobert, Program Manager & Resident Leader

Abby is returning to Act Five for her second year as a resident leader, but this time she is looking forward to also being the program manager who oversees community life. Abby came to Act Five in 2020 after graduating from the University of Waterloo with a degree in Social Development Studies. She is particularly interested in education, community development, and restorative justice and finds that Act Five is a wonderful place to keep learning about these things. Abby has come to love the Blakeley neighbourhood and the people that are connected to Act Five. She has seen God on the move in these places and people and is expectant of what is coming next. She’s excited about more cooking, dancing, exploring, and learning with the new Act Five cohort.

David Schuurman, Program Manager & Resident Leader

David is so excited to come back for his second year on staff with Act Five. David is a 2019 Redeemer alumnus with a degree in International Development and minors in Environmental Studies and Business. He can often be found biking, hammocking, volunteering, reading, hanging out with friends, and eating shawarma around Hamilton.

Julia Knelsen, Communications Manager & Resident Leader

Julia will be joining the Act Five team this year for a co-op term as a communications manager and resident leader. Julia is studying Urban and Intercultural Ministry with a minor in psychology at Redeemer. She hopes to take what she learned from her own gap year experience to better serve and live in the Act Five community. Julia loves being outside, gardening, playing volleyball, and making others reminisce through pictures and videos. She is looking forward to getting to know the new students this year and hopes to grow alongside them by walking with them in whatever season they’re in.

Sarah Bittel, Act Five Admissions Counsellor

Sarah is the Act Five Admissions Counsellor and has loved serving the program in this capacity. She graduated from Redeemer University in 2019 and started as an Admissions Counsellor for Redeemer’s undergraduate program shortly after. She has loved getting to know the current Act Five students this year and is always available to chat with anyone interested in Act Five. She is passionate about building relationships and being able to support students. Sarah moved to Hamilton shortly after her time at Redeemer and has loved getting to explore the city more and forming community. She loves reading books, babysitting, and laughing with friends. If you have any questions about Act Five or admissions requirements you can email Sarah at

David came to Act Five after a year and a half on staff with CityKidz. He is passionate about community organizing, learning from those in poverty, living in the community, and walking alongside young people as they discover their callings.


Pastor Willemina Zwart, Faculty for The Six Acts

Pastor Willemina is an ordained pastor in the Christian Reformed Church and has been called by Immanuel CRC, Simcoe as the missional pastor of a new summer ministry initiative for young adults called the South Coast Beach Project (SCBP). Her ministry experience includes six years campus ministry with the Coalition for Christian Outreach and almost 17 years CRC congregational ministry—most recently at Good News CRC in London, Ontario. She moved to Port Dover along with her recently retired husband, Kelly. Her passion is to walk alongside young adults as they discover more deeply the person of Jesus Christ and the adventure of living out a kingdom-shaped life. She is thrilled to return as part of the teaching team of Act Five for the coming year!

Nina Schuurman-Drenth, Faculty for the Six Acts

Nina comes to her position at Act Five with experience working for a variety of local Hamiltonian non-profits and missional organizations. She is in her last year of studying for a Masters of Divinity at Wycliffe College and is an avowed member of the Order of the Mustard Seed (OMS). Nina lives in the Stipley neighbourhood with two housemates and her husband, Dave, and loves to practice visual art, bake bread, and read books. She is passionate about walking alongside young people in their journey of loving Jesus and becoming more like Him.

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