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Programs in Christian Vocation project awarded grant

By Jane Ver Steeg

Dordt College’s Program in Christian Vocation, which was funded five years ago with a $2 million Lilly Endowment Inc. grant, has now been awarded a $500,000 matching funds renewal grant from the same organization. The program challenges students to integrate their faith with their vocational calling.

Dordt College is one of only thirty colleges awarded Lilly Endowment renewal grants this year, funded through Lilly’s Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation (PTEV) initiative.

At Dordt College, a key component of the “Programs in Christian Vocation” project inaugurated in 2002 has been an introductory course called “Kingdom, Identity, and Calling.” This general education course places the entire freshman class into groups of about fourteen, each mentored during their first semester of college by a faculty member or staff person. In the small group setting, students have the opportunity to discuss, role-play, problem-solve, write journals, and reflect on how to become what God has called them to be. Each student also meets one-on-one with their mentor at least five times during their first semester of college.

“The PTEV grant has helped our college to work out innovative and improved ways of helping our students discover their calling,” said Dr. John Kok, Dordt’s Programs in Christian Vocation project director. In addition to the first year seminar, other programs funded by the grant include:

· An enhanced youth ministries program (five new courses and expanded ministry practicums) yielding an increase in theology majors, youth ministry emphases, and pre-seminary majors since 2002;

· The Kuyper Scholars Program, which goes beyond the traditional Grade Point Average (GPA) honors list to identify students who exhibit a passion for learning and leadership and provide them with additional independent learning opportunities and scholarship funding;

· Student assistance for seminary and graduate school visits, career exploration, and summer ministry. Since 2003, Lilly funding has allowed more than 100 students to visit seminaries, graduate schools, or career seminars;

· An alumni online community, which allows alumni to network with other alumni regarding changes in careers, addresses, or families. Since becoming operational three years ago the online community is utilized by nearly eighteen percent of Dordt alumni.

The grant and matching funds contributed by Dordt College will be used to cover costs of these programs through 2010.