“The rich interaction of Providence students and faculty has given me a greater appreciation for the diversity and depth of the broader expression of the church.”
Dion Gingerich is a spouse, a parent to four children and an international student who will graduate with a Master of Arts in Counselling from Providence Theological Seminary on Saturday. In other words, he is the very definition of the modern seminary student.
Hailing from Middlebury, Indiana, Gingerich was working as a church planter in Northern Ontario when he decided to apply to Providence.
“My family and I were in need of a break and looked into options for possibly doing further education,” he explains, adding that he chose Providence because of its Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) program, which was willing to admit him sooner than the other institutions he had considered.
RPL is a mechanism that acknowledges undergraduate-equivalent education from experiences outside the classroom. Granted on a case-by-case basis at Providence, it allows professionals such as Gingerich the chance to pursue a Master’s degree in order to bolster career prospects. Of course, admittance to Providence Theological Seminary through RPL also provides the opportunity to establish the sort of relationships that impacted Gingerich during his time on the Otterburne campus.
“These relationships have been encouraging, challenging and deeply humbling,” he says. “Attending an ecumenical school has enabled me to learn with and from individuals I would never have had the opportunity to engage with before. These relationships have been some of the most meaningful things about my time at Providence.”
Gingerich, who previously obtained a Certificate of Biblical studies from Rosedale Bible College in Irwin, Ohio, cites professors Dr. Rod Buxton, Dr. Glenys Wirch, Rev. Dr. Lissa Wray Beal and Dr. Patrick Franklin as being “tremendously influential,” but he singles out his relationship with Dr. Ed Neufeld, Professor of Biblical Studies, as being especially meaningful.
“Dr. Neufeld’s experience as an active pastors of a small community church resonated with my own experience as a pastor,” says Gingerich. “I had the privilege to have regular lunches with Dr. Neufeld to discuss issues related to church and personal life. These conversations were always stimulating, encouraging and deeply impactful.”
Following graduation, Gingerich, his wife Krista and their four children will remain connected to Providence as Dion will be working as a Teacher’s Assistant in the Counselling department. He also intends to continue studying at the Seminary until he and his family discern a long-term calling.
Seminary life hasn’t always been easy, he points out. Sleep, in particular, is sometimes a rare commodity for a student with small children.
“However,” he says, “when the end comes into view you may just think it all worthwhile.”