Local churches: Shawnee Park CRC

Photo+by+Robyn+Stegink

Photo by Robyn Stegink

Each year during Cokes and Clubs, Shawnee Park CRC continues its tradition of giving out quality toilet paper. This simple gesture is one of many ways the Shawnee community goes out of its way to serve Calvin students. Jennifer Streelman, a junior nursing student who has been attending Shawnee for the past two years, reported there are twenty or more Calvin students who attend Shawnee weekly; so what is it about Shawnee that draws students in week after week?

Shawnee is conveniently close to Calvin, only about a ten minute drive away. Thanks to Shawnee’s weekly pickup at Knollcrest circle, students never have to worry about finding themselves a ride to church.

“Shawnee has a great ministry for college students,” said Streelman. One aspect of this ministry is the breakfasts offered before Sunday services. The breakfasts vary from week to week and have included “pancakes, French toast, homemade sausage gravy, brunch casseroles, cinnamon rolls and muffins of all kinds.” The morning meal is about more than merely feeding students; it is about fostering intentional community among college students and with other church members. In addition to breakfasts, church members host college students for lunch about twice a month. “Both of these meals are a great way to get plugged into the church community,” said Streelman.

Food is not the only appealing thing about Shawnee. Streelman said that her favorite aspect of Shawnee is the worship: “They do use hymns, but many times they are played in a more modern way. This brings new life to hymns I have sung all of my life.” In addition to hymns, the musical worship at Shawnee also incorporates contemporary worship songs.

The worship at Shawnee progresses through a liturgy. The movements of the liturgy are: We Enter to Worship, Covenant Renewal, The Word of God, Our Response to God’s Word, We Depart With God’s Blessing. “These aspects play into the idea that worship is a conversation with God, such as, he welcomes us, then we reply with songs of praise and so on,” Streelman said.

Streelman described the sermons at Shawnee as dynamic. She said that Rev. Nick Hopkins “has a passion for preaching and a passion for music and this shines through in his sermons.  The sermons are theologically based, but they are never dry.  Pastor Nick does a very good job making them applicable to everyday life.”

Rev. Nick Hopkins also directs the Shawnee choir with assistance from Calvin student Caleb Sinclair. Robyn Stegink, a Calvin student and Shawnee choir member, said that “the choir has an awesome blend of music — traditional, gospel, contemporary and world music.” She also mentioned one unique aspect of the choir is that it is intergenerational.

The congregation is composed of diverse age groups, and is welcoming to people of all backgrounds. Streelman shared that she loves when congregants share songs in different languages: “It always reminds me of how universal God is.  His truths are applicable to all cultures and backgrounds.”

Overall, Streelman said she would definitely recommend Shawnee Park CRC to other Calvin students. “Since the church is smaller, it is easier to feel a part of the congregation.  I also love the community that the college students that attend have built.  Although this church has aspects of a traditional CRC church, it brings in modern elements that help make the CRC applicable to our generation.”