Search Committees Listen to CRC Employees
Employees of the Christian Reformed Church in North America had opportunity during a listening session on Monday, Dec. 6, to talk about the qualifications they would like to see in a new general secretary and a new chief administrative officer.
Offered online, the session was held by the committee seeking a general secretary and the committee searching for a chief administrative officer.
The 90-minute session began with remarks from those leading the search committees.
“We want you to help us create a profile and give us a better sense of what we are looking for,” said Meg Jenista, chair of the General Secretary Search Committee and a pastor at Washington, D.C., CRC. “We want you to help us think about the character of the person who will fill this position.”
Patricia Harris, chair of the Chief Administrative Officer Search Committee and president of Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, Mich., said the committees are eager to hear the thoughts and suggestions of what people from across the denomination would like to see in the persons hired to lead the CRCNA into the future.
“We are committed to doing diligent and wise work together as well as praying to God to learn who God has selected to do this work,” she said. “We are looking for someone who can help carry out the CRCNA’s ministry plan.”
The two chairpersons outlined the timeline their committees are following. 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. This timeline anticipates that the general secretary candidate will be part of the process of finding a new chief administrative officer, with whom the general secretary will work closely and supervise.
Monday’s listening session was the first of several that will take place in coming weeks. Others will be with pastors and other key stakeholders across North America.
At Monday’s listening session, CRCNA staff asked a number of questions about the job descriptions for these positions, and offered feedback about what they would like to see in the character of these leaders.
“We need leaders who are deeply humble and will be servant leaders who will share power,” one participant shared.
Another participant added, “We want to see leaders who are committed to antisexism, antiracism and anti-ableism. We would like to see leaders who will show an interest and effort and have success in this area that is very important to us.”
Sam Hamstra is a retired CRCNA pastor who now serves as an executive search consultant with the Rukes Group, a search firm that is assisting in the search for General Secretary candidates. He said these concerns are important.
“Cultural agility will be huge” in what they are looking for in a general secretary candidate, he said.
Another participant asked if the search committees are looking for candidates who can navigate the gap between the progressive and conservative factions in the church.
Jenista said that is a concern, but it is important to note that the general secretary, as detailed in the COD’s job description, will not have a great deal of authority. Instead, he or she will answer to synod.
“This person will have a high degree of responsibility but a low degree of authority,” she said. “This person won’t be able to push the denomination in one way or another. This person will be able to love both sides.”
In addition, she said, “We are looking for someone who can address the tensions without making them worse. As much as we are aware of the tension, we are looking for a caring shepherd who can live in it.”
Patricia Harris said they are looking for a person, “who is good at team building and listening to different perspectives and has a quality of reconciliation — given where the two sides are at.”
The listening session emphasized the spiritual elements and prayerful practices that are a key part of the discernment process for new leaders.
Hamstra said that these searches are all about callings. They are “looking for someone God has prepared for the position. We will trust the Lord’s wisdom in this.”
Harris added that the committees and the COD are dedicated to praying for this process.
“As we engage with a candidate, we will be looking at what their spiritual life looks like,” she added.
In response to a question about the need for the new leaders to make sure they realize and are able to respond to the needs and issues facing the binational church, Harris said, “These positions can be filled by anyone from the U.S. or Canada.”
Hamstra added that every piece of information sent out about the general secretary position makes clear that the church offices are based in Grand Rapids, Mich., in the U.S. and in Burlington, Ont., in Canada.
“We already have a good number of applicants for the general secretary from both nations,” said Hamstra.
He added that the General Secretary position is not the same as the current executive director position. “This is a pastoral position and a diplomatic, prophetic, unifying position. It is a culture-shaping position.”
The meeting ended with a prayer offered by Hamstra.
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
For more information, visit crcna.org/ExecutiveSearch.