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COVID-19 and Calvin Theological Seminary

COVID-19 and Calvin Theological Seminary
Ali Salim, a Master of Theology graduate, poses for a socially distanced picture with President Medenblik during the May 2020 drive-through commencement ceremony.

Each May the Calvin Theological Seminary community gathers to celebrate those graduating from various certificate and degree programs. May 2020 was different. The COVID-19 pandemic precluded such a gathering.

Instead, the school did what it could to recognize and celebrate these important achievements by creating a video montage of pictures of graduates and their families (

It also hosted a drive-through event. Each graduate received a gift and took a picture with CTS president Jul Medenblik (from an appropriate social distance).

“COVID-19 may have changed how we celebrate, but it could not change our celebrating our 61 graduates, who came from Brazil, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kenya, South Korea, and the United States,” Medenblik said.

The pandemic also affected how students finished the semester. Like many schools, Calvin Seminary pivoted to online education in March. Because of its investment in distance education about nine years ago, Calvin Seminary was able to change gears over a single weekend.

“We are grateful for this investment that is still paying dividends,” Medenblik said.

This shift to online education enabled the school to do even more than it had originally intended. Over the summer, Calvin Seminary joined with Calvin University to offer online courses for church leaders looking to explore and engage relevant topics such as evangelism, discipleship, and education in the challenging context of COVID-19. More than 300 church leaders enrolled, leading CTS to provide even more short-term online courses and sessions.

“This past spring and summer has led to our continuing to be flexible in response to the context we are in,” Medenblik concluded. “Whether it is by face-to-face or online instruction, Calvin Theological Seminary is still serving as it has since 1876.”

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