On September 24, 2022, the Tyndale community gathered, in person and online, to celebrate Homecoming and the start of another academic year. Alumni from the classes of 1950 through 2022 gathered to worship in the Tyndale chapel and watched the Livestream, actively engaging in the chatroom.
Kevin Kirk, SVP, External Relations, began the service by warmly welcoming the attendees, remarking on the joy of gathering as a Tyndale community shaped by an incredible faculty.
Members of the Tyndale Band and Tyndale Singers, led by Dr. Melissa Davis, and the congregation participated in rousing worship and singing that filled the chapel with praise.
Next, Dr. Marjory Kerr, Tyndale’s President and Vice Chancellor, expressed her gratitude for 128 years of continuous Christian higher education “through different names, configurations and locations.”
"Whether you are celebrating 50 years or more or whether it's your first year as an alumnus, we know that you, our graduates, serve faithfully all over the world and have done for so many years in your vocations, ministries, professions, and communities,” said Dr. Kerr. “Thank you for your faithful witness and service in influencing people for Christ where God has placed you… Our prayer is that your lives and witness will continue to be blessed and, in turn, continue to bless others for Jesus' sake."
Tyndale’s newest alumni, 312 graduates from the class of 2022, were encouraged to connect with alumni from earlier years to seek their wisdom and hear stories of God’s faithfulness.
As the service continued, Dr. Kerr reminded everyone of Tyndale University’s mission statement:
“Tyndale is dedicated to the pursuit of truth, to excellence in teaching, learning and research, for the enriching of mind, heart and character, to serve the church and the world for the glory of God.”
— Dr. Marjory Kerr, Tyndale’s President and Vice Chancellor
“Everything we do must link to our mission because that is the reason we are here and this is what we seek to accomplish,” said Dr. Kerr.
The Rev. Mabel Adeline "Addie" Aylestock was introduced as Tyndale’s first-ever Distinguished Service Award recipient. Mr. Kirk then recognized the class of 1972 – that it has been 50 years since their graduation from Ontario Bible College; they each received a certificate acknowledging this milestone.
The ceremony concluded with more worship and a closing prayer. After the service, attendees were invited to connect with each other at class reunions for a time of refreshment in person and on Zoom.
Here are some comments from the chatroom:
"Would have liked to be there in person, but there is a wonderful sense of the Spirit of Jesus Christ just the same. Bless you all." - Paul McLorinan from King, Ontario
"I really appreciate the worship team and all who participated in the service. Thank you." Lois Barron, class of 1966.
Later in the day, the 2022 Distinguished Alumni were honoured in a special celebration service. The award honours graduates who have gone on to become Christian leaders of influence, whose lives are marked by intellectual maturity, spiritual vigor and moral integrity and whose witness faithfully engages the culture with the Gospel.
This year’s Distinguished Alumni are:
Conor Wilson Sweetman (BA 2017)
In Conor’s last year of study as an English major at Tyndale, he was inspired to launch his own magazine that would explore art, beauty and culture, through strong Christian voices. Within the span of a couple of years honing its creative and literary direction, Ekstasis would come to reach thousands of readers per month, build a strong Instagram following and offer annual print editions that were eagerly enjoyed by the Ekstasis community. Fast forward to 2021, Ekstasis would continue to grow its following through an acquisition by Christianity Today with the mission to revive the imagination and form a community that sees the poetic side of life and faith. Conor continued his studies with an MA in English from York University in 2018, worked as Editor of EFC’s Love is Moving and is currently Creative Lead for Special Projects at Christianity Today.
Lorie Hartshorn (MTS 2020)
Lorie hosts the national daily TV show The 700 Club Canada and is an international speaker, author and pastor. Lorie worked for 21 years in the field of education, both as a teacher and Director of Development. She was the Director of Advancement for EQUIP Leadership Canada, founded by Dr. John C. Maxwell, training leaders worldwide. Lorie also served as the Pastor of Adult Ministries at Sanctus Church. Her teaching is on The 700 Club Canada, 100 Huntley Street, Right Now Media and Sanctus Church. Her current series on 700 Club Canada, “Courageous Living with Lorie Hartshorn,” teaches people how to be bold in their faith and live a courageous life for Christ. Lorie’s bible study, Finding Freedom, brings hope to many as a wake-up call to the reality of spiritual warfare and the power of prayer. Her newest series and upcoming book Identity, Lost and Found will enable people to discover the freedom and power of knowing their true identity and purpose. Lorie continues to serve Christ faithfully with the conviction that “when a door opens, you walk through it with simple obedience.”
Shawn James (BRE 2004)
Shawn grew up in a community challenged by gangs, drugs and violence. He asked his church, “What are you going to do to reach kids in our community?” The answer, “What are you going to do about it?” sparked a change in Shawn’s life. Shawn volunteered at Urban Promise Toronto (UPT), engaging youth living in Toronto Community Housing with the love of Jesus and encouraging them to become leaders who restore their community. After graduating from Tyndale, Shawn became a full-time UPT missionary, leading youth ministry in Rexdale. In 2010, he became the Community Director, leading the Rexdale and Jane and Finch ministry teams. Seven years later, he became the Executive Director with 15 staff at three sites, employing 50 youth and reaching over 150 children every year. Shawn is a respected community leader, a Parent Council leader at his children’s school and is the recipient of the 2005 Black Business Professional Association’s Harry Jerome President’s Award for community service.
Reverend Benjamin Porter (MDiv 2009)
Benjamin graduated from Tyndale Seminary with a focus on counselling. His accomplishments include starting a family therapy practice in Toronto; serving as an Executive Pastor at Willowdale Baptist Church and co-founding Love is Moving, Canada’s only national Christian youth television, online and magazine series in association with Media Voice Generation and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. Since 2018, Benjamin has served as the Fellowship Candidate Coordinator at Fellowship International. During that time, 15 long-term missionaries and many mid-term and short-term missionaries were appointed to ministry. Since 2021, Benjamin has been serving as the Fellowship International Director, focusing on advancing the gospel and sending missionaries to the unreached around the world through prayer, communication and coaching.
Pastor Albert Y.C. Wai (MTS 2001)
Since becoming a believer, Albert’s passion for missions has been evident through his service. He worked as an Administrative Secretary at his home church (Richmond Hill Christian Community Church), and subsequently took on leadership roles in three Chinese parachurch organizations while he was a Tyndale student. After graduating in 2001, he joined SEND International of Canada with the primary focus of developing and mobilizing mission teams through training, teaching, preaching and encouraging believers and leading them to serve in oversea missions. In 2015, Albert was seconded from SEND to the Tyndale Intercultural Ministries Centre to meet the equipping and mission needs of immigrants. Since graduating, Albert has been an active member of Tyndale’s Chinese Alumni Chapter from 2002 to 2021. He was a pioneer in teaching the Perspectives Course in Chinese first at Tyndale in 2010 along with other professors, pastors and missionaries and then taking it further into Chinese church venues. Beyond Tyndale, Albert served as the founding member of MissionFest Toronto, member of the Canadian Tentmakers Network and board member of Showers of Blessing Evangelistic Ministry and has also been on the board of Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization in Canada since 1999 until today.
Lesley Kayser (BRE 1970)
Lesley has been serving as long-term missionary in women’s ministry in Bolivia for 47 years. Throughout her time there, she was a major organizer and keynote speaker in many women’s conferences. In addition to serving in women’s ministry, Lesley also founded and managed a Christian bookstore; led children’s ministry; taught courses at seminaries, churches and other Bible institutes; mobilized and organized relief work for emergency medical needs and natural disasters; and hosted a church ministry at her home. With God’s guidance and the support of ministry partners, Lesley was instrumental in helping establish a generation of Bolivian women leaders in faith. In 2016, Lesley was recognized by the National Association of Evangelicals of Bolivia for her “special services in the establishment of the Kingdom of God and His justice to the Bolivian church and people.” Lesley returned to Canada in recent years because of health concerns but continues to serve and reaches out to Bolivia through Zoom and other technology.
Thanks to all alumni who joined in person and online. What a wonderful day of celebration and encouragement!