On April 25, Tyndale Seminary hosted the annual Wesley Studies Symposium, themed “Heritage and Hope: Wesleyan Wisdom for the Future of Ministry.” The event witnessed the largest turnout since its inception in 2009, with 100 attendees in-person and approximately 50 online.
Participants were treated to a day filled with insightful presentations and thought-provoking discussions. One attendee expressed enthusiasm, stating, “Every presentation was substantial; there were no clunkers.”
The event featured two keynote speeches by prominent scholars. Dr. Victor Shepherd, the inaugural Donald N. and Kathleen G. Bastian Chair of Wesley Studies at Tyndale, delivered a captivating address titled “The Chair of Wesley Studies: Its Birth Pangs at Tyndale, Its Unapologetic Contribution of Theological Riches, Its Full Flowering in a World God Refuses to Forsake.” Dr. Shepherd’s presentation tackled misconceptions surrounding John Wesley’s significance within evangelicalism. Dr. Howard Snyder, the subsequent occupant of the Bastian Chair, gave the second keynote. His address, “Unlikely Twins: John of Epworth and Francis of Assisi,” provided insightful comparisons between the two figures and their dedication to gospel ministry.
The seminary hosted a fine dinner to commemorate the 30-year anniversary of the Bastian Chair. Dr. Marjory Kerr attended as well as Bishop Emeritus Donald N. Bastian and his wife, Kathleen. Representatives from the four denominations that crucially support the chair—the Church of the Nazarene, the Free Methodist Church, the Salvation Army, and the Wesleyan Church—were also in attendance; their partnership with Tyndale has championed the Wesley chair’s ministry by funding the symposium and supporting the study of Wesley and Western theology.
Dr. James Pedlar, the current Bastian Chair of Wesley Studies, summarized the symposium’s significance, stating, “This event is not just for specialists. Most attendees are pastors and laypeople who seek in-depth discussions, meaningful fellowship, and a connection to the Wesleyan tradition. It is a congenial gathering where we foster both academic excellence and warm camaraderie.”
Looking ahead, plans for next year’s event are already underway. Set to take place on April 24, 2024, the symposium will feature Jessica LaGrone, Dean of the Chapel at Asbury Theological Seminary, as the keynote speaker. In addition to academic presentations, the organizers aim to introduce practical ministry workshops, attracting an even broader audience.