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Hogeterp to leave Centre for Public Dialogue

August 9, 2023
Mike Hogeterp will be leaving the Centre for Public Dialogue after 21 years of service.
Mike Hogeterp will be leaving the Centre for Public Dialogue after 21 years of service.

For over 21 years Mike Hogeterp has served the CRCNA as the founding director of the Centre for Public Dialogue (CPD), the public expression of the work of the Committee for Contact with the Government (founded in 1968). This fall he will transition to work as a facilitator with NAIITS, an Indigenous learning community (formerly the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies).

From of an office in Canada’s capital, Ottawa, Ont., Hogeterp took the lead on monitoring Canadian public policy and helping Reformed Christians understand how and why they should get involved. Hogeterp supported inquiries, statements, and action on countless issues from medical assistance in dying and Canada summer jobs grants to Indigenous justice and refugee rights.

Many years of creating opportunities for Canadian CRCNA members to meet with their representatives has given him rich insight, he said, into how civic engagement by concerned citizens can shape public policies in ways that act as salt and light in the political sphere.

One such example is the CPD’s engagement regarding Canadian involvement in Afghanistan in the 2000s.

“Our work on peace with justice in Afghanistan was rooted in ecumenical collaboration and amazing connections with Afghan communities in Canada,” he said. “All told, this resulted in the development of a high-level brief that was submitted to a key Parliamentary study. Some of our recommendations were viewed favorably in policy development going forward.”

Other topics also inspired CRC members to work on the long journey toward justice during Hogeterp’s tenure. Many Canadian churches participate in refugee resettlement and welcome, for example, giving them a front-row seat to the systemic barriers to sponsorship and settlement. This foundation helped Hogeterp advocate alongside church members for better policies.

“In one case we met with the chair of the Citizenship and Immigration Committee of the House of Commons. This Member of Parliament pressed us on community support for our cause, and we were able to answer with details on how deeply churches in our networks were involved in refugee sponsorship. Based on this conversation and a persistent effort over months, the government made the decision to ease the burden of repayment of refugee travel loans in 2017—one of several barriers to resettlement that we were addressing,” Hogeterp explained.

As he now moves on to this new opportunity, Hogeterp said that the time feels right, given the addition of new justice leadership in the Canadian denominational offices. Adrian Jacobs has been hired as senior leader for Indigenous justice, and Pablo Sun Kim is serving as the senior leader for antiracism and intercultural conciliation.

Moving forward, Hogeterp said, he is looking forward to “the beautiful evolution of CRC justice and reconciliation ministries under the leadership of Indigenous people and people of color.” He hopes that “an expansive vision of ‘nothing about us without us’ refines our community's expression of justice as gospel hope.”

This evolution will be exciting to watch in the coming years as Jacobs and Kim continue to lead the CRCNA in these areas.

This journey will also continue through the significant relationships begun with Indigenous peoples. The work of reconciliation is a “blessing and challenge that was enriched with generous and trusting relationships of Indigenous friends, mentors, and Elders,” Hogeterp said.

These relationships inspired Hearts Exchanged—a demanding learning experience that has drawn CRC members into a reckoning with the historic and contemporary realities of colonialism.

“It has been the most profound honor of my CRC work life to work with Indigenous and settler colleagues in the shaping and delivery of the spiritual journey that is Hearts Exchanged,” Hogeterp said.

“We will miss Mike’s leadership and presence. We’re grateful for the strong contributions to justice ministry that Mike has offered the CRC, and that he will continue to use these gifts for the sake of the larger church in Canada,” said Al Postma, transitional executive director of the CRCNA in Canada.

Hogeterp’s future work will continue to serve the broader church in Canada and will lean on learnings from Hearts Exchanged within the CRCNA community. Hogeterp will leave the advocacy work of the CRCNA in the purview of the grassroots Committee for Contact with the Government until a replacement can be found.