October 05, 2011 | Andrew Steiner

The Calvin community is getting rid of the objects that ensnare them as part of Confession Week.

Psalm 51, David’s confession of sin and turn toward repentance was the text for this past Sunday’s Living Our Faith Together (LOFT). In an effort to join with the psalmist, Campus Ministries has set aside Oct. 2–8 as Confession Week on campus.

“We have confession in almost every worship service,” said chaplain Mary Hulst. “So we’re very used to praying prayers of confession together, out loud. But what we realized is ... that when you say your sin specifically out loud to another human being and see the impact that sin has on another person and ... you, with another person, hear God’s promises spoken in your life, that it has a very powerful effect.”

Dumping the past

In talking with students, Hulst said, the campus ministries team has discovered that sins are very often tied to physical objects, so they conspired with Phil Beezhold from the physical plant to set up industrial dumpsters around campus. These dumpsters, standing on the Commons Lawn, beside the residence hall volleyball court and near the Knollcrest East fountain, allow students to rid themselves of things that cause them to stumble—pornography, razor blades, love letters from old, unhealthy relationships, video games, movies or magazines that degrade human beings.

“You can walk in the dead of night and throw something away and no one would know,” Hulst said. “There’s some privacy to it, but we’re doing it as a community.”

Confessing our faults

Tuesday through Friday of this week, campus ministry staff and seminary interns will be going to different dorms and apartments on campus, turning the basement prayer rooms into confessionals. Students can sign up for 10- to 20-minute appointments on the prayer room doors by writing their cell phone numbers to protect anonymity.

Calvin’s chaplains are not priests, Hulst made clear: “We’re doing this very much from the James idea of confess your sins, get them out, say them out loud because secrets have power. So we are confessing our sins, and we are telling the secrets that bind us.”

Rather than a response to a spiritual disease, Hulst said, Confession Week is possible at Calvin because of the courage students and faculty have to admit their mistakes and go forth into new life. “Things are very, very alive,” Hulst said.

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