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Retirements of CRC’s Senior Executives Delayed

Colin Watson Sr., executive director of the CRCNA, and John Bolt, director of finance and operations, are delaying planned retirements.
Colin Watson Sr., executive director of the CRCNA, and John Bolt, director of finance and operations, are delaying planned retirements.

With governance restructuring work taking longer than expected, planned retirements of the Christian Reformed Church’s top two executives in the U.S. have been delayed. The CRC’s Council of Delegates happily accepted their willingness to stay in their roles longer at its meeting Feb. 17-19. The 53-member Council meets three times a year to work on behalf of the CRC’s synod.

Colin Watson Sr., the denomination’s executive director, has agreed to stay on until June 30, 2022. His planned retirement was to have been in January 2021 until he agreed to stay until this June. Director of finance and operations, John Bolt, was due to retire at the end of June this year but also agreed to stay an extra year. “We are very grateful for your willingness to serve,” Council chairperson Paul DeVries said to the two men.

Proposals for restructuring the governance model along U.S. and Canada lines might include a change in job descriptions for the top executives in each country. It’s logical to have that finalized before seeking new candidates for the positions, but until a final version of those can be approved by synod, any proposals will remain just that. And with Synod 2021 now canceled, any changes are delayed until synod can meet. 

Watson became the executive director a year ago after Steven Timmermans, who then served in the role, suddenly resigned. Up until then, Watson had been the director of ministries and operations. Some of the tasks he had in that role were given to other denominational leaders over the past year, but many of the responsibilities stayed with him, leaving Watson, in effect, doing two jobs. To help alleviate that overload, the CRCNA U.S. Corporation (American delegates on the Council) at this February meeting authorized Watson to appoint a deputy to the executive director with responsibility for U.S. ministry operations, effective until at least June 2022.

At this February meeting, Council chair Paul DeVries acknowledged that there has been “stress in the system,” saying to the members gathered by video conference, “We want to be open and honest about the fact that we've had stresses and strains in leadership on the Canadian side and the U.S. side.” 

Just after accepting the delay in retirements, the Council passed a resolution, “That the COD advise the executive director and the Canadian ministries director that they are expected to work cooperatively and collaboratively toward governance transition, as guided by the Structure and Leadership Task Force, and require them to report on their progress to the Executive Committee of the COD on a regular basis.”  

Darren Roorda, the CRC’s Canadian ministries director, has also been serving as acting executive director of the CRCNA Canada Corporation, the Canadian charitable organization that makes up the CRC in Canada. When the appointment was first made, it was for one year. At the CRCNA Canada Corporation’s Feb. 13 meeting, that appointment and those of Terry Veldboom, interim director of finance and operations; Kevin DeRaaf, interim director of Resonate Global Missions; Peter Elgersma,interim director of Congregational Services and advancement; and Maureen Beattie, interim director of human resources, were also extended until June 30, 2022.

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