The new president and director of the U.S. Navigators has officially stepped into his new role, marking a new era for the interdenominational ministry.
Dr. Doug Nuenke had been commissioned by the U.S. Navigators' Board of Directors as the new head back in August but did not fully assume his new role until this month. The leadership change comes as the Navigators celebrates 75 years of ministry and opens up an era of hope, after 25 years of foundation, 25 years of expansion, and 25 years of penetration.
“This is an exciting year for The Navigators as we celebrate our 75th anniversary,” states Nuenke. “It isn’t merely a marking of time but a celebration of God’s amazing grace through 75 years of ministry and our amazing hope for the future.”
Over the past 75 years, Navigators has grown from a small Bible study group on the U.S.S. West Virginia to a worldwide fellowship that spans across 105 countries.
More than 4,600 Navigator staff of 71 ethnicities work to fulfill the Navigator calling "to advance the Gospel of Jesus and His Kingdom into the nations through spiritual generations of laborers living and discipling among the lost."
And Jerry White, former international president and current chairman of the U.S. Navigators’ Board of Directors, says he has “every bit of confidence” that Nuenke will keep U.S. Navigators focused on their Calling.
“He is deeply committed to the Calling,” said White, according to One-to-One Ministry Review, the Navigators’ monthly newsletter.
Penn Pendleton, a member of The Navigators’ Board of Directors, meanwhile, said he believes Nuenke is a “David,” alluding to the unassuming shepherd boy anointed king of Israel.
“I think Doug is, maybe, not what anybody expected to lead this work because of his age, time with the mission,” he said of the 50-year-old leader who joined the Navigators staff 16 years ago.
“If God had put one of the older fellows in, that would have given us perhaps a great feeling of safety,” Pendleton continued. “But I have a real feeling of anticipation – not anxiety, anticipation – that God is doing something really exciting here. So I can’t wait to see what the next chapter is!”
Nuenke and his wife Pam joined the Navigators staff in 1992 to pursue an international mission assignment, then became involved in ministry at the University of Kansas.
In 1994, Nuenke helped launch The Navigators’ EDGE Corps, a short-term campus ministry for recent college graduates and moved with his wife to Colorado Springs in 1997 to run that initiative from Navigator headquarters.
After leading EDGE Corps for five years, Nuenke supported the Collegiate Mission in a number of other capacities, particularly as associate director and western divisional leader. Then, in late 2004, Nuenke was invited to join the leadership of The Navigators’ U.S. Metro Mission, which he co-led and later directed for three and a half years.
Nuenke says he hopes to be a shepherding leader like David of the Old Testament and “lead skillfully so that our staff are really freed up to do what God has called them to do."
“At the end of the day, what happens here in Colorado Springs matters only to the degree that it fuels the movement of the Gospel in local places all over the country – on college campuses, military bases, in neighborhoods and churches, in the city and among the urban poor,” he told One-to-One. “What happens there is what really matters.”
In 2007, Nuenke completed his Doctorate through Denver Seminary with a focus in Executive Leadership. His thesis researched the roles of missional living and community among young people in their 20s who are followers of Jesus.