What was the process for choosing an international director designate?
In 2016, the DOVE International Apostolic Council (IAC) began succession planning. In 2017, a succession advisory team was formed. Keith Yoder and Reyna Britton were brought on as consultants, and Larry and LaVerne Kreider, Ron Myer, and Peter Bunton were part of that team. In IAC meetings in 2021, Larry and LaVerne Kreider and the IAC provided affirmation for Merle Shenk to serve in the role of the international director (ID) designate. This was confirmed by affirmations from Tony and Marilyn Fitzgerald and Keith Yoder, the DOVE International recognized spiritual advisors. It was also confirmed by the next level of leadership in the DOVE International family.
How did the IAC arrive at the selection of possible candidates and then narrow it down to one?
Since the succession transition process began in 2016, the International Apostolic Council began to consider persons who could possibly become the next international director. Early on, it was felt that Merle could be a suitable candidate. After much prayer, there was a sense that God was highlighting Merle as the appropriate choice. Each member of the Council met with Merle and Cheree to talk, ask questions, and raise any issues of clarification. Following those discussions, each member of the IAC affirmed that Merle should be appointed as the next international director.
What is the plan for the transition?
Larry Kreider will continue as international director until April of 2024. This enables a two-year transition period. The ID designate will begin to attend some executive leadership meetings and will participate in international travel with Larry Kreider. It is likely that the ID designate will assume an increasing number of responsibilities. Support and mentorship for the ID designate will be provided by Larry and LaVerne Kreider, a mentoring team, and a designated pastoral care team. We encourage the DOVE International family to provide support, encouragement, and prayer for these leaders as they lead us and walk through the transition process.
We anticipate that the official installation of Merle as international director will take place at the 2024 DOVE International Leadership Conference (ILC).
Why is a two-year transition necessary?
As with any new role—especially those that involve significant responsibilities—a time of training, familiarization, and preparation is needed. This is particularly the case with an international movement of churches. The new leader will need to travel to different regions of the world to meet people and understand better the global state of the movement.
As the lead elder of Newport Church, Merle will continue developing the core leadership team and serving as the lead elder there. The time frame above will enable a strong team to be developed to support the local church and ensure ongoing pastoral care and leadership. Merle will eventually be able to increase time and focus on DOVE International as well as continue to lead Newport Church. This could possibly be adjusted in the future as the global family of churches continues to grow.
Will the international director’s job description be the same, or is it being amended? Will the nature of the role be changing?
In broad terms, the nature of the role and job description will remain as they currently are. As things develop, some details may be modified in the future.
Who will give oversight to the new international director?
The international director is accountable to the recognized spiritual advisors (RSAs) in areas of character, conduct, and leadership. The international director is part of and leads the International Apostolic Council in which mutual accountability is practiced as part of DOVE’s organizational culture. The international director is responsible to report on matters concerning the movement to the RSAs. Members of the International Apostolic Council may also raise any matter of concern regarding the life and conduct of the international director to the RSAs. More details can be found in DOVE’S leadership handbook.
What will Merle’s title be while Larry remains the international director?
Merle now becomes the international director designate. The word “designate” is often used when someone has been named to a role, but has not yet assumed the responsibilities of that role.
How will the new ID designate build connections with the global DOVE family of churches and ministries?
We recognize the importance of relational interaction within the DOVE International family. In order to provide opportunities to meet regional leaders around the world, the ID designate will begin to travel with Larry Kreider beginning in 2022.
Will the purpose of joint travel be to introduce Merle to the DOVE family in various regions of the world?
Merle is already known in many regions due to prior visits and years of relationship building. As he travels with Larry in the next few years, it is intended that he will learn more about the local contexts and that, in turn, DOVE leaders and members will have the opportunity to get to know Merle better.
How will we provide care for the key players in the transition as they cope with significant changes?
We are aware that the pending transition will involve significant changes, both for the outgoing and incoming international directors and their families. With the consent of both Larry and LaVerne and Merle and Cheree, DOVE’s recognized spiritual advisor Keith Yoder will serve them in a pastoral role, ensuring that they have someone with whom to share and pray regarding the transition and its implications in personal and family life.
How will DOVE International honor the Kreiders as founders of the movement?
There will be opportunities to acknowledge and thank Larry and LaVerne for their years of dedication and service. Larry and LaVerne will be available to the new leadership for input and advice as needed after the transition.
Do we have to use titles for Larry or Merle now since DOVE is using them in the succession documents?
The use of titles is not required or mandated. The DOVE International family is built on relationships in many different cultures. At times, a title can effectively and succinctly communicate to everyone, including those outside of DOVE, what a person’s role and spheres of authority are. Titles can help to bring clarity in documentation; however, when roles and authority are understood, it is not necessary to use a title.
Between now and April 2024, how should we relate to the international director designate?
DOVE International is built on the high value of relationships. Our desire is that between now and the April 2024 transition, relationships with the ID designate and members of the DOVE family would grow in a healthy way. Larry will remain the international director with full authority and responsibility over this time. At various times it is likely that he will ask Merle to engage in certain aspects of ministry and leadership.