Mariano Avila was born in México City, where he served as pastor of six Presbyterian churches. He has also served in the Seminary of the National Presbyterian Church as professor, academic dean, and president, and was professor of Biblical Studies at the Comunidad Teológica de México. He was Academic Dean of the Facultad Latinoamericana de Estudios Teológicos (Miami, Florida), and is a member of the Academic Council of PRODOLA, the doctoral program (Ph.D.) for professors, leaders, and pastors in Latin America. For several years he was coordinator of urban ministries for community transformation and theological adviser for World Vision México, and was also advisor for the Spanish ministry of CRC Publications.
Mariano was a member of the Biblical Translation Committee (International Bible Society) that produced the Nueva Versión Internacional and also he is one of the translators of the Traducción en Lenguaje Actual (United Bible Societies), a translation in contemporary Spanish from the original languages. He has translated books from English and Portuguese into Spanish, and has published a good number of articles and books. His most recent publications in Spanish are Entre Dios y el Cesar: Líderes evangélicos y política en México (Between God and Cesar: Evangelical leaders and politics in Mexico), and Carta a los Efesios. Comentario para exégesis y traducción(Letter to the Ephesians. A Commentary for exegesis and translation). Prof. Avila teaches, lectures and preaches in different seminaries and churches in the Americas and other parts of the world. Mariano’s rich experience in pastoral and teaching ministries, Bible translation, community transformation, and the academic world has equipped him to effectively train students for ministry:
“In my own experience as a pastor, educator and also in training others for diverse ministries, I found that there are three sine qua non tools for a significant ministry in our complex world: a solid knowledge and love for Scriptures, a well articulated Reformed world and life view, and a good understanding of the cultural, social, and political realities we want to transform so that they may express Jesus’ Lordship over all of creation. I am convinced that God’s gifts to his Church are well equipped servant leaders who will lead and train God’s people for service in a world that urgently needs salvation, justice, reconciliation, and shalom.”
Mariano Avila is married to Rosa María and has two married adult sons, Mariano III to Kate and Luis to Amanda, and one grandson, Luis Jr.
Sarah Chun joined Calvin Theological Seminary in 2012 as the Associate Dean of Students and International Student Advisor. She was born in South Korea, and at the age of six immigrated to Grand Rapids with her family. Sarah graduated from Calvin College with a major in Psychology and received her MSW from Michigan State University. Prior to joining Calvin Seminary, Sarah worked at Bethany Christian Services as an adoption counselor. She and her late husband, an ordained CRC pastor, served at Han-Bit CRC in Rochester, MI; Anaheim CRC, Anaheim, CA; and Covenant CRC in North Haledon, NJ.
“Calvin Seminary seeks to invest in the lives of the students not only in terms of academic learning, but also in their spiritual growth and emotional well-being. As a community of people who come from all around the world, we strive to be Jesus’ hands and feet as we do life together and build relationships with one another and with God. I am grateful for the opportunity to shepherd students in their calling of service to God and others.”
Outside of work, Sarah stays busy being a mom to her three children—Hope, Noah and Hannah.
Ronald Feenstra’s area of professional training and teaching is systematic and philosophical theology. He earned his Ph.D. at Yale; his dissertation topic was Pre-existence, Kenosis, and the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. He taught theology at Marquette University for eight years before coming to Calvin Theological Seminary.
“Theological education in the Reformed tradition draws upon a rich biblical, confessional, and theological heritage. My goal in teaching is to illuminate that heritage in such a way that people will be drawn into it and understand it more fully, thereby coming to a renewed sense of the mystery and power of the gospel. I also try to set Reformed theology in the context of the broader Christian tradition. I thoroughly enjoy studying and learning theology alongside my students and I hope that their study at Calvin Theological Seminary both equips and encourages them to engage in vigorous, faithful Christian ministry.”
Ronald is married to Barbara and they have three daughters. His interests include child rearing, current events, reading, jogging, and bicycling.
Ronald Feenstra is co-editor with Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., of Trinity, Incarnation, and Atonement: Philosophical and Theological Essays.
Paul Fields is a theologian with an emphasis on service. Paul has degrees in history, systematic theology and library science. His responsibility as a theological librarian at Calvin Theological Seminary is to provide access to theological materials in a timely, efficient and up to date way. Paul is also the curator of the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies and specializes in the collecting, care, and preservation of rare collections from the sixteenth century.
“Reformed education recognizes that work done in the study is a matter of thinking God’s thoughts after him as his revelation in Scripture and nature is studied. Such ongoing education can only call for humble, worshipful scholarship. When students work and live in the context of such scholarly service to God, they minister with integrity and speak the truth with conviction -truth based upon God’s revelation in Scripture. My hope is that both students and faculty will also live in such a way that appreciation for God’s grace and his primacy in all things is evident.”
Dr. Danjuma Gibson is an associate professor of pastoral care at Calvin Theological Seminary (CTS). He is also in private practice as a psychotherapist in Grand Rapids, MI. Prior to joining CTS, he was the senior pastor of a church in Chicago for over sixteen years and was also bivocational as a commercial banker during that time. His most recent book—Frederick Douglass, A Psychobiography: Rethinking Subjectivity in the Western Experiment of Democracy (2018)—is an investigation into the formation of Douglass’ psychological and religious identity in the context of trauma and the American slavocracy. In addition to emotional and psychological trauma, Dr. Gibson’s current research includes exploring the intersection of black religious experience and psychoanalytic discourse in a way that is accretive to how we understand personhood, identity formation, and human flourishing. Dr. Gibson earned his Bachelor of Arts from Morehouse College, Master of Business Administration from DePaul University, Master of Arts in Urban Ministry and Master of Christian Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Doctor of Philosophy from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary. He received his clinical training from the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy of Chicago where he earned an Advance Certificate in Psychotherapy and Religion. Dr. Gibson holds memberships in the American Academy of Religion, The Society of Pastoral Theology, and the Society for the Study of Black Religion.
Lee Hardy has taught in the Calvin College philosophy department since 1981, and at Calvin Theological Seminary since 2002. Lee has lectured across North America, Canada, Europe, and more recently in Asia including Korea and mainland China. He is the author of The Fabric of this World, a book on the philosophy of human labor and the theology of vocation, which was translated into French, Spanish and Chinese.
“Teaching in the PhD program at the seminary has been both a challenge and a joy for me. I enjoy the diversity of students, their camaraderie, and the uniformly high level of motivation. I learn a good deal from them, as I hope they do from me. I sense that my background in post-Kantian European philosophy complements my colleagues’ work in historical and systematic theology quite well.”
Lee Hardy is married to Judy and they have four children. Lee and his family are long time members of Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, MI.
Rev. Scott E. Hoezee is an ordained pastor in the Christian Reformed Church in North America and has served two congregations. He was the pastor of Second Christian Reformed Church in Fremont, Michigan, from 1990-1993. Then from 1993-2005 he was the Minister of Preaching and Administration at Calvin CRC in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In the spring of 2005 Scott accepted the Seminary’s offer to become the first Director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching. He has also been a member of the Pastor-Theologian Program sponsored by the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey, where he was pastor-in-residence in the fall of 2000. From 2001-2011 Scott served on the editoral board of Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought and was co-editor of that journal from 2005-2011. Scott says this about his work:
“If you talk to just about anyone in any part of the church world, one thing you will hear over and again is a desire to hear fine preaching in our congregations. At the Center for Excellence in Preaching we hope to do anything and everything we can to provide pastors with all the ideas, resources, and direction we can think of in order to help them in the always-difficult, yet utterly vital, task of proclaiming the Word of God to a world starving for the gospel’s good news.”
Rev. Hoezee is married to Rosemary Apol and they have two children, Julianna and Graham. He enjoys birdwatching, snorkeling, and exploring the beauties and wonders of God’s great creation.
Rev. Hoezee is the author of several books including The Riddle of Grace (1996), Flourishing in the Land (1996),Remember Creation (1998), Speaking as One: A Look at the Ecumenical Creeds (1997), Speaking of Comfort: A Look at the Heidelberg Catechism (1998), and Proclaim the Wonder: Preaching Science on Sunday (2003).
A.B. Religion (Princeton University, 1992)
M.Div. (Columbia Theological Seminary, 1999)
M.S. Library & Information Science (University of Illinois, 2016)
Gerone is passionate about supporting disciples of Jesus Christ as they seek to participate in the reign of God.
After completing his M.Div., Gerone pursued graduate studies in sociology at New York University and ecclesiology at Boston University School of Theology. At Boston University, he focused on the relationship between Christianity, global economic history, and violence, with particular interest in the Atlantic slave trade and the Spanish colonization of the Americas.
Gerone is interested in exploring possibilities for creating places where communities of disciples can explore critical information about the global economy through the lens of the reign of God.
B.A. Haverford College, 1959 B.D. Westminster Theological Seminary, 1963 M.A. (1960) and Ph.D. (1965) Yale University
Research and Teaching Interests
American religion and culture; American evangelicalism and the role of Christianity in American higher education
Fundamentalism and American Culture (Second Edition), New York: Oxford University Press, 2006 (1980). Jonathan Edwards: A Life. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship. New York, Oxford University Press, 1997. The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1991. (A collection of previously published essays).
Julius Ted Medenblik, the eldest son of Lambert and Martha Medenblik (nee Vander Ploeg) was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1960. His family became charter members of Faith Christian Reformed Church and for a short time he attended Kalamazoo North Christian School. In 1966 the family returned to the Fulton, Illinois, area when his father purchased the family farm that had been previously rented by Jul’s grandfather. There Jul attended Fulton Christian Grade School and Fulton Community High School, and the family joined Bethel Christian Reformed Church, also in Fulton.
After high school, Jul attended Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois. He graduated with a major in Philosophy and double minors in English and History while on a pre-law track that included a semester internship at a legal aid clinic in Harvey, Illinois. While at Trinity, he met Jackie Klain from Lansing, Illinois. Three weeks after graduation, Jul and Jackie were married, and three days after that they moved to Gainesville, Florida, where Jul entered the University of Florida Law School. During his law school days, Jul served as research assistant for Professor Joseph W. Little.
After graduating with a Juris Doctor degree cum laude, Jul obtained a position as an associate in the law firm of Stewart, Call, Byrd & Rozelle in Palm Beach, Florida. The Medenbliks joined Lake Worth Christian Reformed Church in Lake Worth, Florida, where Jul served as a Sunday School teacher and superintendent, catechism teacher, elder, and eventually chair of a Pastoral Search Committee. It is during those years that he felt called by God to ordained ministry, and in 1991 Jul, Jackie, and their four-year-old son, Joshua, left Florida and entered a Master of Divinity program at Calvin Theological Seminary. While at CTS, Jul did a summer assignment at Providence Christian Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan, and a full-year internship at First Calgary Christian Reformed Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It was during the internship year that their daughter Julianne was born.
Following graduation in 1995, Jul accepted a call to Orland Park CRC in Orland Park, Illinois, to be the founding pastor of a church plant in New Lenox, Illinois. New Life Christian Reformed Church began worship services in a public high school auditorium in 1996, was organized as a congregation in 2002, and moved into its own building in 2003. During this time the church expanded from one to three worship services with over 700 people in total attendance.
Jul has served as a former board member and president of the CRC Loan Fund; former board member and president of the Chicago Christian Counseling Center; former board member and chair of the Classis Chicago South Home Missions Committee; Synodical Deputy from Classis Chicago South; board member and president of the Calvin Seminary Board of Trustees; synodical delegate to the synods of 1990, 2002, and 2006; and Church Planting and Development Point Team Leader for Christian Reformed Home Missions.
Upon receiving this latest appointment, Rev. Medenblik stated, “I am humbled by the opportunity to move from serving the church as a local pastor and in various denominational settings to the presidency of Calvin Theological Seminary. One picture that we have in church planting in the Christian Reformed Church is embodied in the phrase, ‘Deep Roots, New Branches.’ Calvin Theological Seminary is deeply rooted in and nurtured by the church. We have a great opportunity to use those roots to nourish preachers and church leaders for the ministries and new opportunities that await us in the mission field around each and every one of us.”
Professor of Preaching B.A. (Calvin College, 1977) M.A. (University of St. Michaels College, 1987) M.Div. (Calvin Theological Seminary, 1987) Th.D. (Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto and The Toronto School of Theology), 1996
“My excitement for preaching has everything to do with Jesus.” John Rottman’s love for Jesus has been there as long as he can remember, and his love for theology, at least as far back as grade 3! John pursued this passion with an undergraduate degree in philosophy and Greek, and continued in Toronto with graduate studies in theology. John spent five years working in a psychiatric hospital and it was during that time that John felt a call to the pastorate – but wasn’t so sure about preaching. This changed during his time in seminary. While writing his first sermon at Calvin Theological Seminary, he felt strongly that this was another piece of his calling. It is with a strong theological training, and understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in preaching, that John now equips students to bring proclaim the gospel through the medium of preaching. Recently, John has become involved with seminary education in prisons.
“Now after preaching for nearly twenty years and teaching it now for twenty, I have learned some things about preaching, even as I continue to struggle. As preachers we are vulnerable in the pulpit and perhaps never more so than as students. I am reminded of this every time I preach and especially when I preach one of my own sermons to a preaching class.As a teacher of preaching I welcome the challenge of learning with my students as we together invite God to shape us as preachers and disciples of Jesus.”
John is married to Marilyn and they have three adult children.
- Four Pages of a Sermon
David Rylaarsdam began his teaching career at Smith Memorial Bible College in Nigeria, and since has taught at the University of Notre Dame, Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, and now, Calvin Theological Seminary. He has also served a variety of churches as interim pastor and received missionary training in Mexico City. David sees church history as an opportunity to listen to testimonies of older brothers and sisters in the faith.
“As my students and I listen, we respond to these testimonies in our writing and reflection, in our discussions, in what we believe and in how we live. In other words, we are drawn into conversation with these believers spread through all time. We become part of their community. I relish being a leader and participant in this community discussion, a guide and fellow inquirer with my students as our faith seeks understanding, as we seek guidance from our sisters and brothers of all ages in how to read Scripture, how to make disciples, how to discern wisely the spirits of our age, how to avoid the mistakes of the past. I pray that my students will be persuaded to perceive the story of God’s people as their story so that they may grow wiser and be drawn into a richer, more intimate union with God, the main actor in their stories.”
David is married with three children.
David has contributed to numerous publications and presentations. His dissertation topic was “The Adaptability of Divine Pedagogy: Sugkatabasis in the Theology and Rhetoric of John Chrysostom.”
Prior to coming to Calvin Seminary, Jeff Sajdak served as a pastor for 20 years in 3 congregations: Fairway CRC in Jenison, MI; Immanuel CRC in Orange City, IA; and First CRC in Pella, IA. He earned his M.Div. (1990) and his D.Min. in Spiritual Formation (2005) from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN.
Jeff has an interest in spiritual formation, particularly for pastors, missionaries, and other church leaders.
“My desire is to assure that Calvin Seminary is a safe and healthy community where leaders, current and future, are formed in Christ for a lifetime of faithful service.”
Jeff has led retreats, small groups, and workshops on topics related to spiritual formation, including soul care for pastors and church leaders and their families, individual and group spiritual discernment, and group spiritual direction. He is also available to preach.
Jeff delights in his family; loves playing tennis, golf, or a rousing board game; and cheers enthusiastically for his beloved Milwaukee Brewers baseball team.
Sarah Schreiber joined the faculty of Calvin Seminary in 2014. Her research interests include Second Temple Judaism and early interpretations of scripture. She also regularly teaches Hebrew and other ancient Near Eastern languages. As the Director of the MTS Program, Sarah advises all MTS students and leads a mentoring group of first-year students.
Sarah earned her B.A. from Calvin College and M.Div. from Calvin Theological Seminary. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Notre Dame in Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity.
Sarah is an associate pastor at Grace Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. She and her husband, Ryan, have one son, a busy toddler. Together they enjoy playing in the neighborhood and hosting family and friends.
As Adjunct Professor of Church Polity at Calvin Theological Seminary, Kathy Smith enjoys helping to prepare pastors for leadership roles in the church and assisting them in effective leadership when they are in ministry. Kathy consults with pastors and other leaders in congregations, regional classes and denominational positions regarding the application of church order to specific situations, and serves as a regular adviser to the synod of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA). She believes that understanding the history and theology behind church polity helps us to understand how to live and work together well as a denomination.
Kathy also serves as the Associate Director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, and Program Manager for its Grants Programs (http://worship.calvin.edu/about/staff-directory/kathy-smith). There she oversees an ecumenical grants program that encourages vital worship in a variety of worshiping communities, and is part of the leadership team for the Worship Institute, which promotes the scholarly study of worship and the renewal of worship in congregations across North America.
Kathy is the author of Stilling the Storm: Worship and Congregational Leadership in Difficult Times (Alban Institute, 2006), a book that developed from her interaction with various congregations on behalf of the Worship Institute. She is an ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church and served two congregations in that denomination. Kathy and her husband Doug have three married daughters. They enjoy traveling and spending time with family.
Mary Vanden Berg joined the faculty of Calvin Theological Seminary on July 1, 2008. She has taught as an adjunct professor at Kuyper College, Western Theological Seminary, and Calvin Theological Seminary. Her graduate work focused on atonement theology. Mary’s goal as a professor is to not only help her students understand the truths of theology, which can often seem abstract and difficult, but also to help them understand that theological understanding and piety are intimately intertwined.
“My students will tell you that I always ask the ‘So what?’ question. When I teach a concept, no matter how abstract it might seem, I try to give my students an idea of why it’s helpful for ministry, for understanding God, and for moving through life…My kids have taught me that if it doesn’t touch them in some way, what good is it?”
Mary lives in Hudsonville, Michigan with her husband, Skip. She has three married children and three grandchildren. She enjoys hiking, camping and downhill skiing. She also writes on her blog: Life, God, and Other Mysteries.
B.A. (Calvin College, 1992)
M.Div. (Calvin Theological Seminary, 1996)
D.Min. (Arcadia University, 2015)
After 20 years as a pastor, Geoff Vandermolen joined the Calvin Theological Seminary faculty as Director of Vocational Formation in 2016. He and his wife Kristin have two children.
Some have asked me why, after 20 years in pastoral ministry as a Lead Pastor as well as church planter, I would chose to take up a new role as the Director of Vocational Formation. Obviously, the simple answer is that God called me to it. However, we all know there’s more to it than that. In the ministry that I have been privileged to be part of these past 20 years I have seen some leaders thrive, and others stumble and fall. The pain of the fall is incalculable for the leader, their family and the ministry context/ church within which they serve. And yet, I remain deeply convinced that it need not be that way. In fact, a leader who knows the contours of their heart—both the good and the ugly, who is able to tend well to their person and matters of ego, who is able to be spiritually disciplined and attentive to the work of the Holy Spirit in their life—that leader can endure nearly anything. This leader will be able to thrive as they participate in God’s mission in this world. It is this care, investment in and serving of emerging leaders for the formation of their lives for the cause of Jesus Christ that I think made this new challenge irresistible. None of us can do this alone.
Bachelors of Science in Business Administration, California Polytechnic University, 2000 Masters of Business Administration, California Polytechnic University, 2000 Masters of Divinity, Fuller Theological Seminary, 2009 Ph.D. in Theology and Culture, Fuller Theological Seminary, 2015 Ph.D. in Systematic Theology, Vrije Universiteit, 2016
Cory's interests include Missiology, Public Theology, Biblical Theology, Interfaith Engagement, Theology of Work, Ethnography, the Psalms, and Reformed Theology.
Cory enjoys hiking, traveling, and meals with friends and family.
I am passionate about enriching the faith and practice of Christians through a sustained engagement with Scripture, theology and culture. My academic training and pastoral ministry have provided the theological and pedagogical training to help me equip men and women for a missional encounter with the cultural contexts in which they live and work.
John D. Witvliet is director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and professor of music and worship at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, respectively. He also teaches in the religion department at Calvin College. His areas of interest include the history of Christian worship, worship practices in various denominations, biblical and systematic theology of worship, the role of music and the arts in worship, and consulting with churches on worship renewal.
“At its best, Christian worship reflects and conveys the beauty of God, profound gratitude for the gospel of Christ, and eagerness to deepen self-giving service in God’s world. In my teaching, I hope to invite pastors and worship leaders to plan and lead services that reflect this vision, to offer worship that is both profoundly biblical and culturally relevant. An important part of this learning process is encountering the wisdom of Christian communities in cultures and historical periods very different from our own. Such encounters deepen our sense of solidarity with the whole body of Christ, and also sharpen, humble, and enrich our ministry.”
John Witvliet is the author of The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship: A Brief Introduction and Guide to Resources (Eerdmans, 2007), Worship Seeking Understanding: Windows into Christian Practice (Baker Academic, 2003), co-editor of Worship in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Change and Continuity in Religious Practice (University of Notre Dame Press, 2004), Proclaiming the Christmas Gospel: Ancient Sermons and Hymns for Contemporary Inspiration (Baker 2004), The Worship Sourcebook (Faith Alive/Baker, 2004), Dwelling with Philippians (Eerdmans, 2007), At Your Baptism (Eerdmans, 2011), Psalms for All Seasons (Faith Alive/Baker, 2012), co-author of Walking Where Jesus Walked: Worship in Fourth-Century Jerusalem (Eerdmans, 2010), and editor of A Child Shall Lead: Children in Worship (Choristers Guild, 1999). He serves as editor for three books series: the “Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies Series” (Eerdmans); “Church at Worship Series” (Eerdmans); and “Vital Worship, Healthy Congregations” (Alban Institute); as well as co-editor, with Pearl Shangkuan, of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Choral Music Series (GIA).
He is married to Charlotte van Oyen Witvliet, a professor of psychology at Hope College. They are parents of four very active children, Sheila Grace, Kate, Madeline, and Luke.