It is really an amazing story!
Four church leaders, a Presbyterian, Baptist, Anglican and Methodist, energized by a visit from Hudson Taylor to Toronto in the late 1800’s, made a bold decision. They envisioned a Christian post-secondary institution that would form a people of faith to be faithful to Christ's witnesses in the society and world.
The dream continues after almost 120 years of courageous leadership and faithful navigation through societal change, political shifts, economic white water and educational challenges. Through it all has been a deep sense of the faithfulness of God.
More recently, the shifting changes of educational needs were recognized. Decisions were made to continue and expand the significant role of the seminary in pastoral and lay formation, while transitioning the Bible College to an undergraduate Christian University. Both these schools would continue to take faith seriously while providing quality foundational undergraduate and professional degrees recognized in the province and by other post-graduate institutions.
Some people wondered if we were moving from our roots. Nothing could be further from the truth! The Psalmist in Psalm 137 who struggled with the world of Babylon that was so different than the one that he grew up in, he asked the question, “how can we sing the songs of Zion in this foreign land?” He was struggling with the unfamiliarity of this new world he was inhabiting, wondering what it meant to be a people of faith. Our leaders were wondering the same things but rather than clinging to the familiar they made the bold decision to become Tyndale University College.
Writing the next chapter…
We are in exciting times. This passionate commitment to build a Christian University in the heart of one of the most unique and exciting cities in the world is an enormous challenge. We envision a university that unapologetically holds a faith perspective but is not afraid to engage the questions and cultural times we are in. We seek to shape a movement of people who are being challenged to Think Critically, Live Faith Passionately and be Transformed in their Character. And it is happening.
Students can now come to Tyndale University College and receive Bachelor of Arts degrees in a variety of traditional and professional disciplines, with more majors being developed. Students can still receive quality training and education in Christian Ministries with five minors ranging from Worship to Youth and Family. Our BEd has been recognized as an innovative degree program in teacher education. Our ability to develop majors in Biology and Math have been strengthened with a new memorandum of agreement with Nipissing University.
We are committed to making the student experience at Tyndale the best possible-a stretching and enriching experience that provides academic support, social interaction and the challenge of community service. I was surprised to hear that 60% of our students are involved in athletics in our tiny gym! We want to encourage them and are investing in this area on our Bayview campus. I am heartened by how our Athletics Director desires to build a collegiate athletics program that will “inspire the student athlete to glorify God through their athletic abilities and, in so doing, be an example, encouragement and a leader to others.”
Tyndale Seminary continues to offer uniquely innovative programs that provide accessible graduate theological education. It has grown to be the largest seminary in Canada with over 950 people enrolled in studies, approximately 320 as full time students. We continue to expand and shape the content of the curriculum taking seriously our desire to see God’s people equipped to live out their call as people of faith within the context of Canada. Recently we introduced an MTS course of studies in Newfoundland and an MTS in Indigenous Studies which will be formed and taught by Aboriginal theologians and ministry practitioners.
Over 450 people take online courses at Tyndale, some from as far away as Dubai. We are building on that momentum and expressed need. In the Fall of 2013 we will be unrolling a fully online Master of Theological Studies which will extend our educational and formational influence well beyond the GTA and Canada.
We believe that Tyndale has been uniquely placed in the diverse context of Toronto. Fifty denominations and almost as many cultural groups make for an amazing and rich learning environment. We now have a thriving Master’s degree taught in Mandarin, and the Hudson Taylor Centre and our Pastoral Chinese Ministries program celebrate their 20th anniversary this year.
The Tyndale Opening Learning Centre (TOLC) was added over a year ago to provide resources to the church and community that has supported us so generously. We have a clear ability to gather diverse peoples together. The result has been creative initiatives such as the Tyndale Intercultural Mission Centre, where sixty people are enrolled in the new two year diploma program for diaspora church planters in the GTA. The Tyndale Centre for Leadership is providing resources for non-for-profit NGOs and church leaders focused on best practices. The Centre for Spiritual Formation is already making a difference as it looks out into the community and its needs.
Continuing the journey
This is our vision of a university college that takes seriously the foundational formation of students. The privilege is ours to help launch them into the marketplace, graduate studies at other universities, the school system or ministry. We envision a cohort of young adults moving into places of work for which they have the critical thinking, character and faithfulness to thrive no matter what. This, combined with our vision of a seminary that takes vocational formation for ministry ‘where you are’ seriously, is what we feel called to and called to be. I can see it-Christian philosophers, business people, professors and international development workers, all with the same passionate faith to make a difference.
I wonder if our forbearers in 1894 would have envisioned a fully accredited university that would produce graduates armed with a call to effectively shape every sphere of society. Without a doubt, the continued building of this Christian university will require the same bold faith they exhibited. We seek to step out and build what we believe is God’s vision for today. Everything old is new again—and, as we transition completely to the new Bayview campus over the next 18 months, we walk in the faithful footsteps of those who have gone before us.