What’s in a Name?

It looks like a list. It reads like a list. At the end of his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul sends a personal greeting of affirmation and gratitude to 27 separately named co-laborers. Yes, the letter to the Romans is filled with memorable verses and overarching themes that were foundational to the Reformation and is still foundational to framing the theology of the church. But it also instructs us about the importance of names.

Paul sends personal greetings such as:

“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me.” 16:3-4a

“Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.” 16:5b

“Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.” 16:13

What’s in a Name?

Names are part of our identity. My full name, Julius Ted Medenblik, is a reflection of being named after both my grandfathers. When Paul writes “greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord” you can imagine that two sisters (maybe even twins) served side by side for the gospel.

Names are part of our “belonging.” When Jackie was pregnant with our second child, we began to discuss names for this child with our 7-year-old son, Joshua. During our listing of possible names, Joshua stopped us and said, “You can’t name the baby with those names. The name has to begin with J or else the baby will not know it belongs to us.” That wisdom led to our daughter being named Julianne. That wisdom also led to our naming family dogs and cats – Jet, Joey, Jethro, Jasmine, Jeremiah and the list goes on. We may not have been original, but we have been consistent.

Finally, names always carry a story. Recently, Calvin Seminary hosted the dedication of the Veenstra Legacy Garden. The story of Dewey and Wilma Veenstra through the words of their children was read. In addition, we were blessed with many people who had identified names for themselves and their family. Stories filled the air at the dedication.

As I walk by the Veenstra Legacy Garden and see the different names engraved on each brick, I am encouraged to know that Calvin Theological Seminary is blessed by a community of support that has surrounded the ongoing ministry of the seminary since 1876. Those names of identity, belonging, and story are part of the living legacy that God has brought together to build a community and build Calvin Theological Seminary.

In two weeks we will welcome new students to Calvin Seminary. Please join me in taking time to read the list of these students and pray for them, name by name. Some of you may get to know more of the stories of these students, but all of us can begin thanking God for these persons who have taken a “next step” in receiving education and training as part of their responding to the call of God on their life.

I have also listed each participant from the Facing Your Future program that recently ended. Please take the time to read each name and pray for the students’ futures.

Thank you for praying for their unfolding stories!


Brazil Thiago Liberia Karnga
Canada Brian Myanmar Lal
Cara Nepal Chudamani
Christopher Ram
Courtney Nigeria Darshak
David Peru Daniel
Jeremy United States Adam Gregory Monica
Jianlou Andrea Hilary Nicholas
Katrina Benjamin Isaac Nol
Nancy Bradley James Norman
China Haiquan Brendan Jenna Paula
Lunfei Christopher Jerry Peniel
Xuefeng Clayton Jonathan Perrin
Hong Kong Edmund Cody Jordan Rebecca
Indonesia Budhi Darren Joshua Robert
Japan Makoto David Josiah Samuel
Kenya Bryzon Derek Juan Scott
Japheth Emily Kathy Vanessa
Korea Bongjin Jong Young Erin Lois Yangmi
Changjun Jooheyng Gene Michael YooJeung
Chungyeol JoonHo
DaeEun Joonwon
Eunchong Kyong Won
Eunjoon Kyung Phil
Hyun Paul
In Bae Sewon
Jae Young Sooncheol
Jeehyun Sung Min
Jin Su Yohan
Jingi Youri
Facing Your Future
Trey Aguirre – Austin, Texas
Izhar Alvarez – Artesia, California
Quintin Attema – Smithville, Ontario
Micaela De Jong – Burlington, Ontario
Matthew Guichelaar – Brantford, Ontario
Thomas Huisman – Hudsonville, Michigan
James Jeninga – Brookfield, Wisconsin
Jenny Koopmans – Grand Rapids, Michigan
Cinthya Martinez – Grand Rapids, Michigan
Kyra Newhouse – Grand Junction, Colorado
Anna Persenaire – Tinley Park, Illinois
Aren Plante – Caledonia, Ontario
Christiana Reitsma – Smithers, British Columbia
Maiah Rop – Rockford, Michigan
Aydan Schat – St. Catharines, Ontario
Ian Smit – Sarnia, Ontario
Onalee Sneller – Lake City, Michigan
Tyler Triemstra – Kalamazoo, Michigan
Jacob tMannitje – Whitby, Ontario
Laura Vander Horst – Hamilton, Ontario
Jason Vander Woude – Chandler, Minnesota
Katherine Van Herk – Houston, Texas
Carley Van Swol – Grand Rapids, Michigan
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