On Friday, May 12, 2023, the ADC family gathered to celebrate our 62nd annual Commissioning Service with a full day of connection and community.
With many of our students completing their studies online, some graduands were in Wolfville and within the College walls for the first time. We embraced the opportunity to connect with them on-site.
We were grateful, too, to welcome Elder Joe Michael, Elder in Residence at Acadia University, and Dr. David Mensah, recipient of the 2023 Honorary Doctor of Divinity, along with his wife, Brenda. Rich was the conversation ringing through the foyer as we gathered and celebrated together.
One Step at a Time
Our Commissioning Supper was once again hosted at Wheelock Dining Hall with clear skies giving us a view of Cape Blomidon. We were reminded that this beautiful place we call home is Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people.
Dr. Anna Robbins welcomed the 150 guests gathered to share in a meal and in celebration of our graduates, before inviting Elder Joe to share greetings.
‘Your family is proud,’ he said, ‘we are proud.’
Indeed, we are!
Dr. Peter Ricketts, President of Acadia University, spoke of both the local impact of the College in the strong bonds ADC has with the University, and the global reach of the College. This being Dr. Ricketts’ last year attending our Commissioning events as President of the University, Dr. Robbins shared words of appreciation, thanking him for his service. ‘You have offered us your consistent presence and encouragement throughout your tenure as president,’ she said. ‘You have made Acadia University a place where we have been able to flourish in our historic mission, and to make good friends across the campus.’
Thank you, Dr. Ricketts!
Following the supper, Dr. David Mensah addressed the graduating students. Using Acts 1 verses 4 and 12, and his own story, Dr. Mensah encouraged students to be attentive to Jesus’ command, following God one step at a time. Just as the disciples were told to go to Jerusalem, Dr. Mensah felt called to go back to Ghana after completing his graduate and doctoral studies in Canada. He listened to God and went back to face the difficult thing.
“As you go out,” Dr. Mensah said, “the Lord might be asking you to go back to Jerusalem. Take the ‘Jerusalems’ by the horns. We can change the world, in Christ’s name.”
Dr. Mensah reminded the graduands that they are not alone in this work; that ADC faithfully supports them. ADC Director of Development, Rev. John Campbell echoed this sentiment and, with the Chair of ADC Board of Trustees, Mark Jelley, presented the graduating class with gifts on behalf of the College and alumni: a pen and a pin to remind them of the community that surrounds them, always.
It’s tradition for special awards to be presented to outstanding students at the Commissioning Supper. Master of Divinity student Andrew Taylor was presented with the Student Service Award for the ways he faithfully serves the College community. Congratulations, Andrew!
To conclude the supper, Rev. John Campbell encouraged graduands and guests with words from Indigenous author Edgar Villanueva, “Money, when used correctly, can bring healing to others, to systems, and even to ourselves” (Decolonizing Wealth – Indigenous wisdom to heal divides and restore balance, second edition, 2021, page 7). Quoting scripture, John also stated, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:21). When we choose to use our money – our treasures – to do good, our heart will follow. We are impacted.”
A Time of Connection
Welcomed by the warmth of Wolfville Baptist Church, and underscored by the talents of Music Director, Dr. Heather Price and Owen Lee, Music Minister at EBC The Meeting Place, our community gathered for the Commissioning Service.
Our Commissioning Service is a chance for our community to send out our graduands with a prayer and a blessing before Convocation. But for three of our graduands, the Service was their official graduation ceremony.
Laura Roberts who received a Graduate Diploma in Christian Studies, Mitchell Carvery who received a Certificate in Christian Studies, and Chris Wickens who received a Certificate in Ministerial Studies were all recognized and celebrated for their achievements.
Demonstrating what is possible through online studies at ADC, Dr. Anna Robbins presented the 2023 President’s Award to MA (Theology) graduand Kallie Hutton, who attended the service virtually from Bolivia where she serves with Canadian Baptist Ministries. The award is given to the student with the highest cumulative grade point average and who shows great potential for ministry. Congratulations, Kallie!
We had the opportunity to publicly affirm that, after a unanimous nomination by ADC faculty, the title of Professor Emeritus was conferred upon Rev. Dr. Stephen McMullin by the Board of Trustees of Acadia Divinity College in May 2023. “This is a tremendous honour,” Dr. McMullin said. “It has been an honour to think about and teach about the ways in which ministry can be effective in a changed world. Thank you.”
In her Reflections of a Graduand, Kallie Hutton spoke of the deep connection she found with the ADC community, even from afar.
“What could have been an isolating time became a time of connection,” she said, as she encouraged her fellow students to seek out community as they go out into the world. “This journey of faith simply cannot be done alone. We require fellow travellers; we require mentors. I am grateful I have found those people at Acadia.”
You are an Exemplar
The Annual John Gladstone Sermon was delivered by Rev. Dr. Glenn Wooden, soon-to-be-retired Payzant Associate Professor of Old Testament Studies at ADC. He asked our graduating class to consider their legacy – not what they will achieve throughout their lives, or what they will build, but the legacy they will leave in people, the legacy of their relationships, the legacy of who they are as a person of Christ in ministry.
“Even if your ministry setting doesn’t live up to your dreams, don’t throw it or your dreams away,” Glenn encouraged. “Be patient. If God has called you and your gifts have been affirmed and honed for ministry, no ministry is beneath you. Form a legacy that will change the perception of the world towards the church,” he said. “Have as a goal that, at the end of your ministry, you will be a good exemplar of following Christ in the 21st century.”
We Pray Together
The act of Commissioning – praying for our students and sending them out into a mosaic of ministry contexts – is the truest reflection of our mission here at ADC. Our students and alumni are our legacy, and we will take every opportunity to celebrate the bright futures they represent.