Over the weekend, the Providence campus saw over 900 people attend the 2019 graduation activities. Members of the Board of Governors, faculty, staff, invited guest speakers, alumni, and friends and family of the graduates attended the two convocation ceremonies to celebrate 117 new Providence graduates.
On Saturday morning, April 13, Dr. Stanley Hamm, Academic Dean of Providence Theological Seminary, recommended 27 degree candidates to President Dr. David Johnson for the conferral of Doctor of Ministry, Master of Divinity, and Master of Arts degrees.
The Distinguished Christian Leadership Award was presented to Dr. Janet Clark, Senior Vice President Academic and Dean of Tyndale Seminary, Providence’s sister-school. Dr. Clark shared with the graduates and guests “three axioms of Christian Life” which she learned, not in the board rooms and presidents’ offices of her later career, but through her years spent on the mission field in rural Indonesia. She encouraged the graduates to “lay down your ambitions and plans at the foot of the cross”, to “take care of the depth of your ministry; let God take care of its breadth”, and that “being a servant of Jesus Christ is not convenient, but it’s eminently worthwhile.” Her words celebrated the hard work of the graduates and encouraged them to be proud of their accomplishment, but reminded them not to act out of selfish ambition and to surrender their plans to the Lord who often leads in unforeseen ways.
Valedictorian Shannon Friesen, M.Div., in her address likened earning a degree to climbing a mountain. She reflected that God often meets his people on mountains and that these are life- and faith-defining moments, altar-building moments. As she and her fellow graduates look back at where they have been and forward to what lies ahead, she challenged them to remember God’s faithfulness: “Here, we build an altar. … This is an altar we can return to as we face the challenges of the next climb.”
Sunday afternoon, April 14, saw Cameron McKenzie, M.Div., Provost and Vice President Academic, recommend 44 degree candidates to Dr. Johnson for the conferral of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Business Administration degrees.
The Valedictorian Address, delivered by Savannah Brandt, B.A., encouraged her fellow graduates to use the “potential energy” which they have accumulated in their studies at Providence.
Karen Stiller, M.F.A, was presented with an Honorary Doctorate by Dr. Johnson. Stiller is currently the senior editor of Faith Today magazine and Senior Publications Editor and Communications Strategist for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. Her writing and editorial work has taken her to South Sudan, Uganda, Senegal, Cambodia, and across North America. As the Graduation Speaker, her words charged the graduates to seek honesty and transparency and that our failures and brokenness help to tell God’s story. “Do not hide or cover up,” she encouraged. “We worry that our brokenness and our failures may not reflect well on God’s story, but in fact, they help tell God’s story. They are God’s story… This truth does not hurt, it heals.” She left the graduates with her “best advice”: “Say ‘I trust you’ out loud, to God … When I say that, I remind myself that I do trust, and I pledge that I will. ‘Thank you,’ I also say, when I am alone, when I feel it, and also when I don’t. It is a discipline. And then eventually I am grateful again.”
This year Providence honored three alumni with the Alumni of the Year Awards. Kelly Johnson Gahaya was awarded the Seminary Alumna of the Year Award for her counselling and restorative work in Rwanda. An alumni couple* were awarded the University College Alumni of the Year Award for their work in eastern Africa among hard-to-reach people groups. The recipients shared of their Providence experience and encouraged the graduates via video, as none were able to leave their work in Africa at this time.
In addition to the degree graduates, Providence also awarded 56 certificates and diplomas in Counselling, Church Ministry, TESOL, Aviation, Bible and Theology and the Mile Two Discipleship School.
Providence is a Christian academic community that teaches people to grow in knowledge and character for leadership and service. Our graduates enter society and the church, and make a difference for Christ in this changing world.
Congratulations to the class of 2019! You have entered to learn – go forth to teach!
*names have been omitted to protect their work