President's Message - Letting the Light Shine cont'd.
Jenny Nichols '01 with Zimbabwean artist
Calvin alum Jenny Nichols ‘01 started a business selling Zimbabwean art in North America to benefit African artists. (
"… I am continually inspired by Calvin alumni who are making incredible contributions to God's Kingdom …"
Our resident directors and resident assistants see the living spaces of on-campus students as places to build caring communities and help God's light to shine brightly in them.

In the classroom, faculty members purposefully weave a Christian perspective throughout their courses, beginning with a core curriculum that is founded on the principle of "developing a Christian mind." As part of this core, first-year students study a textbook titled Engaging God's World.

The college's mentorship program provides one-on-one discipleship and spiritual encouragement between students and mentors who are faculty, staff, or alumni.

It is important for alumni and friends of the college to catch the excitement of this spiritual vibrancy and to support the flourishing of this powerful mixture of heart and mind, as Calvin graduates prepare to make a difference as agents of renewal in this world.

In order to enhance the education of today's Calvin students, we have plans for addressing longstanding student needs, such as a refurbished commons and a well-equipped wellness center. These 40-year-old structures need major expansion and renovation to give students a well-rounded educational experience.

Of course, the center of the Calvin experience involves the interaction between student and faculty member, so improving opportunities for faculty-student research and increasing faculty salaries are also key objectives in the coming years.

Often, Calvin gets lost in the shuffle of charitable giving because there are so many worthy causes and agencies that project a more compelling immediate need. Our alumni and friends are very generous, and they rightly come to the aid of countless Christian endeavors.

However, I am continually inspired by Calvin alumni who are making incredible contributions to God's kingdom—and they point to the training and inspiration they received at Calvin as the catalyst for their service. They cite the powerful combination of heart-and-mind development from a school that values both and provides what many call the best Christian college education in the country.

If you look deeply into what enables God's work to be done in this needy world, I believe that you will acknowledge the formative place of Christian colleges in providing the leaders, visionaries, administrators, teachers, missionaries, and workers who are transforming corners of the kingdom for Christ. It is a vital task to ensure that the next generation of renewal agents is ready to lead and to serve.

Commencement 2004
Commencement 2004
Lois Ackerman Raap '68, recipient of the 2004 Distinguished Alumni Award, practices family law so she can better represent the rights of foster children and parents.

At the close of the academic year, on Commencement weekend, Calvin hosts a chapel service, at which parents and graduates come for worship and praise to God. There is much reflection on the amazing changes that have taken place in these sons and daughters.

This year, Claudia Beversluis, our dean for instruction, offered this prayer to thank God for his goodness and to ask for the lifelong nurture of our graduating students. The prayer captures the hopes that we have for each student at Calvin. And it eloquently asks that God's light may shine through them.

Dear Faithful and Amazing God,

What a gift you have given all of us in the shape of these graduates, and in the occasion of this weekend. We are overwhelmed with gratitude.

Thank you for each graduate, each parent, each family member and friend, and each Calvin staff and faculty member represented here. We have taken so many different paths to this place, but now we are linked in common celebration. We are so proud and humbled by these graduates. We have been their parents and teachers, but you have cared for us and taught us through them. We have led them, and they have become our leaders. We have watched them grow, but you have been the growth-giver. We have been the ones with hopes and learning objectives and curricular plans, but you have surprised and delighted us by making each person unique and suited to your purpose.

We know all too well that none of us has taken a perfect path to this place, and so we ask you to forgive us. Forgive us, God, and help these graduates to forgive us—their parents and teachers—for what we have done and not done—for the mistakes that we have made, for the hurts that we have caused. Forgive them, God, and help them to forgive themselves, for any messes and any mistakes and any fear and any failure. Drench us this day in grace.

Thank you for Calvin College—for the vision that guides its work, for the people who are committed to its vision, for the resources that have made this place and our work possible.

These graduates have done much work in this place. They have dug deeply into ideas, theories, and problems; they have asked hard questions, learned tough and wonderful things; they have worked in this city; and they have explored the world. They have learned about their gifts and their skills, and they have had astounding times and deeply painful times in this place. When they leave here, help them to think back with peace and thanksgiving for what they have been able to do here—for who they have become here. Thank you for guiding all of us over these last years—for helping students to choose when choices were needed, for leading them to friends and communities, for protection in travels and health, for relationships and changes, and for all of the ways that we have been able to support and challenge each other.

Dear God, the world that these graduates will claim and live in is a wounded world. Our deepest desire is that you use these young people as your agents to heal and change this world. But we know how hard this will be and how overwhelming it will seem.

Students in science lab
The DeVries Hall of Science facilities give Calvin students an excellent chance to collaborate with one another and with faculty members.

"We pray that you keep these graduates safe, but even more than that, we ask that you keep them courageous and determined to live for you wherever you take them."

Claudia Beversluis
Dean for instruction

We pray that you keep these graduates safe, but even more than that, we ask that you keep them courageous and determined to live for you wherever you take them.

Keep them curious and eager, and more than that, give them a sense of wonder and gratitude as a powerful weapon against cynicism and despair.

Give them good work—work that draws on all of the talents and knowledge that they have nurtured here—but more than that, give them what they need to be faithful. Help them do great things, but give them the staying power for long obedience.

Give them active imaginations that help them picture better ways of structuring businesses, running government, nurturing families, developing media, writing books, building cities, and caring for creation. And help us to rejoice in their successes, especially when they do these things better—and perhaps much differently—than we have ever done them.

Protect them from too much pain, but more than that, help them turn pain—their own and others'— into a deep desire to bring your healing to all the places where they are.

Help them to love well and guard them from loneliness—to know and be able to build community wherever they go, so that, with others, they are able to witness to the power of love rather than to the power of hate in the world. More than that, never let them forget how deeply you love them.

Dear God, we are filled with love for these graduates. And what is most astounding to us is that, as much as we know and love one or some of them, you know and love them all—and even more deeply. And that gives us great joy, confidence, and peace as we once again give them to you through this significant moment in all of our lives.

It is in your name we pray and your praise that we seek.


Amen. May the light shine brighter, and in more places.

Gaylen J. Byker

Gaylen J. Byker

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