MDC was blessed with a beautiful sunny day for it’s groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, October 30th, the only sunny day of the past few days. What an honour to have the presence of key members and supporters within the MDC family as well as Brian Kelly, representative for The Honourable Filomena Tassi, MP for Hamilton West, Minister of Seniors, who gave a short congratulatory speech, which we all appreciated. President, Dr. Stanley Porter, gave the following address prior to officially breaking ground on our exciting new building renovation and expansion project:
From Left: Mr. Glenn Reinders (Architect, Reinders + Rieder Ltd.), Mrs. Susan Green, Mr. Randy Henderson (VP Finance), Dr. Phil Zylla (VP Academic), Dr. Stanley Porter (President and Dean), Mrs. Nina Thomas (VP Enrolment Management and Marketing), Rev. Lionel Pye (Board Chair), Dr. John Hurlburt, Mr. Marcus Gillam (CEO, Gillam Group Inc.)
“Good afternoon, and I wish to thank all of you for being here with us today at this important groundbreaking ceremony.
This shovel was the shovel used almost 60 years ago for the groundbreaking ceremony of the building that you see behind me. Today, I will be using a shovel that looks fairly similar to the original one—thus showing that shovels have not changed much in the last 60 years.
You will notice that there have been a few subtle changes, just as we have made some changes to some of our classrooms and installed a lift—even though the building, much like the shovel, has remained essentially the same.
Nevertheless, this shovel and the building behind me are two of the things that have not changed very much in the last 60 years of the existence of McMaster Divinity College. We have gone from an institution that was mostly, if not entirely, Baptist, had less than 50 students, and was dedicated to training mostly men for pastoral ministry, to become an interdenominational institution of over 250 students that educates men and women in many different degrees for service in the Church, academy, and society.
Some of our students and alumni are definitely working in churches, but they are also serving in hospitals, counselling centres, universities, hospices, prison ministries, seminaries, sustainable farms, and addiction centres; some are serving in the military, working with refugees, and aiding third-world countries—and the list goes on.
We have changed as a seminary, and that is what brings us to today’s ceremony. It has been our vision for several years to change the exterior of our building, retaining what is the best in our past, but enhancing it so that it is a living symbol of the transformation that has taken place within the walls of McMaster Divinity College.
We are grateful for the last 60 years and for the people along the way who have helped us get to this point. We are grateful for the people who conceptualized and built this fine building 60 years ago, and, although it needs improvements to help us do our work in the twenty-first century, it has served and will continue to serve us well.
We are grateful for our friend and former Board member, John Hurlburt, for encouraging us to make this dream a reality to the point of gently nudging us to have plans drawn up to show what could be, and then donating substantial funds to make this day a reality.
We are grateful for Sue Green and her family who gave a sizeable gift that pushed us over the halfway mark and gave us hope that we would one day be here.
We are grateful for Mie McElcheran, who has donated so much of William McElcheran’s religious artwork that will be housed in a special room in this building and who donated the beautiful statue by Bill that will welcome all who come into the new entrance.
We are grateful for Wynn and the late Bill Bensen, who have donated a beautiful stain glass window that will be a focal point in our new great hall.
We are grateful for our Board and Senate members, both current and past, for their careful governance throughout the years, along with their support of this building expansion project.
We are grateful for the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec, our founding denomination, for their encouragement as we have grown to become more than just a Baptist seminary but a seminary and graduate school serving the wider evangelical Christian community.
We are grateful for the relationship we, as both parent institution and equal and independent sibling, have with McMaster University, with each of us not just co-existing but thriving on adjacent campuses.
We are grateful to our faithful faculty and staff who throughout the years have worked tirelessly to make MDC a place where students can fulfill their educational goals.
We are grateful for students who during the last 60 years have entrusted us with preparing them for their ministry.
We are grateful for everyone who has captured our vision and has supported us in this campaign, through prayers, donations, and attendance at events, and in many other intangible ways, including all of you who are supporting us by your presence here today.
I am grateful for my colleagues in the President’s Cabinet who have sat alongside me through many meetings and learned more about blueprints than we ever thought we needed to know. We all will be able to see how well we learned and understood as this building project continues to completion.
Lastly, but certainly not least, we are grateful to our Almighty God for his blessing throughout the years. Our institutional motto is “In Christ all things consist,” and we intend that this building continue to mirror this as our belief. Amen.”
For more photos of the event, please visit our Facebook page @McMasterDiv.