A Family Tree of Ministry-Minded Graduates


by Kristina Garvelink (M.S. ’15)

The Davidhizar family recently celebrated its most recent Grand Rapids Theological Seminary graduate. Austin (M.A. ’19) marks the second graduate of three family members who started the process of attaining graduate-level ministry degrees from the university.

"I chose to go to GRTS because my mother, Betsy, had first attended and told me about the Urban Cohort program," Austin said. "This was a huge draw for me because I work at Camp Beechpoint, primarily serving urban and under-resourced youth. The Urban Cohort offered a higher level of education and training for ministry, and I could continue to work while attending classes in the evenings. It seemed like a good fit for me, and I anticipated that it would provide the information and classes that would help me grow in ministry."

For Betsy (M.A. ’16), the decision to enroll in seminary classes occurred after two decades of experience as a women's ministry and spiritual director. Betsy's husband, Mark, is also currently enrolled in the Urban Cohort program.

"It was a challenge for me at 48 to 'rethink what was possible' and go to seminary, but I am glad I did," Betsy shared. "At seminary, I learned a more generous—but still completely orthodox—approach to the gospel. I was challenged to go back to the original languages, intent and historical contexts and build my teaching from that perspective first. And personally, I fell deeper in love with Jesus Christ and His body—the church—through this deeper dive into research and understanding."

From learning to defend their beliefs to applying them in new ministry practices, Betsy and Austin value opportunities to share their growing love of the church through their roles as an administrator for a start-up congregation and camp program director respectively.

"It means a lot that my parents studied at GRTS," Austin concluded. "It has been great to discuss what we've learned in class, and it has helped me understand the topics so much better. Also, when we get together for family meals, our conversations have gotten much more theological!"