David Koll, 66, will retire from the Christian Reformed Church’s Candidacy Committee at the end of June. Koll was the first director of Candidacy and has served since 2008. The new director, Susan LaClear, started April 5. The CRC’s Council of Delegates (the church’s governing board, which acts on behalf of synod) approved her hiring in February.
The Candidacy Committee was established in 2004 and is meant to guide the process of preparing candidates for ministry in the CRC. In the past, the majority of those wishing to become CRC pastors would go to Calvin Seminary. As the denomination grew in diversity, Koll said, the committee “was created by synod to bring better hospitality and integrity to the ways that we ordain pastors.”
Koll began serving as director in January 2008. Before that, the committee was served by part-time staff.
LaClear, 48, was a commissioned pastor in the CRC before being ordained as a minister of the Word in 2013. She has served on the Candidacy Committee for six years. LaClear describes her own journey into the CRC as one formed by many Christian traditions.
“I learned spiritual practices in college from mentors who were mostly Baptist and Methodist. Then, as a young adult, my faith was stretched in a Pentecostal Haitian mission and an Assemblies of God megachurch. My first leadership role was as an assistant pastor/music minister in an Assemblies church plant, and it was out of that unlikely place that God launched me into the CRC,” LaClear said.
Classis Red Mesa, a regional group of churches in Northwest New Mexico and Northeast Arizona, ordained LaClear as a commissioned pastor in 2005, and she pastored Maranatha CRC in Farmington, N.M., until 2016. Classis Red Mesa “supported me to pursue my M.Div. and go through the EPMC (Ecclesiastical Program for Ministerial Candidates) program so that I could be ordained as a Minister of the Word,” she said.
Her most recent position was pastor of discipleship and care at Alive Ministries in Jenison, Mich.
Sharing with the Council of Delegates in February, LaClear said, “In the last 24 years, God has given me lots of wonderful opportunities to form other leaders for ministry. I’m thrilled at the prospect of continuing to serve the church in an even greater capacity in this new role.”
LaClear spoke of the variety of candidates hoping to serve as pastors in the CRC, each bringing “experiences and gifts” that “will enrich the CRC and make us better.
“God has given us candidates who are as native to America as you can possibly get, contributing a leadership that's been shaped by their rich traditional culture; also, candidates whose strong Reformed worldview has been instilled in them through generations of Dutch heritage. Some candidates are recent immigrants, still fluid in their languages, bringing with them a piety that's unique to their culture. Others, such as our Black and brown brothers and sisters, bring the strength of an unwavering faith and overcoming love that's been formed through the fires of generational suffering and injustice here in America,” LaClear said.
Koll said he has enjoyed being part of the growing diversity in the CRCNA. In retirement he intends to continue mentoring younger pastors, specifically pastors who are of ethnic minority groups. “If people my age can become supporters of the younger pastors, the church will be better off,” he said.
He also looks forward to visiting National Parks and spending time with his six grandchildren.