Fitting pieces into the big picture

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It is a rare person who can focus on details without losing sight of the big picture.

Ask someone who has tried to be both visionary and detail-oriented “So how did that go?” and you likely will hear about the challenge of balancing vision and process, dream and implementation.

That’s what a seminary registrar must do: balance the myriad details of scheduling and transcripts with the overall vision of a student’s learning and growth. Calvin Theological Seminary’s new registrar and academic adviser, Joan Beelen, is just such a balancer.

Born and raised in Holland, Mich., Beelen attended Christian schools and studied sociology at Calvin College. Beelen is the sixth of 10 children, several of whom were adopted—“a multiracial family that I celebrate,” she says.

When she left college, her passion for social justice and interest in campus ministry intersected in a position with the Coalition for Christian Outreach as a resident director at Geneva College. Three years later she began to think about continuing in ministry and found an ideal fit in CTS’s Master of Arts in Educational Ministries program.

After completing her degree, Beelen entered full-time ministry, serving in churches from British Columbia to Michigan to California in a variety of roles.

As the registrar at CTS, Beelen views her position as “a real service role.”

“I have a really clear idea of what ministry is like . . . what gifts are needed for different things,” she says.

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