The Face Behind the Research

Kaitlyn Rustemeyer


Hello! I’m Kaitlyn! I am currently a senior at Hope College, studying English Literature and Youth Ministry. Outside of my time spent attending school in Michigan, I’ve lived in Naperville for my entire life. Interested in local history, I was incredibly excited to be granted the opportunity to learn more about my hometown through this project.

It surprises many people to hear that I conducted what is typically considered  sociological research even though I am not a sociology major, but my love for worship and passion for ministry is what drove me forward. I wouldn’t have had this opportunity if it wasn’t for my participation in the Mellon Scholars program, a fact that I am so incredibly grateful for.

My studies at Hope have provided me with growth and development in both my theological understanding of the Christian faith and my literary perspective on society. Through my studies in Ministry, I will be interning at a Biblical Counseling Ministry called Beacon of Hope for the entirety of my senior year.

Upon graduation I hope to attend Denver Theological Seminary to pursue a Masters of Divinity with an emphasis in Pastoral Care and Counseling. While my love for research ultimately motivates me in my studies, I hope to use my desire for deeper knowledge to propel me forward into whatever ministry I work for.

My interest in worship diversity developed during my time studying abroad in Aberdeen Scotland, where I attended worship at St Machar’s Cathedral. Established in the 1130s and affiliated with the Church of Scotland, the building and the service were so incredibly foreign to me. To be worshiping in a place centuries older than my own country is an experience I will never forget.

During my last week in the United Kingdom, I happened upon the Advent Procession at York Minster on the first Sunday of Advent. What was merely coincidental ended up being the most memorable experience of my entire time across the pond. Sitting in the pews of one of the largest churches I’ve ever seen, the entire cathedral was silent. When the service began, we were enveloped in darkness, and I joined the thousands around me in singing “O Come O Come Emmanuel” as the flame was passed from candle to candle. I get goosebumps just from the memory.

I tell this story to emphasize the wonderful fact that experiencing worship in new and unknown ways has the power to stir the intangible within you. Throughout my research I was challenged and made uncomfortable. But I also experienced God in ways that I never had before. Whether or not you agree with the different ways people and different denominations worship the Lord, I believe there are always things you can learn from them. To understand how and why people have come together over certain traditions, customs, and even types of music, is to understand much of what makes up the Christian faith. At the end of the day, there is always going to be something you don’t like or agree with, and that’s fine. All I ask is that you approach new worship experiences with open eyes and open hearts.

You might be surprised by what you find.