A Unique Graduation 2021

By Alicia Hein

This year’s graduation ceremony at Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary & College looked different from past years in many ways. Due to the postponing of last year’s ceremony, it had already been slated to be the first joint ceremony in the school’s history, celebrating both the 2020 graduates and the 2021 graduands. Then, when further COVID-19 restrictions were added during the week of graduation, the school’s administration had three days to reorganize their plans even more. The joint ceremony was split back into two: one for college graduates from both years, and another for the seminary. Faculty were divided between the two ceremonies in order to keep attendee numbers for each at 15. Each graduate attending in person was allotted one guest, while everyone else participated via Zoom or YouTube Livestream.

Despite these additional challenges, however, both ceremonies ran beautifully and celebrated with 23 certificate and degree recipients on Saturday, May 8. Pastor Gerry Taillon, the National Ministry Leader of the Canadian National Baptist Convention, offered a heartfelt graduation address. He encouraged those present, both in-person and online, to remember that God is always God, and we are always His. This truth remains steadfast in all circumstances, no matter the struggles we may face. He used the examples of earthworms, which take waste and turn it into the most fruitful soil in the world, and of the pedal-assist function on electronic bicycles, which turns the rider’s futile efforts into good and productive labour. No matter what has happened in the past, God is always doing something new. He never wastes anything, and He will use even the hardest experiences for the good of His people and for His own glory.

After this address, the college ceremony recognized the degrees of four 2020 graduates, and conferred four certificates and degrees to the class of 2021. For 2020, Lee Janzen and Caleb Smith received the Bachelor of Christian Studies, while Alexander Brown and Tracy Onley received the Bachelor of Christian Ministry. For 2021, Ruth Anderson and Sarah Butt received the Samuel Program Certificate in person, Jacob Neal graduated with the Bachelor of Christian Studies, and Clifford Drakes earned the Bachelor of Christian Ministry.

The seminary graduates were more in number, though only six were able to attend in person. Nine degrees were earned by 2020 graduates, and six by the class of 2021. For 2020, Conrad Au, Lisa Congo, and Sungho Moon received the Master of Christian Studies. Christopher Girvan (with distinction) received the Master of Christian Ministry, while Timothy Lenko earned the Master of Biblical Studies. The Master of Divinity graduates were Siseung Ahn, John Baker (with distinction and with thesis), Alicia Hein (with distinction and with thesis), and Andy Menjivar (with distinction). For 2021, five students graduated with the Master of Christian Studies: Jeremy Hall, Clint Langelaar, Jaemoon Lee, Alexandre Nascimento (with distinction), and David Ong. Jordan Bergen earned the Master of Divinity, watch the seminary ceremony.

While this year’s ceremonies unfolded differently than anyone would have hoped, those who were present still felt the care and love of a community that has endured more together in the past fifteen months than at any time in the history of the school. Never has the motto of “training leaders for tough places” rung more true. The application of this motto to these two graduating classes by Academic Dean Dr. Steve Booth was poignant and thought-provoking: “To have completed your course of study under such conditions is more than commendable; it is extraordinary. And graduating with face masks on, in a sanctuary holding a fraction of its capacity, will be a perpetual reminder of what you have endured and accomplished by God’s grace.” We wish our graduates God’s strength, presence, and blessing as they continue to serve Him in the ministries to which they are called.