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According to her mother, Mary Vanden Berg could never sit still during church services, and that was a problem. A restless child in the pews was often a distraction to the preacher—who happened to be her father.

But roles were reversed at the opening convocation service of Calvin Theological Seminary in September. 

Vanden Berg, a professor of systematic theology, gave the convocation address to the students, faculty, and staff assembled in the seminary chapel. 

Her parents, retired Christian Reformed pastor Rev. Wilbur and Marilyn De Jong, sat in the pews, warmly attentive and quietly beaming.

It was a proud moment for her parents as they remembered a restless daughter but saw before them a woman called and equipped by God to become a “pastor to the church” as a seminary professor.

In introducing Vanden Berg, CTS president Rev. Jul Medenblik publicly marked the moment in the seminary’s 140-year history by announcing that she is the first female faculty member to receive tenure at Calvin Seminary—and to give the convocation address.

“Make them like trees” was both the teaching and prayer undercurrent of her address.

Using the horticultural images of Psalm 1, Vanden Berg challenged and encouraged students to experience a season of fruitful formation while “planted in the soil” of the seminary and watered by the streams of God’s Word and Spirit. 

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