Handlon Students Reach Milestone

By Jon Gorter

“You’re running against yourself,” said Ronald Feenstra, the Academic Dean and Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary, addressing a crowd of students at the Handlon convocation ceremony. Feenstra’s message charged students to resist the temptation to compare themselves to others around them, and rather to focus on knowing their abilities and pushing themselves to do their best. “We are all running against ourselves. Not our professors. Not each other. Ourselves,” insisted Feenstra. “But we also do not run alone.”

Though Feenstra’s message is universally applicable, the address had a particular weight given that the recipients were inmates—comparison can be crippling in any sphere, but especially when one’s living behind prison walls.

A year and a half ago, the first cohort of twenty students began the process of earning a bachelor’s degree in ministry leadership through Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary from the Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, MI. The Calvin Prison Initiative (CPI) is a five-year program, and these students have just received their certificate—one of three major milestones along the road to earning the B.A.

“This makes another crucial step in the process,” said president of Calvin Theological Seminary Julius Medenblik, welcoming the students and faculty to the convocation ceremony. As provost Cheryl Brandsen called their names, the students continuing their second year stepped forward and received their certificate.

Read more coverage from the Calvin College Chimes

Above: The Calvin College Gospel Choir joins students in the Calvin Prison Initiative at February convocation.