The building itself is not what makes a house a home, but instead, it is the people within the walls of the house: the living, beating hearts that make it a safe and welcoming space in which to reside. It is this concept that eased the minds of many when the new Campus Ministries building was erected on the south end of campus, and the chaplains relocated their offices from Keppel House to the Van Andel building. This shift marked a new storyline in the history of Keppel House and Hope’s evolution of Christian identity. Keppel House marked a shift in the history of Hope’s religious activity. It gave students and chaplains alike a place to turn conversations into conversions and speeches into service for the betterment of the individual believer and the overall Christian community in Holland. Long gone are the days of just fifteen to twenty people taking up residence in a single row during a chapel service. No longer is Chapel predictable and unwelcoming to a generation of Christians used to breaking the traditional barriers. Rather, students eagerly rush from class to chapel, praying their professors let them out early enough to find a seat. Uplifting and enthusiastic music notes float across campus, infusing everyone with a little bit more joy. Keppel House gave Campus Ministries a place to foster spiritual growth on Hope’s campus.
The Dean of Chapel Trygve Johnson explained how the new building was conceptualized, saying, “when the Bultman center was designed in 2013-2014, it used to be that the music center was in the center of campus, but was torn down after the Jack Miller building was erected. I realized that when the student center came online in 2017, the center of gravity was going to shift, and students were going to be pulled away from the outskirts of campus, which is where Keppel House is located.” To stay central to campus, Campus Ministries would aslo probably need to relocate eventually. Johnson began speaking to individuals and eventually maneuvered the relocation of Three House, a building that previously sat right where the new Campus Ministries House sits today. Three House was physically picked up and moved down the street, but the Delphi sorority house that also sat in the way of the new building was old and unsalvageable, so it was torn down, and the sorority relocated to a more modern cottage. The accessibility, need for space, and lack of creative options to accommodate all students were the three primary reasons for the construction of the Van Andel house. A few of the features Johnson wanted to ensure the New Campus Ministries House possessed wer a study space, a library with “only good books that contain the best sentences” and a front porch. By adding open space, vibrant colors and light it was the hope of the chaplains that students would utilize the area in a way that the size limitations of Keppel House never allowed. Johnson himself noted, “that while college is a time of furrowed brow and serious studies, every student needs to find a place with color, pop, and a deep aesthetic to be able to relax.”
The Van Andel Campus Ministries building was created to fulfill that purpose. While Campus Ministries only moved a few hundred yards, the centralization of the new building allows the Campus Ministries to assume a position not only physically in the middle of campus, but also psychologically, serving as a reminder to students about the Christian values Hope as an institution maintains. While the raising of the funds for the new building took a little over two and a half years, the end product was well worth all of the time and effort. Johnson stated, “I feel like I have a new job just based on the way the students interact with the new space. I feel more connected, and I get to see the chapel, which is always a plus.” The mission of Hope College is primarily to educate, but it is also to grow the spiritual body of an individual. At the moment, the fate of Keppel House remains undecided; however, there is no question on whether or not the student body has embraced the new Campus Ministries building. By creating a warm, welcoming environment, complete with an open front porch and free coffee, there is no denying it is a space for everyone. Johnson stated, “I encourage all students to stop in. They do not need to have an appointment with a chaplain or be affiliated with chapel to come and visit; we created study spaces and a library filled with great books for the sole purpose of having students be interactive with us and the building.”