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Jubilee Fellows Gear Up for Summer Ministry
March 17, 2008

Twelve juniors and seniors are preparing for summer internships designed to help them discern their call to ministry as part of Calvin’s Jubilee Fellows program.

Andy Allen, Jessica Roodvoets, Ross Acheson, Jessica Driesenga, Ashley Wybenga, Andrew Morton, Michael Holwerda, Betsy Vandenberg, Matt Burns, Michael Bailey, Bennett Samuel and Anna Hillaker were selected to participate in the program after each expressed interest in church-related work.

The Jubilee Fellows now find themselves in the first phase of the five-component program, attending a weekly seminar class to discuss issues related to ministry. After the spring semester class, the students will be sent out to internship sites across North America where they will gain experience in everything from sermon preparation to pastoral visitation and community outreach.

“They’ll all learn a good deal about themselves and about what it entails to be involved in the life of the church,” said Jubilee Fellows program coordinator Kary Bosma.

Once the students return from their summer ministry experiences, they’ll participate in a vocational discernment retreat, conduct a service project in the Calvin community and receive ongoing mentoring regarding their future vocational plans. Through this process some will become confident in their calling to full-time ministry. Others may decide not to pursue the pulpit but nevertheless remain involved in the work of the church on the lay level because of their ministry experience.

Mentoring key to Jubilee Fellows experience

The key to the Jubilee Fellows internship, Bosma said, is a good mentoring relationship between the student and a church leader at the ministry site.

“Many placements were chosen specifically for a mentor that would connect well with one of the Jubilee Fellows,” she said.

Jubilee Fellows Bennett Samuel and Andrew Morton listen to another Jubilee Fellow talkSanctuary Christian Reformed Church in Seattle, Washington is just the right place for Roodvoets.  “Jess is a pretty new Christian whose passion is evangelism. She has this great sense of immediacy to get the word out to people about Jesus Christ. Sanctuary CRC is a place where people feel the same way about outreach,” said Bosma. Other Jubilee Fellows who feel called to the pulpit have been placed at more traditional, well-established churches. Allen, a member of Calvin’s improvisational comedy team, was placed at a church big enough to have a creative arts director with whom he could form a mentoring relationship.

Jessica Driesenga combines ministry and environmentalism

When senior Jessica Driesenga, a Kalamazoo, MI native, came to Calvin, she was a biology major intent upon pursuing a career in the medical field. Soon she found herself in religion courses that so piqued her interest that she knew she wouldn’t be entirely satisfied with a career in medicine or biology. Then an experience volunteering in a church near Purdue University where she was doing research during the summer of 2007 showed her that it might be possible to marry her twin passions for ministry/theology and biology.

“The two worlds I was straddling finally seemed to mesh together in the realms of agricultural missions and combining environmental (and ecological) care with our church and theology,” said Driesenga.

As a Jubilee Fellow this summer Driesenga will be mentored by Calvin DeWitt, one of the foremost experts on Christian environmentalism, while she serves at Geneva Campus Church in Madison, Wisconsin. After that, she may well have to blaze her own trail combining ministry with environmental care.

Communications major Matt Burns excited to start preaching

Matt Burns, a senior communications major from Annapolis, Maryland, says he was “at best, half-sure” about pursuing a career in ministry when he came to Calvin after a year at a community college in his home state. Spending last summer in Eastern Europe with Christian Reformed World Mission moved him along on the path towards full-time ministry, and now he’s looking forward to developing sermons and planning worship for Centrepointe Community Church in Edmonton, Alberta.

“In addition to helping me see that ministry is possible, [God] has groomed my desire to help others and to serve in His Church, giving me the drive, desire and vision for ministry,” said Burns.

After wavering, Andrew Morton accepts call to ministry eagerly

When it comes to Andrew Morton and ministry, the writing has been on the wall for quite some time.“Ever since my sophomore year of high school, God has been dropping me hints of a calling to ministry in the form of suggestions and advice given to me by friends, teachers, mentors, and sometimes strangers,” he said.

It wasn’t until last summer, when the senior history and Spanish double major from Auburn, Indiana worked in inner-city Minneapolis with Youthworks, that flashing lights appeared around the message, getting his undivided attention. When several people this past summer approached him separately in the space of one week, urging him to change his career plans to pursue full-time ministry, he finally decided the heed the call. The calling has been confirmed this past fall as he began a one-year commitment to serve as a Barnabas team member in one of Calvin’s residence halls.

Even if Morton is certain that God has called him to work in ministry, he still isn’t sure in what capacity he should serve. Working in a Spanish-speaking community is a possibility, and as an intern at Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Sun Valley, California, he’ll have the opportunity to explore that option fully. 

Anna Hillaker ready to take her encouraging spirit to Edmonton

If there’s one thing that junior religion major Anna Hillaker loves, it’s people. The Chelsea, Michigan native serves on Calvin’s Barnabas team during the present school year and lives in a residence hall to encourage the girls on her floor in their faith walks. The experience has affirmed her in her calling to a life of ministry.

“It is just amazing to watch how God works in people’s lives, and being allowed to be a part of that is just such a privilege,” said Hillaker.

In her placement together with Matthew Burns at Centrepointe Community Church in Edmonton, Alberta, she’ll have the opportunity to learn more about how the church helps people along in their faith through its various programs.

Education major Betsy Vandenberg ventures into family ministry

From her travels to Scotland for a program combining volunteer work and academics to her current experimentation with cooking and baking, it’s clear that junior English and education major Betsy Vandenberg from Holland, Michigan has an adventurous spirit. In the past this has led her to work in Yellowstone National Park, leading worship and giving messages, and now she’s excited about diving into new experiences as a Jubilee Fellow.

Vandenberg’s passion for both service and reading will come together in the program as seminar classes provide the space to discuss ministry-related books.

“I’m looking forward to hearty discussions over some really insightful books by authors I’ve wanted to get to know!” she said.

At the same time, she will be preparing for a church internship assignment at Rosewood Christian Reformed Church in Bellflower, California. Family ministry, she says, is what she hopes to learn the most about in Bellflower. To that end, Vandenberg will be mentored by family ministries pastor Bonny Mulder-Behnia at Rosewood CRC.

Seasoned worship leader Bennett Samuel hopes to strengthen gifts

As a senior nursing major who has taken advantage of numerous worship and faith-related activities at Calvin, Bennett Samuel is interested in attending to both the physical and spiritual needs of the people he meets. Born in Dehradun, India to parents who work at a Christian school for the blind, Samuel feels called to ministry in his native country.

“Only two percent of India is Christian and this has been a major draw towards the ministry path,” said Samuel.

Having led worship for chapel and the Sunday-evening L.O.F.T. service at Calvin, Samuel is hoping to grow more in his gifts as a worship leader in his summer assignment at New Life Community Church in Artesia, California. He wants to learn some new things too—like how to plan and preach a sermon.

After years of anticipation, Michael Bailey joins the Jubilee Fellows

Michael Bailey, a junior religion major from Gaston, Indiana already knew he wanted to go into the ministry when he came to Calvin. In fact, he's been looking forward to being involved in the Jubilee Fellows program for years now. His experience in Calvin's religion department has only put more wind in his sails when it comes to pursuing the pastorate.

"The professors, staff and administrators have all been very helpful in guiding me through this calling,” he said.

In addition to filling his head with Greek and theology, Bailey has actually spent time getting some ministry experience under his belt during his college career. He spent the summer of 2006 leading worship and preaching in his home church while it was searching for a new pastor, and he’s also volunteered at an urban church in Grand Rapids.

Now Bailey is ready to delve more deeply into the pastoral experience, conducting home visits, learning more about prayer, living as an example of faith and learning how to use his gifts more effectively. He especially looks forward to the mentoring relationship he’ll have with the pastor at his church internship site, Grace Community Church in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Funny man Andy Allen pursues ministry through theatre arts

With his father serving as a pastor for twenty years in Boardman, Ohio, junior rhetoric major Andy Allen has really been able to see what full-time ministry is like. But for most of his life, Allen hasn’t wanted to touch the idea of becoming a pastor himself.

“Not until Calvin and some prayer by both me and those around me (and those not around me like my parents) did I start realizing that this might be right for me,” he said.

For Allen, the Jubilee Fellows program is a great way to discover whether what he calls “this ministry thing” is right for him. As a member of Calvin’s IMPROV team, he is hoping to do something with creative arts this summer, helping to make “this giant thing that we call Christianity interesting and worth doing.” At Heartland Community Church, a large media-rich congregation in Rockford, Illinois, Allen will have plenty of opportunities to utilize his creative gifts.

Ross Acheson takes passion for fellowship and hospitality to Detroit

Ross Acheson likes a rousing game of foosball and loves cats, but the senior international development major and Ann Arbor native’s deepest passion lies in the work of the kingdom. His own personal faith, nurtured by Bible study, prayer and Christian fellowship, has given him the desire to spend his life following the call into ministry. Fellowship and hospitality are very important to Acheson and fit well into his pursuit of ministry.

He hopes to work on a host of skills while he serves with Youthworks in Detroit, Michigan this summer:

“I hope through this summer to grow in oral communication skills, in prayer, in courage, in exercising spiritual gifts, in relating to people from urban contexts and in practical wisdom for living intentionally with people in ‘household’ life.”

Evangelism is the starting point for Jessica Roodvoets' ministry

Jessica Roodvoets, a junior religion major from Grand Rapids, hasn’t been at Calvin for long, but she hasn’t missed a beat when it comes to getting involved. She transferred to Calvin in the fall of 2007 after becoming a Christian as a student at Grand Valley State University in nearby Allendale, Michigan.

“I came to Calvin because God called me here,” said Roodvoets.

Now she is part of the Jubilee Fellows program, which she hopes will provide just the right space for her to discern her call to ministry. As a new Christian, she especially anticipates learning more about evangelism in a church whose main focus is outreach. Sanctuary Christian Reformed Church in Seattle, Washington with its community-oriented Green Bean Café will be a great place for her to learn more about ministry.

Ashley Wybenga hopes to explore ministry and social justice

Calvin has played a large part in psychology major Ashley Wybenga’s faith journey. The Grand Haven, Michigan native became serious about following Christ during her freshman year and since then has soaked in the opportunities for learning and growth both on campus and off.

“Through classes, chapel, mentors and many other experiences I have been able to grow in my faith, which has resulted in me wanting to share it with others,” she said.

Wybenga has spent time in Haiti and Honduras, learning about the needs of vulnerable populations in those countries. She would like to continue exploring the intersection between ministry and social justice in her Jubilee Fellows internship this summer while also finding out whether the ministry path is right for her. She will serve with Bennett Samuel at New Life Community Church in Artesia, California.

“I hope to learn more about who God has made me to be and where he is leading me in the future,” she said.

Pastoral care will be main focus for Michael Holwerda's ministry

Michael Holwerda, a junior psychology major and Calvin soccer star from Grand Rapids, is solidly on the path to becoming a pastor—more “certain” than “uncertain” about pursuing ministry as Jubilee Fellow mentor Dale Cooper put it. He’s watched his father pastor a congregation and serve as a hospital chaplain, but now he’ll have the opportunity to experience church work for himself. Sermon preparation, preaching and pastoral care will all be a part of his summer internship experience. He especially hopes to learn more about balancing preaching with the other aspects of ministerial work like pastoral care.

“One aspect of ministry I’d like to focus on this summer would be pastoral care and interacting with the congregation, in forming relationships and understanding how to help those in spiritual need,” he said.

As he explores church work at Bellevue Christian Reformed Church in Bellevue, Washington, he hopes to discover where to use his gifts in God’s kingdom.

Jubilee Fellows program continues to raise up church leaders

In its sixth year, the Jubilee Fellows program has evolved into exactly what Jubilee Fellows director Dale Cooper hoped he could do on a smaller scale before funding for the special project came along—mentor a few students into church ministry.

“In my last years, I would love to show and tell people that ministry within the church can be very fruitful—and it can be a lot of fun too!” said Cooper.

~by Allison Graff, web communications coordinator

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