In recognition of her Christian leadership and strong commitment to social justice, Acadia Divinity College presented the 2021 Alumni Distinguished Service Award to Rev. Dr. Rhonda Y. Britton (DMin ’13) on November 24, 2021.
The ADC Alumni Distinguished Service Award, inaugurated in 1995, honours graduates of Acadia Divinity College whose gifts for ministry have contributed significantly to the Christian Church in Canada or throughout the world.
In presenting the Award to Dr. Britton, President Anna Robbins recognized the transformative impact of her ministry in church and community. “We are delighted to celebrate Rhonda’s many achievements before and since completing her Doctor of Ministry degree at ADC. We are deeply grateful for her as an alumna who challenges our students and graduates to take up the cause of justice in the community as an essential part of what it means to share the good news of Jesus.”
Dr. Britton is a true trail blazer – the first woman pastor of New Horizons Baptist Church, Halifax in its almost 200-year history; the first woman of colour to hold the role of President of the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada; and the first ordained woman to serve at the Second United Baptist Church in New Glasgow, NS. To each role she encouraged and inspired others to meet the challenges in addressing deep-rooted social issues and embrace the opportunities for our churches in community.
The stage for Rhonda’s ministry, one that has been dedicated to the empowerment of the oppressed and marginalized in society, was set early in her life. Born and raised in Florida during the civil rights era, she witnessed pastors as social activists and remembers her church family standing against injustice and walking alongside Martin Luther King Jr. during the historic 1963 March on Washington. She also believes that seeking justice for everyone is exactly in line with the Bible and what Jesus has asked us to do. “Jesus has called us to be concerned for those who are on the margins. It is part of the work of proclaiming the Gospel.”
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
In her Doctor of Ministry thesis “Casualties of War: the Ripple Effect of Street Violence on Church and Community”, Dr. Britton examined street violence in an inner-city community, particularly as it related to African Nova Scotians in North Central Halifax. She explored both the determinants of urban violence and its damaging effects on community and presented strategies for ministering within its context.
In 2012 Dr. Britton joined forces with three pastors from the African Nova Scotian community, the RCMP and other community partners to create and deliver a faith-based mentorship program for at-risk African Nova Scotian youth. The “Save our Sons / Save our Sisters Rites of Passage Mentorship Program” received the Nova Scotia Justice Minister’s Award for Leadership in Crime Prevention.
When appointed Senior Pastor at Cornwallis Street Baptist Church, Dr. Britton first learned about the role Edward Cornwallis played in the violence and mistreatment of Indigenous peoples in Nova Scotia. In response and in support of Indigenous brothers and sisters, she led the congregation as they considered and ultimately decided to rename the church. The chosen name, New Horizons Baptist Church, reflects the new vision and mission for the church into the future.
Rev. Britton’s community roles are many: she has served as a Moderator of the African United Baptist Association of Nova Scotia, Chair of the Richard Preston Centre for Excellence, member of Corrections Canada’s Interfaith Committee on Chaplaincy, member of the Poverty Solutions Advisory Committee in Halifax, and Community Chair of CeaseFire Halifax, a municipal anti-violence initiative. Her ministry has extended to communities beyond our shores with invitations to teach and preach in South Africa, Asia and South America.
In addition to a Doctor of Ministry at Acadia, Dr. Britton earned a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Bernard M. Baruch College in New York.
With this award, Acadia Divinity College acknowledges and joins with Dr. Britton in the pursuit of justice and reconciliation in church and community.
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Discover more about how ADC can equip you to serve the mission of God with transformative impact with our Doctor of Ministry program