As an adjunct professor at Western for several years, Dr. David A. Escobar Arcay is the only person who has taught in both our Spanish and English programs, consistently receiving excellent course evaluations. Dr. Escobar Arcay has accepted the offer to join WTS full-time as Associate Professor of Theology and to direct our Hispanic Ministry Program.

Dr. Escobar Arcay has considerable experience in a range of educational settings as a schoolteacher, principal, and most recently as a professor of education at Nova Southeastern University (Orlando & Miami, FL) serving the Caribbean and Central and South America for the last decade. He has also lectured widely for diverse theological seminaries and churches in the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America most recently teaching for Western’s Brazil DMin cohort on Transformative Learning while directing the Florida-based DMin cohort, “The Latino Pastor Theologian.” His first Ph.D. is in educational leadership at Boston College and his second Ph.D. focuses on trinitarian theology at the University of Aberdeen. We look forward to welcoming him to campus for the fall semester.

Learn more on his Faculty page here (English) or here (Español).

“We can be bigger than this. These fences don’t define us.”

– Carlos, HWPEP student

Two years ago, Hope College and Western Theological Seminary (WTS) began a pilot program to offer a Christian liberal arts education to long-term incarcerated men at Muskegon Correctional Facility in Muskegon, MI. We are pleased to announce that the initial success of The Hope-Western Prison Education Program (HWPEP) has led the college to pursue taking steps to accreditation. Essentially, the prison will become an extension campus of the college, and men housed there will be able to earn a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Faith, Leadership, and Service with standards as rigorous as those expected of Holland-based Hope College students.

Following the model established by the pilot program, the classes will be taught by professors from Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, and Hope and Western students will have the opportunity to be teaching assistants. Since its start in 2019, seven professors from Hope and Western have taught a total of six classes to 20 incarcerated students who have enrolled in the program. Ten seminary and college students have served as assistants.

A cohort of 20 students will be added each year until the program is fully operational at four cohorts (80 students). The students will be recruited from among the 31,000 male prisoners in the 26-prison system operated by the Michigan Department of Corrections. Prospective students will need letters of recommendation from their warden, chaplain, or prison school principal. They will apply to the college, write an essay, and possibly be interviewed by video. If accepted, they will be moved to the Muskegon Correctional Facility. For a lot of these men, this will be the first real community they have had since being incarcerated.

The seeds for HWPEP were sown by a student in Calvin University’s Calvin Prison Initiative (CPI) at Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, MI. He was a pen pal with Dr. Jared Ortiz, a professor at Hope College, and came up with the rather unusual idea that he and his fellow students at Handlon should host a conference on restorative justice at Hope College. That conference, “Hope for Restoration: Radical Hospitality and Prison Reform,” took place on March 4, 2017, and the CPI students participated virtually from Handlon.

Dr. David Stubbs and Dr. Richard Ray

Dr. David Stubbs and Dr. Richard Ray

Inspired by the conference, about 20 Hope and Western professors got together to discuss whether something like the CPI program could serve as a model for Hope and Western. WTS Professor of Ethics and Theology David Stubbs was particularly struck by the idea, and after several talks with the people at Calvin and visits to the Handlon prison, he became convinced he should devote himself to this important project. Soon Professor of Kinesiology Richard Ray of Hope College was on board, too, and the CPI leadership graciously took them under their wings. They visited Angola Prison in Louisiana, where they learned that prior to its B.A. program, there were 4000 violent incidents a year. That fell to 400. Even more striking, after Calvin University instituted its program at Handlon Correctional Facility, over 1000 annual violent incidents decreased to eight. Calvin student cohorts changed the culture. This ignited the imaginations of professors Stubbs and Ray.

“We saw the unbelievable things happening to the men at Handlon, many of whom had spent decades behind bars,” Ray shares. “They were clearly not the people they used to be. The work Calvin folks were doing with these men was really changing them.”

“Many of them did something bad when they were 17 years old, but now they’re 40, 50 years old,” explains Stubbs. “Having a vocation, something they can give back to their families and communities, is incredibly humanizing.”

Dr. Pam Bush listens to a student reflect on the class discussion.

Dr. Pam Bush (left) listens to a student reflect on the class discussion.

The two professors and a steering committee spent 18 months preparing for the pilot program launch, earning the support of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), the warden at Muskegon Correctional Facility, and the support of then presidents Timothy Brown (WTS) and Dennis Voskuil (Hope).

Dr. Stubbs taught the first class, “What are People For?” to a cohort of 20 students in the Spring of 2019. This was followed by “Differing Meanings of Freedom” by Dr. Jim Allis (Hope), “Communicating with Courage and Compassion” by Dr. Pam Bush (WTS), “What is the Good Life?” by Dr. Steven Bouma-Prediger (Hope), and “Friendship and Community” by Drs. Dennis Feaster and Curtis Gruenler (Hope).

The men in the program were thrilled to be gaining an education and very quickly began teaching bunkmates and family members what they were learning. Not only were HWPEP students becoming transformed, they began stopping fights in the yard using non-violent communication techniques they learned in class.

“A chance to be a college student is a reminder that God is not finished with me.”

As one student aptly put it, “Most of my life has been a journey in trying to find something greater than myself. Getting a college education would give me the tools necessary to complete my journey—to be a better man, to be a bigger person than I once was, to contribute to the world around me in a positive way, and to be what God intended me to be—his true and faithful servant.”

Recent WTS graduate Gene Ryan ’21 served as a teaching assistant, reading through students’ weekly papers and offering feedback. “I remain blessed by the connections made with the students, having seen the work they put into their writing and heard their wisdom weekly in the classroom,” he says. “Walls and bars cannot contain the work of the mind. These students showed me that, and it is a lesson I will not soon forget”.

A student reads his paper to fellow classmates and teaching assistants Anne Elzinga and Amber Morris.

A student reads his paper to fellow classmates and teaching assistants Anne Elzinga and Amber Morris.

In 2020, coronavirus lockdowns temporarily halted HWPEP as visitors were not allowed into the prison facilities. Sadly, the Muskegon Correctional Facility suffered an illness rate of over 80%, and nine inmates lost their lives to the virus. Eventually, “Friendship and Community” was able to be completed as a correspondence course, and another course entitled “Exploring Faith, Leadership, and Service” was offered and also was completed by correspondence.

Moving forward with HWPEP will involve many critical steps, including Higher Learning Commission approval of MCF as a satellite campus of Hope College, the recruitment of faculty, and the recruitment of a robust pool of generous donors who recognize the redemptive potential of education to transform those locked away from society.

“Why a prison education program? It is part of the Christian mission of our schools,” says co-director David Stubbs. “At the heart of a liberal arts education is equipping people with a vision of what human life is all about, who they are, and who they can be. These men are changed by that vision as well. Please pray for us. HWPEP a wonderful thing to be a part of and a privilege as well.”

A generous donor has committed to match gifts to WTS in support of the HWPEP program up to $100,000 each year for four years. This gift holds the promise of serving as a transformational catalyst and is the most significant in HWPEP’s history. To donate to the program, visit westernsem.edu/hope-western-prison-education-give

for more information, visit: hope.edu/hwpep


Vision
To provide a Christian liberal arts education to incarcerated men with the goal of renewing minds, forming persons, and helping transform the prison, the college, the seminary, and the larger community into places where “justice and peace embrace” (Psalm 85:10).

Mission
The Hope-Western Prison Education Program provides a Christian liberal arts education to incarcerated men with long-term sentences at Muskegon Correctional Facility. As a covenant partnership between Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, the program strives to form thoughtful and wise citizens dedicated to improving their communities—whether inside or outside of prison.


On Thursday, June 17, President Joe Biden established Juneteenth as a federal holiday. The measure received broad bi-partisan support, including the unanimous consent of the U.S. Senate and overwhelming support of the House of Representatives. 

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, receives its name from June 19, 1865, when the Union army arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce that all enslaved African-Americans in the state were free in accordance with President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Texas was the last state in the Confederacy to receive the news that the Civil War was over, and that slavery had been abolished. 

Since 1866, Juneteenth has been celebrated in one form or another, especially within the African-American community. The State of Texas made it an official state holiday in 1980, and until now, 47 states and the District of Columbia recognized June 19 as a holiday or as a day of observation.

Establishing Juneteenth as a Federal holiday is an important moment in our country’s history as we continue to grapple with the racism and racial tension that have been a part of our country’s history since its inception, and to press on toward the grand aspiration that all people are created equal.

The Western Theological Seminary Statement on Racial and Ethnic Diversity states, “Scripture is clear that all people are created in the image of God without distinction of race or ethnicity and that the blessings of God are for all peoples and nations.” As Christians, “We are united to Christ by the Spirit through faith, such that none may boast over another; and yet our one-ness in Christ also includes our distinct racial and ethnic identities, which was God’s intentional design and will continue to be affirmed and celebrated into the eschaton.”

In this spirit, we celebrate and affirm the establishment of Juneteenth as a Federal holiday. Beginning in the 2021-2022 academic year, Western Theological Seminary will observe June 19 as a federal holiday. May this day be a day of remembrance but also a day of aspiration as we continue to live into our identity as agents of reconciliation who are committed to the biblical practices of peacemaking and reconciliation. May we do so wholeheartedly, so that even in the here and now, we may more closely live into what God has ordained from the very beginning and what we will share in the life to come. 

 

-President Felix Theonugraha

 

 

Western Theological Seminary has signed an agreement with the Church Leadership Center (CLC) to provide a pathway for CLC alumni to continue on toward a Master’s degree.

WTS is offering CLC alumni the opportunity to transfer 15 graduate-level credits that can be applied toward a Master of Arts in Christian Studies or Master of Divinity program. Students can also apply 9 credits towards a Graduate Certificate in Pastoral Ministry if they choose.

Click on the PDF below for more information about this exciting opportunity, or contact us at admissions@westernsem.edu to find out more!

*Note* The transcripting fee will be WAIVED for 2021-22 applicants! Talk to us today about options!

Top photo: Highbridge Community Church, Bronx, NY – Pastor Cora Taitt

In 2020, Lilly Endowment Inc. awarded the seminary a one million dollar grant to fund Churches in Mission, a five-year project that aims to learn with and from congregations as they discern God’s movement in their neighborhoods.

In April, Churches in Mission kicked off a 15-month journey with a virtual training event. From a variety of contexts, traditions, and neighborhoods, seven congregations invited five team members to engage the process and attend the event. Their work begins with an ethnography-inspired listening and discovery process in their neighborhoods. Their goal is to more deeply hear, love, and care for their neighbors. They may also discover new local partnerships and ministry opportunities along the way.

At the April event, teams identified the boundaries of their neighborhoods; they received areas of exploration including transportation, school access, and local business; they practiced listening skills and conducted interviews. Each congregational team beautifully began the work of slowing down and seeing their neighborhood with new eyes.

The congregations participating in the Churches in Mission cohort are fostering curiosity around what it means to understand and appreciate the land from which they benefit. One congregation is seeing their neighborhood shift with the construction of 10,000 new apartments on their street. Another congregation recognizes that their neighborhood is becoming less accessible to lower income families. One church is curious about missed relational opportunities as their building houses two distinct worshipping communities comprised of members from different economic groups.

Faithfully engaging local mission will unfold uniquely in each of these contexts. These teams are on a journey to listen deeply, be abundantly grateful, and joyfully minister in the unique neighborhoods in which they dwell.

If you would like to hear more about the Churches in Mission project or access resources, please reach out to Shari Oosting or Hannah Stevens.

Photo: Bushels of bread for a sermon illustration at Christ Memorial Church, 1980s

By Rev. Dr. Jon Brown
Lead Pastor, Pillar Church, Holland, MI

Tim & Nancy, 2008

This year’s Distinguished Alumnus Timothy Brown ‘76 first served as the pastor of Fellowship Reformed Church in Hudsonville, MI, then First Reformed of South Holland, IL, and also Christ Memorial Church in Holland, MI, beforebecoming the Henry Bast Professor of Preaching at Western Theological Seminary and retiring as president of that same institution. He served on many boards, including the boards of Hope College and Words of Hope. But only to list the jobs he had or the roles he played would diminish his influence on so many of our lives.

I think these words from 1 Corinthians 13 might be a window into something that is more true of my dad:  “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

Tim with Jon Brown, Trygve Johnson, and Eugene Peterson, 2014

Faith. He grew up in the shadows of Roman Catholic churches in Battle Creek, MI, but faith was not a present reality in his home. His mom had been excommunicated from a conservative Reformed church, and so his dad wanted nothing to do with church. But Russ DeVette gave my dad a shot to play basketball at Hope College. He quickly joined the Frater fraternity intending to enjoy college life. He traveled down to Daytona Beach, FL for spring break, expecting to do whatever freshmen in college do on spring break but instead was met by the living Christ on the beach. He heard the words from a Campus Crusade for Christ ministry team, “Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation, the old is gone, behold the new has come.” He was converted and will tell you he was called to ministry at the same time. (And all of God’s people said, “Amen.”). Though he would spend a lifetime pastoringand and leading faculty and staff, he loved training pastors most of all. Deep in his bones is a simple gospel that he wants everyone to hear and know and believe: “anyone who is in Christ is a new creation, the old is gone, behold the new has come.”

Chaplain Brown arrives on a Harley to lead an outdoor chapel service for Hope College Campus Ministries, September 2002

Hope. If there is a word that epitomizes my dad more than any other, it is hope. He thinks Michigan will win the national championship in football and basketball every year. He still thinks each of his three children are the best at whatever they’re doing. It’s not only a family thing, though, he actually thinks everyone he encounters is fascinating, brilliant, hard-working, and kind. Many of you witnessed his loquacious praise and thought maybe he was exaggerating, but he said the same thing to us about you. “She’s a phenomenal preacher,” he would say. “He is so smart,” he would mention. “They are so generous,” he would add at a dinner table conversation. He actually saw in each of us what the living God meant when it was declared, “Let us make humankind in our own image, according to our likeness.” He saw that in all of us, and told us what he saw, always hoping we’d live into it.

Love.  Mostly he loves Jesus, the Word made flesh who comes to us still in the Word written, the Bible. So he spent countless hours interiorizing Scripture. Some say, “he must have a photographic memory.” I can assure you that is not the case; he just loves Jesus so much that he immersed himself in Scripture to come to know Him more deeply. And he really wanted others to know the same Christ by internalizing the same Word. His love for Christ may be no more evident than now. In his retirement he spends his days as a substitute teacher in Holland’s Public Schools. I regularly ask him, “Hey man, shouldn’t you take it easy? Why don’t you relax a little?” He regularly responds with the call of missionary Lesslie Newbigin:  “to enter every sector of public life to claim it for Christ.”

Tim is flanked by his supportive friends and advisors, Dave Breen and Tom Boogaart, at his Doctor of Ministry presentation, 1992

“Now faith, hope and love abide, these three.” And none of those three without my mom. They believed God together when life in ministry was hard or when life with family was tough. They hoped in something more together when pressures were high and challenges were real. They loved each other through it all; they love each other still. And together they love so many so well. I’m probably biased—but that doesn’t make me wrong—“love” might be the defining word for how others experience them. The young woman wondering if she can preach, they loved into preaching. The tired pastor wondering if he could keep going, they loved into continuing. The three kids who wondered if they would ever measure up, they loved so much that measuring was not ever a part of the conversation.

So my father, Tim Brown, has received the 2021 distinguished alumnus award from Western Theological Seminary, but mostly that’s a way of saying, “We love you too.” Now faith, hope and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.

The Brown Family, 2019

Timothy L. Brown

Preacher, Encourager, Follower of Jesus

b. 1951 Kalamazoo, MI

Married Nancy Johnson in 1971.

Children: Sarah (Matt LeFebre), Jon (Krysten),  and Rebecca (Vincent Hutt) + 10 grandchildren

 

B.A. Hope College, 1973

M.Div. Western Theological Seminary, 1976

D.Min. Western Theological Seminary, 1992

Service to the church:

1976-1981, Pastor, Fellowship, Hudsonville, MI

1981-1983, Co-pastor, First, South Holland, IL

1983-1995, Pastor, Christ Memorial, Holland, MI

1995-2020, Henry Bast Professor of Preaching, Western Theological Seminary

2001-2003, Hinga-Boersma Dean of the Chapel, Hope College (joint position w/ WTS)

2008-2019, President, WTS

Photo: Prospective students participated in our virtual Scholarship Showcase on February 19, 2021

Last Fall we announced the addition of three new premier financial awards that will provide full-tuition scholarships. We are now pleased to introduce you to the worthy recipients of those awards, in addition to the newest Girod Fellow.

Boerigter Grant—covers full tuition and some living expenses for a full-time M.Div. student who is called to be a pastor in the Reformed tradition. The grant is named after George Boerigter, a 1966 graduate of the seminary who spent several years as a pastor bringing his business savvy to ministry, and then went into business, bringing his ministerial skills to the marketplace. 

Benjamin DeBoer

Ben recently graduated from Northwestern College in Orange City, IA, where he majored in Biblical/Theological Studies and minored in English Literature. Throughout college, Ben worked in campus ministry and residence life and was involved in athletics and theatre (where he met his fiancée, Nicole). Ben and Nicole will be moving to Holland after they get married this summer.

“I always knew that I wanted to go to seminary and get my M.Div. but didn’t know if I would have the opportunity (or means) to do so directly after my undergraduate degree. As I began the application process at Western, the admissions staff went above and beyond to help me in my decision-making process—they encouraged me, prayed for my fiancée and me, and periodically checked in over email and Zoom to see how I was doing. I was floored by their level of support and honesty, and when I received word about the scholarship I received, I was speechless. Despite not knowing me in person, the people at Western cared for me so well and affirmed so many ministerial gifts in me that I couldn’t help but say yes to attending Western. My fiancee and I have truly felt blessed by the seminary already and are so excited for what God will do in the next three years.”

The Elsie Wen-Hua Shih Law Award for Excellence in Female Leadership—full-tuition scholarship for a full-time female student in the in-residence M.Div. program. The student must be dedicated to advancing the leadership of women in all areas of church and mission and be committed to ministry. The scholarship is named after the first female student to graduate from Western Theological Seminary in 1963. Elsie Wen-Hua Shih Law was a gifted Christian teacher, academic dean, pastor’s spouse, and registered nurse. 

Emily Hanrahan

Emily is from Birmingham, AL and recently graduated from Samford University with a Bachelor of Music. Emily has been leading worship for the past four years at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in downtown Birmingham and has also served as the Mission & Outreach intern there for three years. She sang in the Samford A Cappella Choir for four years and traveled to Budapest with them in 2018, where they won an international choral music competition. Emily’s music degree is in voice, but she also plays piano and little bit of guitar.

“I chose Western because of the worship culture present in the Holland and Grand Rapids area. I knew Western was right for me due to the hospitality and the familial energy present throughout every step of the application process,” she says. “I am so excited to learn more about theology and ministry practice in a place where I know I will feel comfortable being myself.”

 The Samuel Williams Award for Faithfulness in Justice and Reconciliation—full tuition to a full-time M.Div. student of color who is committed to advance justice and reconciliation within ministry. The scholarship is named after Samuel Williams, one of the first two African-American graduates of WTS (1951). Over a 39 year ministry spanning the Jim Crow South, urban poverty in California, rural Illinois, and the Dutch community of Holland, MI, Sam was a faithful, caring, courageous witness to the power of Christ to transform lives.

Christy Escobar

Christy hails from Lake in the Hills, IL, coming from a family of “six crazy kids” and “two of the coolest parents around.” They spend most of their time reading, creating, cooking and then eating. Christy feels blessed by who they have made her.

“I am excited to call Western my home for the next three years by both serving the community and learning from them. I am already so grateful for what they have gifted me and thank God for this opportunity,” Christy says. “Western stood out to me in its authentic desire to be involved:  involved in cultivating justice, involved in one another’s lives, and involved in the community. My prayer is that this experience will fully encompass a gift—to be both from and for our Father.”

 Girod Fellows Scholarship Award—full-tuition scholarship for students with outstanding research and writing skills who display eagerness for deep theological learning and have a heart for the church’s ministry. Girod Fellows also serve as research assistants to the Gordon H. Girod Research Chair of Reformed Theology, Dr. J. Todd Billings.

Emili Shepperson

Emili grew up in Slovakia before moving to the U.S. for undergraduate studies. As a ‘21 Wheaton College graduate with a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies, her interests revolve around discipleship, early Christianity, and the urban context. She is also drawn to the intersection of faith and medicine. This past spring, she interned at Lawndale Christian Health Center, an inner-city primary care clinic located in west Chicago. She currently works as a research assistant to Dr. Gregory Lee in the theology department at Wheaton College researching gender and church unity.

“I first learned about Western Theological Seminary from professors at Wheaton, and I was drawn to Western’s unique commitment to fostering pastor theologians. It combines both my deep love of discipleship with my academic interests,” Emili says. “I’m excited to begin the M.Div. program in the fall, and I’m especially honored to study with Dr. J. Todd Billings.”

Scholarship recipients participated in our Scholarship Showcase on February 19, 2021. 25 prospective students from ten different states received a box of WTS “swag” and joined us online to attend classes and chapel, meet with faculty, and attend interviews for our pool of full and partial-tuition scholarships and grants. “I appreciated the opportunities to hear from and interact with leaders, teachers, and students at the school as well as get a good feel for campus,” wrote one participant.

The four students above represent just a small portion of scholarship and financial aid available to students. Speak to our admissions team today to learn what options are available! 

Visit westernsem.edu/give/scholarships to learn more about creating a scholarship that supports Western’s students and future ministry leaders.

L to R:  Mike Gorr, Dave Parrish, Steve Magneson, Scott Newman, Chuck DeGroat, Dennae Pierre, Shari Stewart, Donna Field.

Missing: Rawee Bunupuradah, Blaine Crawford, Heidi De Jonge, James Ellis, Kevin VanderVeen

In March of 2018 WTS announced significant changes to our Doctor of Ministry degree. The new model is cohort-based, meaning that a faculty member guides participants through learning focused around a particular theme. Prior to 2018, each D.Min. student followed his or her own focus of study with an advisor, which wasn’t necessarily related to what other students were studying.

The “Deepening Soul Care and Spiritual Transformation for Mission” cohort led by Dr. Chuck DeGroat is the first D.Min. class of this kind to graduate, and the new model is showing great promise. Out of 14 initial students, 12 completed their dissertations and earned degrees. This theologically and racially diverse cohort brought together students from all over the country, Canada, and Thailand. Together they explored aspects of spiritual formation for the sake of the mission of God.

“Almost immediately a real sense of cohesion and bonding happened,” says Dr. DeGroat. “The group was there to engage around a similar theme, but each person brought a unique story and longing. We became a close-knit community through the challenges of COVID-19, racial tensions of the summer of 2020, vocational disruption, and personal stories of family illness and death.”

The D.Min. graduates describe their time at WTS as transformational. Some are already presenting their doctoral work to a wider audience, like Rev. Heidi DeJonge, who turned her thesis, “Truthing in Love: Engaging Conflict with the Disarming Love of God,” into a video series for the church she leads.

To those thinking about taking the plunge into a Doctor of Ministry program, Dr. DeGroat says, “I don’t know of a program where a student would get more personal attention, mentoring, community, freedom to explore, and incredible resourcing from a seminary. We invite students into reflection in ways that challenge them and prompt growth.”

Student Testimonials:

“Chuck created a safe space for us to simply be ourselves on our individual journeys with God. The sense of family and authentic community was an invaluable part of the learning process.”

“Dr. DeGroat was very intentional in designing our cohort to nurture strong relational networks that significantly enriched the academic process. I learned so much throughout the three-year program and grew immensely from the environment that allowed me to share deeply in the work of other cohort members.”

“Whatever was needed, Dr. DeGroat was there:  the professor with the needed academic challenge, the coach diagraming the way out of a tight spot, the pastor bringing a lantern into a specific darkness, or a trusted friend who’d flat-out earned the right to speak hard and necessary truths to us. …I absolutely cannot imagine how such a cohort could have been more expertly led. If you’re seriously looking for an academic/personal/spiritual journey that will change so much more than your resume, look no further.”

“I’m graduating from this D.Min. cohort twenty years after earning my M.Div. from Western Theological Seminary. The D.Min. program was just what I needed to reflect on the past twenty years of life and ministry, refocus my calling, and propel me into the next twenty.”

To learn more about open and in-process cohorts, visit westernsem.edu/dmin

*UPDATE* June 9, 2021:Yesterday we saw 22 alumni24 friends16 trustees17 faculty/staff, and 1 current student, all make a financial commitment to an area they love.

$42,100 was raised by 73 gifts and pledges which was buoyed by our Board of Trustees who agreed to match gifts up to $10,000, and by an anonymous WTS employee whose $500 gift would be unlocked if we increased participation among our own faculty and staff.

Because of this support, we can continue our mission: By God’s grace, forming women and men for faithful Christian ministry and participation in the Triune God’s ongoing redemptive work in the world.

Thank you!

Tuesday, June 8 is Western’s “Day of Giving!” Will you consider making a one-time special gift to the seminary on this day for an area or project that is most dear to you?

Students successfully launch into ministry because you support the programs and people that enable them to flourish. To help us make this day a success, share this event and invite your friends to support an area that they appreciate, or give a gift in honor of a Western grad or faculty member that has had an impact on your life.

In addition, the WTS Board of Trustees has generously agreed to match gifts from alumni and friends up to $10,000 on June 8, the WTS Day of Giving. Mark your calendars and please join us!

*The Day of Giving Page will go live on Thursday, June 3 and close on Wednesday June 9*

Monday, May 10, 2021 Schedule:

Due to restrictions and precautions from the pandemic, all events will be different this year, and some are canceled. See below for details. The reunion classes from last year (1960, 70, 80, 90, 2000) are joining us, as well as graduates from the Class of 2020.

9:00am – Senior Blessing for distance learning graduates in the Atrium (no room for guests due to spacing restrictions)

10:00am  – Individual graduation photos (taken outside on the steps of Mulder Chapel)

noon-1:00 – Virtual Reunions via Zoom for the Classes of 1961, 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001. Reunion Classes ending in “0” also welcome. Go here to register.

2:30pm – Commencement Rehearsal for all graduates (Beechwood Reformed Church, 895 Ottawa Beach Rd, Holland, MI 49424)

canceled – No Alumni/ae Dinner this year (due to pandemic safety precautions)

7:00pm – 144th & 145th Commencement. NOTE NEW LOCATION: Beechwood Reformed Church, 895 Ottawa Beach Rd., Holland, MI 49424. Registered seating has reached capacity in the sanctuary (Seating in the Great Room available by reservation here). Doors open at 6:15pm. Masks required.

The normal receiving line for graduates will not be held, but we encourage graduates and guests to go outside Beechwood Church for socially-distanced celebrations.

Commencement will be livestreamed and will be available on the Beechwood site.


The service will be recorded and made available on this page later.