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Celebration Service

After a year in which it honoured its history, St. Andrew's College is looking ahead to its second century with a renewed sense of mission.

The college marked the end of its centennial with a service of thanksgiving held Dec. 9 to thank its donors and celebrate a year that provided many opportunities to recognize the role of the college within the United Church community.

Principal Lorne Calvert says a combination of the anniversary celebration, significant financial gifts received by the college and one of the largest first-year classes of students in more than a decade has provided St. Andrew's with a sense of momentum as it heads into its second century.

"It has given us some, I would say, renewed confidence in the mission. These are rapidly changing times for the United Church of Canada and for theological education right across North America ... all of our colleges and schools are facing challenges," Calvert said.

"There is never status quo, you are either moving forward or you are moving backward. We have a sense that we are moving forward. Even when we are not quite sure what the future is going to bring we are moving forward."

Service of Thanksgiving Photo Gallery

The college's leadership role in the United Church community received significant financial recognition during 2012 from Saskatchewan congregations that ceased operation.

A donation of $250,000 from the congregation of the former Bethel United Church in Saskatoon and a major donation from the former Grandview United Church in Moose Jaw will help fund the college's ongoing programming. Funds from Grandview have also resulted in new lighting and carpet and a grand piano for the college's chapel.

"It's not an irony that we have received these gifts from congregations who no longer exist," Rev. Ken Powers said during his sermon. "They are congregations who lived faithfully, who had wonderful relationships within them, who nurtured the lives of so many people, who laughed together and sang together and cried together and bore one another's burdens. They were there for each other.

"Now they are gone and what have they done with their treasure, with their resources? They have shared them with St. Andrew's College. Couldn't be a better place to do it because of the resourcefulness, the scholarship, the thoughtfulness, the devotion of the people here and how they have a sense of mission and vision that helps people live out the gospel of Jesus in radical ways and want to equip people to be able to live in the new church."

Stained Glass from Meewasin UnitedThe college has also welcomed the contributions of Saskatoon's Meewasin Valley United Church, which sold its building and now holds Sunday services at the college. Gifts of a grand piano, liturgical banners and other articles have been gratefully received as well as the notable contribution of 16 stained glass windows from the former church, which have been installed at various locations throughout the college building.

Calvert said the support of donors — large, one-time contributions as well as the continued efforts of the college's long-time, sustaining supporters — is received as a vote of confidence in the college's contributions to the United Church.

"We need this sense of stability and enthusiasm to be able to be providing the leadership for a new church," Calvert said.

"To have the support of this many people — we read (during the service) 700 and some names of people who support this college — gives us a sense of stability and that stability allows us to have that renewed optimism."

That optimism is also fuelled by the college's first-year class of students, a group Calvert says comes from a diversity of backgrounds and is "generationally younger" than the college has seen in recent years, but a group whose members are prepared for the challenges of theological education and the ministry.

"They are a group of people who, interestingly enough, are coming into preparation for ministry fully knowledgeable of the challenges facing the church and fully knowledgeable of the place of faith in our modern, secular society," Calvert said, "but enthusiastic, seeking to serve and seeking to be part of the gospel lived out in the world."

The service was also an opportunity to recognize former students who studied at St. Andrew's and graduated after three years of academic study but upon whom a degree was not conferred.

Nineteen men were honoured with the degree of Master of Theological Studies in recognition of the years of academic preparation that led to a lifetime of service. Five members of the group  — Rev. Wes Ashwin, Rev. Harvey Clarke, Rev. Ross McMurtry, Rev. Jack Oglesby and Rev. William Steele — were present for the hooding ceremony that was a part of the Dec. 9 service.

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