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A page designated to let my thoughts run freely!


A VERY New Year

Aaron Goodyke

Happy New Year! my friends, family, colleagues, and all others who have been led to It has been approximately 369 days since I last posted on this page of my website. (Whoops). 

What have I done that has kept me occupied from the more important things such as writing "Reflections"? Well...let me begin: 

1) New Job

On June 21, 2016, I accepted the job of Middle School Choir Director at Caledonia Community Schools! I now work at two buildings (Kraft Meadows & Duncan Lake) and have 6 choirs grades 6-8! That adds to approximately 250 students everyday––there is NEVER a dull moment. For that, I am grateful. I am having an absolute blast working alongside talented colleagues and wonderful administration. This Spring, we have a number of performances, including participation in the Michigan School Vocal Music Association District Choral Festival. To prepare for this, we will perform our repertoire at our next concert on February 22. All are invited to follow the Caledonia MS Choirs at! 

2) New Church home

I have officially joined Second Reformed Church of Zeeland as Choral/Organ Scholar in Residence. When people ask me what this means, I usually respond with "I do anything/everything that is needed with regard to music during the worship service". On any given Sunday I might be accompanying the choir, singing with the Bass/Baritone section of the choir, or even directing the Middle School orchestra! In whatever capacity, I get to work with a very talented team of pastors and musicians. SRC is a deep place and I am grateful to be a part of the family!

3) A new living space

Goodbye Zeeland, Hello Grandville! Since I am working closer to Grand Rapids, I now live right in between my two jobs. There are several other great things close by, such as: Rivertown Mall, Aldi, Panera Bread. Also, Founders is only 10 minutes away. (Yes. That matters.)

As you can see, the new year brings a lot of new to my life. I am not complaining at all, especially since I still get to see a lot of people that matter to me! Cheers to the new year!

Life as a Panther

Aaron Goodyke

Student Teaching: √

It's over. Just like that.

After months of planning, teaching, and learning (& repeating that over and over again) I have finally graduated from my time at West Ottawa and will now be moving on to my very own classroom. Time flies when one is having fun! 

Indeed, I leave WO more excited than ever to enter this profession and teach kids. Here are a few of my emotions & reflections in a nutshell: 

  • Wow that was insane.
  • I love singing
  • I love teaching kids to sing
  • I love teaching kids to be musicians
  • High school kids are cool, even if they do sometimes think they are "too cool for school"
  • High school lingo (the stuff these kids come up with...) is one-of-a-kind (s/o to the Men of Vocalaires)
  • Life is tough, and the stuff that happens in the world can hurt, but it's a teacher's job to keep everything moving ahead
  • Music can heal, especially when voices come together for one another (s/o to WOSWE)
  • Kids (/young adults) are worth everything we've got!
  • Culture in a classroom matters and will make/break everything one tries to accomplish
  • Speaking truth is a powerful motivator
  • Students know when something isn't going well––it's my job to shut up and listen (Thank you to those who always spoke up to correct me!) 
  • Make kids walk to their seminar (You know who you are.)
  • Warming up by speaking in an english accent is awesome (s/o to Bella Voce!)
  • Practice speaking composers' names. Eventually they will get it. (s/o to 1st grade!)
  • Cast a vision. Help them get there.
  • Teaching students to know their voices and use them is important.
  • ALWAYS have a smile. One day they will return the favor. 
  • If you push students, they will push back. Keep pushing. 
  • Notes of caring are significant.
  • Santa hats & reindeer antlers are essential for a holiday concert (s/o to MOWO) 
  • Keep on the lookout for the Gingerbread boy (s/o to Kindergarten)
  • Good accompanists are gold. Fantastic accompanists with perfect pitch are priceless (s/o to Mrs. Florip!) 
  • Phil Collins on a Friday brings joy
  • Hearing the progress a group can make when seeing them once/week is special (s/o to the ladies of Bel Canto)
  • A Chamber Choir that can manage themselves and make music even when my conducting is bad is a gift. (Bless you Vocalaires)
  • What a privilege it is to share music with those who don't have much else.

As you can see, my student teaching semester was more fun than I could have expected, and much more special than I could have dreamed. I hold deep gratitude in my heart for these kids and my wonderful mentor teachers. I will never forget this gift of a semester they gave me––by far the best Christmas present!

The best part is that they have trained me well for what is next. I begin at Holland Public Schools next week and the excitement continues to build. Since it is the halfway through the year, things will not be easy. But I sleep well at night knowing that my student teaching at West Ottawa taught me one thing that will make all the difference: love kids.

A Re-Awakening

Aaron Goodyke

I realize it has been awhile since my last post. A lot of things happened in recent months: my senior organ recital, my last Gathering as a member of the worship team, graduation...there are many "lasts". (More on those events later)

However, these last two weeks have been a 'first' for me (and for many others!).

Last December, Hope College received a large grant from the Lilly Endowment to begin a high school summer gathering with the focus of raising up new leaders in the church through studies in theology, worship, liturgy, and the arts (Read the article to learn more!). This new grant opportunity was offered to all Christian higher education institutions in the US. 

Thus, the program called 'Awakening' was born with the idea that high school students might be able to deepen their faith and broaden their perspective by understanding the intersection of each of those elements in a worship service. The week would be led by six trained interns supported by the director of Awakening. 

When I learned of this new event, I recall thinking "This is going to be awesome! But...what exactly is it?" Not long after the announcement, the director approached me and asked if I would be interested in helping with Awakening. The vision of engaging the next generation of the church caught my attention and I knew I wanted to play a role in this new initiative. 

After several months, reality set in. I was appointed to be an intern along with five other students(and friends) from Hope College and I began assisting the director with administrative tasks; meanwhile, as May rolled around, students began registering and submitting deposits. Whoa. Part of my job was to print off acceptance letters and send them to the students. I had no idea what these young adults would be like––many of my questions went something like this:

  • Will they like us [the interns]?
  • Are they going to be awkward?
  • Will they fully participate throughout the week? 
  • Is the there too much in the curriculum?

I had no idea what was about to take place. 

Jump forward with me to intern training week (June 6-10). I had spent much of my time before June 6 finishing up several tasks (i.e editing documents, making name tags, etc.) so that everything would be ready to go prior to the actual Awakening week. When Monday rolled around, the interns gathered in the lobby of the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts for a time greet one another and "break the ice". Lucky for us, no one was really a stranger because we had encountered each other at least once before in classes or extra-curricular activities. We started off with some fun (and weird) games––the kind where you have to "get over yourself" and just play despite the fact that you might look foolish. 

After that, the week took off at double speed. We discussed the vision of Awakening, the activities that would shape these students, and our role as leaders of small groups. As described on the Awakening website, some of themes for the week included: story, church, renewal, discovery, worship, and the arts. The curriculum was developed by none other than a mentor of mine, Josh, who modeled for us what it would mean to guide these students as they listen, spend time alone, and discern what the Lord was saying to them. It was through our time together that we found Awakening to be formative for us as interns just as it would eventually be for the students. 

The Awakening 2016 Intern staff

The Awakening 2016 Intern staff

Our daily routine went something like this:

  • Morning solitude (at 8:00AM!) for an hour
  • Gathering for prayer, teaching, and silence
  • Afternoon teaching, listening, and reflection
  • Learning from local artists about the arts in the worship
  • Meeting with local church leaders to discuss the "next generation" in the church
  • Planning our own intern worship for our students

Other opportunities included visiting Good Samaritan Ministries of Holland and the Holland Rescue Mission.

As interns, we spent time discerning where our story meets God's story. We listened to the one who calls us His beloved. We awakened to who we are meant to be as His chosen people. 

Before we knew it, Sunday arrived and our first kids were dropped off by their parents. Each of us felt nervous, excited, and overwhelmed all at the same time. What was about to happen?

We did not need to worry. The Lord would be our guide.

The first ever Awakening participants jumped right into some classic icebreakers, worship, and group time all on the first night! My wonderful Team Z sat in the Pine Grove on that beautiful day and, though they did not know each other, they received one another. They entered into their liturgy––the work of the people––with open hearts. Each student, over the course of the week, embraced one another––"solitude grabbing onto solitude"(Nouwen)––to form a community rooted in our beloved Father.

We explored the history of the universal church at many local churches, both Protestant and Catholic(Thank you Jon Brown, CJ & Denise Kingdom-Grier, and Father Charlie Brown!). The group explored music through toolbox sessions ranging from dance to songwriting, piano to bass guitar. We even had the opportunity to worship in the Mulder Chapel at Western Theological Seminary! These experiences were pillars of creating a week that reflected the breadth and depth of worship.

To sum it up, the people of Awakening:

  • Spent time in solitude with their creator
  • Lived as a community, giving and receiving blessing from one another
  • Gathered together as Christ to worship through song and dance
  • Listened to God speak through scripture 
  • were Sent out to proclaim the truth of the gospel using their God-given gifts through ministry

We were not only learning the "how-to"; rather, we were "living" worship every single day.

By the end of our time together, no one wanted to let go. The experience of "rehearsing the real" with each other created bonds of friendship that, as many students referenced, went much deeper than friendships that have lasted years. There were many tears on Friday morning as we blessed each other, describing how we saw God's story in one another.

I am grateful for this "awakening" in my life. Currently, I am in a constant of limbo as I "graduated" with a victory lap in my near future at West Ottawa. I needed to give my ear to the Father in a time when so many voices are telling me where to go and what to do. I needed to be reminded that "through invocation we acknowledge the presence of the Spirit who is already more present in our midst than we are even to ourselves"(Joshua Banner).

Many of you know that the Synod of the Reformed Church of America met this past week. There were several outcomes, some good, others not so good (depending on who you talk to). It is hard not to lose hope in the church of Christ because of its division, regardless of where one stands.

However, I said this to the kids on Thursday evening as we relaxed around a campfire (thank you President Knapp!):

I have never felt so much hope for the church, knowing that you will be its leaders.

It's true. These talented students have bright futures ahead of them, whether they choose a path to ministry or not. They will be the next generation's leaders––as nurses, artists, athletes, teachers, or worship leaders. Thank you Lord for these students.

What was Awakening?

A time to create space for God to act in each of our lives.

I know in my soul that each student was meant to be here this week. I cannot explain why. Instead, I move forward trusting that the Lord will lead us into His story.

Soli Deo Gloria

Here are few pictures that might shed some light on our experience as the first ever Awakening community.

Awakening Interns leading worship during training week (Note: this was put together in 20 minutes)

Awakening Interns leading worship during training week (Note: this was put together in 20 minutes)

Learning about the history of Music in the church with Dr. Lewis FRCO, Church Music Historian

Learning about the history of Music in the church with Dr. Lewis FRCO, Church Music Historian

Sunset worship with the Interns

Sunset worship with the Interns

Team Z planning for the Festival of Worship

Team Z planning for the Festival of Worship

My beautiful Team Z rehearsing for the Festival of Worship

My beautiful Team Z rehearsing for the Festival of Worship

Recently, an article was published about Awakening in the Holland Sentinel. 

Learn more about Awakening at