posted May 1, 2012

Hope Graduation Activities Scheduled for Sunday, May 6

Hope College will hold its graduation activities on Sunday, May 6, with nearly 690 members of the graduating Class of 2012 participating.

The college’s 147th Commencement will be held at 3 p.m. at Holland Municipal Stadium.  Baccalaureate will take place earlier in the day, at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

The Commencement speaker will be Dr. Heather Sellers, professor of English at Hope.  The Baccalaureate sermon will be delivered by the Rev. Dr. Trygve Johnson, who serves as the Hinga-Boersma Dean of the Chapel.

Sellers has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1995, and teaches poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction.  A nationally acclaimed author, she is also highly regarded as a mentor by her students.  In 2011, the graduating class presented her with the “Hope Outstanding Professor Educator” (H.O.P.E.) Award.

Her award-winning memoir, “You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know: A True Story of Family, Face Blindness, and Forgiveness,” has been featured by “O, the Oprah Magazine,” where it was a book of the month pick; “Good Morning America”; the “Rachael Ray Show”; NPR; “The New York Times”; Dick Gordon’s “The Story”; “Good Housekeeping”; “Elle”; and many others.  Its honors also include being named a 2011 Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan and a 2011 “Adult Literature Award” from the Chicago, Ill.-based Friends of American Writers.

Awarded an NEA Fellowship for fiction, she published a short story collection, “Georgia Under Water,” which was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. She has also published a children’s book, “Spike and Cubby’s Ice Cream Island Adventure,” three volumes of poetry, and three books on the craft of writing. Her poems, short fiction, memoir and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals, anthologies and magazines.  She’s currently at work on a novel for young readers, essays, and a new memoir.

Sellers was born and raised in Orlando, Fla., and her doctorate in English/creative writing is from Florida State University, from which she also holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees.  She has also taught at the University of Texas—San Antonio and St. Lawrence University.

Johnson has been a member of the Hope staff since 2005.  As leader of the college’s Campus Ministry office, he oversees Hope’s thrice-weekly Chapel and Sunday-evening services, preaches regularly in Chapel, speaks at other events on campus and in the community, and nurtures relationships with the college’s students, faculty and staff.   Dr. Johnson preaches and lectures regularly in a variety of church and college settings, such as Duke University and Wheaton College.  He also serves as an adjunct professor of homiletics at Western Theological Seminary.

His 2006 essay “A Vision for Hope College Campus Ministry: ‘Growing World Christians in the soil of Hope’” outlines the program’s mission within the context of the college as Hope seeks “to be a place where the totality of human experience is taken seriously within our historic Christian faith, so that generations growing in the soil of Hope are ready to engage and serve the world and the Church with wisdom and revelation.”  He has written for “Reformed Worship” and “Perspectives,” and been an invited contributor to web-journals for “The Christian Century” and “Faith & Leadership” of Duke Divinity School.  Johnson’s first book, “The Preacher as Liturgical Artist,” is forthcoming with Cascade Press.

Johnson graduated cum laude from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, in 1996, with a major in history.  He subsequently completed a Master of Divinity degree at Western Theological Seminary in 1999, and earned a doctorate in theology from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland in 2009.  After graduating from Western Theological Seminary, he was ordained in the Reformed Church in America and returned to Northwestern College, serving as chaplain until beginning his doctoral work at St. Andrews in 2002. 

An NAIA Baseball First Team Academic All-American as an undergraduate, he was also an assistant baseball coach at Hope in 1996 and at Northwestern from 2000 to 2002.  In 2012 he was also inducted into the Northwestern College Athletic Hall of Fame.

His wife, Dr. Kristen Deede Johnson, is associate director of the college’s CrossRoads Project, director of the studies in ministry minor and an assistant professor of political science at Hope.  They have a two-year-old son, Trygve David Jr., and are expecting a second child in May.

In the event of rain, Commencement will be held at the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse.  Admission to Baccalaureate, and to Commencement if indoors, is by ticket only.