I have been commissioned by the Theological School Committee (TSC) of the PRC to a most delightful task. However, to do the task thoroughly would likely require a special issue of the Standard Bearer. Consequently, I will be a bit abbreviated and selective. The delightful task is to express the TSC’s great appreciation for Judi Doezema’s thirty years of service as the seminary’s secretary.
Judi’s secretarial work at the seminary required that she serve many people in a myriad of ways. Any attempt to list them all will be inadequate, but I submit the following paragraphs to provide the reader with a little peak into some of the particulars of her service and the manner in which she served that demonstrate she went far beyond her routine duties of answering the phone, welcoming visitors, handling mailings, preparing bills, maintaining supplies, overseeing the kitchen, etc.
Judi served the TSC by assisting the TSC secretary in the preparation of reports and in various other secretarial tasks including copying and scanning.
Judi served the registrar/librarian/archivist with scheduling, preparing calendars, grade reports, foreign-student needs, checking out books, yearly library inventory, and by helping maintain the PRC archives’ index.
Judi served the faculty by assisting with various course-material needs (syllabi, copying articles, etc.) by her careful work on calendars, schedules and reports.
But the following responses from our professors in regard to Judi’s work demonstrate that Judi’s impact on the seminary went far beyond her job description:
I’m usually the first one here in the mornings at about 6 a.m. because I teach a zero-hour Greek course. But, try as I may, I rarely, if ever, beat Don and Judi. Sometimes, if I got up earlier than normal, I would meet them as I rounded the corner, while they were trudging up the driveway, even through the deep snow. But usually I would come up the drive and the lights would be on and the alarm disabled. Sometimes in the snow and wind Judi would even be carrying a 9×13 of goodies to treat us on Fridays when she always brought something for the students. Even when it was snowing, they always walked to the seminary from their home a quarter mile up the road. And when it was snowing, they came even earlier, so that the walks would always be completely shoveled by 6 a.m.—the time any normal person should consider seminary’s start time to be. On these snowy days Don would head straight to the storage room to start the smelly little two-cycle snow blower, while Judi would begin shoveling. If one of the shovels was broke, it was hard for me to wrest the good one out of her hand so that I could help her. And all this was before their own driveway and walks were shoveled.
Her cheery, “Good morning, prof.” every morning was our usual welcome. And her, “Goodbye, prof.” every evening was our send-off. She is very tenderhearted…it is her nature certainly. She could not squish a bug….she would trap them under a styrofoam cup, whether a spider, a stinkbug, or a beetle. She would then quickly cover the cup with a piece of paper or a hand, take it outside, and release into the wilds whatever critter was captured inside. She loved her plants and bestowed tender care upon them. She has a Thanksgiving cactus at the seminary that annually is filled with blossoms as a result of her care.
She cheerfully handled thousands of requests in her time here. Here from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. She ate her lunch at the desk. And, oh, yeah, what is a vacation? She and Don rarely took a day off, let alone a vacation.
Judi served our seminary students by providing them with a “Student Directory,” class schedules, a calendar, and course materials. In addition, she assisted them with their bookstore needs and copying services. But her service to our students was much, much more than that, as one of our former students makes clear:
Judi greeted each of the students, by name, with a warm smile and “good morning” each and every morning we came to seminary. If she was there when we left, and she often was, her cheery farewell followed us out the door.
Judi flawlessly assisted me with printing off exegesis papers, practice preaching sermons, class papers (especially Dogmatics papers), and typed exams to exact specifications (quantity of copies, double-sided or not, etc.). If any mistakes were made in fulfilling any one of these “orders” (and there were mistakes), they were certainly my own.
Judi unfailingly supplied mouth-watering baked goods for coffee-break every Friday, in sufficient quantities to allow those who were so inclined (I was so inclined) to have a second helping.
Judi uncomplainingly washed the stacks of dirty dishes we left in the sink every day, and tidied the kitchen while we whooped it up playing ping-pong in the basement.
Several times when I had packages delivered to me at the seminary, Judi quietly carried them to my desk and deposited them in my hands if I was there or laid them on my desk to await my arrival.
Judi offered personal encouragement to me in my work. When she would print off my exams or papers, she would sometimes express amazement at the work required of us as students of the seminary, and follow those expressions with heartfelt assurance of her prayers for grace and strength for me and the other students. These quiet encouragements were most edifying.
In these ways and countless other unnamed and probably unnoticed (and thus un-thanked) ways, Judi humbly and faithfully served the routine and smooth running of the seminary, and thus served the churches and their work of training men for the gospel ministry.
It was a delight to go over my seminary days and think about all the ways in which God used Judi as an instrument in my life, in the seminary’s day-to-day routine, and in the service of our churches.
Those student and professor attestations of Judi Doezema’s willing service did not at all surprised me. They reminded me of the kindergarten teacher with the same name who greeted me as a new teacher at Adams Street Christian School back in the fall of 1973. They reminded me of the Judi who served as my secretary during my years as administrator at Adams. They reminded me of the Judi who was “Judi-on-the-spot” no matter the task that needed to be done; even the task of shoveling snow off our school ice skating rink “down below” long after school was dismissed. But I digress.
While Judi’s service as the secretary of the Protestant Reformed Seminary is completed, she plans to continue the work she has long been doing at the seminary for other causes in the denomination. She will, for example, continue to prepare Reformed Witness Hour sermons for printing; work with the Stated Clerk of Synod in the publishing of the annual Acts; and give in-house assistance to the editors of the Standard Bearer in their preparing of each issue for publication.
One might be tempted to ask, “How could one person do all this work?” Some time ago the TSC asked Judi to make a list of the things she did while working at the seminary. In response, she listed and explained much of what I have written in this article; then at the very end she wrote: “Note: I usually spend 55 hours per week at the seminary—and rarely run out of work.”
When Judi reads what I have written, she will likely respond something like: “I only did what anyone else would have done.” While that may be so, nevertheless the TSC, (and I am sure we speak also for the faculty and students) thanks Judi for her selfless, dedicated service, and we thank our Father in heaven who gave her a heart to serve in the godly manner that she did.
No doubt we will miss her cheerful response to our phone calls to the seminary: “This is Judi, how may I help you.”
Cal Kalsbeek, for the TSC