On Thursday, February 26, the Board of Trustees of the Christian Reformed Church appointed Colin Watson Sr. as the new director of ministries and administration for the church.
Watson, 63, told board members in an interview that the CRC is functioning in a world of change. “I firmly believe the level of change we are seeing is the least level of change we will see for the rest of our lifetime,” he said. “Change is accelerating. It's really causing a major impact in ways the CRC will have to deal with.”
Raised in what was British Guiana (now called Guyana), Watson came to the U.S. at age 18 to go to college, earning his master’s degree in statistics. He is also a graduate of the executive programs of Columbia University and the University of Virginia.
Although he was raised Episcopalian, he joined Madison Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Paterson, N.J., in 1985. “We came because of the service and stayed because of the theology,” he said. “After that first Bible study, I was hooked. It gave me the language to describe what I was feeling, that Christ is the all in all, involved in every aspect of my life.”
The search committee that recommended Watson noted he is highly regarded for his business accomplishments. His business background includes 24 years in telecommunications, followed by seven years in the energy sector.
Watson does not have theological training but has served in many church roles at his home church and in various denominational activities. He spent five years as the executive minister at Madison Avenue CRC. At the denominational level, he is currently a consultant with the CRC’s Diversity in Leadership Planning Group and a member of the Task Force Reviewing Structure and Culture. He was president of the board of Christian Reformed World Missions and served on the search committees for the director of Christian Reformed Home Missions, the CRC’s executive director, and the Canadian ministries director.
“The many opportunities I’ve had to serve have showed me the breadth of what the CRC is involved with,” he said. “I've been feeling the urge that God wants to use those 30 years of [corporate] experience in a more integrated way with ministry.”
At a time when collaboration among denominational ministries is being emphasized, Watson told trustees that collaboration is not an end in itself. “We collaborate for a reason, so that we can do more ministry, to be more effective,” he said. “For me that would be the issue: what are opportunities for ministry?”
He said that culture in the denominational offices is more important than structure because it defines how things actually get done, regardless of organizational charts. “The only way to get a handle on it is by building relationships, looking at the processes, not just who is accountable to whom. I’m looking forward to joining a team of passionate individuals who are looking to engage that change we are heading into.”
Watson noted that he is used to being the first person of an ethnic minority in roles that have not been traditionally held by African Americans. “I recognize that my ethnicity makes it more inviting to others who want to seek me out, and I welcome that,” he said. “Even though the job does not require a special diversity aspect, it is something I would embrace and celebrate.”
Watson lives in Montclair, N.J., with his wife, Frieda. They have three adult children.
The director of ministries and administration is responsible for “nurturing and implementing a shared and vibrant vision for God’s mission” as a member of the CRC’s senior leadership team. Watson will report to the executive director.
Last summer, synod (the annual leadership gathering of the Christian Reformed Church) authorized the board to both make and ratify the appointment on behalf of synod. Watson will assume his new duties in April.
Link to CRC Communications story.