THE FOLLOWING REFLECTION WAS PRESENTED BY GRADUATING MASTER OF Arts (Theology) STUDENT, Kallie Hutton, DURING ACADIA DIVINITY COLLEGE’S COMMISSIONING SERVICE HELD MAY 12, 2023. Kallie delivered her reflections from her home in Bolivia.
Good evening, everyone. My name is Kallie Hutton and I’m honoured to be asked to share the reflections from a graduand as we celebrate together today. I am graduating with an MA in theology and as you can all see, I am unable to be with you in person tonight. In all honesty, during my years of study at Acadia, I’ve not once stepped on campus! In fact, I was able to complete my degree online while serving with Canadian Baptist Ministries in Bolivia. Even though my plan was always to attend virtually, we were all forced online for a time during the pandemic. I’m sure you are all as grateful as I am for Acadia’s capacity to host classes and connect students even when we could not be present with each other. I feared feeling disconnected from the Acadia community, but the opposite turned out to be true.
My first virtual seat class was before the onset of covid, at the end of 2019. At this time, Bolivia was going through significant political unrest and violent conflicts. For several weeks the country shut down with every corner and intersection blocked. During one of my classes with Dr. McMullin, I witnessed the violent clash of two opposing groups from my apartment window. Recognizing that something was going on, Dr. McMullin paused his teaching for the class to pray for me.
Later, when the pandemic hit in full force, my virtual seats shifted to fully online courses. When restrictions forced me to stay inside for all but a couple of hours a week, I was able to connect with my peers across Canada during Rev. McVicar’s course and was encouraged by the stories and journeys of others. What could have been an isolating time became a time of connection.
What could have been an isolating time became a time of connection.
The majority of my other courses were done through guided reading and directed study with my supervisor, Dr. McNally, who has become a mentor and a friend. While doing these one-on-one courses, researching, and writing my thesis, my husband and I embarked on the incredible but difficult process of adopting our daughter. Things did not go smoothly, and we spent months trudging through the heavily corrupt bureaucracy of the Bolivian courts.
We ended up living for 5 months in an orphanage with her while waiting for custody until we were finally awarded guardianship at the end of 2021.
During this season, I met regularly with Dr. McNally as he guided me through my studies. But he also prayed with me and for me. At a time in my life where it would have been easy to lose hope, he helped me recognize how the theology that I was studying was taking on life as I passed through trials. The people I serve here in Bolivia started serving and caring for me and I experience the reciprocal grace that I wrote about in my thesis. Dr. McNally also assisted me in getting connected with a Spiritual director who continues to guide me as I walk with Christ. Looking back, I still cannot believe that I made it through this degree with all of the unexpected turns life took. I can only credit it to the prayerful support, encouragement and understanding that I experienced from the Acadia community.
As I reflect on my time at Acadia, I am grateful for the degree that I earned and the research I was able to produce, but I am leaving Acadia with so much more than that. I learned here how to persevere, how to pray, and how to trust. I learned how to have faith. Most importantly, I learned that this journey of faith simply cannot be done alone. We require fellow travellers; we require mentors. I am grateful to have found those people at Acadia.
I learned here how to persevere, how to pray, and how to trust. I learned how to have faith.
I want to encourage each of you as you go off to minister in churches, in the marketplace, or pursue further studies. Do not let community slip away. Seek out disciplers, Spiritual directors, and faithful friends who can be your guides and supporters. Seek out people to invest in yourself. You have so much to offer others, and so much to learn in doing so. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your community. You have brought much blessing to my life as we’ve walked this path together.
May you continue to be blessed and to be a blessing.
Kallie Hutton and her husband Tim are Canadian Baptist Ministries Field Staff, serving alongside CBM’s partners, the Bolivian Baptist Union (UBB) and its development arm OBADES, to build and support effective ministries.
Kallie studied theology and development at Horizon Seminary. She has since completed a graduate program in international development. She graduated with her M.A. in Theology from Acadia Divinity College in 2023. Both from Saskatchewan, Tim and Kallie have been married for over ten years and now call Bolivia home.