Timmermans Nominated to be CRC’s Executive Director

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Dr. Steven Timmermans, college president, licensed psychologist, doctor of philosophy, and professor of education, is the nominee to be the next executive director of the Christian Reformed Church.

In a wide-ranging interview with the denomination’s Board of Trustees, Timmermans, 56, said he sees a lot of change ahead for the CRC. “I see us considerably different in terms of organizational structure, organized in new ways to address ministry that appears to be the most apparent in today’s society,” he said. “But we are Reformed Christians. We’ve embraced this theology that we are change agents.”

Timmermans has been a member of the Board of Trustees for the past two years, so he is aware of the work of the Strategic Planning and Adaptive Change Team, the Task Force to Review Structure and Culture, and staff realignment within the denominational offices under a three-year period of interim leadership by Rev. Joel Boot and Rev. Peter Borgdorff.

“What I’ve noticed,” he said, “is that in this unexpected and longer-than-hoped for search [for a new leader], a lot of good things have been done, thinking about how we do church together. The Lord has used the interim period to further that change.”

Timmermans readily admitted he has a lot of learning to do, particularly in the area of binationality. “I truly need to understand more from a Canadian perspective what the different agendas are that we find all in one denomination,” he said. He expressed appreciation for how Canada has dealt with plurality in a way the U.S. has just begun to think about.

Timmermans is currently president of Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Ill., a position he has held since 2003. Prior to that, he was at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he was a professor of education, a dean for instruction, and executive associate to the president.

Timmermans is not an ordained minister. However, Synod 2013 ruled that an exception could be made to nominate a non-clergy candidate. According to the six-member search committee, he fits within the exception category allowed by synod because of his extensive experience in denominational and congregational activities.

He said he knows that some people will think having an educator instead of a pastor as the executive director is not the way it is supposed to be. However, he said, the denomination has a whole host of members, the great majority of whom are pew sitters. “There is something good about this too,” he said, “about all the gifts we gather together for the good of the church.”

Timmermans and his wife, Barb, have been married for 36 years. They have seven children ages 15 to 30. Three of their children are adopted from Ethiopia, and one of their biological children has Down syndrome. “There are differences that are cultural and those are real, and they have to respected and addressed but cloaked in unity,” he said. “What I’ve learned is how to take a step back and try to understand, how not to jump to conclusions.”

Asked what his greatest fears are for this job, he said, “I’m more fearful of all the things that are reverberating around the denomination, how to step in to those things trusting and respecting people I do not yet know.”

Timmermans and his family are members of Loop Christian Reformed Church in Chicago, where Timmermans has been a worship planner, youth leader, and catechism teacher. He is also a member of the Chicago area Disability Concerns committee.

Timmermans will be interviewed by Synod 2014, the annual leadership meeting of the Christian Reformed Church, before his appointment is approved.

RELATED ARTICLE: Profile of Steve Timmermans

About the Author

Gayla Postma retired as news editor for The Banner in 2020.

See comments (2)


I am so pleased to think about Steve in this position. He has vast experience and knowledge, as well as insight and wisdom, that makes him a top-notch choice for the CRC's Executive Director.

I don't know Dr. Timmermans at all, even though I've heard good things about him from the very few people I know who know Dr. Timmermans, or at least of him.  And so I Googled some in the hope of finding articles or papers Dr. Timmermans had recent, but came up with precious little.  I did find an article he wrote years ago while at Calvin College, in a book containing a variety of articles about a symposium Calvin held relating to expanding the "diversity" at Calvin College.  I bought the book (out of print but still available) and read that.  A couple of other small online articles too.  Still, not much information by any means. 

It would really be nice, given that the BOT and current ED want this person to be appointed the ED, and given that the position of ED has a great deal of power (whether everyone likes that fact or not), if Dr. Timmermans would write (or perhaps the BOT/ED just release a writing already done) something about how he would view this job and what he would envision and seek to achieve in behalf of the denomination were Synod 2014 to confirm him.

Some might suggest that only the BOT, current ED and delegates to Synod 2014 should properly have this kind of information.  I hope the BOT and current ED don't think that.  Certainly, the delegates to Synod 2014 are the deliberative body to review the nomination, but that doesn't mean all CRC members shouldn't also have access to a reasonable amount of information that would enable them to evaluate Dr. Timmerman's perspectives about the CRCNA and his proposed job as its Executive Director.  This is a pretty big deal for all CRC members, including those outside the GR and Chicago/Trinity areas who are fully "in the blind." 

So why not a little bit of information sharing?