Tuesday 7 August 2012

ICS announces results of successful presidential search

The Rev. Dr. Thomas Wolthuis and Ms. Dawn Wolthuis have been appointed to the position of President of the Institute for Christian Studies. They will succeed Mr. Chris Gort on January 1, 2013.

 “We went into this search process in a posture of faith and discernment, not really knowing what would happen,” said Bob Sweetman, a faculty representative on the Search Committee. “What happened is rather remarkable. Tom Wolthuis brings to ICS a grounding in the Kuyperian theological and worldview tradition, an entrepreneurial can-do ethic to be seen in a past life as a church planter, an easy manner with people that allows him to communicate effectively across a broad religious and intellectual spectrum, and last but not least, a wide open embrace of the adventure laid before him.

 “Dawn brings an energetic, forthright and systematic mind and imagination, a history of business and marketing experience (and enthusiasm) now focused upon using her academic training in mathematics and computer science in service of academic institution building. Together, they combine a range of abilities one could not reasonably expect to find in a single applicant. The chance to have all that talent and energy in ICS’s corner just had to be an answer to our prayers.”

As Professor of Theology at Dordt College, Iowa for the past ten years, Tom Wolthuis served as department chair and taught a range of courses from Biblical foundations and Christian perspectives to worship, youth ministry and spiritual formation. He previously taught New Testament theology at Northrise University in Ndola, Zambia, and Religion and Theology and Communications Arts and Sciences at Calvin College, Michigan. Tom is also an ordained pastor in the Christian Reformed Church. Tom has a PhD in Religion from Duke University, a Master of Theology and a Master of Divinity from Calvin Theological Seminary.

Dawn Wolthuis is an experienced Information Technology and Higher Education consultant with over 20 years experience; she is a former teacher of Mathematics and Computer Science at Calvin College. She has a Master’s degree in Mathematics from Michigan State University.

 The appointment of the Wolthuises comes as ICS actively explores new institutional collaborations in research and teaching with academic partners in North America and Europe. “Tom and Dawn’s vision and experience in promoting Christian higher education and their excitement about active involvement in the Canadian context will be clear assets as they contribute to the strengthening of institutional partnerships, support the ICS’s teaching and mentoring of students in interdisciplinary philosophy and theology, and engage in public outreach,” said Board of Trustees Chair, Henriette Thompson.

Tom describes his goal as “helping people and organizations grow in the Gospel and ministry in the world by inspiring them to envision possibilities and develop new ways to serve.” Dawn has “a passion for identifying patterns that help anticipate future trends… and to help organizations direct their partnerships and projects toward the future.”

ICS’s appointment of Tom and Dawn Wolthuis to the position of ICS President is the result of an extensive search process that began in August 2011 and was conducted by a search committee of eight. “Committee members had the privilege of talking about the ICS and its educational mission with several people who were interested in the position. Our conversations with them about a strong and vital role for ICS into the future encouraged us to believe in the importance of that mission and the community that supports it,” said Aileen Van Ginkel, search committee chair.

The Wolthuises will begin their orientation to the presidential role on October 1 with current President, Chris Gort. The fall will be an opportunity for them to begin meeting faculty, students, staff, Senate and Board members, supporters and academic partners in Canada in preparation to assuming the presidency role on January 1, 2013.

Tom and Dawn have two grown daughters and two grandchildren residing in the US. Additional information about Tom and Dawn Wolthuis will become available on the ICS web site:

Wednesday 1 August 2012

August 2012 Prayer Letter

Wednesday, August 1: Jennie Olthuis, mother of Senior Member Emeritus Jim Olthuis and mother-in-law of ICS President Chris Gort, passed away last month. Please remember the family in your prayers.

Thursday, August 2: The Presidential Search Committee is continuing the process of recruiting a new president for ICS. We ask God to guide their work and we pray that they will find the right person for the position.

Friday, August 3: Kenton Van Pelt, the 15 year old son of Cardus President Michael Van Pelt and Dr. Deani Neven Van Pelt, tragically passed away last week. Please remember the family in your prayers.

Monday, August 6: Today is our Civic Holiday in Canada. We pray that it will be an enjoyable time for rest and relaxation with loved ones.

Tuesday, August 7: Today we pray for God's help for those who are struggling with illnesses. We ask God for strength, patience and for good results from treatment.

Wednesday, August 8: We continue to pray for safe and pleasant journeys and we pray for rest and renewal for the Senior Members and Administrative Staff who are enjoying vacations this month.

Thursday, August 9: Harold Recker, father-in-law of Senior Member Lambert Zuidervaart, passed away last month. Please remember the family in your prayers.

Friday, August 10: We offer prayers of gratitude and give thanks to you, the many supporters who have presented ICS with gifts of prayer, money, and expressions of appreciation, particularly through these quieter summer months. We are constantly blessed with your interest and support.

Monday, August 13: Senior Members often spend much of the summer developing course curriculum and giving attention to research projects. We are extremely grateful for the work of our Senior Members and ask for God's blessing on them.

Tuesday, August 14:
We ask God to bless Allyson Carr as she begins her work as Associate Director of the CPRSE.

Wednesday, August 15: Summer is here and many people are planning vacations. Many members of the ICS community will be traveling in the summer months to spend time with family and friends. We pray for safe travel and that the time spent with loved ones would be rich and refreshing.

Thursday, August 16: Shawn Stovell and Jeff Hocking are undertaking the work to develop an ICS alumni network to be launched in May 2013. Please pray for a vibrant alumni network.

Friday, August 17: We ask God to bless Jeffrey Hocking as he joins the ICS administrative team as Student Services & Financial Aid Officer.

Monday, August 20: We pray for blessings on Alumnus Daniel Napier as he begins his work as Assistant Professor of Theology at Austin Graduate School of Theology.

Tuesday, August 21: Last month Senior Member Lambert Zuidervaart began a sabbatical. We pray for wisdom and energy for him as he works.

Wednesday, August 22: The summer months are often a time when Junior Members can give sustained attention to their Masters and PhD thesis projects. We pray for our Junior Members and ask for God's blessing and guidance on their research and writing.

Thursday, August 23: We ask God's help and guidance for all those who are doing advancement work for ICS. Please pray that support for the vision and mission of ICS continues to grow.

Friday, August 24:
We pray for stamina and wisdom for Senior Member Doug Blomberg as he continues in his role as Academic Dean.

Monday, August 27: For all the Senior Members who are busy with the final preparation for their fall classes, we pray for guidance and stamina.

Tuesday, August 28: We celebrate the addition of eight new Junior Members to the ICS community this fall, and we remember them in our prayers as they make the final preparations and transitions over the summer in order to begin their studies in September.

Wednesday, August 29: Work continues to prepare the next edition of Perspective. We ask God's blessing and guidance for those involved.

Thursday, August 30: We pray for safe travel for all new and returning Junior Members who are coming to study at ICS this fall.

Friday, August 31:
We pray for guidance and energy for all those participating in the preparations for Registration and Orientation Week and the annual ICS community fall retreat next week.

Message from the President

I have come to the conclusion, after trying my hand at it for a while, that second-guessing God is an exhausting business. It is not that I've changed my mind on the state of the world. I have not decided in the meantime that things always occur in an order that intuitively makes sense; in which it is obvious that all is as it should be, in which it is clear that justice is being served. No, unfairness is everywhere; it is as ubiquitous as is the fairness it detracts from and perverts. In the world you and I inhabit, and for as far back as anyone has ever had it revealed to them, not everyone gets their due. Bad things happen to good people and the wicked prosper. Some are granted advantage because of the shape of their genome, or accidents of social and cultural position, or of the plenty or lack to be found within their environment, both human and natural. Who can figure out how it all ought to go together? In the face of a sorrow accumulated as one tragedy piles upon another it is ever so tempting to look over God's shoulder, to wonder silently or out loud what this or that is all about, why she had to suffer, how he could get away with that. Really, from our point of view the Master of the Universe has an impossible job. How could anyone provide justly in such a complex and ambiguous world: gloriously created but universally marred, if pregnant with re/new/al? It seems to me that the wisdom underlying that creakily Reformed theological summary T.U.L.I.P. is precisely the gut-deep recognition that the Master of the Universe has a humanly impossible job and we in faith and gratitude are happy enough to stop looking over his shoulder second-guessing, that we are quite prepared to let him get on with things, and to live out of the freedom inherent within that preparation. Of course, T.U.L.I.P. was focused upon what obsessed people of the sixteenth-century, the matter of personal salvation and how one was to account for its possibility and presence. One could and should bring it up to date to deal with social and cultural flourishing etc. That too comes under the pedagogy of the Master of the Universe; that too is an impossible thing to sort out and order justly, at least from a human point of view, that providence too we do well to leave in God's hands. O, I love the psalmist's chutzpah, the prophetic cheek that allows one of us mere mortals to call the Master of the Universe to account. I love the profligate expenditure of ethical energy, the moral pluck of it all. I love it because I know what that act costs. If one is to question God, one becomes co-responsible in a way for the ordering and providing. Some are happy to proclaim such co-responsibility; to see it as a glorious opportunity of faith. But, I am grateful not to shoulder that burden, or rather, having tried, to lay it down. No, I would much rather work hard to flourish as person, to live a life of service in this marvellous creation of our Lord, trusting in that Lord to use my life and effort as a small part of his providence. Questions like: Why cancer? Why such a fragile life for ICS? Why not a richer academic witness to God's reign in the world?—I am happy to offer them up in prayer and so hand them over to the One I serve so as to get on with the business of serving—or at least that is true on my better days. I think that in a way a grateful being willing to let things go in order to serve more wholeheartedly has been a hallmark of ICS's internal spirituality at its best. It is certainly something I have noted in the first generation of ICS Senior Members, especially, on their better days. It is something I would offer as a spiritual exercise for those of you who pray for ICS's well-being. Gather up the difficult concerns, those impossible conundrums that find a home in all our lives of faith and hand them over to the Master of the Universe. Let him get on with his job, so that you and ICS can get on with ours . . . in his Providence, of course.

For the President,

Bob Sweetman

Deepest Sympathy for the Van Pelt Family

It is with great sadness that we relay the news of the sudden passing this past weekend of Kenton Van Pelt, the 15 year old son of Cardus President Michael Van Pelt and Dr. Deani Neven Van Pelt, who also serves as a Cardus Senior Fellow. Kenton's death came while swimming with family at a cottage on Saturday afternoon.

The ICS community extends its deepest sympathy to the Van Pelt family, and we ask that you keep Michael, Deani and their two daughters, Andrea and Meghan, in your prayers during this most difficult time.

Allyson Carr new Associate Director of CPRSE

ICS is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Allyson Carr to the position of Associate Director of the CPRSE.

Over the past year, Allyson has served ICS as Coordinator of Events, and also as a Post-Doctoral Research Assistant to the CPRSE. In the latter capacity, she played an integral role in planning the highly successful Social Justice and Human Rights conference, and also managed the CPRSE blog Ground Motive (http://www.groundmotive.net/).

Allyson holds a Ph.D. from ICS, making ICS history as the first doctoral candidate to graduate in our "ICS-only" Ph.D. stream.

Director of Finance and Administration Update

Claire Veenstra, our Director of Finance and Administration, took a leave of absence last November. She has regretfully informed us that she will not be returning to ICS. We will greatly miss her. Since her start in August of 2008 Claire has been an integral part of the Leadership Team at the ICS and has contributed greatly in her capacity of Director of Finance and Administration and often beyond. Her dedication to the ICS was remarkable and exemplary. We wish her well in her future endeavours.

As an interim measure we engaged Ed Hayley to fill the position while Claire was away. Ed started in January of this year. We are happy to announce that, after consultation with the members of the Leadership Team, Ed has agreed to fill the vacancy left by Claire's resignation. We have been delighted with the capable way in which he has filled the temporary opening and are happy that there will be continuity in this position.