A 23-year career with the Christian Reformed Church comes to a close Jan. 13 for Dee Recker, first hired as an administrative assistant to then-general secretary David Englehard in 2000. Her role expanded into that of office manager and in the midst of various unexpected senior leadership transitions, developed again into that of director of synodical services. The Board of Trustees, predecessor to the Council of Delegates, appointed her to that role in 2007 (Agenda for Synod 2007, p. 27).
Recker, 64, announced her expected retirement in December 2021. The Council of Delegates appointed Scott DeVries to the job in November.
Over her course of time with the CRC Recker has worked for eight different senior leaders (at various points called general secretary, executive director, and now again general secretary) and helped administer 23 synods—including those that ended up being canceled for the COVID-19 pandemic, but for which agendas and then alternate meetings had to be prepared. She said thinking of the retirements of both John Bolt and Colin Watson Sr. last summer influenced her decision to select January as the time to go. That allowed the general secretary who was appointed by Synod 2022, Zachary King, to begin his era of service with a new director. “Somebody with new energy and a fresh perspective I think will be great,” Recker said, adding: “I’m so excited for Scott to come. He’s eager to do this role, he’s a church order geek, and he loves synod, so that’s great.”
DeVries, when he was appointed, told the Council that he began to clearly see himself in the position during the interview process, when he asked the search committee, “What were the gifts that you think Dee brought to this?” DeVries said, “And you told me some stories about how Dee had encouraged you, and I just saw myself kind of through Dee in that—that is how I like to lead.” Like Recker, he said, “I like to be an encourager, to walk alongside people and help them to understand our system, and to feel really good about living in that system.”
The director of synodical services acts as the meeting officer for synod and the Council of Delegates, administering all matters pertaining to synod and the Council and is the liaison between the Office of General Secretary and the classes of the CRCNA in Canada and the U.S. That’s the part of the job Recker loved the most.
“I’m so grateful for the people I’ve gotten to know and for the opportunity to have served,” Recker said. “All these years I’ve had the opportunity to have what I would call a front-row seat (to denominational matters) and what an opportunity that has been. To work with people who volunteer—board members and delegates—they're giving of their time to serve the church in this way. What a blessing to know people that give like that and have such a passion and love for the church.”
Recker said many of those people have become good friends, and celebrating in California with some colleagues and friends, just after running her final stated clerks gathering there Jan. 11-13, will be her first post-retirement act.
And after that?
True to her reputation for attention to detail and organization, Recker’s plans for retirement are sketched out in a list—everything from repotting plants, catching up with friends, designing a cabin for some family land, and spending more time with her five grandchildren, ages 6 to 17. Also high on the list is driving a golf cart for synod. “Jeff Bolt already has me on his list,” of volunteers to transport synod delegates around the campus of Calvin University to the meeting locations, Recker said.
Recker and her husband, Mark, who is a certified counselor with Pine Rest Christian Mental Health, attend Alger Park CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich. Before working for the denomination Recker ran an educational supply store in Grand Rapids, a 20-year venture she loved.