(graduated more than 50 years ago)
John DeVries ’54 and Bert Block ’65 have collaborated to publish a unique version of Scripture titled Great Bible Truths. They call it “a gateway Bible” in which “all the Bible truths are cited, recounted, and presented in 150 scripture selections.” As longterm missionaries, both John, in India, and Bert, in Mexico, noted that new believers, though eager to learn about God by reading the Bible, “soon got bogged down around the beginning of Leviticus.” They wrote this version of Scripture to overcome that frustration. John has distributed some 75,000 copies in India, and a Spanish version is nearing completion. Priced at $1.25 per copy to aid mass distribution, the book is available through Reaching America Ministries.
Last winter, Linda Lee Albert ’59 celebrated the release of her new book, Charting the Lost Continent: Poetry and Other Discoveries. A certified Jungian archetypal pattern analyst and communication coach with a master certification in neurolinguistics, Linda says that her poetry is influenced by her interest and academic training in those areas, as well as by the changing roles of contemporary women.
In 1977, Bob Ottenhoff ’70 co-founded public radio station WBGO in Newark, N.J., and served as its inaugural general manager for a decade. Now he’s back, serving as the station’s interim executive director. The New York Times says WBGO is “arguably the best jazz station in the world,” a stopping place for top jazz artists. Bob will lead the station while the search for a new executive director is underway. His career has included leadership positions at National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System. In 2019, he stepped down as the inaugural president and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy in Washington, D.C.
Carroll Arkema ’70 has published a new book, Drawn to the Light: Poems and Essays. He says, “I hope this book reminds readers of those persons and experiences in their own lives that drew them toward the light both outside and inside themselves and that helped them be more alive.” A Presbyterian minister, pastoral psychotherapist, and marriage therapist in Ridgewood, N.J., and Manhattan, Carroll has also authored Beyond Me: Poems About Spirit in Scripture, Psychotherapy, and Life, and Poems of Mourning and Healing Memory.
The mayor of Minnetonka, Minn., Brad Wiersum ’75, has been elected president of the League of Minnesota Cities for 2020–2021. Brad says he hopes to “focus attention on city leadership in times of crisis and on how the pursuit of racial equity and racial justice are issues for all cities, rural areas, and everywhere in between.” The League of Minnesota Cities is a membership organization representing 833 of the 853 cities in the state.
Victor Discovers Treasure: 45 Daily Devotional Digs for Kids is a new book by Sharon Potter Deur ’75. In the book, Victor the donkey helps children better understand imagery and metaphors of the Bible, like shepherd and sheep, potter and pots, vine and branches, honey, light, and path. Released in July by EA Books Publishing, the book is brightly illustrated.
A new book addresses how digital technologies are affecting Christian education and how parents, teachers, and school leaders can respond. Marj Dykhuis Terpstra ’82 and Kara Sevensma ’07, both professors in Calvin’s education department, teamed up with the director of the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning at Calvin, David Smith, and Hope College economics professor Steve McMullen to author Digital Life Together: The Challenge of Technology for Christian Schools.
Gail Shoemaker Brenton was in the first class to graduate from Calvin with a Bachelor of Social Work in 1991. For 29 years she’s worked as a clinical social worker, 25 of them at Henry Ford Allegiance Health in Jackson, Mich. When Henry Ford Health System launched its “My Why” campaign last year—a project that encouraged team members to individually identify personal and professional reasons why they do the work they do—Gail was chosen for a YouTube video to promote the campaign. In the video, she describes her own personal “why.”
In February, Heidi Vellenga ’93 became the new executive director of the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA) in Alexandria, Va. She had been serving as the organization’s associate director and has been on its staff since 2014. The CEA accredits postsecondary intensive English language programs and institutions in both the U.S. and abroad, providing them a systematic approach for meeting accepted standards and for pursuing continuous improvement.
Jordan Buning ’94 was named the new president of DDM Marketing & Communications in February. He’s been with the firm, at its Grand Rapids headquarters, since 2001, serving in a variety of leadership roles.
Early in March, Lee Barber ’98 suffered a concussion and multiple facial injuries when he fell down a flight of steps, shielding his daughter from the fall. Still, he showed up the next day to teach his math classes at Ramapo High School in Franklin Lakes, N.J. To show their appreciation, his pre-calculus students raised money to send their baseball-loving teacher and his family to the Yankees’ home opener. When the team got wind of the act of kindness, they extended it, offering not only the Barber family but also his students tickets to a second game, plus an invitation to batting practice. Though the games were later cancelled due to COVID-19, Lee thanked his students and told them he couldn’t teach them anymore, because they “had already learned what’s important in life.”
Last January, the Grand Rapids Business Journal honored J.D. Loeks ’99 as one of its 2019 Newsmakers of the Year. The president of Celebration Cinema, J.D. was recognized for opening the 45,000-square-foot Studio Park in the heart of the downtown. The complex features a 200-seat concert venue and a nine-screen movie theater. A 10th screen outdoors can be used to broadcast high-profile events like the World Cup. It also includes residential units and retail. “We went downtown … because this is our hometown, and we believe a strong community needs a strong urban core,” he told the Journal.
Jennifer Curtis Veltman ’03 has been promoted to chief of the infectious diseases division at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, Calif.
Jeff Buttery ’03 has authored The Sins of Kalamazoo: The Unsolved Murder of Louis Schilling and the Crimes That Shaped a Community. In the book, Jeff explores not only the 1893 murder of a respected businessman but also the historical context that spawned a number of shocking crimes in the city in that era.
When Anni Lyzenga Christie ’04 moved back to west Michigan from Florida, she brought Magpie Mischief with her. Magpie Mischief is her handmade pottery business, and in July she released a new line designed for dorm rooms. “I thought a lot about my days in the Calvin dorms and what I would have liked to see available during a time when so many college students may be spending more time in their dorms than before,” she wrote. Anni’s dorm collection is available only online at magpiemischiefshop.com.
Philip Erwin ’05 has a new book just released in August. Paul and Image: Reading First Corinthians in Visual Terms, published by Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, challenges conventional interpretations that tend to overlook the important role ancient Roman visual culture played in the framing of Paul’s discourse in First Corinthians. Philip situates Paul’s letter in the context of the critical discourse on visual representation from Plato to Philo to the so-called Second Sophistic, redefining Paul’s critique of human wisdom, the treatment of idols, and resurrection discourse in visual terms.
Heather Luimes ’07 is the new director of operations for PitCare Inc. The nonprofit focuses on empowering families, building community, and promoting economic stability in the town of Pitcairn, Pa., just outside Pittsburgh, by purchasing and renovating commercial and residential buildings; operating a food pantry, a library, and a community center; and hosting youth programs like a Girls Club.
Jeri Meninga Wieringa ’08 will begin the 2020 fall semester at the University of Alabama as an assistant professor in the department of religious studies. A digital historian, Jeri’s expertise is in using and building digital tools for use in humanities research. She’ll teach courses to both undergraduate and graduate students. The spring issue of Spark mistakenly noted that she had assumed her new position in the fall of 2019.
Last spring, the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids honored Eagles for Eric, a group that has contributed $100,000 toward the institute’s research into osteosarcoma. The group first formed to hold a golf outing to raise money for cancer treatments for Eric Westra ’08 and for the education of his infant son, Arie. After Eric died in 2016, Chelsea Muller Westra ’08 and Eric’s friends continued to hold golf outings, directing the money to the Van Andel Institute’s research into the rare form of bone cancer. They’ve also held two dinner/ improv theater evenings featuring the Calvin alumni improv group Pop Scholars. Some of Eric’s friends have raised funds for the research by running the Chicago Marathon. The next Eagles for Eric golf outing is scheduled for September. Learn more by visiting the group’s Facebook page.
Last December, Margeaux Groene ’14 performed for nearly 8,000 people in Williamsburg, Va. She was cast as the narrator for the Williamsburg Community Chapel’s annual Christmas production, now in its 19th year.
Jon Lensing ’16 graduated from the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine last spring—and simultaneously started a new company. With two co-founders, Jon launched Apollo, a web-based platform that helps health care providers move more easily among hospital systems. Physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, and physicians’ assistants who want to moonlight outside their regular positions fill out Apollo’s online application. Apollo’s algorithm then matches them with hospitals in need of specific providers. Already in beta testing when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., the company took off as the need for health care workers skyrocketed. Jon has paused his medical residency to focus his energies on the new company.
The summer after graduating from Calvin, Jacob Lensing ’19 went to the University of Iowa to get an early start on dental school. Interested in dental research, Jake was accepted into the lab of one of the college of dentistry’s professors and dove into a research project comparing the efficacy of materials used to seal and protect teeth after a root canal. His results have led to presentations at two scientific meetings and a draft of a peerreviewed manuscript. Jake is continuing his research while attending classes in the dental school.
Ryan Bradley ’18 will start his second year of law school this fall at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law. He was offered a position at the elite Chicago law school based on his first-year performance at Michigan State University’s College of Law. There Ryan was vice president of the Intellectual Property Law Society and was selected to represent the school in a national patent drafting competition. An electrical/computer engineering student at Calvin, Ryan recently wrote to thank engineering professor Randy Brouwer: “I strongly believe none of this would have been possible without my formation at Calvin.”