Directors of the Canada Corporation of the Christian Reformed Church in North America have decided to hire a transitional executive director to serve CRC ministry in Canada for a two-year term. They made that decision at a special meeting Nov. 15, opting to delay an intended search for a permanent executive director Canada position. Three senior-level leadership searches are underway in the denomination, coinciding with organizational restructuring.
A CRCNA announcement of the decision said the Canada Corporation directors “envision a transitional executive director who will ensure the provision of support and leadership to the staff and to the broader church across Canada while also focusing on the required changes.” Necessary skills described in the announcement include that the person “should be pastoral, a skilled diplomat, a godly person, have board governance experience, and be familiar with Canada Revenue Agency charity regulations, while also being a firm and confident leader.”
Compliance with CRA requirements for Canadian charities was the presenting issue for restructuring changes initiated in 2020. In May 2021 the Council of Delegates approved a design described in a report by its Structure and Leadership Taskforce and began working toward its implementation. Search committees for a general secretary and chief administrative officer were approved in October. The Canada Corporation decided to first host a succession planning workshop to lay the groundwork for their search. That workshop took place Oct. 30, led by three associates of the Canadian executive search firm Nelson/Kraft and Associates.
Workshop Reveals Misunderstandings
“Before going into the succession planning workshop, the board and senior staff knew that we could not simply hire an executive director–Canada without first examining the history of U.S./Canada relations and past reports and synodical decisions, and considering current issues within the CRCNA, especially as they relate to the relationship between Canada and the U.S. No one wanted to add to the pattern of resignations/dismissals of former Canadian ministry directors,” the Canada Corporation executive said to The Banner in a written statement.
“The succession planning workshop helped greatly in asking the hard questions and considering all viable options in moving forward. The workshop led to a clear articulation of the best course of action.”
Terry Veldboom, interim executive director (Canada) for the CRCNA, wrote an email to Canadian staff about the Canada Corporation’s decision. He said discussion at the workshop “revealed that misunderstanding exists across the Canadian CRC over last summer’s decision to release Darren Roorda from his position as Canadian Ministries Director, as well as confusion about ongoing structural changes related to Canada Revenue Agency compliance and implementation of the recently approved SALT (Structure and Leadership Taskforce) report.”
Some of that misunderstanding has been apparent in letters received by the Canada Corporation from Canadian pastors and ministry leaders and in communications from classes (regional groups of churches). Classis Toronto at its Oct. 26 meeting decided to petition synod (the CRC’s annual general assembly) requesting a “pause (in) implementation of the SALT report ... until Canadian churches and members have been well-informed and have had a reasonable opportunity to provide input.” Synod is expected to convene in June 2022, but until then the Council of Delegates continues the implementation of its decisions, awaiting synod’s approval. Earlier this year the Council already considered requests for a pause to restructuring, acting on behalf of synod because synod did not meet due to the pandemic. At that time the Council said any halt to the process was not practical.
Search Team to be Appointed
In the executive committee’s statement to The Banner, it said it will appoint a search team that will work with the hired consulting firm to complete the search. “We envision a committee of five, with at least one being a current board member. Names for possible candidates for the team will be sought from board members and others,” the statement said. The CRCNA announcement said the goal is to appoint the transitional executive director by mid-March, 2022. The statement to The Banner said, “The successful candidate will be introduced to both the Council of Delegates and Synod at the first available meeting after the appointment.
“The transitional executive director will have the full authority to speak for and work with the general secretary and chief administrative officer positions according to how the SALT report lays out the partnership between the three positions,” the statement said.
The Canada Corporation executive said they shared the decision about the search for a transitional executive director with the Council of Delegates executive in a memo ahead of that executive’s Dec. 8 meeting. “At that meeting the COD executive reviewed the memo and received it for information,” the Canada Corporation executive said.
Next Council Meeting to go Virtual
The next meeting of the Council of Delegates is scheduled for February. The meeting was to have been convened in Lombard, Ill., but at its Dec. 8 meeting the Council’s executive decided to convene by video conference instead (as it has been doing since May 2020, due to the ongoing pandemic). Synodical services director Dee Recker said discussion among the executive leading to that decision included concern about what February requirements might be for COVID testing at the U.S.-Canada border, given a recent rise in infections. About one-third of the delegates to the binational Council are Canadian.
(For a guide to the governance structure of the CRCNA, especially as it relates to the development and history of ministry in Canada, check out The Banner’s online extra: The CRC in Canada: A Field Guide.)