Colin Watson, acting executive director of the Christian Reformed Church, announced Feb. 27 a number of staffing changes in the U.S. office due to recent organizational structure changes in Canada and the recent resignation of the CRC’s executive director Steven Timmermans.
Interim Changes to U.S. Administration
The changes announced are interim, until the CRC’s annual synod meets in June. Most of the visible changes will be in the Congregational Services ministries. Directors there reported to Watson in his previous role as director of ministries and administration.
Lis VanHarten will continue to be co-director of Pastor Church Resources. On an interim basis, she also now will oversee Congregational Services that includes Faith Formation Ministries, Worship Ministries, Disability Concerns, Office of Social Justice, Office of Race Relations, Safe Church Ministries, Chaplaincy and Care Ministry, and Leadership Diversity.
Reggie Smith will leave his role as director of the Office of Social Justice and the Office of Race Relations. He now will serve as director for diversity, taking the responsibilities Watson had carried as the CRC’s ethnic leadership liaison. Denise Posie, currently director of leadership diversity, intends to retire in June.
Mark Stephenson will continue to be director of Disability Concerns but now also will provide direction for the Office of Social Justice and the Office of Race Relations.
Additionally, job descriptions for 22 positions for ministry directors have been changed on an interim basis for the next 12 months. Instead of binational directorship, those leaders will be responsible only for ministry in the U.S. The changes apply only to non-ecclesastical functions.
Change is Hard
Watson told staff gathered in the Grand Rapids, Mich., office that he knows this is unsettling. “We’re all feeling our way through this. There was a serious legal matter (in Canada) that had to be addressed,” he said. “We will continue to collaborate and grow. I think we should come together and trust God’s will to work through us. We need to stay on our knees.”
He noted that eventually there will be a U.S. group and a Canada group, with a joint ministry agreement between the two. “We’re not going to duplicate everything on both sides of the border,” he said. And he stressed that seamlessness for congregations was a key priority.
Bonnie Nicholas, director of Safe Church Ministries, urged her colleagues to take a long view. “It won’t be easy, won’t be fun,” she said. “But it is an opportunity for very good things, for creating better ways to minister together as we move forward.”
Paul De Vries, president of the Council of Delegates that acts on behalf of synod between the annual meetings of synod, also acknowledged the difficulty of so much change. “It is difficult for us on a governance and policy side, but we go back to our day jobs and our individual callings,” he said. “We very much appreciate how difficult this is for you that work in this building. On behalf of COD, we are hoping to be supportive of all of you and thank you for your patience. We will try to be as clear with you as we can be.”
Changes to Canadian Administration
Interim changes to the administration on the Canadian side were announced earlier. The changes allow a parallel structure to the U.S., allowing direction and control of Canadian activities to remain in Canada. The appointments are for one year.
Darren Roorda, Canadian ministries director, is now acting executive director of the Canada Corporation. Terry Veldboom, CRCNA controller, is now acting director of finance and operations in Canada.
Kevin DeRaaf was director of North American regional teams for Resonate Global Mission. For the next 12 months he is director of Resonate Global Mission in Canada. Peter Elgersma, Canadian advancement director, is acting director of congregational services. Maureen Beattie, payroll and benefits administrator in Canada, is acting director of Human Resources.
Roorda is also now acting director of Back To God Ministries International Canada.