Commencement

To our Graduates

Dear Calvin Seminary Graduates of 2020 and 2021:

As you know, the pandemic has changed our world and the community of Calvin Theological Seminary. One of those changes has been how we conduct our Commencement ceremony.

Last year we were not able to host an in-person celebration. Instead, a video was put together by our hard-working faculty and staff and we hosted a “drive-by” celebratory event where gift bags were handed out.

This year, we praise God that we are able to host an in-person celebration (yay!) with flexibility in our constantly changing, pandemic protocol-filled world. Not only is the world constantly changing, Calvin Seminary’s world continues to change, along with the State of Michigan. Although vaccinations are widely available, vaccination rates vary widely by age group, and many people below the age of 18 have not had the opportunity to be vaccinated. Given that we have people coming from out of state, and that this is an indoor event, we still think it is important to run the ceremony in a way that maintains physical distancing.

There are also people who will not be able to cross the US border to attend. They will be attending by livestream, and we have prepared the program to acknowledge them and provide an experience for them as well. We actually have more students who may be online and watching than those who have committed to attend in the fieldhouse. Our presentation is meant to help include and honor both types of graduates.

There is no in absentia this year as we are including all our graduates in the commencement program and in a specially produced video presentation of all graduates from 2020 and 2021. Commencement will be available on Vimeo and YouTube. Links will also be shared on our Facebook page the day of Commencement. Please share the livestream links with your friends and families!

Fun Facts You Should Know

There WILL be celebration!

There WILL be “Pomp and Circumstance”!

You WILL process in and recess out!

You WILL wear your regalia (hoods included)!

You WILL still get a cookie - even if we will not gather by the Seminary Pond!

There WILL be an opportunity for a Class photo (in the Arena, masks down for the moment it takes the professional photographer to snap a photo!)

There WILL be photos that you will have access to after the event.

There WILL be a faculty processional and faculty will be present for personal pictures as well.

There WILL be a livestream recording and link so you may relive your moment over again.

There WILL be a program.

There WILL be music! (professional organist, vocalist, hymns and songs even if we hum!)

There WILL be a litany that your student leaders will lead!

Your name WILL be read by your Program Director or Professor in a pre-recorded video, which will include the photos you submitted. You WILL be asked to stand in place and be recognized as your name is announced.

There WILL be a Commencement speaker - President Jul Medenblik!

There WILL be the honoring of three Distinguished Alumni Award winners (video presentations).

You WILL get a “swag bag” with lovely mementos

You will have the opportunity to take additional pictures with the people you want to include after the ceremony - either inside or outside

And because this ceremony may bring tears – joy, elation, many emotions - we will include tissues in your swag bag for you.

Facts You Need to Know

We ask that you arrive between 6:15 and 6:30 pm. You will gather (physically distanced, of course) in the Gymnasium near the Van Noord Arena. Don’t worry, there will be signage and folks to lead you there.

Please wear your regalia as you arrive – your regalia is YOUR ticket to enter! And for the first time, you get to KEEP your regalia!!! This also gives you the opportunity to have your family hood you in preparation for Commencement - giving them some involvement, and marking their involvement in your Seminary time.

Your guests will need tickets to enter. Guests will be guided to their seating area. Seating is not pre-assigned, simply on another floor overlooking you – the graduates!

Your tickets and regalia will be available for pick up next week. Check your Seminary email for information regarding when regalia has arrived and where it can be picked up. A map of the campus and a seating chart will also be included.

Masks will need to be worn at all times (with photo opportunity exception) by graduates and guests. A Calvin Seminary mask will be supplied for you with your regalia.

The ceremony will conclude with a recessional. Faculty and Students will exit the building in the same lines they entered in. Ushers will direct the guests to exit. Although there is no formal reception, if you would like to visit with others or take photographs outside of the building, you can do so. In order to give University staff time off between our event and their events the next day, the building will close around 9 pm.

Why Are We Conducting Commencement This Way?

The Commencement Team consisting of Jul Medenblik, Denise Mokma, Kenzie Szczepanski, Sarah Konynenbelt, Shari Garcia, Annie Mas-Smith and Carolyn DeNeut, has worked diligently in every way possible to provide you with a celebration of this momentous event. Many things have to be considered this year, in line with policies regarding large gatherings laid out by the State of Michigan, Calvin University, and Calvin Seminary. Our hoped-for well laid plans have had to be very flexible. Although there are some things not happening, we are optimistic that we will be able host this event and celebrate together!

Here are some items we had to consider:

Many graduates, from both classes, and Board of Trustees, for various and important reasons, have chosen to or are unable to attend an in-person ceremony.

Protocols from the State of Michigan Health Department. COVID numbers have fluctuated greatly in both directions since our planning started.

We have to be mindful and follow Calvin University health guidelines as we are utilizing their facility.

We had to keep in mind that what people feel comfortable doing varies. Some people are comfortable with few precautions, others prefer more. Thank you for being considerate of the needs of all persons, some of whom may not want to express their preference or share their health status. We feel that our plans allow a number of the traditional Commencement things to occur, while keeping the health of everyone in mind.

Video recordings had to be scheduled in advance to allow key staff to put it all together.

Wanting to make sure we did this whole program within a certain length of time was a large factor in our planning, even in making adjustments this past week. We are trying to keep the amount of time people are gathered to a minimum. That meant needing to create a simple ceremony that did not require a rehearsal.

We look forward to celebrating with you on Friday, May 21, starting at 6:15 pm in the Van Noord Arena of Calvin University! Please feel free to contact a team member with any questions. We are HAPPY to help or fill in further details as needed.

We are praying for you and for your family as you attend the largest indoor gathering of people for most of us since early March of 2020! Thank you again for your understanding and your consideration.

Frequently Asked Questions

When and where is graduation?

The Calvin Seminary graduation ceremony will take place on Friday, May 21st at 7pm in the Van Noord area on Calvin University's campus.

Map of Calvin University's Campus
Tickets for Graduation

The number of guests that can attend graduation will be determined in April based on number of grads attending and health department requirements.

This year Commencement will be a ticketed event. Due to COVID protocols, each graduate may invite three guests. We do have some tickets that remain after dividing things between graduates. If you would like an additional ticket, you may apply using a link (please contact Denise Mokma for the link)

If you do not need three tickets you may surrender your additional ticket(s) and we will add them to the stack of tickets to be distributed to those applying for more. Just use the link above to indicate that you are surrendering tickets. Applications are due April 30.

You will pick up your tickets when you pick up your regalia the week before Commencement. More details and instructions for entering the Van Noord Arena and finding seats will be announced nearer to May 21.

Livestream Links

There is no in absentia this year as we are including all our graduates in the commencement program and in a specially produced video presentation of all graduates from 2020 and 2021. Commencement will be available on Vimeo (https://vimeo.com/event/986070) and YouTube (https://youtu.be/JLeHU17jxTg). Links will also be shared on our Facebook page the day of Commencement. Please share the livestream links with your friends and families!