Five years after becoming director of ministries and administration of the Christian Reformed Church, Colin P. Watson Sr., a commissioned pastor and former business leader, is now acting executive director of the denomination. The Council of Delegates named him as such Feb. 20, after receiving the resignation of current executive director Steve Timmermans. The council of 53 delegates (49 from the CRC’s 49 classes and 4 at-large members) provides governance to the CRC on behalf of synod between annual meetings of synod. Watson’s acting role will run until June with the convening of Synod 2020, where it is anticipated that synod will appoint an interim executive director.
A few days into the role, Watson said the most critical thing he is considering is to ensure that there is continuity of the ministries working with congregations. Leadership is aiming for seamlessness, he said, as the denomination goes through this transition. “That’s really what I’m focused on—that there be no disruption in anything that we do that would impact on the work of our congregations.”
Changes in governance structure—approved in December by the part of the COD which makes up the Canada Corporation and presented in February to the whole of the COD—were cited as the reason for Timmermans’s resignation.
“In light of structural changes between Canadian and U.S. administration and the anticipated changes to the role of executive director of CRCNA, Dr. Steve Timmermans has elected to speed up his intended retirement and to resign effective immediately,” Paul De Vries and Andy De Ruyter said in the announcement of the resignation. De Vries is chair of the CRCNA Michigan (U.S.) Corporation and De Ruyter Chair of the CRCNA Canada Corporation.
Watson said in a Feb. 22 email to The Banner, “I’ve been appointed acting in the original job description of the Executive Director, as approved by synod, and in the next period, I’m working with the Executive Committee, including members from both Canada and the USA to create a framework for a modification to this structure that honors and complies with the needs of the Canada Corporation of the CRC.”
Watson joined the CRC in 1985, when he and his wife, Freida, became members of Madison Avenue CRC in Paterson, N.J. He eventually led the men's ministry in that congregation and served them as executive minister for five years.
Watson spent his business career in the telecommunications and energy sectors, having graduated from executive programs of Columbia University and the University of Virginia. Between retirement in 2005 and being appointed as the CRC’s director of ministries and administration in 2015, Watson provided leadership to many corporate and nonprofit boards and committees, including as head of the CRC’s Diversity and Leadership Inclusion Working Group and board president of the Christian Reformed World Missions board.
Today, Watson and his wife are members of Madison Square CRC in Grand Rapids, where he is also an elder and president of the multi-site congregation’s council. Watson was ordained to the office of commissioned pastor by Classis Grand Rapids East in 2017.
Watson was born in British Guiana (now called Guyana) and moved to the US. at the age of 18. He’s had occasion to return to Guyana three times in his adult life including for the 2018 general assembly of the Caribbean and North American Area Council, a regional expression of the World Communion of Reformed Churches. At that gathering, Watson was elected to the area council’s steering committee, a position with a three-year commitment.
About the Author
Alissa Vernon is the news editor for The Banner.