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Along with ministry basics like theology, pastoral care, and preaching, students at Calvin Theological Seminary (CTS) are learning how to lead and how to be in community. The student senate is one way these two ministry themes come together.

Student senate is a group of 16 servant leaders from every degree program at CTS. This year, student senators worked to accomplish the mission of forming a Christ like community in three ways:

Events: sponsoring community activities and forums such as a multicultural Christmas potluck, a table tennis tournament, and monthly town hall meetings on topics ranging from the Belhar Confession, to evangelism in established churches and church plants, to the dangers of pornography.

Empowerment: overseeing student clubs and organizations, including the Missions, New Church Development, and Social Justice Clubs; the Idema Food Pantry; and the online student paper (

Advocacy: working with administrators and faculty on curriculum, ministry formation, and other issues of student concern, including the current process of institutional renewal.

Student senators close each meeting by identifying examples of selfless service by members of the seminary community and writing notes of appreciation. They recognize that exercising leadership also means gratefully recognizing the gifts and value of those around you.

Gratitude also shapes senators as they approach ministry in the church. “An attitude of gratitude helps open our eyes to the gracious work God is doing in his church,” reflected senior M.Div. (master of divinity) senator David Van Berkel. Second-year M.Div. senator Dirk vanEyk acknowledged a growing appreciation for the service of church officers: “As treasurer, I’ve learned to appreciate the huge time commitment we ask of our volunteer leaders, such as deacons and elders.”

This year’s senators come from eight different countries. “Because I’m from a different culture, I’ve learned how to serve with people from different cultures, and how to compromise if we have different opinions,” observed senate secretary Sze Sze Chiew, a Th.M (master of theology) student from Malaysia.

Vice President and senior M.Div. student Meg Jenista said being on student senate gave her an appreciation for being in community together, “even as we serve our larger community in a myriad of ways.”

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