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This month ushers in major transitions in our denominational leadership. Calvin Bremer will begin his ministry as executive director, Jerry Dykstra will begin working as director of denominational ministries, and we expect that a new director of Canadian ministries will be appointed soon.

David Engelhard, who until recently served the Christian Reformed Church as general secretary, also is part of the transition. The plan had been that David would complete his ministry as general secretary this summer and then continue working on special assignments until the summer of 2007.

That all changed in February when David was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. His condition required intensive treatment, and as a result David is on indefinite medical leave. He will not be returning to his position as general secretary, and it is likely that he will have to lay aside all leadership responsibilities.

His experience reminds us that unexpected developments can change our plans midstream. But the Scriptures tell us that our times are in God’s hands, and believing that is a great comfort.

For 25 years David served on the faculty of Calvin Theological Seminary, where he was a teacher of Hebrew and other Old Testament subjects. During some of those years he also served as dean of the faculty. In 1994 he was appointed to the office of general secretary for the CRC.

At every stage, David’s service has been marked by a deep love for and commitment to the Christian Reformed Church. On ecumenical assignments he represented our denomination with grace and dignity, and he is a careful scholar in all matters ecclesiastical. As the custodian of denominational polity and practice, his advice was sought and received by many.

David served with honor and distinction and takes his place among other great leaders who served as stated clerks or general secretaries before him, leaders such as Henry Beets (1901-42), John De Haan Jr. (1942-45), Ralph J. Danhof (1946-70), William P. Brink (1970-82), and Leonard J. Hofman (1983-94).

This, my last column as executive director of ministries for the CRC, is dedicated to David Engelhard for his years of ministry and service. I know that I am expressing the sentiment of the Board of Trustees of the Christian Reformed Church, as well as all of our colleagues, when I say that we are profoundly grateful for the service David has rendered.

I also want to take this final opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to so many of you who have encouraged and helped me through the years. In council rooms and at board meetings, in assemblies and in private conversations, I have been blessed!

I am grateful too for the collective experience of the colleagues with whom I have served. During my time here, it has been my privilege to serve alongside both new and veteran denominational personnel—some of whom I have worked with for nearly 30 years. I am thankful for so many people who have enriched my life and ministry. I have learned to rely on their judgment and insight and I will miss being around them on a daily basis.

I love the Christian Reformed Church and what God enables her to be and to do. I love the larger body of the church worldwide, our ecumenical brothers and sisters in other denominations with whom it has been a privilege to serve. I wish them, one and all, the blessing of God’s presence and benediction.

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