Eighteen church administrators from Christian Reformed churches within Classis Chatham (a regional group of churches) gathered at Westmount CRC in Strathroy, Ont., on October 17 to learn together, share information, and be encouraged in their work.
Organizers hope it will become an annual event. They were inspired by neighboring Classis Huron, which has hosted a similar event for four years. Classis Chatham stated clerk Ron Middel attended Huron’s 2017 event and noted that the day was well attended and appreciated by church staff. He proposed doing a similar event in Classis Chatham to encourage and equip administrators.
Sessions included both practical and personal information, with time in between for people to compare notes and network with others in similar roles.
Rev. Lesli van Milligen of Faith Formation Ministries discussed personal growth. Dorothy Vandersteen spoke about the Bridge App, a customizable application available to churches across Canada for which she is program manager. A panel presentation on effective front-line pastoral care suggested strategies for being supportive and listening well, along with advice for self-care to avoid burnout.
Christie Dreise of Good News CRC in London, Ont., said, “The day encouraged me to take more ownership over the position, as office administrators care for people in all kinds of situations.” Betty Boot of First CRC in Sarnia, Ont., agreed. “[Pastoral care] is not part of my job description, [but] I am the first one that anyone talks to when they call the church . . . with good news or bad.”
Kathy DeKoter of Grace CRC in Chatham, Ont., one of the organizers, hoped the day would allow administrators to connect professionally but also personally. Feedback from a number of participants suggested that goal was met. Wilma Zondag of Strathroy East CRC said, “The schedule was relaxing; it allowed for time to share and talk among each other, and the information shared was interesting and insightful. I am thankful for and glad I attended this day.”