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Got any great ideas for a new Christian Reformed Church ministry or a new way in which to expand a CRC ministry or program that is already out there?

If you do, Peter Harkema would like to hear from you.

As development director for the recently revamped Christian Reformed Church Foundation, Harkema has been busy helping to transform the focus of the foundation. He wants it to be a resource that supports “cutting-edge” CRC ministries and programs.

He wants to collaborate with CRC agencies and offices in making the church more relevant to the everyday needs of people in North America and beyond. But in this collaboration he wants to make sure there is no duplication.

“Through the Foundation, we seek to provide new ideas through an incubation fund for innovation,” says Harkema. “We are trying to give the foundation visibility and its own identity. . . . We’re not trying to compete with the agencies but are trying to support them through the foundation.”

The foundation is already doing this in a variety of ways.

For instance, it has given seed money to the Timothy Institute of Calvin Theological Seminary, which, according to its website, works to “bring affordable, doctrinally sound and effective teaching to parts of the world where the church is experiencing explosive growth but leadership is woefully lacking.”

On a congregational level, the Foundation is working to raise $1 million over the next 12 months to launch a new entity to be known as the Leadership Exchange, which will be a resource to help renew the culture of leadership in the churches and among CRC members.

Meanwhile, with a portion of money obtained through donations to riders on the Sea to Sea Bike Tour 2008, the Foundation will be giving out grants to help fund a range of poverty-relieving projects.

Throughout 2007 the CRC Foundation devoted a great deal of effort to raising funds to help the denomination celebrate the 150th anniversary of the CRC.

“My intent is that the Foundation will create new visibility for the programs and ministries of the Christian Reformed Church in North America and inspire new financial resource development,” says Harkema. “The idea is to help programs in a start-up way.”

In the next several months, Harkema will be running advertisements and holding events that will mark the start of the CRC Foundation’s new approach. This approach is to fund “initiatives that are uniquely denominational,” says Harkema, who came to the CRC from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., where he served as vice-president for advancement. Before that, he worked for many years at Calvin College.

Although the CRC Foundation will function as a single organization, a separate Canadian CRC Foundation is in place for tax purposes.

In 1996, synod approved the formation of a CRC Foundation. Funds given to the Foundation were distributed to support projects of CRC organizations that were deemed appropriate by the Foundation Board of Directors. Synod 2008 approved the revamped focus and mission of the Foundation.

“It is important to note,” says Harkema, “that whenever the Foundation is introduced (as it is currently doing through advertisements and events) it creates an opportunity to highlight the programs of the entire denomination.”

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