February 28, 2022 | Matt Kucinski

On Wednesday, April 6, Ruth Padilla DeBorst will accept the 2022 Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life. She will receive the award during the Kuyper Conference hosted by Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary.

Padilla DeBorst, a theologian, missiologist, educator, and storyteller, has been involved in leadership development in her native Latin America for several decades.

“We are so excited to be back together on campus for the Kuyper Conference this spring,” said Michael Le Roy, president of Calvin University. “We are equally delighted for the opportunity to honor Ruth with this year’s Kuyper Prize. She has demonstrated what it looks like to live wholeheartedly as a globally engaged follower of Jesus.”

The Kuyper Prize was established in 1996 by Rimmer and Ruth de Vries and is named after Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper. The prize is awarded each year to a scholar or community leader whose outstanding contribution to their chosen sphere reflects the ideas and values characteristic of the Neo-Calvinist vision of religious engagement in matters of social, political, and cultural significance in one or more of the ‘spheres’ of society.

Padilla DeBorst currently serves with Resonate Global Mission, leading in the Comunidad de Estudios Teológicos Interdisciplinarios, a learning community with students across Latin America. She also coordinates the Networking Team of International Fellowship for Mission as Transformation and is actively furthering missional leadership formation processes with the Christian Reformed Church of North America. Beginning in fall 2022, she will be joining the faculty of Western Theological Seminary serving as the Richard C. Oudersluys Associate Professor of World Christianity.

Leading with humility

“I am humbled and honored to be chosen as a recipient of the Kuyper Prize, recognizing that there are hundreds of more deserving candidates, women and men who are silently living out God’s mission in challenging contexts, often with no public recognition,” said Padilla DeBorst.

“For decades, Ruth’s been working essentially on a theology of integral mission, an idea of evangelicalism that’s holistic with discipleship and formed by a Kuyperian understanding of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility in response to that sovereignty,” said Jul Medenblik, president of Calvin Theological Seminary. “Her faithfulness and humility in doing this work has allowed her to become a trusted guide in the communities in which she serves.”

“I can step forth with confidence, bringing the gifts of my Latin American context and communities to bear on the global church in mission, fully aware that these gifts complement those offered by diverse other communities and that only together, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are we able to follow Jesus in living out God's good purposes for our world,” said Padilla DeBorst.

She joins an esteemed group of past winners of the award, which include a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, Templeton Prize-winning philosopher, a prime minister, and a pair of U.S. ambassadors, to name a few.

The Kuyper Conference returns to campus

Padilla DeBorst will be awarded the prize during the Kuyper Conference which runs April 5-7, 2022, on the Calvin University campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The theme of this year’s conference plenaries is “Tribes, Tongues, and Nations: Global Christianity and Reformed Public Theology,” and will include plenary sessions featuring Mateusz Wichary, Agnes Chiu, and Lucas Freire. The Henry Institute Symposium on Religion and Public Life will begin on April 7, and cross-registration is available for those who would like to attend both conferences.

For more information on the conference and the award, contact Jordan J. Ballor, coordinator of the Kuyper Conference & Prize at jballo79@calvin.edu, (616) 617-7669, or visit the conference homepage.

Recent stories