Finding a home in Sioux Center

Hannah Vanderhooft—Staff Writer

It’s just before 9 a.m. on a Friday morning at Dordt University. Dr. Gayle Doornbos stands at the front of her classroom, waiting for students to fill the seats of her Theological Methods class. She chats with students as they wait for the hour to begin and throws around theological terms or practices the students ask about. 

“Happy cloudy Friday!” Doornbos says. “It reminds me of Washington and is making me a little bit home sick today.” 

 Doornbos, 36, is a new face on campus this semester, filling the role of Assistant Professor of Theology. She moved to Sioux Center from Lynden, Washington at the beginning of August. 

“Where I call home is tricky to explain,” Doornbos said. 

Born in western Michigan, her parents moved to Rehoboth, New Mexico when she was just a few months old. The young Doornbos spent most of her childhood in the southwest state until her family packed up their bags and moved back to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Though her family lived there, Michigan didn’t feel like home to Doornbos. So, her parents allowed her to return to Rehoboth for her last two years of high school. 

After graduating, Doornbos took a year off from school and worked for a church in Seattle. She served at their coffee shop, lead Bible studies, and helped wherever they needed. From there, she traveled to Redeemer University in Ontario, Canada to study Religion and Theology. Upon finishing her undergrad in 2007, she found herself back in western Michigan, this time in Grand Rapids. Doorbos resided with her parents while studying at Calvin Seminary, working towards master’s degrees in theology and theological studies. 

Doornbos then pursued a PhD at the advice of some mentors, the nudging of friends, and the interest to learn more about God. She studied at the University of Toronto for eight years and graduated in 2019 with her Doctorate in Theology and Theological Studies. 

After Toronto, Doornbos moved to Lynden, Washington to teach English at Lynden Christian. While she enjoyed her work at the school, she hoped for a theological teaching job at a higher education institution. During this time, a friend mentioned an opening in the Theology Department at Dordt University. She began her application process in early February, underwent a series of interviews, and earned the job. 

“I always heard about the community that surrounds Dordt.” Doornbos said. “And that community showed up on the day I moved in, when a handful of staff and faculty showed up to help me unload.”

The plains of Iowa paint a stark contrast to the mountains of Washington. Doornbos loves to hike. When asked about her peaks from the Pacific Northwest, a reminiscent smile filled her face. She also enjoys cooking, spending time with friends, and traveling. 

Doornbos desires to connect with her students. Such was evident in her Friday morning interactions. 

“I’m most excited to connect with students and build relationships,” Doornbos said. “I’m excited to learn about God together and make this community home.”

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