CRC Leadership Search Begins
At its recent meeting, the Council of Delegates of the Christian Reformed Church in North America approved and established search committees to find candidates to serve in two of three key positions to lead the church as it goes forward into today’s challenging times.
The two positions are general secretary and chief administrative officer of the CRCNA. The CRCNA Canada Corporation is currently in the process of appointing a search committee for a new executive director-Canada.
Challenges for the church include the aging membership of many congregations, young people leaving the church, and struggles over such issues as human sexuality, which Synod 2022 will address next June.
“As a [search] team, we care for and love this church, but we realize there are some things on the horizon that are daunting,” said Rev. Meg Jenista, chair of the General Secretary Search Committee and a pastor at Washington, D.C., CRC.
As a result, she added, the committee will be “prayerfully discerning who will be leading the denomination at a critical juncture. . . . We invite members of the denomination to pray for us in our work of looking for a person” who can help to “shepherd the CRCNA into the future.”
The search committee has already met once, she said, and “we have hit the ground running. Over the next few weeks we will determine who and what we are looking for. . . . I think one of the elements we will be looking for” is that this person will have “a strong pastoral presence . . . a steady hand on the rudder.”
The current plan calls for a nominee for general secretary to be presented to the Council of Delegates in February 2022 and recommended to Synod 2022 for appointment. Presentation of a nominee for chief administrative officer is expected to go before the COD in May and also be recommended to Synod 2022.
Patricia Harris, president of Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, Mich., has been named chair of the Chief Administrative Officer Search Committee.
A lifelong member of the denomination, she said she is honored and excited to take on this role. Although the search team has yet to meet, she said she suspects they will start soon and meet over Zoom several times before gathering in person to interview final candidates.
The executive committee of the Council of Delegates is working to identify search firms to help the search committees in their work. Communication and getting word of the position openings out into various settings and to various media will be important for the search firms to do.
Their goal, said Harris, is to do final interviews of chief administrative officer candidates in March and April and to present a final candidate to the COD in May.
As chair of the committee, Harris added that this gives her an opportunity “to give back to the church” that she has been a part of all of her life.. “This is an awesome task — one we will commit to wisdom and prayer.”
The hope is to find the best candidate who can lead the CRCNA “forward in new ways,” she said.
The Canada Corporation of the CRCNA will meet this week to discuss the process of finding a new executive director-Canada. They, too, will likely hire a search firm and aim to move ahead as quickly as possible.
An ad to be included in The Banner for a general secretary states, “The nominee will exemplify a strong vibrant Christian faith marked by humility and integrity. An ordained minister of the Word with deep respect for the polity, theology, history, and growing diversity of the CRCNA, he/she will draw from pastoral experience and advanced leadership training to guide the denomination forward, representing our mission both locally and globally.”
Dee Recker, director of synodical services, said the COD is staggering the schedules of the general secretary and chief administrative officer search teams so that the potential general secretary nominee may know how well he/she will be able to work with the nominee for chief administrative officer.
The aim, Recker added, is to name the finalist for the general secretary position so that that person, if approved by the COD in February, “can sit in on final interviews of the chief administrative officer candidates.”
The COD also determined that the search committees ought to appoint smaller search teams and “advisory teams” that potentially serve both the general secretary and the chief administrative officer search teams, to bring a broad spectrum of voices into the process.
Jenista said she suspects her committee will also gather whatever resources that are available that include church members talking about how they see the CRCNA now and in the future.
The members of the General Secretary Search Committee are:
Rev. Meg Jenista, chair
Ms. Deb Broek
Pastor Fred Harvey
Mr. Henry Hess
Mr. Hessel Kielstra
Rev. James Lee
Ms. Julia Verbrugge
Staff support: Ms. Dee Recker
The members of the Chief Administrative Officer Search Committee are:
Dr. Patricia Harris, chair
Rev. Sam Cooper
Rev. Laura de Jong
Mr. Brian Dijkema
Rev. Emmett Harrison
Rev. Sheila Holmes
Mr. Randy Kroll
Rev. Paul Verhoef
Staff support: Mr. John Bolt