Q: Why did you choose to come to GRTS? Vander Wilp: I chose to come to GRTS because of the small, intimate atmosphere which would allow me to have one-on-one contact with my professors, as well as getting to know my fellow classmates. I was also drawn in by the Biblical integration in the counseling program.
Q: Describe your favorite GRTS experience. Vander Wilp: I will always remember the many friends I made, the times spent in the lobby area talking about life and theology and more. I will hold near and dear to my heart the professors that took the time to listen and teach us the lessons in life that would help us be impactful in the Kingdom of God.
Q: What makes you excited about counseling? Vander Wilp: I am excited about counseling because of the opportunity to come alongside an individual to help them see the truth of their circumstances. I believe that through a counseling experience, an individual can see the way to hope when they thought there was none. This can bring restoration so they can operate in who God has called them to be. It is an honor to be apart of this journey and to see the transformational power of the Holy Spirit working in each individual.
Q: Tell us a little about your long-term vocational goals. Vander Wilp: My long term goals in counseling will be to eventually open my own practice that will cater mostly to women. I would like to create training programs, especially in the areas of describing a woman's true identity in Christ. I believe identity is one of the most attacked areas in women, which can lead to anxiety, depression and other issues of concern. In my opinion, when a person can grasp who God has made them to be, they are unstoppable. There are so many ideas that are in my heart for the future of my counseling ministry; however, I want to follow God's heart and will because He knows what His people need.
Q: Describe the professors' role in your experience at GRTS. Vander Wilp: The professors at GRTS have been very influential in my life. Whether it be in my counseling classes or my Bible and Theology classes, all of the professors at GRTS have provided new understandings of the Bible and vocational instruction. This has helped me be a better servant in the Kingdom of God.
Q: Why did you choose to come to GRTS? Salazar: The faculty is quite accomplished within their respective fields yet have hearts for the local church. It was important for me to find a school that was ministry-minded and academically-oriented. I feel GRTS emphasizes both.
Q: Describe your favorite GRTS experience. Salazar: I love connecting with other students in and out of the classroom. It has been enriching sharing life with other students from diverse church backgrounds and varying ministry experiences. I've learned so much from my fellow classmates.
Q: What makes you excited about ministry? Salazar: The thing that excites me about ministry is life transformation. I love seeing people overwhelmed by God's grace and being set free of past sin and addictions. There's nothing more exhilarating than teaching God's Word and seeing tangible change in people's lives.
Q: What GRTS class have you enjoyed the most? Why? Salazar: One of my favorite classes has been Spiritual Formation. We learned the importance of keeping our relationship with God vibrant. The class emphasized our own relationship with Christ as being the foundation for all future ministries. The spiritual disciplines and practices that were taught during class are ones that I still practice today. These disciplines have been formative in my walk with Christ.
Q: Describe the professors' role in your experience at GRTS. Salazar: I find that the professors at GRTS genuinely care. I’ve never felt like just a number or a name. Professors at GRTS are very accessible and take the time to talk about class materials, ministry, or just life in general. I’ve also appreciated their passion for teaching the Biblical text with integrity.
Q: Why did you choose to come to GRTS? Rolls: The two major factors that drew me to GRTS were the diverse faculty and the M.Div curriculum. During my search, GRTS stood out when it came to exceptionally qualified faculty from multiple theological backgrounds. The M.Div's focus on exegesis and command of Hebrew and Greek was also an enormous plus.
Q: Describe your favorite GRTS experience. Rolls: My favorite GRTS experience, thus far, has been working in the GRTS Book Room. GRTS is a phenomenal learning community and it has been a joy to take part and serve through my responsibilities in the bookstore.
Q: Tell us a little about your long-term vocational goals. Rolls: I'm using my time at seminary somewhat heuristically to help shape and form my specific long-term vocational goals. I hope to continue education after GRTS (Ph.D, Th.M or similar degree) with interest in educational ministries. My hope is to "do-theology" in service of the Church. I hope to achieve this by bridging the gap between the academy and the Church. I could see this playing out in several ways, such as, educational ministries role at a church, becoming a professor or teacher, working for a Christian organization, or going into publishing.
Q: Describe the professors' role in your experience at GRTS. Rolls: Professors' have played an indispensable role in my seminary experience. On a practical level, professor's educational backgrounds and professional experiences have enhanced the classroom dynamic and provided the information that makes education worthwhile. On a more intimate level, GRTS professors have been an integral source of mentorship and council outside the classroom. GRTS professors have cared about my intellectual flourishing and my spiritual/emotional flourishing.
Q: What do you love most about Grand Rapids? Rolls: Grand Rapids is a small city with a big city feel. The food and art culture make for a place to celebrate life, live well, and study well. Grand Rapids is also a unique place to be as an aspiring Christian intellectual or seminarian. The city is home to several major Christian publishing houses, several Christian universities, and a vast network of churches and para-church ministries. These institutions provide plenty of opportunity for service, networking, and further learning opportunities. If you are looking to meet like-minded people and grow personally, spiritually, and intellectually, Grand Rapids is a great place to be.
Q: Why did you choose to come to GRTS? Hatley: As I began to learn about the diversity and abundant opportunities available at GRTS, and especially when I began to share conversations with the admissions staff here, I felt that old familiar pull at my heart that told me the Lord was drawing me here. And then, once I had the opportunity to visit this beautiful campus and sit in on a class and share lunch with one of the professors, I was convinced that this was the seminary God had chosen for me! It has been a fantastic journey getting to GRTS, and I relish every opportunity that the Lord has blessed me with to be in the presence of such wonderful Christian sisters and brothers in my classmates and our faculty!
Q: Describe your favorite GRTS experience. Hatley: My favorite experience at GRTS happens each and every day as we come and go about our business through the lobby of the seminary building. Every time I walk in to the building and pass by the couches and chairs in the lobby, I love to see my friends and colleagues poring over textbooks, Bibles, commentaries, and computers. In another corner of the room, a tightly knit circle of people sit closely together passionately and cheerfully debating some theological point that has excited them. In yet another corner of the lobby, someone is undoubtedly attempting to catch a few precious moments of sleep after completing an exegetical paper five minutes before the zero hour. These are the moments where the humanity and the beauty of God’s plan for us all comes together in the remarkably simple and ordinary happenings of our relationships with one another.
Q: What makes you excited about ministry? Hatley: The idea that God would choose someone as messed up and confused as me to reach out to others, undergirded by His love and compassion, terrifies and electrifies my spirit in the very same breath. I don’t know the paths that my life will take, and I don't know where God's plan for my life will take my family, but I feel undeservedly blessed to have a front seat for what God’s going to do around me, and I just hope I get to hold His hand as He works.
Q: Where are you doing your ministry residency? Please explain what the experience has been like. Hatley: For the last year and a half, I have had the great opportunity to serve with a prison congregation that meets once a week at two of the prisons in a town just east of Grand Rapids. Each week a team of volunteers meets with a group of inmates in the chapel of each facility where we have small group Bible study followed by a corporate worship service. We are a church that meets exclusively behind prison walls.
Q: What GRTS class have you enjoyed the most? Why? Hatley: My systematic theology classes have been some of the most emotionally and intellectually draining, challenging, and rewarding classes that I've ever undertaken in my entire life. I came into seminary with a public education perspective and I knew nothing about the dividing issues of denominations.
However, these issues and topics have afforded me the greatest opportunities for prayer and meditation, to discern the deepest desires and thoughts and beliefs of my own heart and mind, and the challenges that have seemed so irreconcilable at first, have helped my faith and my integrity to grow stronger. Even if my friends and I share differing views and beliefs about a specific issue, we are still able to laugh and talk with one another, and walk out the door as allies.
Q: Why did you choose to come to GRTS? Wright: My wife and I wanted to stay in Grand Rapids and at our church. After careful consideration of all the local seminaries, I felt that GRTS offered the most well-rounded, Christ-centered education and preparation for a life of full-time vocational ministry.
Q: Describe your favorite GRTS experience. Wright: I've been able to attend a couple of the "Dessert with your Professor" events and I've really enjoyed them. It's great to converse with them, their families, and other students outside of class while enjoying delicious homemade desserts.
Q: What makes you excited about ministry? Wright: Seeing lives changed and seeing people develop more committed relationships to Jesus Christ and transform the world around them. I get such great joy at seeing the students who were in my small groups during my time at Grand Valley State University stepping up to lead others and bring true transformative change to the campus and the world. I find it so humbling that God would use me to be a catalyst of change in people's lives, and it's incredible to see how his Spirit moves (and will move) through those individuals.
Q: Tell us a little about your long-term vocational goals. Wright: When I was an undergraduate student at GVSU, I felt God's call to full-time vocational ministry. As I've pursued this call, I've come to understand that it's to one day be a senior pastor, and that is what brought me to GRTS. But for what life looks like until that day, I am not sure. It's about waking up each day and being willing to follow where he is leading me, being Jesus each step of the way.
Q: Describe the professors' role in your experience at GRTS. Wright: One of the major questions I had coming in to GRTS was what the professor-student relationship looked like. My expectations have been exceeded in every way. The professors want to see you succeed and want to see you be an element of change in the world. They are willing to work with you if you need help outside of class. They are interested in your life. And they keep me focused on more than just my studies, to take what I am learning and integrate it into my ministry and my life.
Q: What ministry and recreational opportunities have you discovered in Grand Rapids? Wright: Grand Rapids has so much to offer, it's incredible to live here. I've taken part in the 5/3 Bank River Bank Run, last year the 10K and this year I'm signed up for the 25K. I also ran the Grand Rapids Mud Run last year, a fun 5K where proceeds go towards a great organization called Claim Your Campus. And through my church, I've become involved with StarFysh, a non-profit organization that is being Jesus to the people on the island of La Gonave, Haiti. My wife and I went to Haiti this past January and I hope to make future trips as well.
Q:Why did you choose to come to GRTS? Van Manen: GRTS was a great fit with my schedule and career desires.
Q: Describe your favorite GRTS experience. Van Manen: The Christian Spiritual Formation class help me concentrate on letting God speak to me through Scripture and prayer. This allowed for the opportunity to slow down and just listen.
Q: What makes you excited about counseling? Van Manen: I am excited for the opportunity to see God come alive in people and watch people see what God is doing in their lives. It is always a great thing to play a small part in life transformation.
Q: Tell us a little about your long-term vocational goals. Van Manen: I am pursuing a degree in counseling in order to help people. I do not want to limit my ideas of what area of counseling. I am always open to let God lead me to the opportunities He has for me.
Q: What GRTS class have you enjoyed the most? Why? Van Manen: I have appreciated the Christian Spiritual Formation class with Pastor Brown. I liked how they went about laying a foundation of spirituality, then took us on a journey of what spirituality is in our lives. I appreciated the opportunity to slow life down, reflect and be still, and to know God was a joy in my life and something I will continually be working on.
Q: Describe the professors' role in your experience at GRTS. Van Manen: My professors have always taken an interest in me as a person to help me grow in my wisdom and what God is teaching me.
Q:Why did you choose to come to GRTS? Gibson: I chose GRTS because the seminary seeks to integrate the field of counseling with Biblical principles. Essentially I am gaining not only a professional education, but a spiritual foundation upon which to practice.
Q: Describe your favorite GRTS experience. Gibson: My favorite GRTS experience would be connecting with two of my peers in the Counseling Program and discussing not only course material, but life matters. It makes me feel like I have others that journey alongside of me and are willing to pray for me along the way.
Q: What makes you excited about counseling? Gibson: I am fulfilled knowing that God has given me the gift and the ability to help in mending broken and often fragmented areas of a person's life. I am excited to see God working through me, and to see people change as a result of His power working through me.
Q: Tell us a little about your long-term vocational goals. Gibson: My long-term goal is to integrate principles of multiculturalism and the importance of being culturally competent with the field of counseling. I seek to utilize what I have gleaned from this education and apply it to a missional life, representing the incarnational model abroad. I seek to bring healing to the nations.
Q: What GRTS class have you enjoyed the most? Why? Gibson: I have enjoyed Consulting class the most because it gives students a chance to practice the basic elements of counseling. It also helps to aid in the counselor-client relationship and the process of facilitating change. This class also gave me a chance to work with my peers and foster solidarity amongst each other. I saw that if one is weaker in one skill, we help each other to succeed and master it. It was very useful and enjoyable.
Q: Why did you choose to come to GRTS? Young: After looking at several seminaries in the Ohio/Michigan/Kentucky/Indiana area, I choose to attend GRTS primarily because of the professors and interaction I had with students when I visited the seminary. The students and the professors were interested in who I was and were willing to answer questions. The curriculum at the seminary also appealed to me.
Q: Describe your favorite GRTS experience. Young: My favorite GRTS experience has been having lunch with professors and students at GRTS. Getting to know other students and professors on a personal level enriches the classroom experience in many ways. The professors are very accessible and happy to get to know students as well.
Q: Tell us a little about your long-term vocational goals. Young: Upon graduation, I feel called into pastoral ministry. Primarily, I did not grow up in the church and there were several key people who influenced me. I feel called to spend my life doing the same for others through teaching, creating community and caring for others.
Q: What GRTS class have you enjoyed the most? Why? Young: Dr. Bennett's class on St. Augustine has been my favorite class at the seminary. The class dealt with both technical theological points and practical issues, which certainly made me think about future ministry. A pastor must be prepared to take complex issues and understand them in light of complex biblical teachings. Then, the pastor must help individuals understand their situations in light of their informed research.
Q: What do you love most about the city of Grand Rapids? Young: Since I have moved up to Grand Rapids, I have grown to like the city more and more. There are great restaurants and entertainment. My family really enjoys coming up to Grand Rapids for visits.
Q: Why did you choose to come to GRTS? DeHoog: GRTS was recommended to me by a friend that graduated in the M.A. Counseling program at GRTS a few years ago. Overall, GRTS made sense for me. The combination of a great location that is close to my Young Life area, a Christian focus in counseling, and high recommendations from friends made the decision to go to GRTS an easy one.
Q: Describe your favorite GRTS experience. DeHoog: I enjoyed the support I received from the Admissions Counselors when I was first getting started. Ashley VanBemmelen helped me plot out my classes so that I can continue to work full-time in ministry and complete the program within a few years.
Q: Tell us a little about your long-term vocational goals. DeHoog: I hope to continue to do full-time ministry as an Area Director in Young Life while developing transitional coaching opportunities with people that are experiencing job loss/life stage transitions.
Q: What GRTS class have you enjoyed the most? Why? DeHoog: I thoroughly enjoyed Consulting with Dr. Lehman. In this class we were taught basic counseling skills that have been extremely helpful in Young Life ministry.
Q: Why did you choose to come to GRTS? Phebus: GRTS has a history and reputation as a solid institution for ministry training and academic excellence. I have known several graduates of GRTS who relayed both the challenge and benefit of being a GRTS student and they encouraged me to give it a try. My wife was interested in pursuing counseling so GRTS was a perfect fit for us.
As a student I have appreciated the biblical foundation that we stand on as an institution and the denominational diversity that is represented by the student body. While having a single clearly defined answer for every question would be simpler, I have appreciated having different perspectives represented regarding various issues. This environment has given me new respect for other people's traditions, and it has taught me to respond to different perspectives with greater reasoning and graciousness.
Q: Describe your favorite GRTS experience. Phebus: My favorite part of being a part of GRTS has been getting to know the other students in my classes. I am confident that the relationships that I have been blessed with during my seminary experience will be a great asset as I move out from here. I have a list of friends I would feel comfortable and confident to call for help and support in the most challenging of ministry circumstances.
Q: What makes you excited about ministry? Phebus: I am excited to live a life of purpose. While treasure on earth would be nice, I want to store up treasure in heaven. All Christians have been called to seek first the kingdom of God and I feel greatly privileged to pursue this calling in full-time service to the church.
Q: Describe the professors' role in your experience at GRTS. Phebus: Small class sizes at GRTS allow for personal relationships with professors. This has been an amazing experience as they have come to know me well through our interactions inside and outside of class. There are several professors that I feel comfortable enough with to ask for help in my personal life and ministry. In this way the GRTS experience extends far beyond facts into real life and ministry training.
Q: Why did you choose to come to GRTS? Algie: I knew GRTS would provide me with a balanced understanding of the various views in Christian thought (i.e. Baptist, Reformed, Catholic, etc). I felt this would better prepare me to serve Christ's church.
Q: What GRTS classes have you enjoyed the most? Why? Algie: Greek and Hebrew: nothing can replace the ability to study and understand God's word in the original languages. We were pushed to the limit which only helped us become more disciplined and appreciative when approaching the Scriptures.
Q: Describe the professor's role in your experience at GRTS. Algie: The professors at GRTS are great teachers with a variety of gifts, who have helped me grow in my love and understanding of the Bible and of the God of the Bible. Even beyond this they have provided answers to many questions inside and outside the classroom and always have an open door to talk and help you. GRTS is a community of students, professors, and other faculty who all have the same goal of being transformed more into the image of Jesus Christ and for that I am grateful to have come here.
Q: What do you love most about the city of Grand Rapids? Algie: Great bookstores like Eerdmans and Baker Book House are just minutes away from GRTS. This will help you build a solid library to be used in seminary and in the church. Lots of great restaurants, parks, and events (such as Art Prize) are just a few things that make Grand Rapids a great city.
Q: Describe your favorite GRTS experience. Rice: I have found the relationships with my peers to be uplifting and encouraging. I enjoy being able to walk through the halls and run into classmates who take the time to find out how my semester is going. I have found this same personal investment from the faculty. They have made themselves available whenever I have had a question. I have found the professors to be interested in helping each student succeed. The support and encouragement I have found at GRTS has been a crucial part in making my experience great!
Q: What makes you excited about counseling? Rice: It is such a humbling experience to have clients share their deepest struggles and hurts. I find it so rewarding to work with clients and see them find relief from their struggles. It is an honor to have a front-row seat to the wonderful ways God works in people's lives. In my short time working with clients, I have found my faith deepening and my passion for working with those who are hurting has grown.
Q: What GRTS class have you enjoyed the most? Why? Rice: I have been surprised by how invaluable the theology classes have been on both a personal level as well as professionally. These classes have facilitated a fuller understanding of my faith. They have helped me gain a deeper understanding of God, humanity, and the intricate ways we interact with our creator. I frequently use information I have learned in the theology classes in sessions with clients.
Q: Please explain your Practicum and Internship experience. Rice: I was able to do my Practicum and Internship II at The Well (Cornerstone University Counseling Services) and Internship I at Alpha Women's Center. The Well has offered the experience of working with undergraduate college students. I am gaining experience in therapeutic techniques, treatment planning, documentation, and diagnosing. At Alpha Women's Center, I was able to work with expectant mothers and mothers with young children. I was able to gain experience in coordinating services, improving my consulting skills, and in providing psychoeducation. I was also able to gain a multicultural experience as I worked with half of my clients in Spanish.
Q: Describe your favorite GRTS experience. Hardley: I can't say I have had a single favorite moment at GRTS. But I can say it has been a consistently rewarding experience for several reasons. The professors have always been accessible both in and out of class. They genuinely care about the life of each student, not just their schoolwork. Becoming friends with other students has also been a very rewarding experience. The conversations we have had about faith and life have definitely helped me grow.
Q: What GRTS class have you enjoyed the most? Why? Hardley: My favorite class has been Cultural Intelligence. It has given me the tools to understand and adapt to different cultures and worldviews while also helping me understand the way my own culture has shaped me. Both abilities are crucial in communicating effectively with others since there is almost always some "translation" needed.
Q: Describe the professor's role in your experience at GRTS. Hardley: The professors have been amazing. They are not only brilliant in their area of scholarship, but they care deeply for each student and will do anything they can to help each student succeed.
Q: Describe your Ministry Residency experience. Hardley: I did my first year of residency at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, MI. I served as a pastor in their high school ministry. It was a great experience overall. I am very much looking forward to the start of my next residency at Redeemer Covenant Church near Caledonia, MI. I am thankful for the ministry residency program at GRTS as it has provided unique opportunities for me to get hands on experience and mentorship from vibrant ministries.
Q: Why did you choose to come to GRTS? Parpas: I felt that if I was going to have the accountability and stewardship for the guidance of others, especially since they entrust me with some of the most intimate and personal details of their past experiences and present struggles, I should be grounded by biblical principles and direction so that I can honor the role and vocation that God has guided me to as a counselor.
Q: Describe your favorite GRTS experience. Parpas: I would have to say that besides my classes and what I am learning, I have been blessed to be a part of the Student Senate Leadership Team (SSLT) for GRTS. Our team is amazing and I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to play a role in helping to enhance the seminary experience for all the students. Our goal is to help students persevere to degree completion and to help them build life-long relationships and ministry partners that go the distance. I am currently the Diversity Action Plan Coordinator, and our goal is to be diligent in making GRTS a culturally proficient seminary that embraces unity and diversity, as well as providing opportunities for students, and thus, future leaders of the church to develop practical tools of engagement, knowing they soon will confront the myriad of challenges posed by a diverse and pluralistic society.
Q: Tell us a little about your long-term vocational goals. Parpas: To work within a private practice with an emphasis on Health Psychology which focuses on how biological, social, psychological, and spiritual factors influence health and illness. I also want to integrate my nursing experience with counseling to provide psychotherapy in healthcare settings. I also want to work with staff (especially those who work in hospital settings) who work in high stress/high turnover environments, as well as with those dealing with grief and loss, trauma and crisis.
Q: What ministry and recreational opportunities have you discovered in Grand Rapids? Parpas: There are so many wonderful things to do in Grand Rapids and it is so diverse. My husband and I, along with our friends, love to try different ethnic foods which makes it really fun to live here. I think that because Grand Rapids has such a large population of churches makes it a very unique experience and a great opportunity for us to minister to the churched and the unchurched. I believe there needs to be a renewed commitment by the church to rethink what it means to live as a covenant community and living out God's mission by dying to self and living life with cross-shaped cruciformity and faithful service to all people.
Q: Why did you choose to come to GRTS? Lapata: One of the main reasons that I came to GRTS is because I was offered The Kern Scholarship. As I researched GRTS, I came to appreciate their strong academics and their outstanding professors. GRTS became the obvious seminary choice for me.
Q: Describe your favorite GRTS experience. Lapata: My favorite GRTS experience has been the interaction with the professors outside of the classroom. I have had lunch with a few of them and the life-lessons they have taught me have been instrumental in shaping me as a husband, and father, and student.
Q: What makes you excited about ministry? Lapata: The most exciting aspect about ministry is the unique opportunity to be in community with other people. I look forward to relationships with others that are saturated in both authenticity and grace.
Q: What GRTS class have you enjoyed the most? Why? Lapata: The class that I have enjoyed the most is Spiritual Formation. The class focused on spiritual development and allowed me to focus on my personal journey with Jesus. Spiritual Formation has helped lay the foundation for my entire seminary career.
Q: Why did you choose to come to GRTS? Wilson: I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to enter the field of Counseling and to attend seminary. There are not a lot of seminaries that offer Counseling. I began searching the small number of seminary schools in Ohio where I am from, but unfortunately I was not led to those options. One day while on the computer looking for various seminaries, I stumbled across GRTS. Ashley helped me every step of the way, made my visit unforgettable, and even helped my husband and I find an apartment in the area! She was so supportive. I felt as though I were her only student. My husband and I fell in love with the school and felt the love of God from the staff who worked with us.
Q: Describe your favorite GRTS experience. Wilson: I would have to say Spring New Student Orientation. I remember entering the doors of GRTS as a nervous girl from Ohio who wondered if she had made the right decision to leave behind her family, friends, and church for school in Michigan (I am a proud Buckeye!). As I sat in the chapel, I was greeted by other students who shared my same passion for Christ. We instantly began talking about our experiences and Jesus Christ. There was prayer, introductions from faculty, and encouraging words from staff. Here I was, in graduate school where we freely spoke of Jesus Christ, scripture, and participated in prayer. This was so different from undergrad and God immediately confirmed through the words of faculty and staff that I was in His will.
Q: Tell us a little about your long-term vocational goals. Wilson: My prayer is to counsel adolescents, women, and maybe even those who are married. I hope to be in private practice and thanks to my excellent Advisor Dr. Lehman, I am now interested in opening my own agency in Cleveland, OH.
Q: What ministry and recreational opportunities have you discovered in Grand Rapids? Wilson: My husband has been more involved than me by participating in weekly basketball games with other GRTS students and bible study with youth at a local church. I have met some amazing people here at the seminary who have become good friends. We often meet outside of class to study and discuss the Word of God. I currently serve as a member of the Student Senate Leadership Team here at GRTS. We have also been able to visit various churches within multiple denominations which has been a new experience for us.