The Christian Reformed Church’s Council of Delegates, meeting this week by video conference, has nominated Rev. Zachary King to be the denomination’s general secretary. The nomination will go to Synod 2022 for final approval. (The Council acts on behalf of the annual CRC synod in between its meetings.)
The role of general secretary is newly created and if approved by Synod 2022, King will be the first person to hold it. This position comes about as part of the denomination’s leadership restructuring in the U.S. and in Canada. (See, most recently, Canadians Meet to Discuss Leadership Structure, Feb. 1, 2022.)
King is no stranger to newly created roles. He is currently the director of Resonate Global Mission, the denomination’s mission agency. Resonate was created in 2017 when synod approved the merger of the World Missions and Home Missions agencies. King became the first director of that agency, guiding it through the complicated process of merging two ministries with long legacies and different cultures.
In his interview with the Council on Friday, Feb. 18, King told delegates he knows he is coming to the new position at a time when the CRC is in flux. He had noted in his application that the CRC is grappling with divisive socio-cultural issues, an administrative splintering between Canada and the U.S., a decline in membership (with the resulting financial repercussions), and a sense of spiritual malaise. “However,” he wrote, “there has never been a greater opportunity for spiritual repentance and renewal, and engagement in God’s mission to this hurting world.”
During his interview with delegates, he acknowledged that there are no easy answers but that the CRC is “more resilient than we give it credit for.”
He said he believes God is working especially in ethnic minority groups and cultures. “I think our leaders of other ethnic groups and cultures can really help us to cast that vision because, as we know, that's an area where the church is growing,” he said. “There's no way for us to predict or understand now, and maybe it will even lead us to the desert for a time.”
A search committee, working since October 2021, made the recommendation to the Council, noting that King was recommended from an initial field of 13 applicants, some serving in denominational roles and some serving in parish ministry. “Zach King’s ministry in Haiti, through the merger of Home and World Missions, and other life experiences demonstrate his capacity to stay present in dark valleys, in seasons of grief, conflict, and uncertainty,” the search committee wrote. “The unanimous characterization given by his references is that Zach is a leader of ‘rare integrity.’”
King brings varied experience to the position. He spent 12 years leading the CRC’s mission in Haiti, including through the earthquake in 2010 that decimated large areas. He also taught for a year at the Veenstra Seminary in Donga, Nigeria. He has varying levels of proficiency in four languages, including English and French.
If approved by synod, King will start July 1.
The denomination is also seeking to fill two other senior-level leadership positions: chief administrative officer and a transitional executive director-Canada. Those searches are ongoing.