Calvin Theological Seminary graduated its largest class with 126 students receiving a certificate, diploma, or degree at its commencement service on May 20, 2017. 

Fifty-six of these students received either a Certificate in Hispanic Ministry or a Certificate in Family Counseling, both of which are taught in Spanish. Another highlight were eight M.Div. or M.T.S. graduates from the first cohort of the distance-learning program begun five years ago.

The following countries or territories were represented by these graduates: Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, and the United States.

President Jul Medenblik addressed this full platform of graduates, giving them encouragement from the story in Luke 5:17-20 of friends carrying  their paralyzed friend to see Jesus by lowering him from the roof of a crowded house into the healing presence of Jesus himself.

“From this story, I want to give you this summary of ministry. In ministry,” said Medenblik, “you are called to serve others and even carry their mat.” Also in ministry, he said, “you will sometimes find yourself on the mat.”

Always keep moving toward Jesus, he advised.

“The persons carrying the mat and the one on the mat have this in common: they are moving toward Jesus. In these few verses we have a picture of persistence, but also invitation. People in the way are not going to stop friends from moving toward Jesus. 

“A roof is not going to stop friends from moving toward Jesus. And then when they are there, Jesus does not turn away from them. He sees them. He sees their faith. He sees the need for healing and he sees even more—he sees a need for the forgiveness of sins.

“Grace comes into our lives, and grace works at the stains of sin in our lives and in this world. Even though you are graduating from a seminary today, please keep this truth before you—God is not finished with you. God desires to call you to a deeper trust, a deeper faith in him.

“You may have turned in a final paper and taken a final exam, but God is not finished with you. You are at the edge of commencement. Every day, God desires to refine you, develop you, sustain you, and provide you with the gift of grace that comes from faith in him.      

“On this day where we acknowledge your gifts and abilities, we are invited to see through and beyond your gifts and abilities to the God who has created you and who is still working on you and me.

 “Today can be a testament to achievement, but may today also be a reminder of how you are instruments of his grace—as you serve.”

About the Author

Jinny De Jong, Calvin Theological Seminary