What excites you the most about taking on this new role as Provost?
What excites me about taking on this new role as Provost is what excites me about every new project: possibilities. Every new role brings with it new challenges and new possibilities to use developed skills in different ways and to be challenged and stretched to meet the needs that are emerging. I am excited to return to a full-time role in theological education. I love learning and teaching, and this is an exciting time in theological education. Things are changing rapidly and there are so many possibilities ahead of us. I have had some very encouraging conversations with the Bishops and I am looking forward to working with them, the Corporation, the dioceses and our partners to develop courses and programs that can equip the leaders we need for this time. I am excited to meet the students, faculty and partners and learn from them as we begin this adventure together.
Queen’s College has a place to both raise up and equip laity for theological work, and to train people for ordained ministry. What is your vision for the College regarding the balance between these two, and how much cross-over is there between these two education streams?
As many folks may already know, I love to work with yarn: knitting, crocheting, weaving, hooking – I love them all. So, for me the metaphor is not of separate streams at all – it is of a fabric, intricately woven together. Each yarn lends strength and beauty to the other; each one helps the other to play its part; each colour adds to the other and helps it stand out and be noticed. That is the kind of vision I have for theological education. While there may be different streams/programs/degrees, they all work together to engage the leadership of our communities so that people can continue to develop the skills needed to be the body of Christ wherever they are and whatever they are doing. People want to explore theological education for all kinds of different reasons, and I think that is wonderful! And having folks together from different backgrounds with different goals creates an amazing learning community. It is going to be important that we continue to develop programs that can meet people where they are, which means theological education should be accessible, affordable and adaptable.
We had had to pivot as a church over this last year, and we now need to learn from our experiences and not just rush to get back to what was “normal.” How will you be pushing Queen’s College to better prepare its graduates to meet the changing and changed expectations of today’s church?
Well, to be honest, I don’t plan to be doing any pushing! I see myself more as the midwife, encouraging and challenging our faith community (Queen’s College and beyond) as we join God in giving birth to this “new thing” in our midst. To do that, I will be listening intently to the needs of those involved with our faith community, to the scholarship that is emerging from this past year, as well as to the breadth of our tradition and then prayerfully, thoughtfully, creatively connecting these threads together. I do not think that there is a “normal” to get back to; I think we have learned so much in this past year and we have seen that we can do more than we ever thought we could. We can learn and adapt and keep our focus on the call to be faithful while we are doing it.
We will need to consider how we might equip folks for leadership in this changing time. This will involve engaging with our nostalgia for the past and how that impacts how we see the present as well as the future. It will include reflecting on our stories: personal, communal and historical. And considering whose stories have we heard, whose have we silenced and how can we listen more inclusively. I think leaders now more than ever need the ability to build solid, reciprocal partnerships. I also think it is important to foster a creative and entrepreneurial spirit, that is willing to be daring, as I think we have been in response to the pandemic.
It is going to be a challenging time because I think it is a “both/and” time. We need to be aware of the needs of our church communities as they are and to meet those needs while at the same time being attentive to the emerging needs and challenges in the community all around us. I think it is going to be an exciting time, full of hope and possibilities.