Tyndale Seminary celebrates record winter enrollment in 2021, with 58 percent of students being women. This is the fourth year in a row that female students have been in the majority at Tyndale, marking a greater than 10 percent increase since 2015.
“Female students are here because they sense this is where God calls them to be,” says Dr. Marilyn Draper, Assistant Professor of Practical Theology. “They know they need to be able to articulate their faith and what it means, and they recognize that Tyndale can provide tools for theological discussion and continued theological reflection. Many of our congregations require adjustments to become more missionally focused, and women seminarians seek both the freedom and the tools to encourage change.”
One of the courses Dr. Draper teaches is “Women and Men in Ministry,” which provides the foundation for a new paradigm of equitable partnership for women and men leaders in the church. The goal of the course is to re-envision how women and men can be set free from restrictive emphasis on gender-specific roles so that all can use their Spirit-given gifts and expertise to serve the world and congregations.
Xenia Chan graduated from Tyndale Seminary in November 2020 with an MDiv in Biblical Studies with a concentration in Church in the City. She also served as Student Council President in her final year of study.
“I did not have to hide any of my gifts, and I was actively encouraged to exercise them in service of others," says Xenia. "It was also wonderful to have female role models who exemplified that leadership in the seminary and in the church is not only possible but also necessary.”
Xenia is studying the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament as a PhD student at Wycliffe College in Toronto and, along with several friends, is engaged in church planting north of the city.
“At Tyndale, I was given the language for the kind of ministry that I felt God was calling me to, that is, the ministry of presence, and to discern the restoring movement of God’s Spirit in our world and how I might be part of that restoration,” she says.
“The mission of God calls for the best in all of us,” add Dr. Draper. “There are many women with amazing strengths and giftings. I am delighted that Tyndale is a place where these women can develop their theological thinking and practical abilities so that they can use them without reserve in leadership as they serve of Jesus and His kingdom.”
Over the years, Dr. Draper has seen female seminarians serving in various capacities, such as lead pastor, counsellors, non-profit executives and spiritual directors.
“As we move away from leadership models that promote the authoritative and self-sufficient individual, both women and men embrace newer models of leadership that encourage teamwork, service and nurturing of the community,” says Dr. Draper.