On the recommendation of the Honorary Degree Committee, the Academic Committee of St. Andrew’s College has selected Austin Fennell of Lethbridge, Alta., Frances Forsberg of Dundurn, Sask., and Tony Thompson of Prince Albert, Sask., to receive Doctors of Divinity honoris causa degrees at the college’s convocation in May 2018.
Tony Thompson has served The United Church of Canada for more than 35 years, most of that time in Saskatchewan.
His interest in history and biblical knowledge has helped him provide his congregations with a greater understanding of the church and its beliefs and the beliefs of other religions. He has been active in every community in which he has lived, and has also served the wider church on presbytery and conference committees.
Tony served as the chair of the St. Andrew’s College Academic Committee and as a board member for six years.
A common theme of his nomination is that his worship services, and especially his sermons, are enlightening, enjoyable and inspiring. As stated in his nomination, “God has richly blessed Reverend Tony Thompson with many gifts. He has recognized these gifts, embraced them and used them in his work in the ministry and in his life.”
Austin Fennell has been a long-time supporter of St. Andrew’s College and of The United Church of Canada.
He graduated from St. Andrew’s College with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1957 and went on to earn a doctorate from the University of Glasgow in Scotland in 1964. Austin has served congregations in Radville, Davidson and Regina, Sask.; Glasgow, Scotland; Winnipeg, Man.; and Calgary and Lethbridge, Alta., during 41 years in active ministry. He also served various roles at the conference level in each of the three conferences and at General Council.
Austin has been active in community service in each of the communities he has served. As stated in one letter of support, “Austin articulates today’s issues, names them and confronts them with passion and compassion. Austin has a passion for lifting up the history of the United Church.”
Frances (Fran) Forsberg
Frances (Fran) Forsberg is a biological mother, an adoptive mother, and a foster mother; she is a lobbyist, a protester, and an advocate. She has fostered more than 150 children and her family consists of children of various ages, abilities, cultural backgrounds, and gender expressions.
In the community, Fran has served, and serves, many committees, including the Saskatoon Police Cultural Commission, OUTSaskatoon, and the Adoption Support Network. She speaks on behalf of social services and teaches and advocates on behalf of LGBT2Q people.
Fran is the founder of Camp Caterpillar, for all gender and gender creative children and siblings, which has been held at the United Church’s Camp Tapawingo at Candle Lake, Sask.
Four years ago, along with other individuals and families, she filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission about the government’s need to change its policies on issuing “gender markers” on provincial legal documents; first, on birth certificates, then driver’s licences, medical certificates, and others that are based on birth-certificate gender identity. In July 2017, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission agreed with the complaint.
As stated in one letter of support, “Fran has committed her life to social justice for Indigenous people and gender variant individuals. Hers has not been a surface commitment. Rather, her daily life expresses her commitment to social justice issues. She lives her commitment.”