Students Investigate Calvin's Writings on Vocation
A 1,900-word essay, artwork that illustrates God’s purpose for every person, and a poem titled “Universal Vocation” were selected as the winning entries in the Alma College Student Contest celebrating the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin.
Alma College students were invited to reflect on the theology of Calvin, particularly on his writing about vocation or God’s “calling,” according to Alma College Chaplain Carol Gregg.
“Calvin is considered the founder of Presbyterianism, and as Alma College is a Presbyterian College, we are acknowledging our founder,” said Gregg. “The faculty judges were pleased with all the entries. It was obvious that everyone who entered the contest worked hard and put a lot of effort in their submissions.”
From left: Meredith Brown, Emily Scherer and Daniel VanDyke
The contest was designed to stimulate interest in ways in which Calvin’s 16th century theology is beneficial to 21st century Christians. Born July 10, 1509, Calvin was a French theologian during the Protestant Reformation and the father of the Christian belief system called “Reformed tradition” or “Calvinism.”
“John Calvin acknowledged the religious importance of work that was done for the common good,” said Brian Stratton, one of the judges and associate professor of religious studies at Alma College. “He wrote that ‘no task will be so sordid and base provided you obey your calling in it, that it will not shine and be reckoned very precious in God’s sight.’”
Winning the $500 first prize was Hudsonville junior Daniel VanDyke, who wrote the essay titled “The Middle Road of Jean Calvin.” His essay investigated Calvin’s approach to work and how it differed from the viewpoints of other theologians. He concluded that, “For Calvinist Christians, vocation and its rewards are indeed gifts from the hands of God — gifts which they are obligated to utilize, and free to enjoy.”
Artwork by Emily Scherer
Winning the $300 second prize was Marshall senior Emily Scherer, whose box-shaped artwork illustrates the need for every individual to “open their lives, or open up the box” to God’s calling. She writes in her artist’s statement that, “The inside of the box represents the coming to understanding that there is a purpose for every individual, and that purpose has been preordained by God.”
Winning the $150 third prize was Midland sophomore Meredith Brown, whose poem describes the paths to fulfillment, whether they are “smooth, clear, burning like glass,” or “murky, muddy, swollen.” Regardless of what path is chosen, fulfillment is reached “as long as the voice crying ‘Shalom’ in the distance is obeyed.”
Two essays were selected for honorable mentions: “Lessons of God’s Callings from John Calvin” by St. Johns junior Brandt Ayoub and “Calling: A Gift of God” by Bay City junior Matthew Davis.
The contest was sponsored by the Alma College Chapel and Alma’s Religious Studies Department and Center for Responsible Leadership. Contest entries are highlighted in a display in the Alma College Library.
Posted: Mon, December 7th, 2009 at 8:36AM