Seven current staff members of either Christian Reformed Home Missions or Christian Reformed World Missions have been appointed to key leadership roles in the denomination’s new mission agency, said Colin Watson, Sr., director of ministries and administration for the Christian Reformed Church in North America.

Synod 2015 approved joining Home Missions and World Missions into one agency that will have the responsibility of leading the mission programs of the CRC. Uniting the work of these two agencies, they said, will help make the denomination more nimble to respond to the changing landscape of missions in our world.

This new mission agency will formally spring to life at Synod 2017, which convenes next June at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Ill.

“This is an important and critical step forward,” said Watson about the appointments. “It has been necessary for us to define the leadership of our teams. This is going to help us to live our way into a new future.”

While seven team leaders have been named, the new mission agency is continuing to search for a director, with the goal of having someone identified for the position by next spring, said Watson.

At that time, the team searching for a new director hopes to have a nomination to bring to the board of the new mission agency and the Board of Trustees, to be recommended for appointment by synod in June.

“We decided we didn’t want to wait for a new director before naming the leaders of the teams,” said Watson. “If we waited, that would, in effect, delay the process for several months.”

Over the past number of months a new organizational structure, involving seven North American and international teams to guide the work of the agency, has been developed.

Watson also noted that as each area is finalized, there will be conversations with staff in those departments related to new positions and reporting relationships.

Six of the new leadership roles are assigned as follows:

  • Director of International Ministries (Africa and Europe) – Ron Geerlings
  • Director of International Ministries (Latin America and Asia) – Joel Huyser
  • Director of U.S. Teams – Amy Schenkel
  • Director of Canadian Teams – Steve Kabetu
  • Co-Directors of Mission Support Teams – Lois Craven and James Vanderlaan
  • Director of Capacity Building and Innovation – Moses Chung

In the seventh role, Gary Bekker will work closely with Colin Watson and Steve Tuuk, CEO of Timothy Leadership Institute (TLTI) to lead the transition of TLTI, Global Coffee Break, and Educational Care ministries into a unified, integrated, non-formal education ministry.

Until formation of the new agency is complete, Chung will remain in his role as director of Home Missions while Bekker will continue to serve as director of World Missions.

“We’re moving forward and progressing well, although not without challenges and roadblocks,” said Chung. “Clearly God is leading us, and that is the most important reason why we have been able to get to the point where we are now.”

Joel Huyser, who will serve as director of International Ministries (Latin America and Asia), said 14 regional teams are in the process of being created to work under the new directors.

These teams, he said, will “put flesh on the gospel in particular places. The rich relations we will foster between the regions will provide multiple opportunities for each congregation to learn from other Christians across the world and for each believer to join God's mission both in the local community and globally.”

Amy Schenkel, director of U.S. Teams, said her role will be to support the regional team leaders “by building an environment where they have the resources and authority they need to implement contextualized missional strategies in their regions.”

Ron Geerlings, who will serve as director of International Ministries (Africa and Europe), noted that the challenges presented by today’s complex and ever-changing world played a significant role in formation of the new agency.

“Things we take for granted today would have been unimaginable in the 19th century, when Home Missions and World Missions were organized as separate agencies.

“The joining of these two organizations to form a new mission agency is best understood as a response to our changed, now highly connected world. God's mission and message are not changing; it is in organizational structure and in some postures where changes are envisioned.”

Geerlings said he feels blessed to have the chance to serve in a position in which he will have the responsibility of “encouraging the growth and health of God's worldwide mission and church. And one of the goals of the new agency is to more effectively facilitate this global ministry, encouragement, and learning.”