Who Cares? Mental Health, Grief, and the Church - 2021 ADC Today

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President’s Message It’s a Crisis During my Fall 2019 Listening Tour around Atlantic Canadian churches to rediscover what effective ministry looks like today, one issue clearly stood out. While churches raised concerns around cultural change, congregational conflict, and church growth, the topic discussed with greatest passion was mental health. “It’s a crisis!” was the phrase I heard over and over. From pastors on the verge of burnout from the load of referrals from health authorities, to congregations full of ministry needs related to mental health concerns, it is clear more education, training, and support are needed to meet this present crisis. Public resources are insufficient for the challenge. The Canadian Mental Health Association in 2018 reported that mental illness worldwide accounted for 23 percent of the total disease burden. The World Health Organization recommends spending 10 percent of health and wellness budgets on mental health services. Yet Canada dedicates only 7.2 percent of its health care budget to mental health, with provincial percentages falling even further behind. The accompanying frustration with long waiting lists for limited resources exacerbates the mental stress for many.

ADC Today Editor: Shawna Peverill Special Contributors: Dorothy Hunse, Debra Orton, John Sumarah, Sharon White 2

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These reports echo what I heard from churches and leaders across Atlantic Canada. Through recent months, the mental health crisis has only become worse as anxiety, depression, and disorientation have been nurtured by the global pandemic. Public and private services have been stretched to the limit. Moreover, pastors and lay leaders themselves have a need for selfcare while serving others. Those in caring professions know how easy it is to lose themselves in the demands of giving emotional, spiritual, and physical support to people who are experiencing loss and who have needs that are complex. In this issue of ADC Today, Dr. John Sumarah, Professor Emeritus of Education and Counselling in the Faculty of Professional Studies at Acadia University, asks, “How do we reach out and respond to each other during this time of mental health concern?” We also hear from Acadia Divinity College’s Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care, Dr. Dorothy Hunse, as she considers what it means to care for others by embracing first our own loss and grief. And we are encouraged to read about an ADC graduate who, along with her colleagues, reached out to help health care workers during the pandemic and a time of loss in Nova Scotia during the spring of 2020. As a leading institution for theological education in Canada, Acadia Divinity College is tasked with equipping Christians to participate effectively in mental health provision through pastoral work, church programs, chaplaincy, youth work, and service in the community. Christian leaders also need to understand the limits of the help they can provide and build good

By Dr. Anna Robbins, ’93, ‘97 networks with other mental health care providers. They need to understand themselves well, so that they can care for themselves and others faithfully and effectively. And they need to build supports around them for their own well-being. This is not a one-off task. Rather, it is a key area of lifelong learning for those who work with, and serve, people as their calling. We seek your prayerful support as ADC considers afresh how best to prepare pastors and other Christians for this task in a postCOVID-19 world. Acadia Divinity College has a stellar reputation of helping our students learn how to care for people in body, mind, and spirit. Now, in an emerging context, we will need to cultivate new approaches for teaching mental health care in a theological context. The challenge is vast, but so is God’s grace. Jesus cared for whole people and demonstrated the rhythms of caring for Himself, too. With His love and acceptance, our graduates need to be ready to lead the church in breaking down stigmas, embracing obstacles, and gaining skills in ministering to the mental health of people in congregations and communities in the grace and love of Christ.

Dr. Anna Robbins is the President, the Dr. Millard R. Cherry Professor of Theology, Ethics and Culture, and the Director of the MacRae Centre of Acadia Divinity College, as well as the Dean of Theology of Acadia University.

Accompaniment Pandemic, Mental Health and

by Dr. John Sumarah

During the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic, I received a telephone call from my doctor’s office inquiring about my mental health. I was surprised; and impressed! As a person involved in mental health for many years, I appreciated the awareness that mental health was an important contributor to our overall well-being. Asked what I needed, I said that their reaching out meant a lot to me. The pandemic has surely highlighted mental health as a major societal concern. Those with mental health issues may have found them to be exacerbated during the pandemic. Others are experiencing the awareness that our mental health is fragile. Perhaps it always was, but the pandemic has heightened our experiences of fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, depression, and loneliness. Our stress levels are high. We grieve many losses, perhaps a loved one or the

inability to be with one in need, the loss of health, financial security, and the loss of connection and our usual social and psychological supports. People on the introverted side who normally welcome solitude are saying, “Too much of a good thing these days.” Those on the extroverted side normally energized by social encounters are wishing for more than virtual contact. Many are advocating for governmental support for mental health services including virtual therapy. One of the many questions facing our Christian communities is, “How do we reach out and respond to each other during this time of mental health concern?” First, we need to reach into ourselves and realize that we are all fragile. We have our moments and while each one’s experience of loneliness, discouragement, and sadness is unique, we can, of course, relate to

this human condition. When we find our own ability to manage our mental health needs attention, we need to begin to reach out to others. It is important that we are honest with our reality rather than deny, negate, or even judge ourselves for our experience. In our Christian communities we understand the importance of hospitality. The essence of hospitality is welcoming another person into our lives; that is, into our hearts. To do this, we must make space in our lives and hearts. When I am busy or distracted or preoccupied, it is not easy to invite others in. Genuine hospitality is always motivated by love. Welcoming one whose circumstance may be quite different from my own means that something in me might change. That is what makes these encounters challenging and, also, ... continued on page 4 Winter 2021


potentially growth-filled for both. The story of the woman at the well is a wonderful example of what happens when welcome is at the heart level. The woman whose circumstances were so different from the life of Jesus was deeply touched by Him and He was deeply touched by her. This brief honest encounter of love and respect impacted both interiorly. They both left enriched. When someone is heard from the heart, they know that they are welcomed. It is a risk, of course, to share what I am really experiencing because I do not know for certain how it will be received. It is a risk to be known, to allow another into my fragile state. But it is also a risk to listen deeply because we might feel overwhelmed and not know what to say or do. When we do have these kinds of genuine encounters, it is as though Jesus is saying, “When you listen to one of my sisters or brothers you listen to me.” It takes trust and courage to share personally and trust and courage to listen. Our story usually has a light and a dark side. With time and trust we share both sides because we want to be honest before the other with what is happening in our lives. Communication experts have informed us that we have about five ways to respond to each other. One is to judge. One is to question. One is to interpret. One is to support. And one is to understand. Research shows that judgment is used much more frequently than support and understanding in everyday conversation. If we were shut down or judged in the past, it is little wonder we are hesitant to risk sharing our fragile mental state. The increasing awareness of the mental health issue will hopefully give all of us more permission to open up and to listen 4

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more attentively with a non-judging compassionate heart. My thoughts and feelings are not always clear to me. Sometimes they are bundled up and need time and patience to unwrap. When I go through periods of psychological stress, well-intended people who want to console me can leave me feeling very un-understood. They tend to jump in quickly before I have shared what I need to share. I do not need to hear “you’ll get over it.” We do not get over our experiences. We simply want to try to face them and live them as well as we can and with time, sharing and prayer, integrate them into who we are and are becoming. What I find helpful is friends who say few words but whose eyes convey compassion and a deep desire to share my burden. Remember Jesus’ words, “When you are weary, come and I will give you rest.” He does not say that He will fix it or solve it or make it go away. It is in the sharing that the distress can be eased. When fragility meets fragility, possibilities surface. A new insight emerges, or grace is experienced. We have a moment of consolation. We can hide from ourselves and pretend that our experience is too

small or too big to share. But, when we are honest with ourselves and our need to be heard and appreciated, we are saying ‘yes’ to life. When we negate or deny our fragility, we become anxious. We need others who accept us as we are, whatever we are experiencing in our emotional pain and in our giftedness. We may not always fully understand the experience of the other but the desire to be present and the willingness to listen attentively can help a lot. In the Christian community a “covenantal relationship” is a “sacred trust” between two persons. This covenantal relationship means that, “I will be here for you, I will appreciate your uniqueness as a person, and I will hold in confidence what you share with me.” There is a call today to accompany others with this kind of presence and relationship when the conversation around mental health is more welcomed. Thanks be to God for that!

Dr. John Sumarah is a registered psychologist and a Professor Emeritus of Education and Counselling in the Acadia Faculty of Professional Studies. He also has a practice of spiritual accompaniment.

Embracing and Sharing

Grief by Dr. Dorothy Hunse

Grief is especially relevant right now as we face losses during the global pandemic – losses that include life expectations, hopes, dreams, and milestones, like graduations, weddings, and, of course, funerals. But, due to COVID-19, we are not able to grieve in the usual way. Whether we live down the street from our friends and family, or across the country, many of us are unable to gather in the same room with our loved ones to put a supportive arm around a shoulder and hug. That’s why it’s even more important to talk about how we help each other to grieve.

What is grief? To answer this question, some will think of words like ‘process’ and ‘journey’ and ‘letting go’. Others may consider Elisabeth KublerRoss’ five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. And many will think about funerals, memorial services, celebrations of life, receptions, and internments. Grief theorists refer to it as an adaptive process, a process that helps us adapt to the reality of the loss that we’ve experienced—whether we’ve lost a loved one, a job, a hope or dream, a beloved pet, or our sense of community in the days of COVID-19 and physical distancing. Much could be said about grief: how we define it and how we deal with it. I’d like to focus on two: grief needs to be embraced (no matter what the loss) and grief needs to be shared.

Grief needs to be embraced. In the book A Grace Disguised, Jerry Sittser recounts his experience of a terrible and tragic loss. The loss involved the death of his wife, his mother, and his four-year-old daughter in a head-on car crash

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at the hands of a drunk driver. The crash also left one of his other children seriously injured. Sittser describes the terrible darkness that descended on him the day before the internment of his beloved family members, and his deep desire to run from the pain and anguish of his loss. This desire to run manifested itself in a dream, in which he found himself running frantically and desperately after the setting sun, trying to hold on to its light and warmth, only to find that he couldn’t do it. Despite his

Loss, and the grief that follows, is something we need to turn towards—it is something we need to embrace. This is no easy task. It is not in our nature to welcome darkness and pain. And, in a sense, rightly so. But this is not the only reason we avoid our grief. North America and other Western societies tend to be grief avoidant. Grief researcher, Darcy Harris, goes so far as to argue that persons in Western capitalistic societies who are grieving are oppressed. The high value these societies place on productivity means that bereaved individuals often face

Because this grief-avoidant tendency can be so ingrained in us, it’s important to be assured that grief is not antithetical to faith. To grieve is not to lack faith. To grieve is to be human, as it is the natural and God-given process by which we adjust to, and process through, the pain of our losses (Hastings, Where Do Broken Hearts Go). Jesus modeled this when he wept at Lazarus’ death, when he wept over Jerusalem, and when he agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane. And the Old Testament writers modeled this as well, when they expressed their grief about various losses through lament (an expression of grief, complaint, anger, and protest), not because they lacked faith, but because of their deep faith in a powerful and faithful God (Bilman and Migliore, Rachel’s Cry).

Grief needs to be shared. Let’s just say it. Many of us are not very good at sharing our grief. And many of us are not sure what to do when someone around us is grieving.

efforts to keep up, the sun slipped over the horizon and he was left alone in the gathering darkness with his pain and exhaustion. He shared this dream with his sister who, in a flash of insight, reminded him that the shortest way out of the darkness is to plunge into it—not chasing the sunset west, but turning to the east and into the growing darkness that comes before sunrise. In a remarkable expression of courage and faith Sittser made a choice to “walk into the darkness rather than try to outrun it, to let [his] experience of loss take [him] on a journey wherever it would lead, and to allow [himself ] to be transformed by [his] suffering rather than to think [he] could somehow avoid it.” (42)


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pressure to mask their grief to maintain their functionality in the workplace and community. (Harris, “Oppression of the Bereaved: A Critical Analysis of Grief in Western Society,” Omega Vol 60(3), 241-253)

When living with grief, we often find ourselves wanting to protect others from the burden of our grief. We don’t want to be a “downer”. We don’t want to draw attention to ourselves and our pain. We think we should have been over it long ago and assume that others are thinking this too.

Within the church, we sometimes think that if we truly have faith in God, we shouldn’t need to grieve. We turn grief-avoidance into a spiritual badge of honour. And yet, turning into the grief, giving space and time to it, choosing to welcome it, is really the only way through it. Another way to say this is, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4 NRSV) Comfort does not come as we avoid or seek to put our grief behind or away from us. Comfort comes in the midst of our mourning, as we surrender to it.

And similarly, when someone around us is grieving, we often don’t know what to do or say. We want to offer care, but we feel awkward and uncomfortable and fear saying the wrong words. In a sense, fear and awkwardness are the result of our desire to do good. We want to be able to help people, to fix things, and to take away the pain. We don’t want to get things wrong. In another way, our fear and awkwardness have to do with being reminded of our own finiteness and mortality. ... continued on page 10

Wall of Lamenting COVID-19 in a Regional Health Care Setting in Nova Scotia by Rev. Dr. Debra Orton

“I don’t know what else to do for my staff,” was the cry of one nursing manager as the stress related to COVID-19 began to build. At the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville, NS, we were aware of the seriousness of the pandemic through media and social media reports coming from Asia and Europe. However, when it arrived in Canada in March 2020, it brought a new reality to the soberness of the pandemic, with health workers wearing masks for entire shifts, training for donning and doffing, and working with potential COVID-19 patients. When Team Lavender, a new peer-topeer support team at the Hospital, heard the cry for help, we put a plan together to support the emotional, spiritual, and psychological well-being of health care workers. Although formal debriefs were

scheduled for staff and physicians, we soon realized how difficult it was for them to come to the hospital for selfcare on days off. That is when the ’Wall of Hope’ was created. On a blank wall in the hospital chapel, two clinical nurse educators drew a huge heart and painted their hands in it. They invited health care workers to paint their hands in and around the heart, as well, and soon a lineup formed from the chapel all the way down the hallway.

to celebrate one another and their family members. Some health care workers whose life partners work at the hospital painted their hands side by side. Others painted their hands on the wall alongside their colleagues. While others painted each of their hands in a different ... continued on page 8

The Wall of Hope became a place for health care workers to lament as well as

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their national Operation Inspiration tour, Canada’s Snowbirds flew over our hospital in Kentville to make sure By the Wall of Hope in the chapel, staff our health workers were honoured. could freely and safely shed their tears Two weeks later, one of the Snowbirds and express their emotional and spiritual crashed while touring in British pain, grief, despair, fear, and uncertainty. Columbia, taking the life of yet another They could share their stories and Nova Scotian. comfort one another and, as the realities of the pandemic forced many to reflect The grief from these tragedies and sense deeply on their own mortality, it became of helplessness was overwhelming.

expressing their appreciation for the work and dedication of their community partners who had lost their lives and to show that they will never be forgotten.

Many had connections to those who had lost their lives and others have loved ones who work in the military, policing, correctional services, volunteer fire departments, and community nursing. Carrying all this pain in their hearts, health care workers asked if we could incorporate our community partners into the Wall of Hope.

serving those in need regardless of the challenges or risks to their own health. It is a place where our pain and suffering can freely be released, where we can embrace in our wholeness as a human being and where the goodness of our common humanity shines like a bright light in the middle of the night.

colour; one representing them and the other representing their children.

a place to let their working partners know how much they meant and how much they were appreciated. Sadly, Nova Scotia faced more than the pandemic in the Spring of 2020. A mass shooting took the lives of 22 Nova Scotians, including two Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) staff, and members from our community partners: policing, volunteer fire fighters, and correctional officers. Further, a military helicopter crash killed several military personnel, including three Nova Scotians. Unfortunately, this was not the last of the tragedies. During the early part of 8

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As a result, the nurses who created the Wall of Hope painted a fire hat, a red maple leaf for our RCMP Officer, two gold leaves for our correctional officers and two blue and white birds for our VON nursing staff. Staff then came to paint hands around these symbols,

The Wall of Hope has become a place where health care workers gather in silence and find solace; even a place to eat their meals in peace. It is a place where tender hearts can find healing, new strength, and courage to continue

Rev. Dr. Debra Orton, a Doctor of Ministry graduate of Acadia Divinity College, is the Coordinating Chaplain at the Valley Regional Hospital, Nova Scotia Health, in Kentville, NS.

Sharon White

Student Spotlight Student Spotlight – Sharon White Why did I choose Acadia Divinity College?

Why did I choose Acadia Divinity College? by Lic. Sharon White

The short answer is that for 10 years I avoided what felt like a ‘pull’ to study at Acadia Divinity College (ADC). But there is a longer answer. Even though I did not know what theological studies would be like, I knew I could not ignore the feeling any longer to study at ADC. For over a decade, I resisted by working in a variety of careers, including: automechanic apprentice, group-home staff, youth emergency shelter manager, and school bus and transit bus driver. However, the constant resistance began to weigh heavy on my heart. Finally, I visited ADC in late Fall of 2012 and was graciously welcomed by Trisha Urquhart then met with Shawna Peverill. By the end of that afternoon, I had registered in three courses. My studies began as an independent student (No Program Divinity). However, all the courses that inspired me were within the ordination track of the Bachelor of Theology (BTh) program. Again, I resisted applying to that program, but this time, my resistance was only for one semester. In 2017, I graduated with the BTh. Now, I

lean into God’s call on my life - no more resistance! Currently, I am enrolled in the Master of Arts (Theology) program focused on Pastoral Care and Counselling and expect to graduate in 2022. Early in this degree, the many discussions I had with my supervisor, Dr. Dorothy Hunse, helped me to explore my desire toward crisis work and street-level ministries. These aligned with my firefighting experience, chaplaincy training, and personal healing journey. This degree is focused on looking at where God is in the traumas of life for first responders, and on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Through my research, I have discovered that reconciliation is a large part of any healing journey, especially a journey that involves traumatic experiences or PTSD. Reconciliation weaves its way through the layers of understanding self, others, and God. My own life experience and healing journey have molded my heart toward chaplaincy. I’ve been a volunteer firefighter for ten years, and the chaplain for our local fire department

and legion. Recently, I accepted the invitation to pastor part-time at Rossway United Baptist Church in Digby County, NS. My pastoral role is like a shepherd who comes alongside people to mentor, encourage, and inspire. I accept people as they are, no matter where they have been in life or what they have done. I offer to others what Jesus constantly offers me; acceptance, love, grace, and forgiveness. Why am I at ADC? Because coming from an unchurched childhood background, God knew I first needed to be loved, accepted, mentored, and empowered, then trained to serve where my passions meet the world’s hurts!

Lic. Sharon White is a parttime pastor in Digby County, NS, and a volunteer firefighter and a chaplain for her local fire department. Sharon studies part-time as a Master of Arts (Theology) student at Acadia Divinity College. Winter 2021


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Yet research tells us that healing comes not so much as we grieve alone (although this will be a part of the process), but as we dare to share our grief and seek the support of others. Scripturally, we know that as brothers and sisters in Christ we are called to be like Jesus, and to come alongside those who are sorrowing and weep with those who weep (John 11:35; Romans 12:15).

are of no help. What I need to hear from you is that you recognize how painful it is. I need to hear from you that you are with me in my desperation. To comfort me, you have to come close. Come sit beside me on my mourning bench.” (34)

Nicholas Wolterstorff wrote an account of his journey with grief following the untimely death of his 24-year-old son in a mountain climbing accident. In his book Lament for a Son, he describes his desperate need to share his grief and his desperate need to have others share it with him.

The way to become a comforter in grief, someone with whom others feel safe to share their grief, is to let go of the illusion that we can help, that we can fix it, or that we can take away the pain. There really isn’t anything we can do to make it better. But we can offer care, by sitting close to the one who is grieving, by letting their grief touch and impact us, by asking how they are doing, and by giving them the opportunity to communicate whatever they might need to share in that moment.

“If you think your task as comforter is to tell me that really, all things considered, it’s not so bad, you do not sit with me in my grief but place yourself off in the distance away from me. Over there, you

In addition to the ongoing losses that comes with living this life, this has been a particularly difficult year: tragedies, violence, COVID-19, physical distancing, job loss, as well as the postponement,

“… research tells us that healing comes not so

much as we grieve alone … but as we dare to share our grief and seek the support of others.

modification, or cancellation of key life events. As you experience loss, consider drawing near to your own grief. Turn towards it. Give space to it. Honour it. Embrace it. And be willing to share it with someone else, trusting that as you do God the Father of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3) will draw near to you in the midst of it. And, if you know someone who is grieving, pray for them, and pray for the grace and courage to draw close to them and their grief. Sit down beside them on their mourning bench and marvel at the wonder that you can be as Christ to them.

Dr. Dorothy Hunse is the Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care at Acadia Divinity College, and the Director of the Charles J. Taylor Centre for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care.

To learn more...

There are numerous books, videos and websites that can help us process our own grief and be a support to others in theirs. Here are a few: Website: My Grief (by Canadian Virtual Hospice): www.mygrief.ca Video: “How do you help a grieving friend?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2zLCCRT-nE&feature=youtu.be Books: • Billman, Kathleen D. and Daniel L. Migliore. Rachel’s Cry: Prayer of Lament and Rebirth of Hope (2006) • Fowler, Gene. The Ministry of Lament: Caring for the Bereaved (2010) • Hastings, W. Ross. Where Do Broken Hearts Go?: An Integrative Participational Theology of Grief (2016) • Slevcove, Beth Allen. Broken Hallelujahs: Learning to Grieve the Big and Small Losses of Life (2016) • Wolfelt, Alan: • Understanding Your Own Grief: Ten Essential Touchstones for Finding Hope and Healing Your Heart (2004); • Companioning the Bereaved: A Soulful Guide to Caregiving (2005); and • Counseling Skills for Companioning the Mourner (2016)

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Rev. Wilma Janzen recipient of the 2020 Alumni Distinguished Service Award The ADC Alumni Distinguished Service Award, inaugurated in 1995, honours graduates whose gifts for ministry have contributed significantly to the Christian Church in Canada or throughout the world. On August 26, 2020, Acadia Divinity College was proud to present the 2020 Alumni Distinguished Service Award to Rev. Wilma Janzen during the ADC Big Summer Stop, a virtual celebration of God’s work at the College. A 2008 graduate of the Master of Divinity program, Wilma also holds a Diploma in Prison Chaplaincy from Acadia Divinity College. She was ordained in 2009, accredited as a Justice of the Peace, and began serving as a chaplain. She served as Chaplain in the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth for several years and was Facilitator at St. Luke’s Renewal Centre in the Springhill Institution. Currently, she is the Manager of Spiritual Care at the Northeast Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in New Glasgow. Early in her career, working with preschoolers and youth, Rev. Janzen’s heart was touched by stories of trauma that started in childhood and continued throughout teen years and into young adulthood. These stories, along with her experiences volunteering with inmates through Kairos Marathons at Springhill Institution, brought her to follow God’s leading into prison chaplaincy and to Acadia Divinity College. Rev. Janzen’s relationship with Kairos Marathons grew as she studied under Rev. Dr. Charles Taylor, ADC’s Professor of Clinical Pastoral Education, and the driving force behind establishing the Marathons. The Marathons, healing

circles held at Springhill Institution and the longest continually running volunteer program within a federal prison, have been a pivotal experience for inmates and volunteers. Many name the experience of the circle as an important part of their spiritual growth. In 2019, Wilma was delighted to celebrate with the Charles J. Taylor Centre for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care and Concilio Prison Ministry as they marked 50 years of Kairos Marathons and ADC’s continuing commitment to prison ministry. Speaking of the challenges facing those involved in prison ministry, Rev. Janzen explains “Beneath an exterior that can be crude or rough, inmates are facing the same issues that many pastors see in the lives of the people to whom they minister – pain, anger, shame, guilt, and confusion.” She is quick to point out, however, that the joys and delights outweigh all challenges. These same inmates grow and mature in their faith and inspire not only other inmates

but the staff as well to become more interested in their own spiritual lives. Rev. Janzen also recognizes the value of the participation of the wider faith community in the process of healing and recognition. “The volunteers who come regularly to the jail to lead worship services and talk with inmates contribute greatly to their healing and growth. They show compassion, are non-judgemental, and are encouraging to the inmates. The blessing of God through the agape love and acceptance of the wider Christian family is what will encourage inmates to continue with the changes that I see them starting to work on while they’re in jail.” While her experience and training at Acadia Divinity College equipped Rev. Janzen for her calling to prison ministry, as a member of the ADC alumni she is grateful that she can continue to call upon the faculty who are always ready and willing to answer questions and offer sound theological advice. Winter 2021


News ADC

Rev. Lennett J. Anderson Appointed as Lecturer in Leadership and Racial Justice The President and the Board of Trustees of Acadia Divinity College (ADC) are pleased to announce the appointment of Rev. Dr. Lennett J. Anderson, CD to the faculty as Lecturer in Leadership and Racial Justice, effective July 1, 2021. This half-time appointment will enable Rev. Anderson to remain as Senior Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Hammonds Plains, NS, while helping to shape the next generation of Christian leaders. “I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Rev. Anderson to our faculty,” says Dr. Anna Robbins, President of ADC. “I can’t think of anyone better to help shape the future ministry of our students in church and community leadership. Lennett is a committed and passionate servant of God, who is biblicallyrooted and Spirit-led. As a gifted communicator and educator, he is active in redressing racial injustice in Atlantic Canada, from the context of a community where his own roots sink deeply.”

Hayward Lectures 2020 The Great Story and the Great Commission Despite the constrictions under COVID-19, the ADC community was able to virtually welcome Dr. Christopher Wright, an Old Testament scholar and International Ministries Director of Langham Partnership International, for the 2020 Hayward Lectures. More than 400 individuals connected each evening to listen to the three lectures on the theme of “The Great Story and the Great Commission: How a Missional Hermeneutic of Scripture Shapes our Mission of Building the Church, Serving Society, and Stewarding Creation.” Over the past number of years, we have begun to integrate a MacRae Centre Red Couch conversation, which this year also took place, albeit over Zoom. This conversation, in addition to the Q & R after each lecture, made for a very engaging event. Watch the lectures at: acadiadiv.ca/hayward-lectures-2020/ 12 ADC Today

Rev. Dr. Terry LeBlanc Welcomed as Advisor on Indigenizing Theological Education In August 2020, Dr. Anna Robbins announced the appointment of Rev. Dr. Terry LeBlanc as advisor on indigenizing theological education for a three-year term. Dr. LeBlanc, the Executive Director of Indigenous Pathways as well as the founding Chair and current Director of NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community, is committed to theological education from an Indigenous perspective. He holds a PhD in Theology and Anthropology and has served as a sessional or adjunct faculty member at various colleges, seminaries, and universities, including ADC. In 2015, Acadia University bestowed an honorary Doctor of Divinity on Dr. LeBlanc in recognition of his work in building partnerships between traditional Christian and Aboriginal faith leaders to deepen the theological capacity within Aboriginal communities. Exposure to an Indigenous perspective in theological education is a key to equipping students and graduates to minister in a spirit of reconciliation in their own communities. It is an important step in helping the church to decolonize, and to become more Christlike in its journey with Jesus. “The walk will not be easy, and we may feel vulnerable at times,” notes Dr. Robbins. “But with the guidance and leadership from an Indigenous advisor, we envision a journey that embraces diversity, builds greater trust and empowers Indigenous Christians and their perspective of the relationship with the Creator.”

Living With/out Transcendence? A Theist Atheist Encounter On September 30, 2020, Dr. Anna Robbins, Dean of Theology at Acadia University, and Dr. Paul Abela, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Acadia University, engaged in a third “Theist/Atheist Encounter” sharing their views on living with and without transcendence. Moderated by Dr. Dale Keefe, Provost and Vice-President Academic, Acadia University, they presented and debated the theist’s experience of the richness of living in the understanding that we are at home in God’s natural world and the contrasting atheist view that life derives its meaning not in the belief of an afterlife but rather in the humanism of a shared condition that is in caring solidarity with our fellow citizens. Dr. Paul Abela holds a PhD from Oxford University and specializes in enlightenment. He has published and presented on issues that arise from the productive tension between religion and contemporary atheism. Dr. Anna Robbins is the Dean of Theology at Acadia University and serves as the President of Acadia Divinity College. She holds a PhD in Theology and Social Ethics from the University of Wales and both publishes and speaks widely on matters of Christian faith in contemporary Western context.

Atlantic Baptist Built Heritage Project ADC continues to take the lead in the Atlantic Baptist Built Heritage Project. Under the guidance of Dr. Melody Maxwell, Canada Summer Jobs recipient Carley Lee has conducted extensive research for this project. It now includes photographs, historical descriptions, and key information for over 100 churches – some that are no longer standing, some that have been moved, and many that are still active today. Visit www.atlanticbaptistheritage.ca to view the digital archive and get involved.

Winter 2021


Dr. Robert S. Wilson, Professor Emeritus at ADC, celebrated with a Festschrift Dr. Robert Wilson, Professor Emeritus at Acadia Divinity College, served as the Thomas James Armstrong Memorial Senior Professor of Church History from 1991 until his retirement in 2018. To celebrate and recognize Dr. Robert Wilson’s leadership and scholarship in the field of church history, Taylor Murray and Gordon Heath, two ADC alumni, spearheaded the creation of a Festschrift in his honour. Entitled “Atlantic Baptists & Their World” and published by ADC within the Baptist Heritage in Atlantic Canada series, the Festschrift contains writings by numerous people Dr. Wilson inspired throughout his career: former students, colleagues, fellow historians, and associates in denominational life. In August 2020, former ADC President Dr. Harry Gardner presented the Festschrift to Dr. Wilson, affectionately known as ‘Dr. Bob’. The essays within the Festschrift are varied, encompassing profiles of Baptist leaders; discussions of Baptist theology and controversy; writings about Baptists and mission, society, and conflict; a history of Baptists and the Black Nova Scotia experience; and an analysis of change and renewal among Atlantic Baptists over the past 50 years. As Taylor and Gordon state in the introduction, the writings “will be a testament to Wilson’s work as a professor, one who both trained young scholars and spurred on the study of Atlantic Baptist history to develop to the place it is today.” In a video tribute, those who contributed essays congratulated Dr. Bob and spoke of their gratitude for his influence on the understanding of church history, his deep impact on the lives of his students over the years, his encouraging guidance, and his inspiration as the model of a Christian scholar and church leader. Dr. Wilson expressed his gratitude to all who created the Festschrift, and especially to the alumni. “Students were the most important aspect of our work. It was my joy to play a role in their education and I am so proud of what they have done.”

14 ADC Today

Commissioning 2020: ADC Celebrates “Unprecedented People for Unprecedented Times”

In May 2020, Acadia Divinity College saw the largest audience in the history of its annual Commissioning Service as it went online due to the global pandemic. In full academic regalia, Acadia Divinity College (ADC) faculty joined the graduating class for the celebration which was livestreamed around the world. At her first Commissioning Service as President of ADC, Rev. Dr. Anna Robbins welcomed everyone - from western Canada to the Czech Republic - to celebrate and send out the graduating students with God’s blessing on their ministry. She spoke of graduates caring for people in these challenging times and in difficult circumstances. With gifts of ADC pens and alumni pins mailed out earlier to the graduates, Dr. Robbins also welcomed them as members of the ADC alumni and Mrs. Kathy Watt, Chair of the Acadia Divinity College Board of Trustees, called the gathering to worship.

Close partners of ADC brought greetings to the graduating class. Dr. Peter Ricketts, President and Vice-Chancellor of Acadia University, congratulated the graduates and spoke of ADC as an integral part of Acadia University, a community with a big heart and a deep soul. He offered Isaiah 6:8 as a guide when facing difficult challenges and to answer God’s call with “Here I am. Send me.” Rev. Dr. Peter Reid, Executive Minister of the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada, highlighted the richness of a student body that represents many traditions and denominations. The Commissioning Service includes students who are about to graduate from Acadia with a Doctor of Ministry, Master of Arts (Theology), Master of Divinity or Bachelor of Theology degree. It is also an opportunity to formally recognize students who have completed an ADC diploma or certificate. During the service, Rev. Dr. Stephen McMullin, Academic

Dean, acknowledged those who had completed the Graduate Diploma in Christian Studies, the Certificate in Christian Studies, and the Certificate in Ministerial Studies. Academic awards were also revealed during the service. Dr. Robbins announced the recipient of the 2020 President’s Award, Andrew Sutherland, a Master of Divinity graduate and Associate Pastor of Youth at Birch Cove Baptist Church in Halifax, NS. The MacRae Prize recipient, announced by Rev. Dr. Stuart Blythe, Director of the Doctoral Studies, was Rev. Dr. Christopher McMullen, a Doctor of Ministry graduate who serves the Parish of Upper Kennebecasis, The Anglican Diocese of Fredericton, as the interim Priest-in-charge. Lastly, Rev. Dr. Matthew Walsh, Dean of Students, announced Hannah Bartlett as the recipient of the Special Service Award. Hannah, a Master of Divinity graduate, is the Next Generation Pastor ... continued on page 16 Winter 2021


at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Cornwall, PE. During the Reflections of a Graduand, Hannah spoke of the different journeys of each student that led them to ADC and the strength that is inherent in this diverse and complex group. She expressed deep gratitude for the ADC community that has supported each graduate and helped to shape them into creative people, ready to tackle unexpected challenges, with God’s grace and mercy. She said that ADC prepared them to be “unprecedented people for these unprecedented times”. The special speaker for Commissioning Service was ADC alumnus, Rev. Rob Nylen, Senior Pastor of RiverCross Church in Saint John, NB. He spoke on the faithfulness of Ananias as he responded to God’s call in dangerous times. Rev. Nylen noted that although we are in a period of great uncertainty, it is a wonderful time to enter ministry. He implored the graduating class to be faithful to God’s call and to take encouragement from the faithfulness of Ananias. Dr. Robbins then commissioned the Class of 2020 to lead in Christian service with faith in Jesus Christ, assured of His grace as their strength. Graduates

reaffirmed their commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and to their place in the Lord’s service. They pledged themselves, in their entire ministry, to seek first the will of God in their lives and the sphere of service he appoints. Throughout the service, scripture passages were read by Rev. Dr. Marjorie Lewis, Acadia University Chaplain; Lic. Debbie Simmonds, a graduating student and Associate Minister of East Preston United Baptist Church, Nova Scotia; and Rev. Dr. Jon Turner, a recent ADC alumnus and Director of New Christian Communities for the Church of England Birmingham. Music was provided by Ms. Hannah Freeze and Lic. Andrew Conrad, both Master of Divinity students and ADC Chapel worship leaders in the 2019-2020 academic year. Honoured guests joining the celebration via livestream included President Benjamin Wat of Bethel Bible Seminary, an Acadia University affiliated College in Hong Kong, and previous Presidents of ADC: Rev. Dr. Harold Mitton and Rev. Dr. Harry Gardner as well as Mrs. Jean MacRae, who ministered by the side of her late husband and 4th President of ADC, Rev. Dr. Andrew MacRae. Congratulations to the

graduating class were received from Mr. Bruce Galloway, Chancellor of Acadia University. Although not a substitute for an inperson commissioning, the livestream enabled more than 1,000 guests around the world to share in this service of prayer and blessing. As soon as it is possible, Acadia Divinity College will invite the graduating class of 2020 to celebrate in person. In this time of great uncertainty, our changing world needs Christian leaders who are ready to lead into the unknown with creativity and deep thought. Mr. Tom Rice, Chair of the Finance Committee of the ADC Board of Trustees, shared the College’s concern about the financial impact of the current global pandemic on students. He announced the establishment of the Acadia Divinity College COVID19 Student Fund to provide all ADC students with supplemental financial support for the 2020-2021 academic year. Rev. John Campbell, ADC Director of Advancement, highlighted the importance of financial support to students as they persevere and adjust to new ways to study and minister. Mr. Rice spoke of the joy of giving and invited all to join with ADC to support our students in these unprecedented times.

ADC Graduates of 2020

Doctor of Ministry

16 ADC Today

Doctor of Ministry Recipient of the MacRae Prize

Doctor of Ministry

Doctor of Ministry

Master of Arts (Theology) Recipient of the Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal

Master of Arts (Theology)

Master of Arts (Theology)

Master of Arts (Theology)

Master of Arts (Theology)

Master of Divinity Recipient of Special Service Award

Winter 2021


18 ADC Today

Master of Divinity

Master of Divinity

Master of Divinity

Master of Divinity

Master of Divinity Recipient of 2020 President’s Award and Silver Medal in Theology

Bachelor of Theology Recipient of Bronze Medal in Theology

Bachelor of Theology

Bachelor of Theology

Bachelor of Theology

Bachelor of Theology

Bachelor of Theology

Graduate Diploma in Christian Studies

Graduate Diploma in Christian Studies

Certificate in Christian Studies

Certificate in Ministerial Studies

Certificate in Ministerial Studies

Winter 2021


Advancement ADC

Two sides of the coin Each gift to Acadia Divinity College brings with it two stories: the donor’s reason for giving, and the impact their gift has made in the life of our students. Donors to ADC support the College for reasons that are as varied and diverse as the donors themselves. Alumni pay it forward for what they received. Families give to establish funds to honour the memory of loved ones. Some give to support a particular project or initiative that is close to their hearts. Others give because they believe deeply in the mission of the College. Dr. John Stewart is one such donor. A familiar face in the halls of Acadia Divinity College, Dr. Stewart has taught at ADC and served on the Board of Trustees, including a term as the Chair. John and his wife, Pat, have given faithfully to the College for more than a decade, motivated by a desire to be a part of the Great Commission. As a parttime student, John has experienced 20 ADC Today

firsthand the quality education provided by ADC faculty and how they nurture theological understanding and spiritual formation. Supporting the College as it educates, forms, and prepares

to ethics, culture, and the relevance of the Gospel in the 21st Century. “ADC is helping me, and the CBAC [Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada] community, to understand and make sense of these changes. We need Christian leaders to help the rest of us understand the world today and continue to flourish within it.” Long-time members of Brunswick Street Baptist Church in Fredericton, NB, John and Pat have witnessed ADC at work in their church and community. Graduates are called to pastorates, sharing their ministry gifts with congregations. “We benefit from knowing them and their love for God.”

individuals for ministry in Atlantic Canada brings much joy to them both. In a world where the only constant seems to be change, John is keen to support ADC as it tackles issues related

John looks to Luke 12:48 when speaking of his reason for giving to ADC. If God has been generous with you, he will expect you to serve him well. John and Pat are pleased to serve Him in a number of ways, including by giving to ADC.

Through many years of faithful giving to Acadia Divinity College, John and Pat Stewart have supported a legion of students, whom they see as motivated, caring, compassionate and friendly individuals. Raphael Iluyomade is among those students. Married with three children, Raphael left his home in Nigeria to study in Canada in 2018. He prayed that God would lead him to a place for training, and God led him to ADC. It is with deep appreciation that he speaks of the difference the financial support has made to his life as he prepares for ministry. “I am always very thankful for the many people, even those that we don’t know, who are supporting me and my fellow students on our journey. Each one of us carries a sense of gratitude.”

transformed and I have no doubt that God has called me to go out and serve.” Raphael is one of many students who are supported in their journey through the generous support of ADC donors. Be they individuals, alumni, churches, corporations or foundations, each donor significantly impacts the lives of our students. Gifts to operating funds help Acadia Divinity College to keep tuition relatively low, including tuition for international students, so that people like Raphael do not face an additional financial burden. Scholarships also offset the cost of

Raphael feels especially blessed to have received scholarships and bursaries, gifts that allow him to focus on his academic responsibilities without distraction or the stress of financial worries. “Donors make a huge difference in our lives and by the grace of God we will be out there one day to do God’s will. My soul, my life has been

tuition, and gifts to student aid provides support for students when they need it most. Perhaps most importantly, donors to Acadia Divinity College bring great encouragement to students as they answer their calling and prepare to serve others in the love and knowledge of Jesus. Raphael says it best; “to actually see faithfulness of all ADC supporters – I call them our fathers and mothers – their faithfulness is bringing us the opportunity to move out there and serve.”

Through your generousity, ADC was able to provide over

$215,000 in direct financial support to students last year.

Your support matters! To give, go to


Winter 2021 21

News F A C U L T Y

Dr. Stuart Blythe investigates preaching strategies of faith communities during the pandemic On March 22, 2020, Nova Scotia declared a State of Emergency in response to COVID-19, highlighting the seriousness of the situation and bringing into place restrictions that impacted churches. Many churches moved to services online. “This meant that neither leaders nor congregations could carry on as though nothing was happening,” says Dr. Stuart Blythe, the John Gladstone Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship at Acadia Divinity College. “This raised not simply social but theological questions for a community to which at least some people look for reassurance and answers to the meaning of life.” With that in mind, Dr. Blythe, with some funding from Acadia University Research and Graduate studies for research assistant help, identified, transcribed, and is currently analyzing, sermons which were preached in five Baptist Churches in the Maritimes on Sunday, March 29, 2020. This study will consider the different biblical, cultural, and theological strategies that preachers used to address this issue in their sermons and give support to their congregations. His project is entitled: “God’s Rhetoric: Preaching on Sunday, March 29.”

Dr. John McNally facilitates a spiritual retreat with Military Chaplains from Atlantic Canada In October 2020, Dr. John McNally, Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Director of the Mentored Ministry program at Acadia Divinity College, facilitated a spiritual retreat day for military chaplains from across the Atlantic Region. The retreat explored being “spiritually stronger together” and involved chaplains of the 5 Canadian Division. During the retreat, Dr. McNally helped the chaplains in re-imagining and developing their personal spiritual rhythm assisting them with team spiritual cohesion. Organizers said that Dr. McNally’s “vast knowledge and passion for spiritual development and mentorship was evident” and that their time spent with him “energized [them] to refocus [themselves] spiritually and was appreciated by all.” 22 ADC Today

Dr. Anna Robbins publishes Unexpected Jesus, Cover to Cover Bible Study for Advent This past fall, Dr. Anna Robbins, President of Acadia Divinity College and Dean of Theology of Acadia University, published her book Unexpected Jesus, Cover to Cover Bible Study for Advent which she used for an online Advent Study for five weeks. It was published in England by Crusade for World Revival (CWR)/Waverley Abbey House. In October 2020, she was the speaker for the online Evangelical Fellowship of Canada Presidents’ Day and on January 28, 2021, Dr. Robbins was the main speaker at the Co-operative Baptist Fellowship of Virginia Pastors’ School. The theme for the Pastors’ School was Recalibrating Faith & Culture in a Post-Pandemic World.

Dr. Danny Zacharias receives Louisville Institute funding for project on Indigenous interpretations of scripture Dr. Danny Zacharias, Associate Professor of New Testament Studies, has received funding from the Louisville Institute for research. Along with Dr. T. Christopher Hoklotubbe of Cornell College, Dr. Zacharias will interview Indigenous North Americans about how their culture informs their interpretation of biblical texts. Dr. Zacharias, who is also ADC’s Liaison to NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community, has recently published two articles in the Journal of NAIITS (for which he also serves as the co-editor): “250+ Years of Baptists in Mi’kma’ki” was published in Volume 16, as well as “Graceland: The Land as Relational Gift in the Bible” in Volume 17. He also wrote the essay “The Land Takes Care of Us: Recovering Creator’s Relational Design,” in the recently released book The Land: Majority World and Minoritized Theologies of Land. In December 2020, an article written by Dr. Zacharias and Acadia Divinity College’s Advisor on Indigenizing Theological Education, Dr. Terry LeBlanc, was published in the Christian Courier. The article, written about the St. Mary’s Bay fishery dispute in Nova Scotia, was titled “What’s with the kerfuffle about lobster?”

In other ADC Faculty News: Dr. Spencer Boersma, Assistant Professor of Theology, recently published the article, “Ten Things Providence Is and Is Not,” in the Clarion Journal of Religion, Peace, and Justice, reflecting on the meaning of God’s providence in a time like the pandemic. Dr. Dorothy Hunse, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care, has spoken on Caring in COVID online during the Pictou County Ministerial meeting, and webinars by both ADC and the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada. Dr. Melody Maxwell, Associate Professor of Church History, recently published her article “‘A Christian Attitude toward Other Races’: Southern Baptist Women and Race Relations, 1945-1965” in A Marginal Majority: Women, Gender, and a Reimagining of Southern Baptists, as well as her article “Proceed with Care: Atlantic Baptists and Women’s Ordination in the 1980s” in Baptist History and Heritage. In September 2020, she was ordained to ministry by Wolfville Baptist Church. Dr. Stephen McMullin, Academic Dean, has recently published “Change and Renewal among Atlantic Baptists—A Sociological Analysis,” in Atlantic Baptists and Their World as well as “Formation and the Evangelical Seminary: A Response to Formation and the Post-Modern Seminary” in Teaching Theology and Religion. Dr. Matt Walsh, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies and Dean of Students, had his essay “Sectarian Identity and Angels Associated with Israel: A Comparison of Daniel 7–12 with 1QS, 11QMelchizedek, and 1QM” published in The Dead Sea Scrolls, Revise and Repeat: New Methods and Perspectives (SBL Press). Winter 2021


Class Notes Alumni News 1999 - Kimberly Beers has accepted a call to serve at the Crossing Church in Gander, NL. 2000 - Lennett Anderson has been

appointed by the Board of Trustees of Acadia Divinity College as Lecturer in Leadership and Racial Justice, effective July 1, 2021.

Ida (left) with her daughter, Maia, and twin grandchildren, Dashiell and Ophelia.

1976 and 1984 - Ida Armstrong-

Whitehouse and Gregg Whitehouse (1977) said farewell to a beloved father and father-in-law, and strong supporter of ADC, Doug Armstrong, on September 6, 2020. One month later, Ida and Gregg welcomed twin grandchildren, Dashiell and Ophelia.

1980 - Aubrey Trail has accepted a call

to serve at First Grand Lake Baptist Church, NB.

1981 - Nelson Yiu was invited by the

Hunan Cancer Hospital and the Chinese Psychosocial Oncology Society to present at their annual conference held virtually in December 2020. The topic was “How to help cancer patients with Spiritual Care during COVID-19.”

1985 - Murray Pura had several books

Andrew with wife, Nancy, and daughter, Abigail.

1989 - Andrew Porter has accepted

2006 and 2013 - Karl Armstrong has had a book published by Bloomsbury/ T&T Clark, Dating Acts in its Jewish and Greco-Roman Contexts.

the call to be Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee for a fourth term, and has published with Harvard University Press, Agamemnon, the Pathetic Despot: Reading Characterization in Homer.

2006 - Darryl Dykens has completed his ministry at Cambridge Baptist Church, NS and has been called to Elmsdale United Baptist Church, NS.

1990 - Bill MacLeod has retired,

2006 and 2008 - Renée MacVicar

completing his ministry at Nictaux and Torbrook Baptist Churches, NS.

1990, 1995 and 2014 - Elias Mutale has accepted a call to serve at Timberlea Baptist Church, NS.

released in 2020 which have been entered 1995 - Hudson Trenholm was ordained in literary contests by publishers. One of on November 22, 2020 at Debert Baptist his novels was published by HarperCollins Church, NS. NYC and Toronto. He has been contracted for two more in 2021.

24 ADC Today

2000 - Jonathan Beers has completed his ministry at Northern Cross Community Church, in Happy ValleyGoose Bay, NL.

has accepted a call to serve as Associate Pastor of Community Engagement at Hillside Baptist Church, Moncton, NB.

2008 - Chuck McGuire has completed his ministry at Bedeque Baptist Church, PE and has accepted a call to serve at Hebron Baptist Church, NS.

2018 - Allister Johnson, Associate Pastor at Lucasville United Baptist Church, was ordained on November 14, 2020. 2019 and 2020 - Susan DeMont has

accepted a call to serve as Staff Chaplain at the Halifax Infirmary, NS.

2016 - Ben MacDonald and his wife, Melissa, welcomed their first born, Josephine Wilder Grace, on April 21, 2020. 2010 - Jared Miller and his wife, Beth,

welcomed a son, Caleb Jay, on December 11, 2020.

2017 - Marie McCallum completed her ministry at Black Rock Baptist Church, NS and is now serving as a chaplain at Dykeland Lodge, Windsor, NS.

2010 - Adam Wright has published his first book, Of Conflict and Concealment: The Gospel of Mark as Tragedy and is now the Assistant Professor of New Testament at the College of Emmanuel & St Chad in Saskatoon, SK.

2019 - Jackson Dunn married Lilly Bekkers on July 12, 2020. This special ceremony was performed by Jackson’s mother, Gail Whalen-Dunn (1997).

2013 - Janet Baker and Stephen Baker (2016) welcomed and adopted Lilly May Rose Baker on December 19, 2019.

2019 - Royce Getson was ordained into North Queens Baptist Pastorate, NS on November 15, 2020.

2013 - Joel Murphy will complete his ministry at Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada as Associate Director of Youth & Family Ministries effective January 31, 2021.

2019 - David Hawkesworth was ordained at Weldon Baptist Church, NB on August 30, 2020.

2013 - Andy Scott accepted a call to serve at Uplands Baptist Church, NB. 2015 - Kayley Saunders became engaged to Aaron Kerr on May 21, 2020 and has been called to be a chaplain with the Good Sam at four different care homes in Edmonton, AB.

Candace with husband, Martin, and sons, Benjamin (top) and Walter (bottom).

2015 - Michael Shaw was ordained at

2017 - Candice Main and her husband, Martin, welcomed their second son, Walter David, on July 7, 2020.

2016 and 2019 - Chris Diotte and

2017 - Steven Townsend accepted a call to serve as Senior Pastor of Bedeque Baptist Church, PE.

The Union Church of Scotts Bay, NS on November 8, 2020.

Samantha Diotte (2018) welcomed their second daughter, Eliana Sue, on October 12, 2020. Chris has completed his ministry at New Minas Baptist Church, NS and has been called to Forest Hills Baptist in Saint John, NB as Communications & Worship Director.

2018 and 2020 - John Ernst and

Allison Ernst (2019) welcomed their second child, a daughter, Naomi Jeanette, on December 9, 2020.

2019 - Scott McKnight married Lydia Hayward in Vernon, BC on October 24, 2020. 2019 - Jeff Milne was ordained at Nictaux Baptist Church, NS on November 1, 2020.

Winter 2021


2019 - Walid Zailaa has been appointed as the Academic Dean at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Mansourieh Metn, a suburb in Beirut, Lebanon.

2020 - Talon Stade married Jill Sypher, daughter of alumnus, Mark Sypher (2010) on September 6, 2019. The couple welcomed their first-born son, Caius, on July 7, 2020.

2020 - Cam Golberg is called to Bayridge Alliance Church in Kingston, ON as part of his two-year practicum for Military Chaplaincy.

Current Students

2020 - Lloyd Grant was ordained at Beechville Baptist Church, NS on November 1, 2020.

Ben Klassen married Sarah Elachkar on November 7, 2020.

Christine (Welles) Merrill was married to Joe Merrill on September 13, 2020. Zach Paget was ordained at Smythe Street Church, Fredericton, NB on October 18, 2020.

2020 - Rachel Kwan was ordained and called as the Associate Pastor of Midland Baptist Church, NB on September 27, 2020. 2020 - Robert McAnespy has completed his ministry at First Cambridge United Baptist Church, NB and has accepted a call to serve at Murray Harbour Baptist Church, PE. 2020 - Jason Parker and his wife, Carolina, welcomed a son, John Jason, on May 15, 2020. 2020 - Grace Skeir was ordained on November 22, 2020 and called to serve as Associate Pastor of Youth and Family at New Horizons Baptist Church in Halifax, NS. 26 ADC Today

Hannah Freeze and her husband, Jake, welcomed their first child, Frederick David, born on June 17, 2020.

Nathan Sullivan has accepted a call to serve as Next Generation Pastor at West End Baptist Church, Halifax, NS.

Holly Gosbee has completed her ministry as Associate Pastor of Children & Youth at Middleton Baptist Church, NS.

Sharon White (2017) has been called to pastor part-time at Rossway United Baptist Church, NS.

Share the Joy of Your Journey! Have you had a significant event in your life this year that you would like to share? We publish alumni news in our communications. Typical updates include ministry changes, wedding and birth announcements, special awards, publications, and more. Photos are welcome!

To have your news included in future ADC communications, please contact Trisha Urquhart by email at trisha.urquhart@acadiau.ca or by telephone 902-585-2217.

ADC Remembers 1940 and 1968 - George Allen was

107 when he passed away on September 17, 2020. He graduated in 1940 from the Acadia School of Theology where he was active in student affairs and served as President of the Acadia Students’ Union. He was an ordained Baptist minister for 79 years and lived to serve others with grace and compassion. He received pastor emeritus distinctions for both Clementsvale Baptist and Bridgetown Baptist Churches, NS. In 1968, he received an Honorary Doctor of Divinity from Acadia University.

1955 and 1958 and 2006 Neil Price died peacefully at the age of 104 on December 27, 2020. After serving the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II, he returned to Acadia to receive his theology degree and went on to serve as a pastor in Ontario and the Maritime Provinces. He finished his ministry at Wolfville Baptist Church in 1984. Neil was admitted to the Acadia Sports Hall of Fame in 1995, was the longest serving member of the Board of Governors of the University, and served on the Acadia Divinity College Board of Trustees in the 1970’s and 1990’s. In 2006, he received an Honorary Doctor of Divinity from Acadia University. 1966 - Brent Robertson passed away peacefully on May 24, 2020. Brent was a well-known and loved pastor in both Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Even after his retirement, Brent served his home church, Kingsboro Baptist Church, PE, and as an interim pastor in many other churches across PE. Brent was a great support, friend, and father to the fatherless to many.

1983 - Margo Beaven passed away on May 7, 2019 in British Columbia. Margo graduated with a Master of Theology degree at Acadia Divinity College. She later served with Canadian Baptist Ministries in both Brazil and Kenya. In 2012, Margo moved to British Columbia to the family home to look after her ailing parents along with her brothers. Margo was a member of the Stz’uminus Band in British Columbia. 1988 - Myles Krueger passed away on May 15, 2020. Myles grew up in Toronto, ON before moving to Edmonton, AB, and pursuing university studies. He received three master’s degrees and a Doctor of Philosophy. He was ordained as a minister when he settled at Amherst Shore, NS, where he spent his time enjoying his grandchildren and ministering in seniors’ residences and the hospital. 1989 - Robert (Bob) Berry passed away August 28, 2020. Originally from Moncton, NB, Bob was a graduate of Acadia Divinity College and pastored several churches in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Ontario. He joined the executive staff of Canadian Baptist Overseas Mission Board in Toronto, ON as Promotional Secretary and later as General Secretary. After retirement, he served as interim pastor of several churches in NB. Bob’s life impacted countless others in Canada and throughout the world as he served his Lord.

1992 - Tracey Grosse passed away on October 22, 2020. She was a graduate of Acadia’s Master of Divinity degree and Master of Education in Counselling. Ordained in 1996, she holds the distinction of being the first ordained woman minister in the African United Baptist Association of Nova Scotia and the first Black ordained woman in the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada. Tracey served several churches and was a mentor to many women who were ministry candidates. She also had years of experience working in adult literacy, coaching and life planning for women, employment counselling, and small group facilitation. 2017 - Tim Higgs passed away on January 29, 2021. Born in Hull, QC, Tim lived in Hatchett Lake, NS with his family. Originally an accountant, Tim’s love of the Lord led him to enroll in the Master of Divinity program at ADC. Tim loved preaching, especially to the seniors at Parkland Clayton Park, and hanging out at Starbucks where he met many people and made lasting friendships. With his sense of humour and determination, Tim continued his studies through difficult days. He graduated in 2017 and was ordained by Open Door Community Church in Spryfield, NS.

Winter 2021


Whether you live in Canada or abroad, want to take a course for credit or audit one, plan to start a degree or explore continuing education – we want to equip you to serve.

Study with us from wherever you are! For more information contact Catherine Cole, Manager of Recruitment and Admissions, via email at catherine.cole@acadiau.ca or phone (902) 585-2220

If undeliverable please return to: Acadia Divinity College 15 University Avenue Wolfville, NS B4P 2R6

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