Campus ministries hired eight new worship apprentices (WA) to serve for the 2015-16 school year. The WAs are a group of six to eight students responsible for leading worship at Calvin, planning chapel and LOFT services, arranging music and doing office and publicity work. The new WA team consists of Simon Boenaidi, Rachael Hoekwater, Jiyong Kim, Erin Koster, Kathryn Mae Post, Brennan Steenhoek, Andrew Twining, and Kendra Walters. Their jobs all encompass the service of ministry.
“As a WA, my responsibilities range from picking up LOFT cookies, setting out chapel signs, planning chapels, arranging music, leading rehearsals, choosing songs, and leading various conference worship services,” said Rachael Hoekwater, a sophomore majoring in vocal music education. Hoekwater’s love for music started in second grade. Since then, she has greatly enjoyed singing in choir, playing the viola in orchestra, participating in praise teams, and doing some musical theater. Now that she is a WA, she is excited about being able to lead God’s people in worship.
The application and selection process for this job happened last school year, and the chosen applicants had to arrive on campus two weeks before the start of school in order to meet each other and undergo intensive training, planning, and team-building. This prepares them for the year, which will be busy, yet fulfilling.
“I love that my days and weeks revolve around worship,” said Kathryn (Mae) Post, a sophomore majoring in English Writing & Christian Ministry Leadership. “My life is infused with planning, leading, contemplating, and experiencing worship. I am provided with more opportunities to refocus my life on what truly matters and to develop my spiritual relationship with Christ. It is also a joy to be constantly surrounded by people who challenge, mentor, and encourage me along the way.” Post is from Midland Park, New Jersey, where she has found a love for leading worship in schools, churches, and especially with children.
WAs are expected to prioritize their duties just below their academic work.
“The most difficult part of being a WA is taking the time to do ordinary classwork,” said Post. “Studying for a test suddenly seems far less important when juxtaposed with discussing and organizing a service on the unfathomable mercy of God.”
Although being a WA is a paid job, sophomore, engineering major Brennan Steenhoek expressed that it’s unlike a normal job.
“There are some super cool people that I work very closely with, and there’s a fun community within chapel teams,” he said. “It’s also a great way to serve campus, and to be honest, a lot of the time it doesn’t even feel like it’s my job! I enjoy it so much.” Steenhoek came to Calvin from Gun Lake, Michigan, and although worship music is a fairly new interest, he has been able to develop his guitar skills over several years and now looks forward spiritual and relationship growth this new position will bring.
The WA program began in 2002, originally funded by the same Lilly Endowment grant that made the Jubilee Fellows and Barnabas programs possible. All three programs were designed to help students consider vocational ministry, with the WA program focusing specifically on worship leadership education.
The whole team is proficient in music whether that be playing an instrument, singing or both. Each member brings something to the chapel stage and the Calvin community. WAs go into the job to serve, but also to gain and build on, skills that they already have, or hope to obtain.
“My aspirations for the year are to become a better musician, to grow in relationships with others, and to learn how to be a better follower of Jesus,” said Steenhoek. “This position is a totally new perspective of ministry, and has already done so much with my perspectives on life.”
Many WAs have gone on to fulfill roles of worship leading ministry in churches all across the country. WAs develop skills beyond worship leadership, such as problem solving, teamwork and event planning. Hoekwater highlighted some of the joys of her position:
“What I enjoy most about being a WA is gaining knowledge about how to more effectively lead worship, and learn alongside close friends, sharing the experience together and learning from each other.”
Although this is a temporary job, lasting only for the 2015-16 school year, many of the WAs plan on taking what they learn during this experience into the next chapter of their life. Jiyong Kim, a junior religion major, is planning to be a pastor. He hopes to go out into the world to train and worship with people, sharing the good news and the love of God. Other WAs intend to use the experience to learn more about others.
“I would love to learn more about the diverse cultures and experiences of other students on campus,” she said. “There are so many incredible people with such beautiful and significant stories to tell. I have so much to learn from my peers, and my position as a worship apprentice is a great opportunity to begin learning!”