With the spread of COVID-19, McMaster Divinity College has taken several steps to inform and protect our community including moving all classes to an online format, sending all non-essential staff to work remotely, and cancelling all upcoming academic and donor events. We will ensure that these changes will not impact our student’s ability to complete their semester, but the cancellation of our President’s Dinner will have an immediate impact as it is our main fundraising event of the year.

We decided to bring the event to you online, and pray that as you enjoy the content and hear about the work of MDC, that you will participate by making a donation using the GIVE button at the top of your screen. Thank you for your consideration.

  • Support Theological Education, Support McMaster Divinity College

    Thank you for joining us for our President’s Dinner Online. I hope that you have enjoyed being a part of this momentous occasion and will further express your support by making a generous donation to MDC. One of the reasons that MDC continues to be able to carry out our mission, even during adverse circumstances, is because we have a faithful group of generous donors who realize the value of theological education.

    I like to go through the process of filling out the donation card when we sit together at dinner tables. This time, however, I am going to ask you to find the GIVE button at the top right of this webpage and click on it and follow the instructions to give by credit card. If you would prefer, we would be happy to receive a cheque made out to McMaster Divinity College and sent to our mailing address. You probably have an amount in mind that you would like to give. I would ask you to consider stretching beyond that amount and giving even more generously during this unique time.

    We sincerely thank you for your support during this challenging time for our organization and the surrounding community as a whole. We believe that with your help, we can minimize the impact of the coronavirus on MDC and our mission. Thank you.


    Stanley E. Porter, PhD
    President and Dean

     

  • Welcome
  • Hear from our speaker, Dr. David Guretzki

    Dr. David Guretzki is the EFC’s Executive Vice President and Resident Theologian. He previously served on the EFC board for nine years and worked since the 1990s as Dean of Briercrest Seminary and Professor of Theology and Public Life.

  • Student Stories

    We contacted our students–both past and present–to share with us about the ministry they are involved in and how the coronavirus pandemic has affected how they minister. Join us in remembering these students, and all our students, in prayer as they do the work of ministry.

     

    Bill DeJong

    Bill graduated from our PhD program in 2017.

    I am a pastor of Blessings Christian church on Locke Street in the Kirkendall neighbourhood of Hamilton. Once known for antique stores, Locke Street was one of the first streets in Hamilton to be gentrified. Though we endeavor to serve especially this neighbourhood, our congregation of some 500 individuals is dispersed throughout the city. In September of last year we were able, by the grace of God, to launch a church plant in the McQuesten neighbourhood in East Hamilton.

    How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your ministry?

    The COVID crisis has revolutionized my ministry. In-person services were immediately replaced by pre-recorded online services. Our pastors take turns releasing video messages for members of our congregation, we also run a Sunday evening Zoom prayer meeting to which people are invited and then subdivided into smaller groups online. We’ve reached out to our neighbourhood by partneringwith a floral business to give everyone, in the immediate vicinity of the church, hydrangeas and chrysanthemums. I’ve also offered an online daily prayer service for anyone in the church and neighbourhood interested. We try, as best we can, to say in touch with especially vulnerable individuals in our church and community.

    How has your time studying at MDC affected how you minister?

    Though I benefited immensely from every single professor, I was especially influenced by Dr. Zylla and Dr. Knowles. The enduring lesson I learned was to reflect theologically about every exercise of ministry and to be attentive to the phenomena I was seeing and experiencing in order to prevent theological reflection from being abstract or unidirectional. My theology has become increasingly “everyday” theology. I’m learning more about God, others, and myself from his Word, but not independent of my ordinary experiences and encounters. This has made me, as a pastor, increasingly sensitive to and aware of people and situations in a way I wasn’t before. My professors pushed me to be more far more Christological in ministry in terms of routinely admitting my inadequacies to finding my competency in Christ. Far more than before, I have a vision for the vicarious ministry of Christ. I am daily relieved that the community I serve isn’t going to be safe and well because of my intelligence, ingenuity, or industry. Christ is the pastor, and I simply and joyfully participate in his ministry.

    In what ways can the MDC community be praying for you and your ministry in the coming months ahead?

    As an extrovert, I’m not handling this situation too well! Pray that my life becomes more rooted in and fulfilled through Christ and not people. In terms of my ministry, pray that I can adjust effectively to this new “virtual” medium of communication. I don’t like (read: loathe!) it, and don’t know that I ever will!

    Pray that I will not miss opportunities to shine the light of Christ in my community and beyond.


    Sasha Vukelich

    Sasha graduated with a Master of Theological Studies in 2016. Pictured with his daughter, Quinn. 

    My ministry is markedly different than many other MDC grads. My “ministry” is my work in healthcare as a Registered Nurse on Vancouver Island and loving my friends and family well.

    How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your ministry?

    The ways we’ve seen it affect the health services of this country are well documented in the news, however the most encouraging thing i’ve seen in my region is local people leaving expressions of thanks for essential service workers, sewing circles (from their own homes) making caps and masks for people, even a massive heart-shaped floral wreath brought to outside the ER! What a lovely gesture.

    How has your time studying at MDC affected how you minister?

    MDC changed the way the way that I fundamentally understand what the meaning of life to be. The faculty, especially my OT studies with Dr. Konkel, Boda, and Knowles, were particularly instrumental in teaching me that our work is very simply to engage in ANY restorative (read “good”) work we can during our life.

    Thus, engaging fully with the COVID-19 crisis for me, has meant engaging with the critical care COVID-19 transport team in my region, on top of my work as a nurse. It has even inspired me to start the Nurse Practitioner program at UVIC this coming September!

    How can we be praying for you in your ministry?

    Prayers and letters of encouragement that our work is valued would be great!

    Pray that frontline worker loss of life would be minimized, as these really are people that do their work altruistically.

     


     

    Natalie Armstrong-Frisk

    Natalie graduated with a Master of Theological Studies in 2018 and is currently completing her Doctor of Practical Theology with us!

    My name is Natalie Armstrong-Frisk. For the last six years, I have been the curriculum pastor at The Meeting House—a multi-site church across Ontario. I work to develop curriculum for kids and youth from birth to the end of high school so that they come to know, love, and follow Jesus. Recently, I accepted the position of Lead Pastor at our Brantford location. I will continue to provide visionary oversight for curriculum while doing this new role.

    How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your ministry?

    The COVID crisis has expedited my transition into my new role as Lead Pastor. I immediately jumped into phone calls to every congregant. I have helped coach various congregants on how to access our online gatherings, we have transitioned our home church gatherings online, and I have learned to use the Facebook Live feature to connect with people. The crisis has certainly prompted me into a season of connecting with some immediacy to our community, which has been a blessing in a strange way.

    Thankfully, our curriculum has been online for the last 4 years, so we have been able to connect parents directly with our content and help support and encourage them in the discipling of their kids at home.

    How has your time studying at MDC affected how you minister?

    MDC has been an immense support in equipping me for ministry in various ways. When I first started as a youth pastor, I began my MTS at MDC. Throughout that time, I developed more deeply in my theology, and grew in my capacity to think theologically in various spheres. This most certainly helped as I launched into a role of curriculum development.

    Jumping to present, MDC’s broad course offerings have allowed me to have a solid foundation of pastoral ministry capabilities and feel and know that I am prepared to lead my community despite this current crisis.

    How can we be praying for you in your ministry?

    It would be greatly appreciated if the MDC community was praying that I could maintain balance in this season, for wisdom, and for perseverance. For my community, I’d love prayer for health, safety, and that we could find creative ways to truly love our neighbours during this season.

     


    Deborah Arsenault

    Deborah graduated with a Master of Divinity from MDC in 2017.

    I have been involved with a ministry of psychospiritual counselling since my graduation from MDC. It comprehensively considers the physical, psychological, social and spiritual dimensions of an individual’s well-being. Specifically, I work with those affected by childhood trauma. The severe impairment to human development in this type of trauma creates a barrier to the integration of healthy emotions at significant life stages. I trust my clinical office is a hospitable place to offer validation and a healthy therapeutic relationship. Additionally, as a Psychospiritual Therapist I am able to collaborate with other therapists, medical personnel, social agencies, and church communities to contribute to positive life-giving outcomes.

    How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your ministry?

    The COVID crisis has influenced how my ministry is delivered. Without meeting face-to-face my therapeutic relationship is maintained through tele-counselling. From the onset of my ministry, I have informed my clients the nature of a therapeutic relationship, and the need to maintain it for their good. This has contributed to the continued hospitality of care I hold for them today in this change of delivery. Attending others can look different, I am thankful that God has equipped us to be flexible in our reception and perception of how ministry can go forward. I am much more attuned to the nuances of speech in place of ‘reading’ body language because I am essentially ‘blind’. To say God uses His people is an understatement! Community members have stepped up to make masks, donate food and money, providing what is needed for students to learn from home and encourage the hearts of those who could become despondent.

    How has your time studying at MDC affected how you minister?

    It is remarkable the informing (knowing) through study, in all my courses at MDC permitted the fine tuning of who I am called to be (being) in Christ is evidenced in the ministry I do (doing) through Christ. My purpose in coming to MDC was to be equipped, and truthfully, I didn’t have a prescription of what I thought that would look like. The counselling program offered the tools and refinement for my approach to those in need and finally the acceptance to enter what I know now to be a significant ministry to lost souls. Lost to the traumas of childhood neglect and abuses. The realization of this darkness in our world broke my heart, the heart of Christ within me, as my eyes were opened. MDC provided me a lens of faith to endeavour to see the hand of Christ’s healing to the least of these.

    How can we be praying for you in your ministry?

    This ministry is difficult, I cannot un-know the stories I have heard. As much as they are memorable, the truth is Christ’s healing power is more memorable.

    Pray for healing to occur in the lives of my clients, deep authentic healing that only Christ can bring.

    Pray that the Lord would raise up an army of harvesters for this ministry, that He be honoured and glorified.

    And, finally, pray for His favour, I cannot do this without Him.

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