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Laura VanderWoude receives 2024 Elementary Education Award

Laura VanderWoude receives 2024 Elementary Education Award

Laura Vanderwoude (CU’ 2018), has recently won the Elementary Educator award for 2024 from the Missouri American String Teachers Association. Laura graduated from Calvary University with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education: Instrumental, with an emphasis in violin. She received her Master of Music Education in 2022 from Kansas State University.  

Laura grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and has been involved in orchestra and playing violin since she was seven years old. She chose Calvary as her university so that she could get a biblical education and an accredited degree in music education.  

“Calvary was a great fit for me because I was able to get involved in a community where I grew spiritually and academically.”

From a professional standpoint, Laura’s experiences at Calvary inspired her to connect with more musicians, take up opportunities to get hands-on experience in student teaching, and ultimately become a trained, confident educator.   

Laura’s award was given to her by the Missouri chapter of the American String Teacher’s Association. As a six-year member of this professional organization, she often volunteers and is the head chaperone of the all-state orchestra students at their state conference every year.

The Elementary Education Award is usually given to someone who teaches beginner student-musicians. Laura teaches in Independence, Missouri, where she has two hundred students that she teaches every day. She said it has been a privilege to focus on beginners and first year instrument players. When reflecting on how she felt about receiving her award, she said:  

“I was not quite sure how to feel at first because there are so many other amazing string educators that also deserve this award. I am humbled, but also feel honored that people see the hard work I do in my area of expertise. Truly, all the glory goes to the Lord. He has strengthened me and taught me personally about His compassion and patience, and He has shown me how much my students are made in His image.” 

Laura is ultimately grateful to have a positive impact on her students’ lives. She feels privileged to help them excel in their musicianship and develop skills they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.   

 

Carolyn Asher’s Journey to Becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor

Carolyn Asher’s Journey to Becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor

“Passing my Missouri Licensing Exam opened up a world of opportunity in my counseling career.” 

In addition to earning her Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling from Calvary in 2023, Carolyn Asher recently passed her Missouri Licensing Examination (NCE)—making her the first graduate from Calvary’s updated program to receive licensure!

Carolyn grew up in church her whole life but did not believe in Christ until she was in her late teens, after which she felt God was leading her to go to Criswell College in Dallas, Texas, where she studied Bible and counseling. Two years later, she moved to Missouri to earn her BA in Biblical Counseling at Calvary University. When she became a wife and mother, Carolyn took a break from her studies to focus on her family. In 2019, she returned to Calvary to finish her bachelor’s degree and earn her MA in Biblical Counseling.

“What I love about the professors at Calvary is that they take the Word of God as their cornerstone as well as explore man’s theories and observations.” 

Carolyn said she chose Calvary because she appreciated the Biblical Counseling Department’s mission to raise counselors with a holistic view that accounts for the four pillars of God’s creation: the spiritual, the physical, the emotional, and relational connections. She also stated that getting hours in for hands-on experience was made easy through Calvary’s connections to Abundant Life Counseling Center, and while earning her master’s degree, she was able to participate in a suicide-prevention ministry called Choose to Live.

When Carolyn took her exam, she felt well prepared to pass it because of the comprehensive experience, classes, and materials Calvary had supplied her with.

When Carolyn passed her NCE exam, she felt both elated and relieved to have reached this milestone in her career. Since then, she has used therapy tools from her classes with several of her counselees. As she has counseled young girls, Carolyn has taken note of the need for better communication within parent-child relationships, which has inspired her to write a devotional on the issue:

“I have found that there is a huge gap between parents and their children that needs to be filled with better communication, listening skills, and having a better understanding of each other’s emotions.”  

Her devotional will have short devotions and exercises based on the Word of God that parents can complete in just five to ten minutes. Carolyn’s goal with her simple devotional is for parents to have a closer relationship with their children by becoming more aware of their emotions and how they work.

Carolyn’s greatest joy as a counselor thus far has been witnessing the personal growth and progress of her counselees.

Helping people cope with their trauma through developing skills and understanding why they think and feel the way they do has been a very rewarding experience for Carolyn. Ultimately, she desires to use the biblical and practical knowledge she has gained to help her counselees find lasting peace.

What are the issues behind the conflict in Israel?

What are the issues behind the conflict in Israel?

What are the issues behind the conflict in Israel?

October 7, 2023: Hamas invaded Israel. Why? What did Hamas hope to gain? What are the causes of the conflict between not just Hamas and Israel but much of the Arab world and Israel?

Calvary University’s Dr. Mike Dodds—and the Calvary Conversations team—invited Dr. Teddy Bitner, who has 26 years’ experience in the United States Army including as a Colonel commanding a battalion during Operation Desert Storm, to discuss the historical background issues which have led up to this current conflict and some of the biblical and theological issues related to this current conflict in the Middle East. Dr. Bitner is currently Calvary University’s Chief Academic Officer and History Professor.

Visit the Calvary Conversations page to join the conversation, get on our email list and learn more.

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Paul Wright’s The Hand at the Helm: A Guidebook for Seminary Board members

Paul Wright’s The Hand at the Helm: A Guidebook for Seminary Board members

This book meets a definite need for theological education in Latin America.”

Paul Wright is a missionary, an educator, and a recent contributor to a book that he hopes will make a far-reaching impact on theological education in Latin America. The title of the book, translated to English, is The Hand at the Helm: A Guidebook for Seminary Board Members.  

Paul graduated from Calvary in 1977 with a BA in Pastoral Ministries and later went on to earn a Master of Arts in Theological Education (‘CU 1981) and a PhD in Theological Education from the Central American Theological Seminary. Paul stated that much of what he learned from his education at Calvary prepared him for pastoral ministry:  

Calvary was a major milestone in my ministerial and personal formation. What I learned at Calvary University I am still to this day putting into practice in my own ministry!” 

After Paul married his wife, Beth, they moved to Argentina in 1983 and began church planting in several locations. Avant Ministries’ first mission for Paul was to restore a dying church. By God’s grace, this mission was fulfilled, and after several years, he was able to leave the church in the hands of Argentine pastoral leadership. Paul has been heavily involved in theological education ever since. 

In 1997, Paul and three other pastors in Mendoza, Argentina, decided to take on the enormous task of establishing a Bible Institute: 

We founded the institution to equip people for ministerial leadership, and we’ve been building it for twenty-six years.” 

Paul admitted that he and his team did not know what they were getting into when they decided to start a Bible Institute. It proved to be a more complicated process than they had ever imagined—but rewarding, nonetheless. During Paul’s years of service as both a teacher and an administrative leader, he has been focused on equipping his students for leadership and academic teaching.  

One of Paul and his team’s recent missions for their Bible Institute was to publish The Hand at the Helm; interestingly, Paul stated that the impetus of the book was largely based on his own experience: 

“Many times, those who come from seminaries or Bible Institutes have some experience serving at a church or working in business, but they often have no experience in theological education. A seminary or a Bible Institute is its own class. Its structure is similar to that of a church, school, and business. It takes someone who knows how to fuse all of these together to get a Bible Institute off the ground.” 

Paul and his team collaborated with a group of graduates of the PhD program at Central American Theological Seminary to start writing the book. There are nine contributors in all. The knowledge Paul and his team gained from their doctoral programs combined with the years of hands-on experience they acquired in theological education helped them put together a book that serves as a manual for seminary and institute board members. 

Paul went on to make a point that in the U.S., there are several books accessible for church planting. However, The Hand at the Helm is the only available source he knows of for those in Latin America: 

This meets a tremendous need in Latin America, and we are in the process of getting our book into the hands of people who need it, like seminary participants, deans, board members, or those who have leadership roles to fill in theological education. There are a great many institutes and seminaries all over Latin America that can use this book.”  

As chairman of the editorial committee, Paul and his team are busy coming up with new ideas to help minister to Latin America. They have already started another writing project centered on servant leadership and discipleship. They were able to undertake this project because God blessed them with donations that far exceeded what they asked for to publish The Hand at the Helm.  

If you are interested in learning more about Paul and Beth’s ministry, click here!  

 

 

 

 

Should Evangelicals Stay Out of Politics?

Should Evangelicals Stay Out of Politics?

Should Evangelicals Stay Out of Politics?

An “evangelical” is a “good news proclaimer”! It’s a perfectly good word to describe those who take the Bible seriously and desire to “proclaim the good news” of Jesus Christ. But, in recent times, it has become politicized—evangelicals are now thought of by many as a voting bloc. So, many who would have at one time embraced the label “evangelical” now consider it an outdated word that has obscured the true mission and message of God’s people. What do you think?

In this Calvary Conversation, Calvary’s Shaun LePage, will lead the Calvary Conversations team—Drs. Tim Hange, Josh Paxton and Mike Dodds—to explore the question of whether evangelicals should give up their “activism” and mind their own business.

Visit the Calvary Conversations page to join the conversation, get on our email list and learn more.

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Should evangelicals stop converting people?

Should evangelicals stop converting people?

Should evangelicals stop converting people?

Does everyone need to be converted to Christianity? Evangelicals say yes. It’s called “Conversionism”: the belief that lives need to be transformed thorough a “born-again” experience through faith in Jesus Christ. But not everyone is excited about this belief. It assumes everyone is a sinner—we’re not okay the way we are.

Dr. Joshua Paxton leads the Calvary Conversations team—Dr. Mike Dodds, Dr. Timothy Hange and Shaun LePage—in a conversation about this distinctive of Evangelicals listed by historian David Bebbington. How shall Christians be “evangelical” in a world that can easily be offended by conversionism? 

Visit the Calvary Conversations page to join the conversation, get on our email list and learn more.

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Calvary ranked in top 3% of Christian colleges and universities according to Christian Higher Education: An Empirical Guide.

Calvary ranked in top 3% of Christian colleges and universities according to Christian Higher Education: An Empirical Guide.

Christian Higher Education: An Empirical Guide (2023) explores the question of how to find a university that truly aligns with its Christian identity, providing a helpful evaluation guide that students and their parents can use in their decision-making process. Created and researched by experts in the field of Christian higher education, the guide serves two purposes.

First, it evaluates the crucial ways colleges and universities express (or do not express) their Christian identities when making marketing, curricular, co-curricular decisions.1 Secondly, it scores Christian institutions based on how effectively they operationalize their Christian identity through their administrative policies.2

In the authors’ evaluation of Calvary University, they ranked it in the top 3% of U.S. and Canadian Christian colleges and universities—indicating high levels of performance when collectively ranking its use of Christian language, its membership requirements to attend, teach, or work at the university, and its curricular, and co curricular decisions.

“The way to learn what an institution truly loves is to look at its goals, its rationale for meeting those goals, the policies and incentive systems created to reach those goals, and accountability structures for reporting results.” 

Calvary is honored to be recognized as a university that is Christ-centered in its endeavors. For those interested in learning more about the relationship between the Christian identity and institutional policies of today’s Christian colleges and universities, Christian Higher Education: An Empirical Guide is a must read!

 Sources Used: 

1-2 Glanzer, Perry (2023). What is a Christian University? A New Book That Answers This Question. 

 

 

Why do evangelicals believe the Bible is true?

Why do evangelicals believe the Bible is true?

Why do evangelicals believe the Bible is true?

How do we know what is true? The National Association of Evangelicals claims that most evangelicals believe in “biblicism.” They have a high regard for and obedience to the Bible as the ultimate authority. Where do Christians get this idea? Are they anti-intellectual?

Calvary’s Dr. Mike Dodds had a conversation with the Calvary Conversations team—Dr. Tim Hange, Dr. Joshua Paxton and Shaun LePage—about this important distinctive and why it is such a fundamental part of the definition of “evangelical.”  

Visit the Calvary Conversations page to join the conversation, get on our email list and learn more.

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Marissa Hitt: Artist, Entrepreneur, and Business Student

Marissa Hitt: Artist, Entrepreneur, and Business Student

“As soon as I could pick up a paint brush, I started painting. I’ve been creative at heart ever since.” 

Marissa Hitt is a young artist who has been grabbing the attention of Kansas City with her artwork since she was in kindergarten. She is the founder of her small business, Melane & Co., through which she is pursuing her passion of creating and selling watercolor wall prints, cards, and custom portraits.

As a young child, Marissa spent much of her time in nature, going to libraries, and pursuing creative outlets like making art pieces or looking through illustrated nature books. 

At just five years old, she started showing her artwork at galleries in the Kansas City area. The creative impact of her formative years combined with the early success of her artwork inspired her to establish Melane & Co. in 2021. 

“Every experience I have been through has helped shape what God is doing through me today. He even opened doors for me to work with non-profit organizations.” 

 Through Paintings by Marissa (her first business), Marissa donated artwork to charities such as Love Without Boundaries, Kansas Children’s Service League, and Sunflower House. Today, Marissa is still passionate about giving to others. Through Melane & Co., she has donated her work to honorable organizations, one of them being On Eagle’s Wings Farm, a non-profit organization committed to supporting and ministering to children in difficult circumstances. 

“I create paintings that bring others delight and donate my work to causes I care about. As I reflect on this, I think to myself: ‘This where God has me, using my artistic abilities and entrepreneurial endeavors He gave me to serve Him.’”

Marissa is majoring in Business Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Calvary University. Through her education, she is excited to pursue Melane & Co.’s definition of success, which is to grow in God, see how He works through business, and foster meaningful relationships with her community. 

“I want to find ways to honor God through the artistic and entrepreneurial gifts He has given me. As a Christian entrepreneur, it’s important to approach Melane & Co. with a love for the Lord and others. I chose Calvary University because of its sincere recognition of the true knowledge God provides.” 

Although Melane & Co. was created only a couple of years ago, it has met with great success. In addition to launching an official online shop, Marissa has been able to make connections with owners of local coffee shops. For months, her art has hung at Prayer Box Cafe in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. This year, Homer’s Coffee House in Overland Park Kansas plans to display her artwork for the month of January, and she plans to donate some of her work to Calvary University’s annual Feast and Fund event. 

Marissa is a firm believer that Christian entrepreneurs can use their biblical perspectives to faithfully serve others, because their work is always connected to their relationship with God.

Future plans for Melane & Co. include finding more opportunities to display her artwork and one day adding products to her shop from which a portion of the proceeds can be given to charitable causes. Marissa is a firm believer that business is so much more than a means to gain a steady income. She sees Melane & Co. as an opportunity to serve others.

“It’s a dream to spread joy through my artwork, just one brushstroke at a time.”  

 

 

Faculty Spotlight: Karen Hange Earns her Doctorate of Education in Teaching and Learning

Faculty Spotlight: Karen Hange Earns her Doctorate of Education in Teaching and Learning

Dr. Karen Hange is a passionate academic instructor determined to improve online and in-class learning experiences for students at Calvary University. 

As Program Director of Elementary Education, she recently earned her Doctorate of Education in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning from Grand Canyon University in the summer of 2023.

After marrying Professor Tim Hange in 1988, Karen graduated from Calvary University in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. She then taught at Blue Ridge Christian School for one year before she was hired as Summit Christian Academy’s Preschool Director for ten years.

One night, Tim and Karen attended a Family Life conference that put on their hearts a desire to adopt children from Russia. After prayer and thoughtful consideration, they adopted two children which then led to multiple ministry trips to Russian orphanages. After several years, God opened the door for them to serve as full-time missionary-educators in Moscow, Russia’s Hinkson Christian Academy for eight years. A year after their return to the states in 2017, Karen was asked to be Calvary University’s Dean of Women.

In 2018, Karen transitioned into her life-long dream of being a professor at Calvary as the Program Director of Elementary Education.

Karen started working on her doctoral degree in 2017 because she knew it would be beneficial for her role at Calvary. The topic she chose for her dissertation was blended learning. Through her research, she discovered how to facilitate effective learning experiences for the current generation:

“I focused my research on how professors can build connectedness within learning platforms, especially for students within the online community. Ultimately, I discovered ways to help online students have meaningful learning experiences as their in-class peers.”

Since earning her EDD, Karen stated that her greatest joy in being a professor has been watching her students grow in their teaching journeys:

“I enjoy seeing my students develop skills as teachers and then living out their faith—both through Christian ministries and through their spiritual and academic experiences here at Calvary.”

Today, Karen continues her research in blended learning and shares her expertise with students who share her passion to provide outstanding, biblically-based education for generations to come.