The Leonard and Marjorie Maas Endowed Chair in Reformed Theology is awarded to a faculty member whose scholarly emphasis is on the historical and philosophical development of Reformed theology through the present day. The professorship has been donated by Leonard and Marjorie Maas of Holland, who are longtime supporters of Hope as well as lifelong members of the Reformed Church in America, the denomination with which the college is affiliated.
The chair’s first recipient is theologian Dr. Mark Husbands, who joined the Hope religion faculty in 2007 and who has made Reformed theology a central focus of his scholarship and teaching.
“The generosity of Leonard and Marjorie Maas to Hope College and the Reformed Church in America is a manifestation of their commitment to the Christian faith,” said Dr. James Bultman, president of Hope College. “This endowed chair is yet another example of their joyful lives of gratitude and their desire to positively influence the Christian dimension of the college.
“Mark Husbands is an outstanding teacher and scholar with a special interest and expertise in Reformed theology,” Bultman said. “Given Hope’s historic roots and its affiliation with the Reformed Church in America, it is entirely appropriate that an internationally recognized teacher/scholar with a compelling voice in Reformed theology be a member of our faculty.”
Husbands has come to Hope after serving on the theology faculty at Wheaton College since 2001. He had previously held appointments at Tyndale College and Seminary in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto; and Sheridan College in Toronto.
His doctoral dissertation focused on Karl Barth, a Swiss Reformed theologian who lived from 1886 to 1968. The work, titled “Karl Barth’s Ethics of Prayer,” has been accepted for publication in the prestigious Columbia Series in Reformed Theology (Westminster John Knox Press).
Husbands is the editor or co-editor of seven books, including The Beauty of God: Theology and the Arts and Women, Ministry and the Gospel: Exploring New Paradigms. The soon-to-be-published edited volume Ancient Faith for the Church’s Future reflects one of the dominant themes of Husbands’ scholarship, that of depicting the relationship between God’s redemptive action and the moral life. This work demonstrates the contemporary significance of the patristic period from multiple angles: best practices in reading ancient texts; patristic exegesis and hermeneutics; social justice; early church-catechesis; worship; Christology; and Augustinian political engagement and ethics.
Husbands has presented numerous papers and invited addresses during scholarly meetings and has also published several scholarly articles, essays, and book reviews.
In addition to the theology of Barth, Husbands’ teaching and scholarly emphases include dogmatic theology, theological ethics, Reformation and contemporary theology, Christology, Ecclesiology, the Doctrine of Reconciliation, historical theology, and World Christianity.
A native of Cardiff, Wales, Husbands was raised in Canada; graduated from York University in Toronto with a bachelor’s degree in 1987; completed his M.Rel. at Wycliffe College in 1990; and completed his doctorate at the University of St. Michael’s College of the University of Toronto’s School of Theology in 2005.
Leonard and Marjorie Maas have been active in the life of the college for many years, and received honorary degrees from the college in 2001. Leonard, who passed away in 2010, was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1979 to 1993, serving since as an honorary member of the board. Marjorie was active in the Women’s League for Hope College, which raised funds for many years to enhance Hope’s residence halls. Their sons, Thomas and Steven, are both Hope graduates, members of the classes of 1978 and 1981, respectively.
This marks the second time that the Maas couple has established a chair at the college that supports Hope’s Christian tradition. They also created the Leonard and Marjorie Maas Endowed Chaplaincy, first awarded in 1998, to provide ongoing support of the campus ministries program at Hope.
They have also supported a variety of other projects at the college. Together with their sons, they donated the college’s Maas Center, which was dedicated in 1986. They have established the Kelder-Maas Scholarship in honor of their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Kelder and Mr. and Mrs. Lambert Maas. They also recently provided major support for the newly constructed Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse and the A. Paul Schaap Science Center.
Leonard and Marjorie Maas grew up in First Reformed Church in Grandville, and then as youth with their families became charter members of Olivet Reformed Church in Grandville. Leonard served as an elder, and Marjorie was active in Olivet’s Reformed Church Women and served as president of the Grand Rapids Classical Union of Reformed Church Women. They have both been Sunday school teachers and choir members.
Leonard was a veteran of World War II and served with the U.S. Army in the European Theatre. Both before and after the war, he worked for his uncle with Gillisse Construction Company, becoming president when his uncle died in 1964. The firm’s projects have included roads, sewers, and water mains, and land development including mobile home parks. He purchased Grand Rapids Asphalt Paving Company in 1970 and won the National Environmental Award from the National Asphalt Paving Association in 1980.
In subsequent years he became involved in manufactured housing community projects and other land developments, working with his sons.
Marjorie graduated from Grand Rapids Junior College and Michigan State University, and taught home economics at Hudsonville High School prior to becoming a full-time homemaker. In addition to her involvement with church and family activities, she consistently served as a “sounding board” for her husband’s business ideas.
She was a member of the Holland Home Board of Trustees from 1990 to 1996 and has been on the board of Words of Hope, on which she now serves as an honorary member. The Maases were married in 1952. Their sons are married, and the Maases have nine grandchildren.