History of chaplaincy at Calvin

chapelThe office of the chaplaincy was first seriously discussed in 1961, shortly after the Knollcrest campus was purchased. Because the new campus was on the outskirts of town, Classis Grand Rapids East (of the Christian Reformed Church) decided that worship services should be held on the campus for students.

B. PekelderThe classis petitioned Synod 1961 to appoint a nine-member council, consisting of people from the nearest Christian Reformed Churches, to oversee the services. The classis also petitioned synod to appoint a student pastor, with faculty status, to conduct these services.

At the same time, the Calvin College board of trustees had appointed the student religious and social activities committee to address the same matter. This committee recommended that the college appoint a college pastor whose responsibilities would also include spiritual, religious, counseling and teaching components. The committee argued that the position was much broader than the spiritual life of students and should fall under the authority of the board of trustees.

D. CooperAfter some debate between the classis and Calvin, and various proposals being submitted and withdrawn, Synod 1962 authorized the board of trustees to consider Bernard Pekelder’s appointment to the faculty as chaplain beginning in the fall of that year. (Chap. Pekelder is pictured above.)

Since 1962, the college has been served by only two chaplains: Pekelder served as the college chaplain from 1962–1979 and Dale Cooper from 1979–2007. (Chap. Cooper is pictured at left.)

Andy De Jong has been filling the role of interim chaplain during the last two academic years. Mary Hulst was recently named the new chaplain.