Synod 2008 appointed Mary Lynn Vanden Berg to a three-year term as assistant professor of systematic theology at Calvin Theological Seminary, in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“Teaching is what I love to do,” said Vanden Berg. “It’s exciting for me to think about forming students for ministry and how I can help them see and articulate better their understanding of God.”
Vanden Berg has a Bachelor of Science degree from Calvin College and a Master of Theological Studies degree from Calvin Theological Seminary. In the weeks following synod she expected to defend her Ph.D. dissertation, a study of atonement and its effect on the renewal of creation.
“My students will tell you that I always ask the ‘So what?’ question,” she said. “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?”
Challenged by a delegate about her lack of pastoral experience, Vanden Berg replied, “Yes, it’s a bit of a handicap—I don’t know what your shoes are like, exactly. But I grew up in a pastor’s house, and I’ve been involved in practically every volunteer opportunity there is in the church—something the people in your congregation are more familiar with. In fact, the people in your pews every week are probably more like me.”
“My passion to teach comes from my passion to learn,” she explained. “The more I learn, the more I want to share.”