Theology department bands together after loss

Spencer Short – Staff Writer

Just a few short weeks after gaining a new theology professor, Dordt College suddenly lost another. Unexpectedly placed on leave, Dr. David Henreckson, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, left students and faculty wondering how classes would play out.

Henreckson was also set to be a major part of the upcoming Prodigal Love of God Conference, a grouping of theological seminars with many prominent speakers in the American and international Christian community.

“What I’ve observed and heard from both colleagues and students are expressions of concern, but also support for Dr. Henreckson,” said Professor Mark Tazelaar, another philosophy professor.

Tazelaar is filling in for two of Henreckson’s classes now left behind. Things are running smoothly with Tazelaar at the helm and, although there are differences in teaching styles, the information continues to be topical.

AJ Funk, a sophomore double majoring in philosophy and theology, feels that class has become a bit more insensitive, and that Tazleaar asks more of them than Henreckson previously had. Although he doesn’t see this as a negative, the difference in teaching styles was a bit jarring at first.

“Everyone in class has been supportive and gone with the flow,” Funk said. “Professor Tazleaar is doing his absolute best to create a calm classroom.” Even in this time of flux, Funk holds out hope that it is all going to work out.

Rebekah Earnshaw, Assistant Professor of Theology and Department Chair, put out personal initiatives to be as open about the situation as possible. Earnshaw meets and talks with students who were close with Henreckson.

“Sin sucks,” Earnshaw said, “[but] we continue to love God, love our students, and work for their education and formation in Christ. These are difficult circumstances, but grace is enough, and His power is made perfect in our weakness.”

And what of the upcoming Prodigal Love of God Conference, hosted by Dordt in partnership with the Andreas Center? Emily Rowe, one of the other board members for the conference, said the conference will continue as planned and will run as smoothly as possible. The event is months in the planning, and with almost three dozen volunteers at the helm, it shows no signs of cancellation.

“We have sold out of our full registration; fantastic plenary speakers will be coming; and we have 40 other pastors, theologians, educators, etc. coming to present,” Rowe said. “I’m grateful for getting to work at Dordt and to be part of this community.”

Whether or not Henreckson will return is currently unknown.

“I have a lot of faith that [Professor Henreckson] will be back,” Funk said. “Now is the time to look at what’s happening and get down to the root issues of the problem and redeem ourselves.”

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