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Sidney J. Jansma, Jr., to be Awarded Kuyper Prize

December 13, 2023

Sidney J. Jansma, Jr., will be the recipient of the 2024 Kuyper Prize, which is awarded annually by Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary. The award, established in 1998 by Rimmer and Ruth de Vries, is named after Dutch theologian and politician Abraham Kuyper. It is awarded to a scholar or community leader whose outstanding contribution to their chosen sphere reflects the ideas and values characteristic of Kuyper’s Neo-Calvinist vision of religious engagement in matters of social, political, and cultural significance in one or more of the “spheres” of society.

“I’m truly surprised and honored to be selected,” said Jansma, a 1965 alumnus of Calvin. “I have always tried to live a life that testified to my belief in the lordship of Jesus, and that I am simply a steward of what has been given to me and our family.

Jansma is an influential leader in industry and in business, serving for more than 40 years as leader and CEO of Wolverine Gas and Oil Corporation, currently as its chair of the board. Over the years he has served as chair of the Michigan Oil and Gas Association and as founding chair of its Political Action Committee, chair of the Independent Petroleum Association of America’s Tax Committee, and chair of the Environment and Safety Committee. He has also served on the board of directors of the American Petroleum Institute and as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C..

Jansma is also deeply engaged with various church and philanthropic activities locally and internationally.

“Sid takes seriously what it means to be a Christian business owner and the stewardship responsibility of a person of means,” said Wiebe Boer, president of Calvin University. “He is a pillar of the community and stands in a long line of Kuyperian Reformed philanthropists and patrons of God’s kingdom.”

One of the spaces Jansma has invested his time in significantly is higher education, both locally and nationally, and even in the prison system. He has served on the boards of Calvin Theological Seminary and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He was instrumental in setting the vision of the School of Business at Calvin University, and he played a key role in the creation of the Calvin Prison Initiative (CPI)—a leading example of prison education nationwide.

“Sid is a person of faith who seeks to better the spheres of business, education, politics, and the church,” said Jul Medenblik, president of Calvin Theological Seminary. “Over the past 20 years there is not a square inch of Calvin University, Calvin Theological Seminary, the Calvin Prison Initiative, and Alpha Ministry that has not had some contact or impact from the ministry, vision, and encouragement of Sid Jansma, Jr.”

Christian higher education and most significantly Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary have been key areas of focus for Jansma because, he said, he sees the importance of their missions. “As I grew older, I realized that the importance of higher education is not to remember all your courses, but it’s to build your character and your faith,” said Jansma.

“With my first wife, Joanne (deceased), and now my second wife, Cate, we have felt called to support Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary because both institutions are in the business of training women and men to go into the world and to do exactly what Kuyper called for us to do in the Stone Lectures—to realize that every square inch belongs to Jesus. What a big bang for the buck, to support places that impact so many lives that are going out and living for the next 50 years or more, putting their training to good use in whatever job they decide to do, and playing their part in transforming society for God.”

Jansma joins an esteemed group of past Kuyper Prize award winners, including a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, a Templeton Prize-winning philosopher, a prime minister, and a pair of U.S. ambassadors.

Jansma will be awarded the prize during the Kuyper Conference, which runs April 2-4, 2024, on the campus of Calvin University. The theme of the conference is “Stewardship in the Kingdom” and will include plenary sessions featuring Anthony Bradley (Kuyper College), Sarah Hamersma (Syracuse University), Jason Stansbury (Calvin University), and Cory Willson (Calvin Theological Seminary). The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is a sponsor of the conference.