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Doctor of Ministry Candidate: Colin Watson

Doctor of Ministry Candidate: Colin Watson
Colin P. Watson Sr. is the executive director of the CRCNA and part of the first D.Min. cohort at Calvin Theological Seminary.
‘There’s no such thing as being too young, too old, whatever—pick your descriptor—to continue to contribute to what God has asked you to do.’

Colin P. Watson Sr., executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, has been in high demand in the business world since the 1980s. He was a rising star at AT&T and NYNEX (now Verizon), and he was a top executive at the KeySpan Corporation and NYC2012, an organization formed to bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. For almost 10 years he served as the CEO of Foundation Enterprises LLC, a real estate investment and nonprofit consulting company. 

Throughout these endeavors, Watson also was active in the church, leading a parallel career of ministry work as an executive minister at his home church and as the board president of Christian Reformed World Missions (now part of Resonate Global Mission). 

Watson’s wife of more than 40 years, Freida, also has lived the corporate and ministerial life alongside Colin. “She is my best friend and life partner who has journeyed with me in this adventure that God has laid out for us,” Watson said.

In 2015, God led the couple in a new direction when Watson moved to full-time ministry as director of ministries and administration for the CRCNA. In 2020 he was named the acting executive director for the denomination, a role from which he will retire in July 2022.

While Watson leaves a legacy in each of these roles, he still desires to contribute more to his neighbors, particularly fellow Christ followers. It was this stirring that led him to apply to Calvin Theological Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program. 

Watson had originally planned to enroll in the program upon his retirement. When he was asked to delay his retirement to allow the denomination time to work through structure and leadership changes that will be considered at synod this year, Watson decided to do both. 

“When I’m at the seminary, my name tag says ‘student,’ not ‘executive director,’” Watson said with a smile. It’s clear that the role of student is one he relishes.

“I wish I had started this 10 years ago, but it is never too late,” he said. “There’s no such thing as being too young, too old, whatever—pick your descriptor—to continue to contribute to what God has asked you to do.”

Watson is journeying as a student in the seminary’s first D.Min. cohort, launched in May 2020. His key study topic is minority leadership in institutions and organizations.

A native of Guyana, Watson moved to the U.S. at age 18. Throughout his journey as a Christian, he has noticed that the texts revered for generations as the great works of theology all come from a similar perspective.

“It is important for us to see from a variety of different cultures to say, ‘This is what God has shown me from my perspective,’” Watson said.

From the unity of believers in John 17 to believers coming together in Revelation 7, Watson sees God’s greater plan for people of all backgrounds to learn from each other. His study of the early church in Antioch has furthered his interest in minority leadership, as this multicultural church was the apostle Paul’s sending congregation. 

As Watson completes his D.Min. degree, he encourages others to begin their studies. 

“I see the D.Min. as a tool to answering some of life's questions,” he said. “What questions do you think your life is causing you to ask? What is God laying on your heart in terms of legacy? What other contributions might you be able to make because of what God has allowed to happen in your life?”

Watson believes sharing our testimonies is a central part of Christian life in community. 

“Part of loving your neighbor as yourself is sharing with your neighbor what you have learned— not as a rulebook, but as a helpful way of understanding principles of life that God has revealed to you,” he said. “These things might be helpful to someone else.”

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