In a historic move, the U.S. Corporation of the Christian Reformed Church appointed its own chief executive, to be known as director of U.S. ministry operations. Joel Huyser, the interim director of Resonate Global Mission, is that new director, retaining his ministry job.
Some delegates were concerned about assigning additional tasks to a ministry director. Paul DeVries, U.S. at-large delegate, was one of them. “This is not a sustainable model,” he said. We can’t keep asking executives to do more than one job.” Delegates agreed that the arrangement will be reviewed in two years.
The changes are part of the restructuring process that has been going on for more than two years. Nearly all of the changes are awaiting synodical approval in 2022 because Synods 2020 and 2021 were canceled because of COVID restrictions.
The Council (one delegate from each classis and some at-large members) meets between synods—the broadest ecclesiastical body of the CRC—to carry out the work assigned by synod. The U.S. and Canadian corporations are the legal entities governing the various ministry agencies of the binational denomination. The U.S. and Canadian delegates to the Council also function as directors of the U.S. and Canadian corporations, respectively.
The proposal for a U.S. chief executive came from Colin Watson, the soon-to-retire executive director of the CRC. He told the Council of Delegates that previously, the CRCNA-U.S. corporation has not had an identified chief executive. “Historically, we conflated ecclesiastical functions of the church with the business functions of U.S. corporation,” he said, meaning the functions of a U.S. director were assigned to the executive director of the denomination.
Having a director of U.S. ministry operations provides a similar though not parallel structure to that of CRC-Canada, where that corporation has an executive director position. Rev. Al Postma was appointed as transitional executive director for the Canada corporation last week. The chief executives of the U.S. and Canada corporations will report to the U.S. and Canada corporations respectively. They will work in partnership with the general secretary to carry out the work assigned by synod. The general secretary will be responsible directly to synod.
New Corporation: Christian Reformed Church Worldwide
To further clarify the delineation between ecclesiastical and functional, the CRC’s Council of Delegates is recommending to Synod 2022 that a new ecclesiastical corporation, called the Christian Reformed Church Worldwide, be established for the office of the general secretary.
Watson recommended that the office of the general secretary be housed in a corporation separate from the U.S. corporation. “In the current executive director model, the ecclesiastical office of the CRCNA is housed within the CRCNA U.S. Corporation,” he wrote. “This conflation of roles—Office of General Secretary staff housed within a ministry corporation—could be problematic since it obfuscates the responsibility of synod to clearly direct its ecclesiastical office.”
With Reformed congregations joining the CRC from places like Venezuela, including “worldwide” in the title of the new corporation makes room to potentially include churches outside of North America. But the creation of the new corporation does not change the name of the denomination itself, which remains the Christian Reformed Church in North America.
The Council recommended that Synod 2022 approve creation of the new corporation and adopt the recommended bylaws.