The Board of Trustees of the Christian Reformed Church appointed Carol Bremer-Bennett as the new director of World Renew-U.S. She will be co-director with Ida Mutoigo, director of World Renew-Canada. She succeeds Andy Ryskamp, who is retiring this summer.
Bremer-Bennett, 46, comes to World Renew from Rehoboth (N.M.) Christian School, where she has worked since 1993 and has been superintendent since 2010. She said her leadership style is based on the servant leadership of Jesus. “Sometimes you have to just dig in and do the work, like washing the disciples’ feet. Other times you have to go up on the mountain and speak. Other times you’re walking alongside people and being very relational,” she said. “And sometimes people fall asleep on the job. You ask them to stay awake and do something, and they haven’t done it. You have to deal with that in the quiet places and help them grow.”
Bremer-Bennett told the trustees that her life has included many adoptions, starting from when she was adopted at 3 months of age by Paul and Jackie Bremer through Bethany Christian Services. She spent most of her childhood in West Michigan because her father worked at Reformed Bible College (now Kuyper College). She said that when she was a young child, her mother explained to her that she was in a forever family, likening it to being adopted into God’s family. “That’s when I accepted Jesus,” she said.
After graduating from Calvin College, she headed to New Mexico to explore her Navajo heritage. “I was running away from God,” she said, “but it turned out I was running straight into his arms. I felt like this was a blessing, but after three weeks, I felt I didn’t fit. I could play Dutch bingo but didn’t know Navajo. Through some wonderful Christians, a Navajo leader adopted me in a ceremony as his sister. I’m a beloved child of God. That’s my true identity.”
Adoptions have also played a large role in her family. Five of her six children are adopted. She and husband Theo Bremer-Bennett have three children of Navajo descent and three of Ethiopian descent. They range in age from 7 to 28.
Bremer-Bennett said that her western education shapes how she thinks, but she feels like a Navajo in her heart. “I’ve learned to listen and pull out the wisdom of the quietest person in the room,” she said.
Bremer-Bennett is an educator by training, with an M.A. in educational leadership from Western New Mexico University in Gallup. She has served on the Calvin College Board of Trustees and served as a deacon. She and her family are members of Bethany CRC in Gallup, N.M.
She admitted to the trustees that she is a little scared. “Do I have the ability to do this? At one level, I think I do,” she said. “But I think what’s more important is availability. It is not about my abilities but my availability to serve God.”
Her appointment will now go to Synod 2015 for ratification.