Scholarship Recipients Host Chapel Service
Over 30 people attended the special chapel service at Calvin Theological Seminary (CTS) on April 26, 2023. And a unique point about this service was that it was designed to gather current recipients of a Multiracial Scholarship from Thrive (formerly known as Congregational Ministries) of the CRCNA.
Neulsaem Ha was the driving force behind this special chapel event. As a Ph.D. student at CTS and a two-time recipient of the scholarship, he wanted his fellow seminary students to know about the resources available through Thrive. He took the initiative and signed up to preach and to give a presentation highlighting the problem of racism in today’s world and to point out workshops and tools the CRCNA has developed to educate about and combat racism. He convinced other scholarship recipients to participate in the chapel service too.
Sena Tadesse, a junior at Calvin University in the nursing program and a first-time recipient of the scholarship, presented the Scripture reading from Deuteronomy 10:14-19. And Heesung Yoo, a CTS student in the master of theology program, opened the chapel with a prayer using words from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
After the opening, Ha presented what he called a “part sermon, part testimony.” He explained that he had been proud of his unique life experiences but still felt that something was lacking. “I have lived, studied, and worked on three different continents,” he said, “but I knew that I needed more . . . to be better equipped to serve God and his very diverse community.” He shared that a Cultural Intelligence Building workshop provided by the race relations consultants of Thrive helped him to feel better equipped to both serve and learn about different cultures.
Ha’s sermon focused on Deuteronomy 10:19: “And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” He pointed out that the Hebrew word for “love” in this verse is ahavah, which refers to an intense and emotional kind of love that involves much more than a simple recognition or welcoming of a foreigner.
Ha went on to explain that as Christ-followers we are all foreigners, according to 1 Peter 2:11, and that the call to love the foreigner does not just fall to the host culture. This work is a “mutual, joyful, and glorious project God has for us all,” he said. It is a privilege for everyone, given from God.
Race relations consultants from Thrive remained after the service to provide resources to students and CTS faculty in attendance. They fielded questions from attendees and offered more information about the race relations scholarships that can be applied for by any ethnic-minority student attending any college affiliated with the CRC. All of these resources are accessible through the CRCNA race relations webpage.
Ha shared that he also has a dream of making this kind of chapel an annual event for scholarship recipients: “My personal hope is that we do this sort of thing at least once a year. It’s a great reminder for us to think about important racial and cultural issues. It is also crucial for the [denomination] to let students know what they are doing to improve the community.”