You are Invited!

To a Dedication & Celebration at Western Theological Seminary

Thursday, December 6 at 11:30 AM in the new Cook Library, housed in the new Jack and Mary DeWitt Learning Center

The public is invited to a dedication and celebration of the new and renovated facilities at Western Theological Seminary. Please join us as we thank those who have given generously, and rededicate ourselves to God’s calling for us to “prepare Christians called by God to lead the church in mission.” The morning will include a short worship and dedication ceremony, followed by appetizers and tours of the new building. We hope you can celebrate with us!

The Reverend Dr. I. John Hesselink died on Sunday, October 28. He was the President of Western Theological Seminary between 1973 and 1985. Following his service as president, he was the A.C. Van Raalte Professor of Systematic Theology at Western until his retirement from the faculty in 1992. He was a beloved figure and frequent visitor to the school, especially for communion on Fridays, until a few weeks preceding his death.

Born in Grand Rapids in 1928, Hesselink was the son of a Reformed Church in America minister, and spent much of his youth in Pella, Iowa. He attended Central College in Pella and after a year at New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New Jersey, transferred to Western, where he graduated in 1953. Upon graduation, he became an RCA missionary in Japan. Over the course of twenty years of missionary service he taught in several Japanese universities and became a friend of the esteemed theologian Emil Brunner, who was also teaching in Japan. In 1961, Hesselink earned a Ph.D. at the University of Basel, Switzerland. His Ph.D. mentor was Karl Barth, perhaps the most significant theologian of the 20th century. In the early 1960s, Hesselink engineered a reunion between Karl Barth and Emil Brunner, who had become estranged decades earlier. Hesselink also did post-doctoral study at several prestigious institutions, including the University of Chicago, the Free University of Amsterdam, and Oxford University in England.

Hesselink was the author of several books including On Being Reformed: Distinctive Characteristics and Common Misunderstandings (1983) and his final book was Calvin’s Theology and its Reception, which he co-edited with his Western Theological Seminary colleague J. Todd Billings in 2012. Hesselink was ordained as a minister in the Reformed Church in America in 1953 and served as President of the General Synod of the RCA in 1995-1996. He was known as one of the world’s foremost scholars on the life and work of John Calvin, and his knowledge of Calvin brought him a friendship with the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson, which he enjoyed greatly in the latter years of his life.

“John Hesselink was not only a great mentor and role model,” said Western Theological Seminary President Timothy Brown, “but one of my dear friends as well. I miss him deeply. He possessed an incredibly sharp theological mind and also a very warm and sincere Christian faith. He was a giant in the history of Western Theological Seminary, and a giant in the world of Reformed theology. I treasured my relationship with John.”

Hesselink married his college sweetheart Etta (ter Louw) in 1951. They celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary in August. He and Etta are the parents of five grown children.

Funeral arrangements and the obituary written by Dr. Hesselink’s family can be found here.

Western Theological Seminary’s Beardslee Library has officially moved into a new building and changed its name to Cook Library.  Cook Library is located in the brand new Jack and Mary DeWitt Learning Center.

To help us transition smoothly, the library is still closed to the public until the Grand Opening of our new building on December 6. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and we appreciate your patience. If you have any questions about library services during this transition, please contact

We praise the Lord for all of our generous donors, as well as the construction crews and WTS staff who have brought the Our New Day campaign to fruition, and look forward to sharing our new space with the public very soon!

WTS President position profile here

For most favorable consideration, applicants should submit a curriculum vitae and a letter of interest by October 15, 2018.

November 9, 2018

It is with both joy and hopeful anticipation that we bring you this update on our progress toward identifying the next president of Western Theological Seminary. To date, our search consultant, CarterBaldwin, has reached out to more than 100 prospective candidates, resulting in 23 applications from an array of candidates that are diverse along a broad spectrum of considerations including thought, gender and ethnicity.

Having had the 23 applications (consisting of CVs and cover letters) for two weeks in order for the Presidential Search Committee to conduct research individually, the committee met on Monday, October 29th for four hours and identified the candidates who brought the strongest credentials to the search and best matched the profile that was developed at the beginning of the academic year. The Search Committee voted unanimously to move forward with a group of eight semi-finalists who will be interviewed directly by our search consultant. The committee is also independently and confidentially gathering additional information on these eight semi-finalists.

The information we will gather and the data that comes from CarterBaldwin’s initial interviews will inform our committee’s December 5 meeting as we narrow the pool to a smaller group of finalists. The search committee will then interview candidates before the end of the year, and we are pleased to share that we are still presently on track for an announcement in the spring.

We are deeply grateful for those on the search committee who are investing significant time and prayer into this process, and we are equally grateful for those of you who are praying alongside us as we seek God’s leader for the future of Western Theological Seminary.


Carol Van Andel and Kris DePree
Search Committee Co-Chairs

July 31, 2018

Our presidential search committee is delighted to share that we are continuing to make good progress on this important project.

We retained the consulting services of CarterBaldwin Executive Search Services out of Atlanta. CarterBaldwin has conducted searches for presidents for a broad range of Christian colleges, universities, seminaries and major non-profits. Dr. Debby White and Price Harding of CarterBaldwin were recently on our campus and met with members of the search committee and campus representatives to understand various perspectives regarding the kind of president for which we may be looking.

CarterBaldwin will be submitting a draft of the position profile to the search committee with the expectation that a public version will be available in the coming weeks. That position profile will be accessible on the Western website and will contain instructions for nominating or referring prospective candidates or for submitting an application.

These are exciting times for Western, and we look forward to updating our Western community as new information is available. We covet your prayers for God’s leadership on our committee and on this search process.


Carol Van Andel and Kris DePree
Search Committee Co-Chairs


A search team began meeting in April to find the next president to lead Western Theological Seminary after Dr. Timothy Brown retires from the presidency on June 30, 2019.

From left to right, members include:

Steve Spoelhof
WTS Trustee starting in fall
Carol Van Andel
Co-chair, WTS Trustee
Kris DePree
Co-chair, WTS Trustee
Dr. Han-luen Kantzer Komline
WTS Faculty
Rev. Eddy Alemán ‘04
RCA General Secretary-Elect, WTS Trustee
Rev. Joe Graham ‘14
Local pastor, Alumni Advisory Board
Dr. Ben Conner
WTS Faculty
Mary Bauman (not pictured)
Former WTS Trustee
Rev. Gail Ebersole (not pictured)
WTS Trustee
Phil Miller (not pictured)
WTS Trustee
Rev. Cora Taitt (not pictured)
WTS Trustee

Thursday, November 8 at 7 P.M. in Mulder Chapel

Join us for Dr. David Dark’s lecture “What Passes for Life?” during the NEA Big Read this November. This year’s Big Read book is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. The novel takes place in the Great Lakes region after a fictional swine flu pandemic, known as the “Georgia Flu”, has devastated the world, killing most of the population. It won the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2015.

Religious question are political questions are post-apocalyptic questions. Dr. David Dark, assistant professor of Religion and the Arts in the College of Theology at Belmont University and author of Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious, will explore how good post-apocalyptic novels break the ice of the status quo by inviting us to do battle with our own moral carelessness. He will discuss how Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven encourages us to take the temperature of our own strange behavior. What have we normalized and why? If we let it, Station Eleven makes us more alive to the arbitrariness of organizing our own fictions and leads us to proceed more wonderingly in our conception of ourselves and others.

After pastoring churches in Illinois and Michigan for 10 years, class of ’66 alumnus George Boerigter decided to use his seminary training for something different–running a business! Check out how he does ministry at his company, SoundOff Signal in Hudsonville, MI.

Wednesday, September 26 at 7:00 PM in Mulder Chapel

Join Rev. Bill Gaventa for a presentation and discussion on new resources, promising practices, and problem areas in the rapidly growing movements and initiatives to include people with disabilities and their families in faith communities and in ministry/theological training.

Rev. Bill Gaventa has lived and worked at the intersection of disability, faith, and theology for over 40 years.  He taught a course in Western’s Graduate Certificate in Disability and Ministry (MN586Disability, Community Supports and Faith: Foundations and Strategies for Effective Collaboration) and completed and refined his recent book, Disability and Spirituality: Recovering Wholeness (Baylor University Press), while teaching it.  He is also the founder and Director of the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability, which WTS will host this year May 20-23.

Fourth-year distance-learning student Rudy Rubio had a rough life before encountering the Lord. Born and raised on the toughest streets of L.A., Rudy joined a gang at age 13 and spent the next 20 years in and out of jail. During his last prison sentence, Rudy fell on his knees, asking God to deliver him from the lifestyle he had been living. From that point on, he dedicated his life to serving the Lord Jesus.

Being in prison no longer as a gangster but as a new and developing Christian was one of the hardest times in Rudy’s life. He didn’t know who he was anymore.

“But as time went by and I studied God’s Word, I soon discovered that my identity was not in the mistakes I had made, the gang I’d belonged to, or my long criminal record,” he says. “My identity was in the risen Christ who had chosen me before the foundation of the earth, and while I was still a sinner, died for me.”

It is hard to guess Rudy’s past when looking at him today. A loving family man—husband to Edna, father to four children, and first-time grandfather—he now spends his days sharing Christ’s love with people in his neighborhood of Lynwood, CA, reading theology as he studies for seminary classes, and pastoring the Reformed Church of Los Angeles (RCLA). The church is the fulfillment of a 6-year dream.

Local Lynwood pastor and leaders showing support of the launch of RCLA.

In 2010, Rudy joined Emmanuel Reformed in Paramount, CA, where he was mentored by Rev. Eddy Aleman, now the General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America. Eddy saw that God was working in the lives of Rudy and Edna, and he challenged them to consider planting a church in L.A. At first Rudy was shocked at the prospect, but by the end of their conversation, he could already feel the Lord stirring his imagination for what a church in “the hood” could look like.

Rudy ended up joining the staff at Emmanuel and learning the ropes of ministry and church operations. He also became a student at Western Theological Seminary, studying for his Master of Divinity degree.

Not all his learning has come from the classroom. Rudy had been deeply affected by an event where he heard Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae perform alongside spoken-word poets. Not only did it speak to Rudy’s love of poetry, it made him realize that people like him, with all he went through in his past, could reach out to others going through similar struggles.

“That moment truly changed my perspective on what Christianity looks like practically lived out,” he explains. “It means not hiding our ethnicity, not working around our cultural differences, but instead using the very nature of who we are as a people—black, brown, Asian, and everything in between—for the sake of the Gospel…reaching our own people in a way that only we can.”

With the blessing of Emmanuel Church, Rudy started an annual spoken-word poetry and hip-hop show to raise funds for church plants.

Finally, in 2017, the church assembled a LAUNCH team of families and individuals (including Chris Marquez, also a 4th year M.Div. student at WTS) to plant Reformed Church of Los Angeles.

Sharing in the Lord’s Supper at RCLA’s launch service.

In the summer the team visited churches in Lynwood, Compton, and Watts, as well as RCA churches in the greater L.A. area to learn the ways they were engaging their respective communities. That fall the team hosted seven weeks of public worship in Lynwood Park and then transitioned into a building where they continued for several months. On March 25, 2018, RCLA hosted just under 300 people for their official grand opening and Palm Sunday meal.

“Many people from my past life came to our Grand Opening to show support, to encourage, and even ask to join RCLA—people who knew me when I was involved with gangs, used and sold drugs, and even went to prison with!” Rudy exclaims.

God is making all things new. Rudy prays that RCLA will be a catalyst to foster a new culture, to love a community in the name of Christ, and to bring the existing churches together for the common good of Lynwood.

“I want to offer the greatest gift we possess…the Gospel of Jesus Christ!” says Rudy. “I pray for RCLA to make disciples and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

To read more about Rudy’s story, learn of prayer requests, and keep up with news from RCLA, go to:

The 8th Annual Leonard F. Stoutemire Lecture in Multicultural Ministry

“Indigenous Theology as Original Instructions”

with Dr. Randy Woodley

Distinguished Professor of Faith and Culture and Director of Intercultural and Indigenous Studies at George Fox University and Portland Seminary

September 24, 2018 at 1:30pm in Mulder Chapel

Indigenous Theology, in some ways, may be thought of as the universal system promoting the Common Good. The Western worldview has, in many ways, alienated humanity from the purposes of Jesus and from serious action concerning reconciling with the community of creation.

Centering Jesus in our theology as the cosmic Christ/Creator and understanding his mission as reinterpreting the ancient Sabbath/Jubiliee/Shalom system for all people will shed light on how far the Western worldview has taken us from those who wrote in the Scriptures and the Christ we follow.

Rev. Randy Woodley, PhD, is an activist/scholar and distinguished speaker, teacher, and wisdom keeper who addresses a variety of issues concerning American history and culture, missiology, shalom, postcolonial theology, community-building, faith, socio-justice, diversity, regenerative farming, climate-change and our relationship with the earth and Indigenous realities. Woodley regularly blogs in these areas and publishes his own blog, ” Ethnic Space and Faith.” He also has a new podcast out called Peacing it All Together.

Randy was raised near Detroit, Michigan and is a legal descendent of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma. He is a member of the Oregon Department of Education American Indian/Alaska Native Advisory Board, Greater Portland Native American Climate Council and other service organizations.

Dr. Woodley was pastor of the Eagle Valley Church in Carson City, Nevada, which for many years served as a unique role model as an authentic Native American Christian church. He and his wife Edith, cofounders of Eagle’s Wings Ministry, are considered early innovators in what has been dubbed the “Native American Contextual Movement.” The Woodleys have spent over 25 years of culturally contextual service in Native North American communities. Randy Woodley is a founding board member of NAIITS, the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies and he administers the Fox/ NAIITS cooperative Master of Arts Intercultural Studies degree.

Woodley Bio


We are eager to welcome you to campus!


Wednesday, August 29
Orientation for new incoming students will begin at 9:00 AM with worship.

9:00 – Welcome and Worship with President Timothy Brown
9:45 – Coffee/Prayer Time in the Atrium (new students will have photo IDs taken)
10:30 – Orientation to Chapel
11:00 – Introduction to the M.Div. Curriculum
11:30 – EdTech Team Introduction
11:40 – Introduction to Formation for Ministry Process and Peer Groups
12:00 – Lunch with Peer Group Facilitators
12:15 – Lunch—ThM students—with their advisors
1:30-5:00 – Psychological Testing
6:00 Dinner at the home of President Tim and Nancy Brown

Thursday, August 30
Orientation for ALL students begins at 8:30 AM in the Commons with breakfast.

8:30 – Dean’s Breakfast for all new and returning students
9:40 – Worship in Mulder Chapel
10:15 – Coffee/Prayer Time in the Atrium
10:30 – Juniors—Meet the Student Council
Middlers & Seniors—Chapel Check-in
11:00 – View of Our Life Together at WTS with President Timothy Brown (Mulder Chapel)
12:00-2:00 — Advisors and students meet in Atrium to receive West Coast Cash and go to lunch.
2:00 – Sessions
Juniors—People you should get to know around the seminary
Middlers—Intercultural Immersion
Seniors—Career Services
3:00 – NEW BUILDING TOUR—David Becker and Norm Donkersloot will lead tours of the new building.
3:00-4:00 – Dual Trackers meet with Glenn Swier
MAs meet with David Komline
5:30-7:00 – “All Seminary Picnic” by the Redbrick Townhouses—13th Street Parking Lot

Questions? Contact Beth Smith at 616.392.8555, x131.