Colin Watson Sr., the Christian Reformed Church’s executive director, and John Bolt, deputy executive director and chief financial officer, are both retiring July 1. Synod 2022, the CRC’s annual general assembly, thanked the two executives for their work, prayed for them, and delegates got to their feet to applaud them both.
Watson served as the denomination’s director of ministries and administration since 2015 and was appointed as executive director after the 2020 resignation of Steven Timmermans, becoming the first Black person to hold that position in the CRCNA. He’d originally intended to retire the following January but delayed in order to help lead the denomination through another year without synod meeting. (Synods 2020 and 2021 were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)
Watson, 70, is a commissioned pastor in the CRC. (His classis, Grand Rapids East, granted him emeritus status at its May 19 meeting.) Watson and his wife, Freida, are members of Madison Church-Square Campus in Grand Rapids, Mich. He told The Banner, “Retirement for me will be an opportunity to focus on my family, children, and grandchild, and being available to them as they live into what God has planned for their lives.”
Watson also plans to complete his doctorate of ministry through Calvin Theological Seminary. He began that work with Calvin seminary’s first cohort of D.Min. students in May 2020. He intends to graduate from the program within the next two years, focusing his doctoral paper on leadership in multicultural institutions. He also hopes to write more personally. “I look forward to reflecting on what I have learned in my journeys and hopefully documenting the same for the benefit of others,” Watson said.
Watson was a business executive in telecommunications and energy sectors before serving in ministry. Raised in British Guiana (now called Guyana), Watson came to the U.S. at age 18 to go to college. He has a master's degree in statistics and is also a graduate of the executive programs of Columbia University and the University of Virginia.
The executive director position is not being filled. Instead synod is considering a new leadership model that includes a general secretary. Zachary King, former director of Resonate Global Mission, is the candidate for general secretary and will be interviewed this week.
Bolt Wraps Up After Nearly Two Decades
John Bolt, 69, has worked for the denomination for 19 years, serving at first with a title of director of finance and administration and more recently as chief financial officer, as well as deputy executive director. Like Watson he delayed his expected date of retirement and even intends to continue one aspect of his former job—oversight of the U.S. ministers pension plan. He will become a trustee on July 1. “I have managed pensions of all sizes since 1976 and find it to be very much fun,” Bolt said.
He and his wife, Ruth, are members of Alger Park CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich. “Importantly, I look forward to spending time with my wife visiting our children and grandchildren, boating and fishing, and playing golf,” Bolt said. “I am also eager to see what God has in store for me that just has not crossed my path yet.”
Currently there is no plan for a new CFO. Bolt said under the proposed new structure many of the functions of chief financial officer will be filled by the chief administrative officer.
Peter Hoytema, Classis Ontario Southwest, prayed for Bolt and Watson, thanking God “for their good work—their long work that they extended beyond what they intended” and asked “that they enjoy a time of rest and opportunities to serve you in new and important ways.”
Synod also adopted and read a “resolution of thanksgiving and appreciation” for former executive director Timmermans, expressing “deep appreciation for his faithful service in leading senior staff, assisting with numerous committees and boards … being a friend and spokesperson to our ecclesiastical partners, and for being our CRCNA representative to the world.”
Synod 2022 is meeting at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Mich., from June 10-16. Find daily coverage from The Banner news team at thebanner.org/synod, download the Banner app on your mobile device, or follow The Banner Magazine on Facebook. On Twitter follow #crcsynod or twitter.com/crcna. Synod is the annual general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church (it did not gather in 2020 or 2021). Connect to the meeting’s livestream, read advisory committee reports, and find other resources at crcna.org/synod.
About the Author
Alissa Vernon is the news editor for The Banner.