Back in her student days at Calvin College, there was one on-campus job that appealed to Mary Hulst.
“I thought that the chaplain job looked like a vibrant job, a fun job,” Hulst remembers. “And Coop did it so well,” she added, referring to Rev. Dale Cooper, who served as Calvin’s chaplain for 30 years before retiring in 2007.
Today, Rev. Hulst has the job. She was named the third Calvin chaplain—and the first woman—to serve since the role was created in 1962. “It’s amazing, letting it settle over me that this is now my job,” she said.
“She’s a strong pastor, preacher, teacher, and scholar—and, I think, a natural student,” said Calvin English professor Karen Saupe, a member of the committee that selected Hulst. “She loves to learn, and I think that shows in her preaching.”
Currently a professor at Calvin Theological Seminary, Hulst will assume her new duties this summer. She will serve a pastoral role for students and for faculty and staff as well. She will head the office of Christian formation, mentoring associate chaplains and other staff. She will also teach in the new department of congregational and ministries studies and in the seminary.
A longtime preacher at Calvin’s Living Our Faith Together (LOFT) services, Hulst is looking forward to getting better acquainted with Calvin students. “What I love about working with college students is they’re so open and eager to talk. They ask big questions. They listen to the answers. They can be very wacky and playful and funny,” she said.
Students bring a distinctive pastoral challenge, Hulst added. “They’re at a point of really owning the faith for themselves. You have people who have grown up in Christian homes and done things from habit, and they have to own the faith for their own—and that is just really exciting.”