Jamison Van Andel
Students, faculty, and staff can now share their prayer requests on a special wall in Hiemenga Hall thanks to collaborative efforts between Campus Ministries and a group of faculty.
Those who wish to share their prayer requests can bring their own white board markers to write their requests on a blue translucent wall that Campus Ministries checks on a regular basis in order to pray for the items. Others are encouraged to pray for requests they see on the wall as well.
The idea for the wall came from a group of faculty that had been meeting for about a year and a half to discuss faculty wellness. “The wall was an idea of something visual — something you could walk past and be reminded of our community, that we were in this together,” said Carolyn Anderson, chemistry professor and a leader of the group.
“One of the things that makes us special is the idea that we are a community, that we are there for each other, that this isn’t something that we walk into on our own but that we together are doing the work of God,” Anderson added.
The prayer request wall fits in with Calvin’s desire to make prayer a core value. “Shaping Calvin to be a praying and prayerful community has been one of our goals in Campus Ministries as long as I’ve worked here, and so we’re constantly thinking about how [to] strengthen our muscles as people of prayer,” said Campus Pastor Mary Hulst.
In a time when COVID-19 makes in-person interactions much more limited than normal, Anderson felt that a visual reminder of the community that Calvin shares is especially crucial. “We’re so isolated and so busy that I think it’s easy to forget that we’re part of a thriving community and a community of God that cares,” Anderson said. “It’s just a really hard time and I think we need to be reminded that we’re not the only ones who feel that way.”
Anderson believes that the wall can help cultivate a sense of community between students and faculty, particularly in a college environment where interactions between students and faculty are largely confined to a classroom setting. “I think it’s good both ways — for students to see what faculty’s challenges are and to be able to pray for them, and for faculty to get a good pulse on what students are doing and how they’re feeling about stuff,” she said.
In the past, the translucent board has been used by Communications and Marketing, among other groups on campus. It will be home to the prayer request wall indefinitely, Hulst said: “I think, like many things, this may be something that we look at and go, ‘That was a good thing and we’re going to continue it.’”
Calvin has historically had similar shared prayer request spaces on campus, including an annual prayer tent on Commons Lawn and a box to hold prayer requests. “It’s one of our core values to have prayer be central to who we are and what we do. The expression of that changes over time,” said Hulst.