(graduated more than 50 years ago)

William B. Eerdmans has recently published an updated and revised version of Religion & American Culture: A Brief History by George Marsden HON. A Calvin history professor from 1965–1986, George originally wrote the book in 1990 for his students at Duke University. This third edition is “as much addressed to a general audience as it is to students,” he writes in the preface. The book is available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers.

In his newest book, Calvin English professor emeritus Roy Anker HON again takes readers to the movies. Beautiful Light: Religious Meaning in Film is Roy’s close viewing of nine critically acclaimed films, including Magnolia, The Apostle, and American Gigolo, to show their deep religious insights and spiritual meaning. The book is available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers.

The father-son science-professor team of Franklin De Haan ’57 and David De Haan ’89 have co-authored Reading Genesis and Modern Science: A Study Guide. Issued by Credo House Publishers, the book walks readers through geologic, chemical, and astronomical evidence of Earth’s ancient past and its projected future. The De Haans also discuss how this ancient and future story intersects Christian beliefs. The book is available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers.


These three couples have been getting together every year for decades. When they were students the men shared a room, and George played Cupid, introducing his two roommates to their future wives. The friendships have only grown since. 

Last September, Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis., held a ceremony to dedicate Room 131 of the H.F. John - son Center for the Fine Arts in honor of Richard Sjoerdsma ’62, professor emeritus of music. The room was Dick’s office and teaching studio throughout his 39 years of teaching and 50 total years of service at the school. Though no longer teaching, Dick continues as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Singing.

John Boer ’62 and Frances Boer-Prins ’63 served in Nigeria for 30 years— John at the Institute of Church and Society for nearly 20 of those years and Fran as a volunteer and teacher at Hillcrest School. Their website, SocialTheology.com, John describes as an “online Reformational academic library” that aims to provide Kuyperian literature free to the academic community. In addition, the Boers have published a five-volume memoir on their website’s “Boeriana” page and eight volumes on Nigerian Christian-Muslim relations on the “Islamica” page. They now live in Vancouver.

Shortly before his death, Harry H. Boer ’63 and his wife, Barbara J. Boer Van Haitsma ex’63, completed an e-book, God’s Deacon: An Account of Johannes Van Haitsma and the Christian Reformed Church, which tells the story of Barb’s great-grandfather. An immigrant to west Michigan from Friesland, the biography provides insight into Johannes’ personal economy and the culture of west Michigan during the 19th century, from log hut to mansion, from native trails to railways. Along the way the story also provides an account of the beginnings of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. For more information, see SocialTheology.com/boeriana.htm.

Abraham Kuyper is best known at Calvin and elsewhere for his writings on Christian cultural engagement. But in his own time his best-loved and best-selling publications were his meditations on scripture. James DeJong ’63 has translated one of the most famous volumes, Honey From the Rock, to present the devotional Kuyper to a new audience. James is a past president of Calvin Theological Seminary and is widely published in the history of Reformed theology and history of missions. This book is available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers.

Betty Houtman Kamps ’64 doesn’t consider herself an organist because she’s never learned all the instrument’s stops. Nonetheless, she’s played the organ in church for more than 50 years and still plays most Sundays at Rehobeth CRC in Gallup, N.M. She also volunteers in special education classes at Catherine Miller Elementary School in Church Rock, N.M. Her husband of 55 years, Phil Kamps ’61, an obstetrics and gynecology physician, retired in January 2018. In 50 years of practice he helped deliver more than 7,000 babies. Upon his retirement, the OB nursing staff and administration of Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital decided that their women’s health unit should be named The Philip Kamps, M.D., Women’s Health Unit.

While on a safari to Tanzania and Kenya, six Calvin alumni stopped in Nairobi to meet up with 1965 graduate Wakuraya Wanjohi. Born Geertje Buis in Winnipeg, she has lived in Nairobi since 1973 and has written the story of her life on three continents in her memoir, Daughter of Three Worlds: An Education in Values.


DEEJ, a documentary film created by Robert Rooy ’70 in partnership with D.J. Savarese, a nonspeaking autistic, received one of 30 Peabody Awards presented in 2018. Chosen from 1,200 submissions, the film tells D.J.’s story in his own words and poetry, demonstrating, according to the Peabody jury, “its subject’s brilliance and accomplishment, rather than dwelling on limits and barriers.” It went on to say that “DEEJ takes several masterful steps forward in inclusive filmmaking.” DEEJ also earned a 2018 Emmy Award nomination in the category of graphic design and art direction.

God’s Plan: Eliminate Biblical Ignorance is a new book by Ren Vandesteeg ’70, and its subtitle spells out the book’s purpose unambiguously. “Many in today’s culture—including churchgoers—do not know what the Bible says or how it applies in 2018,” he writes. “My goal is to change that and help them see the Bible is more relevant to their lives than ever.” Ren pastored churches for five years before serving as a CRC chaplain in the Air Force, retiring as a colonel after 25 years. His book is available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers.

Peter H. Kuiper ’71 has recently published a book about the principles underlying his Christian intensive counseling practice in Buena Vista, Colo. At the Crossroads: Finding Your Way Home to Who You Really Are challenges five core false beliefs that can cause lives to get off track. Pete reports that most of his clients “have found new joy and freedom in their walk with the Lord.” The book can be purchased at the website of his ministry, CrossroadsCounseling.net.

Last November, Karen Snapper Weaver ’73 was honored at the inaugural “16 Over 60” gala hosted by Senior Neighbors of Kent County, Mich. Karen was recognized for several contributions to the Grand Rapids community, including a commitment to environmental sustainability that has led her to assist Calvin’s Food Recovery Network. In her biography for the gala, Karen noted that she’s inspired by her “amazing high school catechism students at Neland Avenue Church.”

Retired after 40 years as a Presbyterian pastor, most recently in Switzerland, Douglas Brouwer ’75 has written The Truth About Who We Are: Letter to My Grandchildren. The book, published last November, is Doug’s fifth. In 2017, he co-authored How to Become a Multicultural Church with Wes Granberg Michaelson. The new title is available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers.

After 11 years with the Kent Intermediate School District in Grand Rapids, Ben Boerkoel ’76 has taken a job with the Michigan Department of Education as manager of the MI-Excel Statewide System of Support. This department oversees continuous improvement services to the lowest-performing schools in the state.

After 18 years in leadership at Elon University, Steven House ’77 has announced he will step down as the school’s chief academic officer. He arrived at the school in 2001 as founding dean of Elon College, the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, where he increased the number of faculty and grew the number of liberal arts majors at the university from 37 percent to roughly 50 percent. In 2009, he was appointed provost and had what he calls his proudest moment the following year when the Phi Beta Kappa Society installed a chapter at Elon. Since 2015, Steve has also held the position of executive vice president. He’ll continue in that post until May 2021.


After 14 years of ministry at Ebenezer CRC in Leota, Minn., Joe Vanden Akker ’80 accepted a call last June to pastor Hanley CRC in Grandville, Mich. Karen Cilley Vanden Akker ’80 is working part-time, assisting the band and choir director at West Side Christian School in Grand Rapids. 

The discovery of a bundle of 19th century letters in an attic in Freinsheim, Germany, delivered to her by a German relative sent Claire Patterson Gebben ’80 on a quest through her ancestors’ past to her own life. How We Survive Here: Families Across Time is the book that resulted. The memoir weaves together the family’s past and present within the context of a broader history to tell how “we must strive to survive.” It’s available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers.

After decades of experience in the automotive industry, Ray Koopman ’81 is using his leadership skills in a new project. He’s created the Lead Engage Agency, a new company to help organizational leaders with business improvement, growth, transition, retirement planning, leadership development, and project management.

How can we live more faithfully as Christians in the gap between the resurrection of Christ and the promised consummation of all things? That’s the question Amy Plantinga Pauw ’81 addresses in her new book, Church in Ordinary Time: A Wisdom Ecclesiology. By drawing on seasons of the church year and the creation theology elaborated in Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, she offers wisdom for daily life in Christian communities of faith. Amy is the Henry P. Mobley, Jr., Professor of Doctrinal Theology at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary. Published by William B. Eerdmans, the book is available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers.

Elevate Studio, an architectural design and consulting firm in Grand Rapids co-founded by Jim VanderMolen ’82 and Steve Fridsma ’91, earned a 2018 design award from the Grand Rapids chapter of the American Institute of Architects for its design of a new building for Behavior Analysts of West Michigan. Fellow alum Margie Boersma Hayward ’85 owns and manages Behavior Analysts, a behavior therapy center for children with developmental disabilities and other behavioral challenges.

Ross Leisman ’84, an attorney with Mika Meyers in Grand Rapids, has been elected to the firm’s management committee for 2019. Ross specializes in civil litigation, land use, and municipal law.


Debra Perry ’91 was recently named honorary chair of the Grand Rapids Symphony with Soul committee—a lifetime appointment. She is the lead singer of Debra Perry & Majestic Praise, a Grand Rapids-based gospel group of eight singers. The group’s third album, Con-Quer-Or, was produced by Debra’s record label, Joint Heir Music Group, and released in December 2017.

Jessica Rooks Westra ’94 is now the publicity director for Zonderkidz, the children’s product division of Zondervan/ HarperCollins Christian Publishing. In this role Jessica oversees all facets of public relations for the Zonderkidz catalog. She comes to the job with more than 23 years of experience, including running her own events and media consulting business and event management for the Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Mich.

For the past two years Troy Tompkins ’94 has served as medical director at City of Refuge, a home for children rescued from child labor and trafficking, on Lake Volta in Ghana. Troy and his wife, Jammie, a nurse practitioner, have started a clinic that also serves the affiliated Christian school and nearby community, and they reach out to rural villages doing medical screenings and training local people in community health evangelism. Troy invites Calvin students or graduates to volunteer with them in medical service, education, or social work.

Become a better traveler by learning from the outrageous adventures of a global nomad—and laugh along the way! That’s the offer Kolin Gonçalves ’95 makes to readers with his book Pushed From a Train: Travel Lessons From the Misadventures of a Global Nomad. To entertain and instruct travelers both actual and armchair, Kolin tells of his misadventures—like being threatened with imprisonment by a Hungarian border guard—and everyday encounters during 19 years of travel in 59 countries. The book is available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers.

At the CPhI Pharma Awards event last October, AqVida GmbH, a German company specializing in the production of oncology medicines, received the top award in the manufacturing technology and equipment division. Dwight You ’96 designed the winning technology: the first commercial-scale system to successfully employ robotic arms to fill sterile injectables, such as oncology drugs. The company is in Hamburg, where Dwight also makes his home with his wife and children.

Susan Boersma Schafer ’96 has accepted a position as volunteer services program manager for the city of Fort Collins, Colo. In the volunteer management field over 20 years, Sue has also served with the Bluff Lake Nature Center in Denver, Denver Botanic Gardens, and South Suburban Parks and Recreation. She was the visionary for the design and implementation of the web-based management database Engage, which is now used as an enterprise-wide system.

Pamela Vander Ploeg Hoekwater ’98 began her legal career in 2001 as a staff attorney at Legal Aid of Western Michigan’s Grand Rapids office. In 2015 she became the organization’s director of community collaboration, developing new programs like its medical-legal partnership with Cherry Health. With the new year Pam became the new executive director of the nonprofit law firm, which provides free legal representation to people in poverty in 17 counties in the state’s western region.

For Callie Feyen ’98, clothes have always been a big part of the way she finds and makes her personal story. Hence the title of her new coming-of-age memoir, Twirl: My Life With Stories, Writing & Clothes, published in February by TS Poetry Press. This is her second memoir. The first, The Teacher Diaries: Romeo & Juliet, was released in 2018. Both are available through Amazon. Callie is a writer and teacher and serves as the at-risk literacy specialist in the Ypsilanti, Mich., public schools.


John VanderHaagen ’01 has been named director of communications at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. John now oversees all communications efforts for the 158-acre horticultural display garden and outdoor sculpture park located in Grand Rapids Township; his duties include design, public relations, social media, and advertising. Since 2014, John has been the Gardens’ public relations manager.

Both Nathan ’04 and Mandy ’05 Suhr-Sytsma have had their first books published. Nathan’s book, Poetry, Print, and the Making of Postcolonial Literature, was published in 2017 by Cambridge University Press. The book “reveals the history of relationships among poets and editors from Ireland and Nigeria, Britain and the Caribbean during the period of decolonization, charting the transformation of the anglophone literary world.” Nathan is an assistant professor of English at Emory University in Atlanta. Mandy’s first book, Self-Determined Stories: The Indigenous Reinvention of Young Adult Literature, was released in October 2018 by Michigan State University Press. The book illuminates how indigenous young adult literature “radically revises conventions in the YA genre, boldly troubles discourses of diversity, and dynamically imagines Indigenous empowerment in the contemporary era.” Mandy teaches in the English department at Emory University and the school’s writing center. Both Nathan’s and Mandy’s books are available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers.

Samantha Ehlert Tidball ’08 has been awarded the Distinguished Youth Minister Award from the Center for Youth Ministry Training (CYMT) in Nashville, Tenn. She is an alumna of CYMT, a graduate program that equips youth ministers and churches to develop theologically informed and practically effective youth ministries. The youth pastor of Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor, Mich., Sam won external grants to develop a curriculum that helps teens and their families strengthen their relationships. She also writes youth curricula for the United Methodist Publishing House and serves as a professional youth ministry coach.

Loren Scarbrough ’09 recently graduated with a doctorate in educational leadership from Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan. She currently serves as an assistant principal at Wichita Southeast High School in Wichita, Kan.

David Tan ’09 is a post doctoral fellow at United Nations University’s International Institute for Global Health in Kuala Lumpur, where he carries out research and training to improve health policy and practice. He investigates our social, physical, and policy environments, modeling them as complex systems to bridge gaps between disciplines, discover why interventions for health succeed or fail, and translate successful interventions to new contexts. He uses these tools to improve health systems, urban environments, and participation in policy-making.

In November, Joey Breems ’09 was promoted to the post of senior government operations analyst in the Office of the City Administrator for the government of the District of Columbia. He first joined that office in October 2017.


With the start of the new year, Andrew Steiner ’11 started a new job. He’s now the marketing communications coordinator at Heart of West Michigan United Way.

In September, James Lee ’12 was installed as the senior pastor at Christ Community Church in East Islip, N.Y. After graduating from Calvin Seminary last May, he spent the summer as the church’s interim pastor. James credits his time as a worship apprentice at Calvin as important in helping him discern and prepare for his pastoral vocation.

Christian Becker ’15 has a new job. He’s now field department assistant for the new late-night comedy series Desus & Mero produced by Showtime Networks Inc.