The alumni H-Club at Hope College presented its Hope For Humanity Award to Dr. Vern L. Sterk '64 during Wednesday's HOPEYs ceremony at DeVos Fieldhouse.
A former cross country and track & field runner for the Flying Dutchmen, Sterk is a retired Reformed Church in America missionary who served in Chiapas, Mexico, for 41 years with his wife Carla (VandeBunte) '65. He also worked as a professor at Western Theological Seminary for 12 years before retirement.
The H-Club selects recipients for this award from nominees who meet the following criteria:
Former Hope College student-athlete.
Demonstrated Christian commitment and servanthood in his or her career.
Eligible to be nominated for other awards.
Not members of the Hope College Alumni Board or Hope College Board of Trustees.
Photo of Vern Sterk with his wife Carla, right, Hope Interim President Rev. Dr. Dennis Voskuil, and Betty Voskuil
Sterk captained the Flying Dutchmen cross country teams his senior and juniors seasons. He graduated from Hope College in 1964 with a bachelor's degree in English.
In 1968, Sterk earned his master's degree of Divinity from Western Theological Seminary. He then began working as a missionary in Chiapas, Mexico.
In 1992, Sterk earned his Ph.D. in Missiology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.
Sterk regularly hosted spring mission trips in Chiapas, Mexico over a number of years, including four for Hope College men's basketball teams under the direction of then-Flying Dutchmen head coach Glenn Van Wieren, his friend from college.
A former H-Club board member, Sterk helped establish a scholarship for children of missionaries at Hope College. He taught Hope students enrolled in a "Mission Across Cultures" course at Western Theological Seminary when the College's ministry minor began. He also mentored Hispanic pastors of the RCA and taught in the Commissioned Pastors' program through the RCA.
Sterk has received Distinguished Alumni Awards from Hope College and Western Theological Seminary.
The Sterks have two children, Michele Schoon '91 and Shane Sterk.