By Madison Franks, Student Writer
OTTERBURNE, MB – Because I began my time at Providence in the fall of 2020, I was never around the campus to experience Bergen Hall. This was an all-male dormitory that stood where the new residence building, Muriel Taylor Hall, now resides. When Providence lost Bergen Hall to a fire in June of 2017, there was, justifiably, a lot of fear in regards to how the school would continue housing male students, and how finances would be provided to ensure Providence could go on welcoming in the highest number of students possible. This is a story of God’s faithfulness and kindness toward Providence University College and Theological Seminary.
Despite constant preaching of God’s provision, the remembrance of it can be a very different thing when one is in the face of a crisis as seemingly large as the burning of Bergen Hall. How would community life continue to thrive on campus when there was no more space to house half of the student body? How would this fire impact the number of students who would desire living in dorm? How would the community deal with the loss of a place that once held such good memories?
Ever since Bergen Hall left us, Providence has been marked by the word rebuilding; not only rebuilding the physical building that was lost, but also rebuilding the community life into something even more productive and Christ-centered than before. A common scene I witness in Muriel Taylor Hall is that of students working alongside each other, enjoying the company of one another, as they happily and hurriedly type away at whatever assignment they are working on at that particular moment. Prior to the construction of Muriel Taylor Hall, there was never a space on campus that lent itself so well to welcoming in every student at every hour of the day like the first floor common space, The Hub, does.
The Hub is a beautiful environment surrounded by ceiling-high windows that allow sunlight to come streaming in. One of the tricky parts of being a university student is that there can be a lack of time in one’s schedule to get outside as deadlines and classes take up the majority of one’s week. Pairing this with the fact that Canadian prairie winters are long and the sun shines for fewer hours than everyone would like it to, students in university crave outdoor time without freezing in the process. Whoever it was that had the idea of putting several windows in Muriel Taylor Hall ought to win an award. The natural light that radiates through the space is life-giving and encouraging, providing enough vitamin D for students to survive.
Just as the old space held memories, the new does too. The Hub became a communion ground and safe haven to me as a commuter. I remember feeling comfortable in its bright environment despite not having a place to call my own on campus at the time. Walking through the front doors of The Hub was, for me, akin to coming home. There were always people in lively conversation with one another, friends playing ping pong, and those scattered around the hearth at the back of the room. The novelty of the place has not ceased to strike me as special even though I now enjoy it as a space in which I live. Muriel Taylor Hall was the site on which the Lord rebuilt the joys of community life that I had severely been missing throughout the years of Covid-19.
The location of the building itself is also a testament to God’s faithfulness and kindness toward Providence. Where there once sat a building engulfed in flames that would soon turn to nothing more than a pile of ashes, the new building is a constant reminder of how God takes the broken things of the world and transforms and redeems them, and this is very much like the Christian life that Providence aspires to teach to its students. God has a habit of taking the broken thing and rendering it new and beautiful, and so He did again with Muriel Taylor Hall, Providence’s own miracle in the shape of a residence building.