Denise Posie might be retiring as the Christian Reformed Church’s director of leadership development, a position that's come to focus on leadership diversity, but the 66-year-old is still curious about the work that might come next.
“There is an openness to surrender to wherever God wants me to go,” Posie said. “God will build upon what he’s already placed in my heart.”
Posie believes that surrendering is necessary preparation to discern God’s call. When she retires at the end of June, she will close 21 years of service to the denomination, first as a pastor of Immanuel CRC in Kalamazoo, Mich. (now closed), and later with Pastor Church Relations (now known as Pastor Church Resources) and the Reformed Leadership Initiative.
Before becoming a pastor, Posie worked in Detroit, Mich., for IBM and General Motors. “I loved corporate,” she explained. “But I knew I was being called out of (it). I did not know what I was being called into.” While she was unsure what direction the Spirit was taking her, Posie said she wasn’t afraid. “I was curious.”
Posie’s curiosity served her well throughout her career. She went to Columbia International University in South Carolina and earned her Master of Divinity. At the time, Posie, who grew up in the Baptist tradition, had taken an interest in Reformed theology. “I was studying Reformed theology without knowing why,” she said. That year, she met a chaplain who told her about Immanuel CRC. “They were a small congregation with an interest in ethnicity and women leadership,” Posie said. Immanuel CRC ended up being the church Posie served from 1999 to 2012.
Then she grew curious again. “I felt like I finished a tenure at Immanuel but wasn’t sure what was next.” In 2013, she joined PCR as a Pastor Congregation Consultant in Grand Rapids, Mich. It was work of “supporting pastors and congregations in times of transition. I also assisted in resolving conflict,” Posie said.
Then, in 2015 she accepted an appointed position to serve as co-director of the Reformed Leadership Initiative, which was a Reformed Church in America/CRC Collaboration. In this position, Posie helped groups facilitate discussions so people felt they were in a safe place. “That was pivotal for me.”
In 2017 Posie was named director of leadership development and women’s and ethnic ministry. In this, her hope was to empower women to embrace their calling. Thinking about how she pursued this endeavor, Posie said storytelling was a good starting point. She heard groups of women share all the different roles they served in their churches. “In a group of 35 women, they held over 100 positions,” Posie remarked. “That shows how significant we are.” Posie wanted women to see that no matter their ethnicity, geography, whether they come from traditional or non-traditional backgrounds, that God is always leading them. “When women hear each other—our challenges, our struggles—that helps us embrace our own story.”
Colin Watson, acting executive director for the CRCNA, noted how sincerely missed Posie will be.
“Denise has a passion for leadership development and has worked with leaders of various ethnic ministries, as well as students at Calvin Theological Seminary to ensure their optimal development and full integration into the CRCNA community,” he said. “Denise is a calming presence, a prayerful presence, and a team member who always reminds us that we are people of God and are called by him to continue to pray, meditate, and find ways to remain connected to him.”
As Posie prepares to retire, she remains unafraid and curious and willing to discern what it is God continues to build upon.
“I want to be a part of something in which individuals’ voices need to be heard, whether it’s ethnic groups or women,” she said. “Our gifts need to be used. Our perspectives need to be considered. We bring a fullness to the situation.”
Watson said following Posie’s retirement, Reggie Smith, who recently left his role as director of the Office of Social Justice and the Office of Race Relations, “will assume many of these responsibilities, and other realignments may be made as necessary to ensure a seamless continuation of this good work.”