The Council of Delegates, meeting June 16 and 17 on behalf of synod, appointed Colin P. Watson, Sr., interim executive director of the CRCNA through June or July 2021.
Synod 2020 was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the program committee (officers of Synod 2019) combed through the Synod 2020 agenda and identified which items could not wait for action by Synod 2021. The COD held a special meeting to deal with those matters on behalf of synod. Their decisions will be reported to Synod 2021.
In one of its first actions, the COD approved Watson as interim executive director, saying, “This will provide continuity in the denomination’s senior position until such time as the COD and synod can define a new leadership scenario and approve any necessary personnel.”
Watson was named acting executive director in February after the resignation of Steven Timmermans, whom the COD, also on June 16, named executive director emeritus.
In light of structural changes in the CRCNA Canada and CRCNA U.S. corporations with regard to administration and anticipated changes to the role of executive director of the CRCNA, Timmermans elected to speed up his intended retirement and to resign. During its February meeting, the COD accepted this resignation with regret and appointed Watson as acting executive director.
"I'm grateful that Colin Watson has stepped into this important role of leading our binational church with ministries in Canada and the U.S. as well as in so many more countries around the world. I'm thankful too that my having served in the executive director role is now recognized in my retirement with the emeritus status," said Timmermans.
In its motion to appoint Watson to the interim position, the COD explained that Watson “already has a working relationship and a great deal of experience with CRCNA staff and agencies, as well as with the COD, ecumenical partners, and synod.” In addition, the motion read: “Having the acting executive director continue as interim executive director for an additional year will keep personnel and ecclesiastical disruption to a minimum.”
Paul De Vries, chair of the COD, expressed his gratitude to Watson, who had been serving as the CRCNA’s director of ministries and administration until Timmerman’s retirement, for his willingness to step into the position and provide crucial leadership at a time when events and gatherings such as synod are postponed because of the current pandemic. In fact, the COD is meeting and making decisions this week via the internet.
“Colin, we said it to you in May, and I hope we say it many times in the coming months,” remarked De Vries. “I hope you know how much we appreciate you and your willingness to serve, including serving several months past your original planned retirement date [of January 6, 2021]. We are very grateful to you and for your work. Thank you for taking this on as we figure out our senior leadership positions going forward.”
Speaking to COD members, all of whom joined the teleconference meeting from their homes and other settings across North America, Colin Watson said: “I want to say to the entire COD that I appreciate the confidence you have placed in me in asking me to do this. I continue to covet your prayers.”
Leading the denomination at a time such as this is a challenge and an opportunity, he added. “These are interesting times for our world and for the CRCNA,” Watson said, “and I think that obviously as we stay in prayer over the next year, my prayer will be that we will end up in a place that is extremely healthy for the CRC going forward. I don’t know who my successor will be, but I will continue to pray for the right individuals to be appointed at the right time.”
Chris Meehan, CRC Communications