CTS Community in First Year as Public Reading of Scripture Site
Published by Jeffrey Sajdak
Dean of Students
It is midday on the campus of Calvin Theological Seminary. From the halls of the newly remodeled seminary building, students, staff, and faculty go to the Student Center, where the sun shines through a circular stained-glass window high in the center of the room. Everyone is starting to get hungry. But before dining together, it’s time to share in feasting on God’s Word in community. Members of the seminary community pull up chairs around one of the round tables and experience the Public Reading of Scripture.
The Public Reading of Scripture (PRS) movement is an initiative of the Grace & Mercy Foundation of New York, N.Y. that promotes reading scripture aloud in a group setting.
“PRS reflects an ancient biblical practice—going back, literally, to Moses and Mount Sinai—that has been rediscovered in recent years,” said CTS Dean of Students Jeff Sajdak. “The Grace & Mercy Foundation began the practice among businesspeople in New York City, and it is spreading globally.”
Sajdak said the seminary was invited to apply for a Grace & Mercy Foundation grant supporting PRS on campus. The seminary’s weekly practice of PRS, supported through grantfunded meals and student-leader stipends, began in the fall.
“We hope to continue next year and beyond,” said Sajdak.
The foundation also funded travel for Sajdak and CTS President Jul Medenblik, the program’s advisors, and four seminary student leaders to travel to New York for a retreat to learn more about the history of the practice.
One of those leaders is MDiv student Julia Gho. Gho says PRS is worthwhile both personally and communally.
“I’ve been personally strengthened because I’ve been able to immerse myself in the Word and meditate on it,” she said. “I feel that CTS has been strengthened to come together more and freely share what they’ve experienced at each PRS session.”
According to Master of Theology student Benet Dogonyaro, one of the student leaders, PRS helps those at the seminary to make stronger connections every week.
“Although I read the scripture personally, listening in a community helps build relationships with others,” said Dogonyaro. “For example, those you sit together with this week would not likely be the same people you would sit with the next week, which provides opportunities for establishing relationships.”
PRS student leader and MDiv student Nathan Roels agreed. “As a community, it has been great to grow together, to discuss the Word together, and to listen to God together.”
As a first-year student, Roels jumped right into the first semester of PRS and has already seen the benefits.
“I find the accountability of communal scripture reading helpful, as well as the pace and length of the reading,” Roels reflected. “PRS has strengthened me in my scripture reading, bringing light to new passages and helping me to grow deeper in my love for God.”
Another student leader, MDiv student Helen Aku, said the seminary’s PRS gatherings remind her of her experiences growing up in Nigeria.
“It really helped me a lot in the knowledge of the Bible,” she said of the practice. “It gave me the opportunity to listen to the passages, the stories, and then make meaning out of them apart from the church setting.”
Alums and friends of the seminary are invited to join the weekly PRS gatherings—email email@example.com for more information.
To view a video about the Public Reading of Scripture at the seminary, visit calvinseminary.edu/forum.
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