How do I find my way around during construction?

During the construction phase of “Our New Day” for Western Theological Seminary, a large portion of the campus will be inaccessible. The diagram below shows which areas are under construction. The available walkways are in yellow and may change during the 2017-18 school year.

Deliveries should be made to the receptionist at the front desk, which is in the DeWitt Theological Center (entrance 2). The only entrance is from the northwest corner of the DeWitt Center. There are stairs up to the atrium level, or an elevator is available through a doorway to the right when you come in. Cherri or Gretchen at the front desk can be reached at 392-8555.

PARKING: There is a small amount of parking by Friendship House. Guest parking is available in the student lot on the south side of 13th St. Street parking is also allowed (check for signs).

Looking for a particular department?

Academic Offices (dean, registrar) – DeWitt Center, 2nd floor
Admissions – DeWitt Center, Atrium level
Advancement – Cook Center/Beardslee Library, 5th floor
Bookstore – DeWitt Center, Atrium level, NE corner
Business Offices – DeWitt Center, Atrium level
Communications – Cook Center/Beardslee Library, 5th floor
Cont. Ed. (Journey and Ridder – Cook Center/Beardslee Library, 5th floor
Educational Technology – DeWitt Center, atrium level
Faculty offices – DeWitt Center, 2nd floor
Formation for Ministry – DeWitt Center, garden level
Human Resources – DeWitt Center, garden level
Hispanic Ministries – DeWitt Center, garden level
International Students Office – Cook Center/Beardslee Library, 4th floor
President & V.P. offices – Cook Center/Beardslee Library, mezzanine level
Writing Studio – Cook Center/Beardslee Library, 4th floor

Where passion meets need

Senior M.Div. student Kristen Uroda was studying illustration at Massachusetts College of Art & Design in Boston when God called her to ministry.

“My plan was to be a famous artist, live in the city, and do mission trips,” she says, but during one such mission trip to Cincinnati, OH, she found herself falling in love with the inner workings of the church. When the leaders made an altar call for those called to ministry, she heard God say, “That’s you. Go.”

Back in Boston, she told her pastor that Europe was on her heart, even though the mission opportunities through her Korean-American congregation were predominantly in Asian house-churches. Providentially, her pastor had just met some pastors from Romania who needed interns. For one year, she helped that team plant a church from the ground up. When she returned home, her pastor encouraged her to start looking at seminaries, and she found Western (WTS).

“I really liked the program and how WTS wants to form students as full-rounded pastors and not just fill us with information and send us on our way,” she explains. She enrolled and moved to Michigan.

First year Master of Divinity students take a ministry formation course called The Abbey. One aspect includes lengthy discussion of the Enneagram personality profile.

“Going through the process of the Enneagram was very hard, and we all came out rather shell-shocked,” says Kristen, “but it helped me develop my pastoral heart. This is what I was praying for, and this is what I got. You don’t see other seminaries do that really deep inner work. It is so critical to formation.”

For her “Teaching Church” internship site, Kristen landed with Engedi, a youthful, cutting-edge church planted from a large Wesleyan church in Holland.

Kristen spent her first year learning all she could about the nuts and bolts of the church—things like finances, leadership, and day-to-day operations. Her internship led to a paid position as the executive pastor’s assistant.
When a communications position opened up, Kristen showed the church her art portfolio and they immediately offered her a new role—design coordinator.

“I definitely did not see myself in the place where I am now,” she admits. “When God called me to ministry, I thought I would have to give up art. I didn’t see how those two were ever going to fit together.”

“Art has always given me a lot of life,” Kristen says. “When I don’t do it for a long time, I feel like I’m not living up to what I was made to do.”

Kristen isn’t sure yet how God will combine her passion for church planting with her passion for art, but she is more convinced than ever that he has a plan for both.

Recently Kristen helped lead a youth trip to Guatemala where she designed a mural for an impoverished community. Also, last year National Public Radio (NPR) hired her as an illustrator. 

“My inspiration and vision is how I can make this world a more beautiful place. The world can be dark, scary, and uncertain, but art touches the heart in ways that words alone can’t. Guatemala was an opportunity to test that out,” she says. “Maybe the church God is calling me to plant will look different than the usual kind of church.”

Whatever church she plants, Kristen wants it to be multi-cultural and multi-lingual.

“I can do it!” by Kristen Uroda

“What would it look like if pastors around the world and within neighborhoods could work together? Where it’s just the shared identity under Christ’s name? I think the church is our best bet for crossing cultural barriers and healing divisions.”

Kristen’s interests could land her anywhere—her passions range from the Native American community to the people of France. She is open to wherever the Lord leads.

She is grateful to her pastors at Engedi for making space for her gifts and helping her incorporate them into both leadership and worship. As for her time at Western Theological Seminary, “I went in not really knowing what it was going to be like, and it has been a good experience!”

Above all, she now knows that wherever God leads, she will be using both her pastoral and artistic gifts to meet the needs of people.

 

2017 Stoutemire Lecture with Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah

The 7th Annual Leonard F. Stoutemire Lecture in Multicultural Ministry

“Evangelicalism and the Failure of Racial Reconciliation”

with Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah

The Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism
North Park Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL

September 19, 2017 at 1:30pm in Mulder Chapel

Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah draws from his book, Return to Justice, authored with Gary Vanderpol, as he discusses the lessons learned from early attempts at racial reconciliation among U.S. evangelicals in the 1960s and 70s.

A greater awareness of the need for racial reconciliation has been noticeable in US evangelicalism over the last decade. More churches are seeking to become ethnically diverse as society moves towards greater diversity. While many streams engage this topic, we are oftentimes unaware of historical examples of attempts at racial reconciliation among US evangelicals. In this lecture, Dr. Rah examines the rise of African-American Evangelicalism in the 1960s and 1970s. Through key figures and stories, we will seek lessons to be learned from early attempts at racial reconciliation among US evangelicals.

Dr. Rah founded the Cambridge Community Fellowship Church, a multi-ethnic church focused on urban ministry and committed to living out the values of racial reconciliation and social justice in the urban context of Cambridge, MA.

He previously served as an InterVarsity staff worker at MIT.

Suggested readings to prepare for lecture:

  • Chapter 5: “African American Evangelicals” in Return to Justice (Brazos, 2016).
  • “Epilogue” to Soong-Chan Rah, Prophetic Lament (IVP Books, 2015).

In addition to co-writing Return to Justice (Brazos, 2016), Dr. Rah has written Prophetic Lament (A Commentary on the book of Lamentations from IVP Books, 2015); The Next Evangelicalism (IVP Books, 2009); Many Colors (Moody, 2010); and Forgive Us (Zondervan, 2014).

Videos:

Take a 3-weekend course at Western!

MN575: Theology and Philosophy of Youth Ministry

with Dr. Gabriel Veas

  • WEEKENDS: September 22-23, October 20-21, November 10-11
  • Course held on campus at Western Theological Seminary

About Gabe Veas:

(from http://www.drgabeveas.com/)

As students continue to face negative influences on a daily basis, communities across the country are in search of leaders with life-changing messages that resonate with youth. Straight from the heart of Los Angeles, a new voice of hope has emerged for this generation: Dr. Gabe Veas.

Dr. Gabe Veas believes in rememberingthe past. The last names of his grandparents reflect his Mexican heritage: Ramirez, Aguilar, Martinez, and Veas. Yet, looking back on it all, Veas’ family came to the United States with a dream. One could call it the American dream, or better yet, they were “California Dreaming”. They had dreams of a better life, not only of hope and opportunities for themselves, but more importantly for their children to be educated and live a better life. Based upon his upbringing, Veas realized the truth that each person, individually, will have to choose whether or not to follow the positive or negative traditions of his or her heritage, neighborhood, and family.

In his talk, “California Dreaming,” Dr. Gabe Veas speaks to the realities of life growing up in a humble Mexican-American home in Los Angeles. Inspired by dreams born out of pain and struggle, Veas shares the motivational story of how he overcame the realities of inner-city life to persevere and be the positive role model he is today. This popular message has roots to Dr. Gabe Veas’ earliest days as a speaker when he began addressing crowds of his classmates weekly at the age of 16. Back then, while attending one of the most dangerous high schools in America, Veas first felt the need to step out and make a positive difference by encouraging students to follow their dreams and give back to the community.

MN575: Theology and Philosophy of Youth Ministry
with Dr. Gabriel Veas

Students in this course will seek to understand the philosophical theories of youth ministry, as well as how biblical principles have been examined and applied historically to youth ministry. Students will learn how to implement the discipleship process and cultivate faith development. Other areas covered will include the teacher/learner process, small group development, age differentiated ministry needs in the local church, working with volunteers, developing lesson plans, mentoring, and how to direct the youth ministry program within the community.

Class Times for “Theology and Philosophy of Youth Ministry:”

  • September 22-23 (Friday 3-6pm & Saturday 8am-12, then 1-5pm)
  • October 20-21 (Friday 3-6pm & Saturday 8am-12, then 1-5pm)
  • November 10-11 (Friday 3-6pm & Saturday 8am-12, then 1-5pm)

$300 to audit, or take for 3 credit hours at $1,335

Contact Beth Smith to register at 616-392-8555 or registrar@westernsem.edu

 

2017 Distinguished Alum The Rev. Dr. Samuel Solivan ‘76

Rev. Dr. Samuel Solivan, WTS graduate, 1976

Rev. Dr. Samuel Solivan calls himself Pentecostal and Arminian—not exactly a run-of- the-mill Western graduate! From the moment he was born, this year’s distinguished alum has lived a life full of surprises and God’s miraculous intervention.

When Sam’s mother was only seven months pregnant, she was at the church cleaning around the altar when suddenly she began to go into labor. The pastor and some members of the church helped her to the floor and she gave birth right there. The pastor held the boy in his arms and named him Samuel.

Sam’s parents had moved to East Harlem, NY from Puerto Rico. His father was a quiet military man, and his mother was a devout Christ-follower who took her six sons to church nearly every day. Sam learned a deep love for the church from her.

As a child, Sam was diagnosed with hearing loss and what was then called “mental retardation.” His mother was encouraged to send him to a special school for the deaf, but it was too far away, so he remained in remedial classes at public school.

Doctors attempted four different surgeries to improve his hearing, but the last surgery caused part of his face to become disfigured. He dealt with a lot of bullying, leading his teachers to suggest home school, but his mother insisted he stay in school. “We believe in a healing God,” she said.

He later transferred to a vocational school, and there his guidance counselor told him not to expect much out of life. “Just do your best.”

Sam and Irene’s wedding, 1969

During this time, Sam met his future wife, Irene. Her parents sponsored youth activities and prayer vigils at their home. When Sam was 13, he entered their home and saw Irene playing the piano.

The next year, during one of these vigils, Sam sensed the Lord calling him to “preach and teach My word.” He thought it was just emotionalism and wondered how God could use him with his learning disabilities. He asked God to confirm this call through his Word and through others. He also thought he would need to speak Spanish, so he asked to learn it. Then he opened his Bible and it landed on Jeremiah 1: “I have called you and known you since you were in your mother’s womb.”

Iglesia Evangelica del Bronx—Sam was literally born here, Irene grew up in this church, they got married here, and Sam was installed as pastor of this church.

That same night, Irene’s father asked Sam to join him at an evangelistic meeting the next day. When the evangelist (whom Sam had never met) went forward to speak, he asked, “Is there a Sam Solivan in the room?” Sam nervously stepped forward, and the man said, “The Lord said he will heal your mind and body and teach you Spanish.”

A few years later when Sam graduated from high school, he was drafted into the Air Force. Once he passed training, the military realized he had pre-existing conditions that would prevent him from getting insurance during active duty. They offered him an option: either go to Vietnam without insurance, or receive an honorable discharge as a veteran of the United States.

“I may be [mentally disabled], but I’m no fool!” Dr. Solivan recalls thinking.

He returned home and went to church to thank God for not having to go to war. In normal Pentecostal tradition, Sam began to speak in tongues as he prayed at the front of the church. In the back of the church, someone offered the interpretation: “I permitted this [sickness] in your life to save your life, and now I’m going to heal you. The four years you would have given to the Air Force, you will give to Me to serve Me.”

From that day forward, his hearing began to improve. Over the years, his facial deformation has healed to the point that it is now barely noticeable.

Sam heard about Central Bible College in Springfield, MO from Irene’s pastor and decided to apply. Even though he was at a second grade reading level, his compassionate professors helped him as the Lord healed his mind and body.

He completed his Bachelor of Arts in 1970 and returned to the Pentecostal church where he was raised, this time as the head pastor. He also began work as a community organizer in East Harlem. Traditionally, Pentecostal pastors are not required to attend seminary, so Sam would have been happy not to go—but the Lord had other plans.

Sam with WTS President I. John Hesselink, 1975

In 1973, Sam received a call from Dr. I. John Hesselink of Western Theological Seminary. Dr. Hesselink was working with the Reformed Church in America to recruit Latino leadership in the denomination and wanted Sam to come for an interview to be a student. The sheer unconventionality of the situation told Sam that this was a sign from God. A month later, he and his wife and three young children moved to Holland, MI for the Greek summer course.

“As an Arminian, a Latino, and a Pentecostal, it was somewhat strange, but also amazing and wonderful,” he shares. “There’s been no other community that was so powerful in transforming and equipping me. Western Theological Seminary is the institution that has most marked my life.”

During his time in Holland, Sam was named the city’s Commissioner of Education and Housing for the Human Relations Commission, and he also started the West Michigan Latino Ministers Association. He graduated with the class of 1976, alongside current WTS president Timothy Brown.

“I have kept looking over Western’s shoulders over the years, seeing their efforts to recruit Latino, African Americans, and other minorities,” says Sam. “I’ve been encouraged by that.”

Officially “Dr. Solivan” — getting his PhD at Union Theological Seminary, 1993

One interaction with Professor John Piet stuck with Sam. “I’m going to speak to you as a Pentecostal,” Dr. Piet said one day to Sam’s surprise. “The Holy Spirit is leading me to tell you this: The Lord is going to open the doors for you to get a Ph.D.”

Dr. Piet was right. The following year, Sam was accepted to Union Theological Seminary in New York City for a one-year research degree, the Master of Sacred Theology. Later, after serving four years as an RCA missionary in Venezuela, he would return to Union for his Ph.D.

Even though Sam came from a Pentecostal background, the WTS faculty certified him to be ordained in the RCA by the Classis of New York. When he and his family returned from Venezuela, he served as lead pastor of Bethel Reformed Church in New Jersey and later Old First Reformed Church in Brooklyn.

Eventually, Dr. Solivan transferred to the Assemblies of God, the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination. He moved to Boston and taught Christian theology at Andover Newton Theological School. Harvard Medical School invited him to be the theologian on a team studying medicine and spirituality. Eventually the study became a required course, and he was asked to be an adjunct faculty member.

In 1999, the Lord called Dr. Solivan to Puerto Rico. He was invited to serve as vice president of religious affairs at InterAmerican University, the largest bi-lingual evangelical protestant university in the world. He still serves there as a tenured professor of theology, and he helped to found their Ph.D. program. He has also served for nine years at the Theological Seminary of Puerto Rico.

Dr. Solivan helped to found the Eurasian Theological Seminary in Moscow, the European Leadership Academy in Malaga, Spain, and spent eleven years as part of the international faculty for the Haggai Institute with locations in Maui and Singapore.

The Haggai Institute trains professionals and executives from all over the world in evangelism and leadership. Students have included supreme court justices, lawyers, engineers, and even princesses.

“These are the kinds of things that keep me busy,” Dr. Solivan laughs.

He and Irene run the ecumenical Center for Theological Reflection in Puerto Rico, which meets monthly to pray and discuss theology with others. Also, for the last 14 years Dr. Solivan has led a radio program on theological reflection called “Thinking out Loud” with fellow theologians.

The Solivans have four grown children who live in the U.S.: three daughters and one son.

Before going off to Bible college, Dr. Solivan recalls his father (who barely ever spoke about spiritual matters) telling him, “Do it with excellence, because the Lord requires excellence.”

After a challenging childhood but a deep faithfulness to God and community, Dr. Solivan’s life has certainly been marked by excellence and a grateful spirit.

The Rev. Dawn Boelkins Retires

After more than twenty years of teaching biblical languages at Western Theological Seminary, Associate Professor Dawn Boelkins is retiring at the end of the 2016-17 academic year. To say that she will be missed only scratches the surface of what her gifts and presence have meant to students, colleagues, staff, and administration.

The ordination liturgy for Ministers of Word and Sacrament in the RCA charges those being ordained to “attend to reading, prayer, study, preaching, and teaching,” and to “not neglect the gift that is in you.” Since her ordination to that office in 1987, Dawn has devoted herself to living out every aspect of that charge. A graduate of both Western’s M.Div. and D.Min. degree programs, Dawn has played an integral part in the work and culture of Western Theological Seminary, teaching Hebrew and Greek in both the on-campus and distance learning programs. Her students laud her for her creativity and compassion, crediting her with opening God’s Word to them in unexpected and invaluable ways.

Dawn’s own sense of calling and satisfaction in her teaching is glimpsed in her response to a question about what it’s like to teach required language courses: “Generally, students approach the biblical languages with some trepidation. I beckon them past their uncertainties into the humbling, exhilarating, and spiritually rewarding discipline of biblical translation and interpretation.” One of her greatest joys, she says, is seeing the “lights go on” for her students in this regard. She also highlights the rich sense of collegiality she has experienced in participating in the Hebrew program, which has undergone many innovative changes during her years on the teaching team.

When asked to reflect on what has given her the most joy in her time at WTS, Dawn identifies her role in the committee that redesigned Mulder Chapel. The practical and theological joined hands in a powerful way for her on this committee. The end result, she says, was “an opportunity to see the Word made flesh” in a wonderful way.

You will be deeply missed, Dawn! Thank you for tending so faithfully both to your own gifts and to the gifts of your students. May God bless you richly in the coming years as you have indeed blessed us.

—Dr. Carol Bechtel

Carol Bechtel

In their words…

In Hebrew class I loved when you would gather us in a circle to have a “lovely little theological discussion.” You always created a safe and holy space for us to share our perceptions and ideas about what we were learning. …Thank you for offering yourself and your gifts of language, teaching, music, worship, and creativity to the church, the seminary, and to students like me who are now ready to take all we have learned and go out to share God’s blessing to those we encounter along the way.

—Michelle VanDenBerg

At faculty meetings I often saw you as a model, showing us how to ask honest and probing questions while holding to your convictions, even if you were the only one to vote a certain direction. I loved it when you were willing to be the only “no” or “yes” vote!

—Dr. J. Todd BIllings

As one who struggled with Greek, your care and skill opened the door to the beauty of the language, and how it can help reveal God’s character to us.

—Chris Walker

I will never look again at Greek or Hebrew with the fear and frustration I had living within me when I walked into my first class with you. …I am an improved student of the Word because you showed me how to research to understand the narrative in light of God’s redemptive plan, and not just to get the language right.

—Josh Westhouse

In Hebrew class, you named me Rav Chesed—steadfast loving kindness. As an attribute of God, it is used again and again in scripture, and each mention of it brings to light the depths of not only who God is, but helps me realize more fully who I am in God. What a gift! I will truly cherish it the rest of my life.

—Amy Klanderman

Teaching on the Hebrew team has been one of the greatest joys of my life and has lent such meaning and purpose to my work. …Thank you for giving yourself to the team for so many years, for laughing with us at all our mistakes (and sharing yours so we could both laugh and learn from them. …Thank you for being not just a delightful colleague, but a dear friend.

—Rev. Travis West

With Gratitude: The WTS – Newbigin House Partnership ending

 

I still remember visiting Western Theological Seminary in 2010 on an exploratory trip for Newbigin House of Studies, an educational initiative that had emerged from City Church San Francisco. There was a palpable sense of excitement about a unique relationship between a respected seminary and an important city church. The prospects grew as President Tim Brown secured a significant grant to help fund the partnership. In the Fall of 2011 our partnership was launched in San Francisco in an inaugural event featuring NT Wright. Our first class of graduates from the WTS-Newbigin Distance Learning Master of Divinity program walked last May.

The partnership was designed to train church planters in city settings, and we’re happy to report that we have graduates (and students) planting or serving in Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Boulder, San Francisco, and beyond (even Bangkok!). In the years we’ve been together, nearly 40 students benefited from a challenging missional curriculum, with yearly intensives in San Francisco.

The formal partnership, however, has come to an end. While the cost of ongoing funding for an endeavor like this exceeds our capacity, we’ve also learned many things from each other. Newbigin House, led by my good friend Dr. Scot Sherman, discerned that they can serve the church best through a “Newbigin Year” program, making their offerings more broadly accessible. And WTS changed much during its time in partnership. I moved from San Francisco and joined Western’s faculty at the same time as some excellent new colleagues with expertise in mission, justice, disability, and more. Western isn’t the same seminary it was in 2010, and our curriculum and ethos have been changed not only by the influence of these new professors but also by our partnership with the Newbigin House of Studies.

The net gains are huge, and the work goes on as students continue their learning within this unique curriculum. WTS will grant advanced standing with credit to applicants who have completed a new ministry discernment program at NHS called the Newbigin Year. Current WTS students may also take NHS courses for credit toward their WTS programs.

We give thanks for all this partnership has meant.

—Dr. Chuck DeGroat

Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling

Senior Fellow of the Newbigin House of Studies

Announcing Hispanic Ministries Program

Rev. Joseph Ocasio

On May 4, Rev. Joseph Ocasio arrived in Holland to begin his role as director of Hispanic ministry programs for WTS. Rev. Ocasio comes to us from Phoenixville, PA, where he served as director of admissions for the University of Valley Forge. Along with managing the institution’s enrollment, Joseph participated in developing diversity strategies to promote cultural engagement among faculty, staff, and students.

Previously, Rev. Ocasio launched the Hispanic Leadership Center at Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL. In that capacity, he organized student leaders to develop many campus events promoting cultural connections, and he built bridges with Latino/a churches to provide a pathway toward completing an associate of ministry degree entirely in Spanish for Hispanic pastors and leaders.

While in Florida, Rev. Ocasio was the pastor of John 3:16 Christian Church, a bilingual church in Lakeland. He is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God serving within the Spanish language districts.

Joseph and his wife of 27 years, Myra, are proud parents of four children and have three grandchildren. Whenever possible, Joseph enjoys playing golf, road biking, martial arts and hiking. Rev. Ocasio earned a bachelor of science degree in church leadership and an MA in ministerial leadership from Southeastern University. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida with a specialization in management and marketing. Currently, he is in his second year pursuing a doctorate of education in educational leadership from Gwynedd Mercy University.

Western’s strategic plan calls us to “participate in Latino/a theological education.” Led by Rev. Ocasio, our first initiative contextualizes our current Graduate Certificate in Urban Pastoral Ministry (GCUPM) into a program specifically aimed at preparing and empowering Hispanic women and men to lead the church in mission.

This certificate is comprised of 24 credit hours, including courses in biblical studies, church history, theology, leadership, urban ministry, and the ecclesial concerns of the Hispanic Church.

This summer Western will launch two simultaneous GCUPM cohorts. One will commence in June with nearly 30 Pentecostal pastors and leaders.

The other cohort is launching in partnership with the Reformed Church in America’s Classis of the Americas. The GCUPM will provide the necessary professional, personal, spiritual and academic preparation for individuals seeking an appointment as Commissioned Pastor of the RCA. The educational and formation experiences this program provides will incorporate the ten competencies for ministries championed by the Commissioned Pastors Advisory Team (CPAT) and the Pastoral Formation Coordinating Committee (PFCC).

The seminary community is enthused about these new developments and looks forward to sharing news of other aspects of the Hispanic Ministries Program in the future.

WTS Breaks Ground

With six shovels full of dirt, the construction of the new Jack and Mary DeWitt Learning Center and the renovation of WTS officially began on May 9.

While our present reality includes the storage of thousands of books, the clearing of an entire floor of the library, and the well-ordered chaos of relocating the offices of 40 employees in a month, let’s turn our attention away from today to what the seminary will be in 2019 when the project is completed.

Holland Mayor Nancy De Boer speaks at the May 9 groundbreaking ceremony.

The crown jewel of the campus will be the Jack and Mary DeWitt Learning Center, housing the entire Cook Library collection and providing plenty of collaborative and contemplative learning spaces. The Learning Center will dominate the eastern side of the building, and just outside, further east, will be a large green space where the old Cook Center for Theological Research stood. Those sitting on the second floor of the new Learning Center will have an unobstructed view of the Hope College campus. A patio on the north side of the building will be a popular gathering spot in temperate weather, and fireplaces inside will provide warmth during the winter months. The entire library collection will be housed in the new building, and there will be plenty of space for the collection to grow.

Associate Director of Development Dana Daniels passes out safety vests during the May 9 groundbreaking ceremony.

On the south side of the seminary, a new two story administrative wing will rise, providing a clear entrance to the building. The president’s office, the business office, student services, advancement, communications, and educational technology offices will be housed in the new administrative wing. The entryway will line up with the existing reception desk, and the second floor of the new wing will adjoin the second floor of the atrium. President Brown’s office will be by the front door of the seminary, providing maximum visibility and availability to the community.

Renovated classrooms will dominate the hallway that runs south of the new Learning Center. New windows and floors will be visible throughout the building, and at the western end of the seminary, a newly renovated kitchen and Commons area will make providing meals for guests much more efficient. The Community Kitchen (a soup kitchen that operates daily out of the seminary) will finally have adequate food storage and—at long last—the Commons will be air-conditioned.

With this project, every inch of the original seminary building from 1954 will be renovated and made functional for the decades to come.

Not so visible but of vital importance will be improvements to the seminary’s infrastructure, including significant upgrades of the mechanical systems. As a result of the project, the seminary will be much more energy efficient, and the entire building will meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Architecturally, the building will be one cohesive piece, all in the same Georgian Colonial style that has dominated the corner of 13th and College Avenue since the mid-1950s.

That’s 2019, and a whole lot of dust is going to fly between now and then. By the time you read this, demolition and construction will have begun, and a new, exciting future for Western will be emerging.

What does this all of this mean for returning and new students?

While we all anticipate the new and valuable improvements to the learning experience and environment, you may rest assured that the 2017-18 academic year will be robust with challenging and formative learning with the same variety of courses taught by the same esteemed faculty. Most courses will be taught in the existing classrooms in the main building and students will continue to have access to the resources of the library with the same flexibility as before. While the evidence of construction will be hard to avoid, it is our goal to ensure a hospitable and effective learning environment for all of our students.

Where will students find staff and faculty who are key to their daily concerns? The offices of those individuals with whom students interact on a regular basis will remain easily accessible:

Main Floor Atrium:

Admissions Office (Poppen/English/Kingdom-Grier/Schipper)

Financial Services (Donkersloot/Eshenauer)

Ed Tech Offices (Bailey/Ehmann/Vlisides)

Book Store (Huisman)

Second Floor Atrium:

Academic Affairs Offices (Padilla/Nordé/Brogan/Hamm)

Faculty

Garden Level (down the stairs from the Atrium):

Student Services and Formation for Ministry (Small/Bush/Miguel Cipriano/Smith/Swier)

Human Resources and Title IX Concerns (Perez)

Faculty (Komline)

Director for Hispanic Ministries Program (Ocasio)

Library Mezzanine:

President’s Office (Brown/Munroe/Zylman-TenHave)

Main Floor Library:

Library Staff

4th Floor Library:

Th.M. Program Administrator (Sundararajan)

Writing Studio Director (Baron)

5th Floor Library:

Office of Advancement (Bast/Buikema/Daniels/Honholt/Housman/Wernlund)

Communications (Capotosto/Rice)

Journey/Continuing Ed. (Housman/Sotok/VanderMolen)

We will continue to worship each day in Mulder Chapel. For the next several months, the Community Kitchen has relocated to the United Methodist Church and to Hope Reformed Church, both just a few blocks away. We hope to have the Community Kitchen back on campus in early 2018.

It is our hope that all of the planning, strategizing, excitement and anticipation will override any of the inconveniences and commotion we might encounter as this project moves along. There will be drawings, photos, and regular updates to encourage us on the days when we might become weary.

We will look forward to your input as we learn and work together!

 

 

How Worship formed Guests around my Dining Room Table

 

Timothy L. Brown

 

 

Dr. Timothy Brown

President and Henry Bast Professor of Preaching

 

Here at Western Theological Seminary we make a big deal out of our daily worship. It might surprise you to learn that we are one of the few seminaries left that still worships as a community every single day. We believe worship forms us over time in mysterious ways we can scarcely understand.

I want you to come with me to the two-story colonial home where Nancy and I live, just a few blocks south of the seminary. There we are having a dinner, hosting six of our best friends over the last 25 years. Come and get to know these good people; look into their faces, listen in on their conversations, and feel the texture of relationships that have kept us together through thick and thin since before Ronald Reagan was President. Just stand quietly in the corner of the dining room and take it all in, because it strikes me as a kind of living commentary on what worshipping the living God in a Reformed way can do for you.

Sitting directly across from me is Jack Smith (I won’t use any real names in this article). Jack and I graduated from college together and went off to different graduate schools. When I graduated from seminary with the right to be a minister of Word and Sacrament, Jack graduated with an MBA and what seemed to be a license to print money. He has become fabulously wealthy, not unlike many who made fortunes in the 80s and 90s. What singles Jack out is that somewhere along the line he stopped asking the question, “How much of my fortune should I give away to good causes?” and started asking, “How much of what God has given me do I have the right to keep?” If you asked where he learned to do this, he’ll tell you that it dawned on him after hearing—Sunday in and Sunday out!—“Let us return our tithes and offerings to the Lord!”

Sitting next to Nancy is Lynn. While giving birth to her third child—right in the very act of offering life—she was stricken with a debilitating stroke. The baby survived and so did she, but her life would never be the same. She would never change that baby’s diapers or dance with her husband again. At one point in the evening while we were discussing “the good old days at Christ Memorial Church,” Lynn said to me, “You know, Tim, my favorite moment in our worship services was always right at the beginning when you would lift your arms in the air and say, ‘Grace to you and peace in the name of the Lord Jesus!’ When I hear those words my heart almost stops and I know that while I may never understand why all of this happened to me, I do know that our gracious God does know and, frankly, that’s all I need.”

Sitting opposite of each other are the Holts and the Newhouses. Dr. Holt teaches at Hope College and had an Obama/Biden bumper sticker on his car a few presidential elections ago. Mr. Newhouse is a successful realtor in Holland, and he and his wife had TWO Bush/Cheney posters in their front yard during the same election. At one point the conversation turned to politics and heated up a little bit—and I thought, “Oh no! My party is going to tank!”—but then, mysteriously, the Holts and the Newhouses shifted effortlessly from American politics and their striking differences to their heavenly citizenship and the one thing that will join them together forever.

At the end of the night, Nancy read several Psalms from Eugene Peterson’s The Message and we all held hands and prayed—prayed for our kids and grandkids, prayed for one another, and prayed for our world. We ended with the Lord’s Prayer and tears!

It may not have been so clear to me that night, but it surely is now—we had all been mysteriously shaped and formed by the way we worship Sunday in and Sunday out, and because of that we were being shaped and formed for witness and work in the world.

That’s why we make a big fuss over daily worship here!