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Staff Profile: Trygve Johnson
Hinga-Boersma Dean of the Chapel

Trygve Johnson is energized by the spirit of Hope College. “To be in an environment where there is an intense engagement really excites me spiritually,” he says. “To be a pastor in this kind of place is very exciting and refreshing.”

One of the things he appreciates most about the college is the continued commitment on all levels. “People care about what’s going on and want to reinvest back into their college. That says something to me about the kind of place it is.”

As dean of the chapel, Johnson is involved on many levels throughout the campus. “I’m not just the pastor for the people who go to Chapel or The Gathering,” he says. “My job isn’t just to run the chapel program; it’s to think about the culture on campus.”

He sees Hope’s body as a metaphoric forest. “A forest is something where everything works in symbiotic unity. If one part of the ecosystem suffers, it all suffers. Things grow not just in isolation; things grow in a wider context. My job, as dean of the chapel, is to help us think about what kind of culture we create.”

Johnson often reflects on the college and asks himself, “How do we come alongside of each other and where do we grow together?” He realizes that everyone has different needs and growth cannot be forced. “Growth is something that you can’t manipulate; the best thing that you can do is provide the right conditions. God does not coerce. God does not manipulate, but He does create a context in which we can live, breathe, and have our being.”

“As a pastor of Hope,” says Johnson, “I want to help create the best kind of context for that positive engagement. Part of my job is to say God’s name clearly and precisely--to preach the gospel without apology.”

“I’ve noticed a tremendous desire to engage,” says Johnson, and he and the other Hope staff are constantly working to create more opportunities in which to do so. “This is a place where if you invest, we’ll invest back in you 10-fold,” he says.

As strong as Hope’s chapel program is, it is still necessary to nurture it and help students continue to grow on all levels. “I want a spiritual life culture here that is deeply, intellectually engaged,” says Johnson. “We recognize that Hope College is many streams of the kingdom coming together, and we want to honor with the best sense of what that is with our theology and our confessions while at the same time giving people space to question, unpack, and figure that out on their journey.”

Johnson is confident that Hope will continue to grow, and he is eager to play a role in that development. “I want to get to be a pastor of a generation that’s going to go out and impact the world in positive ways,” he says. “I want to get the privilege to preach and pray with the youth.”

This profile was written by Bethany A. Katerberg, a Hope College senior from Grand Rapids, Mich., for the 2006-07 Hope College Catalog.

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