Associate chaplain will spend one year on administrative sabbatical in Lithuania


Photo courtesy Aaron Winkle

During the 2014-2015 academic year, Rev. Aaron Winkle, associate chaplain for upperclass students, will take an administrative sabbatical in order to serve abroad.

“I will be serving as the interim vice president of student life at Lithuania Christian College International University (LCC),” Winkle said. “Its an administrative position that oversees campus ministries, career development, residence life and athletics. In that capacity I’ll also be part of the president’s cabinet.”

The position at LCC lasts from July 2014 to July 2015. After the sabbatical, Winkle will return to Calvin to work in campus ministries again. The current plan is to return to the same position as associate chaplain.

“For the last year or so my wife, Betsy, and I have been thinking about an international experience,” Winkle said. “I love my work here at Calvin and I was thinking about what I could do to continue to grow as a professional and to continue to grow my intercultural competency.”

After receiving the job offer from LCC in March, Winkle said he and his wife spent time praying and asking the advice of a number of people who know his family well before deciding that this would be a good fit for their family.

“I became aware of this position in January, and it addressed really all the goals we had set for our time away: international, vocational exploration and cross-cultural.”

Campus Ministries supports Winkle in this decision to serve abroad for a year.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Aaron and his family to follow God’s call,” said Pastor Mary Hulst. “Aaron has a heart for other cultures, he loves Christian higher education and is always eager to be stretched. This position will include all of those things. We will miss him, and are already looking forward to what he will bring back to our community from his time at LCC.”

Winkle’s wife and his children will be joining him in Lithuania.

“It will be the grand family adventure!” Winkle said. “We have four kids between the age of nine and one.”

“We are excited and grateful for the opportunity to take a leave and explore Christian higher education in another context,” Winkle said.

Calvin College has several connections with LCC, including many alumni and professors who have served there. James Vanden Bosch, English professor, spent the past summer at LCC, and Dan Herrick, philosophy professor, has spent multiple semesters at the college. LCC is also a remote live-stream site for the January Series.

Campus ministries appointed Matt Postma, who received his master’s of divinity from Calvin Seminary last May, as interim associate chaplain in Winkle’s place.

“This is a prime opportunity for me,” said Postma. “This is where I see my vocational path heading — to campus ministry.”

Postma and his wife, Jana, currently serve as Project Neighborhood mentors in the Fuller House and will continue to serve there next year. Postma also worked in Campus Ministries as a seminary intern for two years, which primarily involved working with the RVD Barnabas teams.

“Both of [the Barnabas teams] feel like family,” Postma said. “I worked with the Barnabas teams in mentoring, dorm worship, Bible studies. I absolutely love working with students, being able to help them think well about their faith.”

Junior Lyndsay DeGroot, who served as a Barnabas and was mentored by Postma, is thrilled to see Postma join Campus Ministries, citing his “God-given gift for listening, preaching the Word and walking alongside individuals and communities as they chase after Jesus.”

“As a Barnabas, Matt Postma’s mentorship was invaluable,” DeGroot said. “His passion for God’s Word is contagious, and his leadership resembles that of Jesus himself. His kindness, creativity, dedication, leadership and deep love for God and others had a huge impact on my faith, and will continue to impact lives at Calvin College.”

Campus Ministries is also excited to welcome Postma to this position beginning in August.

“We are delighted that Matt is willing to step in for this season,” said Hulst. “Matt has proven gifts in campus ministry, he was a great part of our team when he was a seminary student and he will add energy and fresh ideas to our work.”

Postma said there is a long list of things that Winkle does, but one main way he will be taking Winkle’s place is by coordinating the campus-wide Bible studies. Postma has helped creating and editing the leader guides for the campus-wide Bible studies for the past two years.

Postma will also be involved in chapel by praying or reading liturgy and assisting Pastor Mary with LOFT by leading prayer or preaching.

“I hope to grow with students and help them think about their faith well,” Postma said. “I really want to help students see Jesus … that has been my goal for a long time now—to help students wrestle well with questions and live out faith.”

DeGroot agreed that Postma is capable of meeting his goals and is confident in Campus Ministry’s appointment decision.

“Matt has walked alongside me in my development as a follower of Christ, a leader, a student, a friend and a person,” DeGroot said. “His leadership and discipleship of our Barnabas team instilled a passion for the Word and a desire to follow more closely after Christ in each one of us, and consequently, in our dorm. His wisdom, consistency, guidance and kindness deeply impacted my faith, and I have come to know Christ even better because of Matt.”