A Grand and Rapid Change: An Interview with Ben Hoekman

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WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO CALVIN SEMINARY? HOW HAS GOD GUIDED YOUR JOURNEY HERE?

I was actually first introduced to Calvin Seminary not because I was raised in the Christian Reformed Church, but mainly through the Facing Your Future (FYF) program, which has now been transformed into Dig: Uncover Your Future. As an alumni of the 2013 FYF program, God very much confirmed my call to ministry through my interaction with several of my peers, but also seminary students who served as coaches at the program. Already four years ago, I was impressed with what Calvin Seminary was doing not only academically in the classroom, but also in forming the leadership and character of students through vocational formation.

 

I MET YOU AT MADISON SQUARE CRC WHEN YOU WERE DOING AN INTERNSHIP THERE, BUT NOW YOU’RE AT LEE STREET CRC FOR YOUR CONTEXTUAL LEARNING PASTORAL INTERNSHIP. CAN YOU SHARE WITH US YOUR EXPERIENCE OF THAT TRANSITIONAL PERIOD?

Definitely. I had a wonderful opportunity to serve as music and worship intern at Madison Square CRC, particularly at the Square Campus, during my senior year at Kuyper College in the Music & Worship program. So that gave me a wonderful opportunity to design and lead the worship fairly regularly, while also coordinating many of the worship teams and taking care of some scheduling needs which our team faced throughout the years. In January, the church had approached me about the possibility of serving over the summer because their former worship director decided to resign. I was very excited to have an additional chance to stay a few more months and to help the church through a transition period. Madison then hired me as an Interim Worship Coordinator for a three-month period. It was wonderful to have many opportunities to lead worship from the piano and the guitar, but also to pour into many of the other musicians and worship leaders and to effectively serve and equip them in their roles at Madison.

I am now serving as a seminary intern at Lee Street CRC in Wyoming. So far, it has been an absolutely seamless transition. The congregation has warmly welcomed me, and I am already serving in a variety of different contexts. I have the opportunity to teach adult education and middle school Catechism, and to attend several council and leadership team meetings. I’ve also been doing some pastoral care visits with my vocational mentor. Next semester I will begin preaching for them on a fairly regular basis. I’m also designing and leading worship for some of their morning services. I may even have opportunities to interact with Lee Street’s Spanish-speaking congregation. It’s been a huge blessing to be introduced to bilingual ministry. I just can’t say enough about how His hands have been all over this entire transition that I’ve experienced over the last couple of months. My first few months at Lee Street CRC have been absolutely phenomenal. God definitely answered prayers, both for me and for Lee Street. I am so excited about what He is going to do in the next two years as I am formed into a future pastor.

 

WE HAVE NEW STUDENTS FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY WHO’VE JUST TRANSITIONED HERE THIS SEMESTER, TOO. CAN YOU RECOMMEND ANY GOOD PLACES TO VISIT IN GRAND RAPIDS?

If you haven’t been to Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, I would highly recommend visiting, especially in the spring during the “Butterflies Are Blooming” exhibit. Another must-see location would be the Gerald R. Ford Museum in downtown Grand Rapids. Also, make sure that you regularly visit Baker Book House. I worked there for a couple months over the summer—and I promise that I’m not at all biased—but Baker is by far the best Christian bookstore in West Michigan! If you are in the market for used books, chances are pretty good that Baker will have it in stock. They’re open until 11 p.m. every night. They also have a café, Baker’s Beanery, so you can sit down and get a cup of coffee and a muffin, or even a hot sandwich. I often do homework there late into the evening. I like to meet people there for coffee, too. Restaurant-wise, I highly recommend the Twisted Rooster on the East Beltline near Knapp’s Corner. They do a wonderful job of featuring local meat and produce on their menu. Wolfgang’s Restaurant in Eastown is also a great spot for an affordable breakfast if you order the Early Bird Special. Also, Kitchen 67 on the Beltline is another one of my favorites—they have delicious steak and dessert at a reasonable price.

 

LAST QUESTION. CAN YOU BRIEFLY SHARE WITH US WHAT YOU EXPECT FROM YOUR SERVICE AS A STUDENT SENATOR THIS YEAR?

As a first-year M.Div. student, my service on Student Senate allows me to gain a better feel for the seminary community as a whole as I discover how God has been moving over the past few years, and also how He is calling me forward—especially as we make preparations for a reaccreditation visit later this year. As part of my service on Student Senate, I am very honored to serve as a student member of the Vocational Formation Committee, as well as the Enrollment Management Taskforce. I am eager to be able to learn more about some of the inner workings of the seminary, but also to share some of my ideas for how we can continue to grow as a seminary community that pursues excellence and academics; wholly devoted in Christ and to growing together as Christ’s disciples as we are formed for ministry. I’m thrilled to represent my first-year M.Div. cohort this year.

 

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