Seeing God at Work in the Midst of Uncertainty / CSBS&C Grad

Horizon Weekly | 6 May 2020

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Article: Seeing God at Work
Article: CSBS&C Grad 2020—Unprecedented

Seeing God at Work

By Alicia Hein

Alicia Hein

As the world lies in the grip of a crisis unlike any in living memory, people around the globe are finding the rhythms of their lives changed in ways they never could have imagined. Schools and businesses are closed; children study from home while parents work online. Every aspect of everyday life, it seems, has had to be adjusted in some way, and people throughout our communities are trying their best to find some routine in this new normal. At Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary and College, we have had to make adjustments too. Some of these have been more difficult than others, but in the midst of the changes, we have also discovered so many “good news” elements for which we can wholeheartedly praise our God.

We are thankful for the quick response of our faculty, administrative staff, and students in the process of moving our classes online. Within 24 hours after the province mandated school closures, our students were logging into remote classes from their homes and receiving the same incredible quality of teaching from professors who jumped in to meet the challenge.

We are thankful that, even though all of our classes are now online, our school itself has not closed. Our staff continue to work hard to maintain the everyday functions of the seminary and college, and our admissions office continues to walk new potential students through the application process. We are eagerly awaiting the students God is putting in place to join us in the fall.

We are thankful to celebrate with one of our largest graduating classes ever this year. Though our traditional May ceremony has been postponed, we look forward to honouring the accomplishments of 19 men and women at a later date in the fall. Some of these graduates are watching their plans for the future move and shift before their eyes, so please pray that God would grant them peace and guidance as they seek His will for the next steps of their lives.

In a video message to friends of the seminary and college, our president Dr Rob Blackaby encouraged all believers to be intentional in using this season to focus on spiritual growth and relationships. Where people once considered themselves too busy to spend extra time in Bible reading or prayer, he noted that “those excuses have evaporated in these days.” Further, as this crisis deepens our awareness of an innate need for community and relationship, Dr Blackaby urged us to focus on strengthening connections with friends, family, and colleagues in any available ways, not being discouraged by the need for physical distancing but looking for creative opportunities to show love to others in a difficult time.

In spite of the current global uncertainty, then, we can be confident that God is still at work. We praise Him for the ways in which we have seen His faithfulness over the past several weeks. Dr Blackaby expressed well our prayer for our school community during this time, and for the rest of the body of Christ: “Maybe one of the long-term impacts of this COVID-19 crisis will be that we discover new rhythms in our life—rhythms that include a more intentional time spent in the Word, and applying that Word to our everyday life. Maybe it will be a new rhythm of intentionally interacting with people in relationship … I pray that you know we love you … We want this crisis to resolve in us loving God more deeply, loving His Word more thoroughly, and loving each other. God bless you.”

CSBS&C Grad 2020—Unprecedented

By Elaine Phillips

COCHRANE, AB—Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary and College would have conferred 14 degrees and five certificates at its thirty-first graduation ceremony on May 2, 2020. All nineteen students officially graduated at 2 pm but there was no public ceremony this year, in keeping with the Alberta government’s protocols on gatherings in an effort to prevent widespread transmission of COVID-19. A ceremony will be held at a future date.


During the awards chapel, held on April 30, graduands and guests gathered together via Zoom in the CSBS&C chapel. To observe current safety measures, only a dozen people were present, including Dr Steve Booth and Dr Glenn Watson, the registrar, the adjuncts, and three graduating students who represented the Class of 2020. The service began with a piano prelude by graduating student Alicia Hein.

What the formal procession lacked in numbers, they made up for in appearance, both professors resplendent in graduation regalia.

Academic Dean Dr Steve Booth gave an introduction, reflecting on the past semester’s challenges and achievements, followed by an appreciation of faculty who would not be returning to teach in the fall semester. Adjunct instructors Daniel Spelliscy and Tamara Mitton will be pursuing work and study opportunities elsewhere, and adjunct couples Calvin and Devra Morris and Bob and Martha Bergen will return to the States after another fruitful semester on campus in Cochrane.

The Dean’s List recipients were acknowledged and applauded, after which the remaining awards were presented.


Dr Booth proceeded to honour his entire COVID-19 teaching team by comparing them to a race car driver’s pit stop crew, all working together to achieve the desired results. Faculty Achievement Recognition is usually reserved for an individual faculty member for outstanding service or leadership in a given field; however, because of the past semester’s challenges, and the combined efforts of all parties to set students up for success, the dean chose to depart from tradition.

After the president’s timely message, registrar Sue Smith closed the gathering in a prayer of commitment, blessing all who were gathered together with the words of Jesus from John 17.


During the semester’s concluding chapel, CSBS&C President Dr Rob Blackaby reiterated the school’s mandate to “Train God-called men and women for twenty-first century leadership in tough places”—and acknowledged that those tough places have become tougher still in recent days. He spoke of being at a “crossroads moment” and of our collective sense of experiencing loss, whether large or small. Obvious examples include the disruption of our end-of-year rhythms, our graduation exercises and other long-anticipated celebrations. Other losses include the loss of physical freedom, jobs, income, dreams and plans. During this unexpected season some have experienced the death of loved ones, illness, frailty and physical isolation. Our shared sense of stability and certainty has changed, reminding us of the relevance of James 4:15–16, “Lord willing we will live and do this or that…”

Since January Dr Blackaby has been meditating on the book of Joel, finding it particularly significant in recent days: “God’s people have been devastated by repeated and seemingly indefinite locust plagues” to the point that “human joy has dried up” (Joel 1:12 HCSB). What was the response expected to be? Gather God’s people together! “Announce a sacred fast; proclaim a [solemn] assembly! Gather the elders and all the residents of the land at the house of the Lord your God and cry out to the Lord” (Joel 1:14).

“In a time of physical distancing, we can still allow God to mingle our hearts to cry out to Him,” Dr Blackaby urged listeners. “In these moments of exhaustion and despair and uncertainty, we can wonder if things will ever be set right; we can wonder if there is hope.”

Joel gives God’s response: “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping and mourning. Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the Lord your God. For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and He relents from sending disaster” (Joel 2:12–13).

“I will repay you for the years that the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25).

“I will pour out my Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions … then everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved” (Joel 2:28, 32).

Dr Blackaby concluded: “We are living in the time of God’s Spirit being poured out. … Our lives have been disrupted, but God’s Spirit is with us. And He is working through us. His power is available to us. We do not plan for success; we pray for success.”


In addition to five Samuel Program Certificates (SPC), the CSBS&C conferred 14 degrees this year, namely two Bachelor of Christian Ministry (BCMin), two Bachelor of Christian Studies (BCS), one Master of Biblical Studies (MBS), three Master of Christian Studies (MCS), one Master of Christian Ministry (MCMin), and five Master of Divinity degrees (MDiv), two with thesis.


Lee Janzen

Andy Menjivar

Alicia Hein

Conrad Au

Jaemoon Lee

Seun Adeyemi

Sungho Moon

Chris Girvan

This year’s Delta Epsilon Chi Honour Society Award went to Lee Janzen. Nominees must exhibit Christian character and leadership ability and must have achieved a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.3 on a 4-point scale. The Cunningham Christian Service Award went to Andy Menjivar. This award honours the memory of John and Isabel Cunningham, former pastor and wife at Cambrian Heights Baptist Church in Calgary, Alberta.

This year’s Mountain View Academic Merit Award for the highest GPA in the previous fall term went to Alicia Hein, who plans on pursuing her PhD in the near future.

The Church Planting Leadership Award went to Conrad Au, who has served faithfully in British Columbia for several years already. This year’s Zondervan Greek Award was jointly presented to Seun Adeyemi and Jaemoon Lee.

Sungho Moon, a student with a passion for reaching the lost, as evidenced in his life, was presented with the Jesse Morales Evangelism Award. Sungho also received the Blackaby Spiritual Leadership Award for exemplary spiritual leadership in ministry and conduct.

Finally, the LifeWay Pastoral Leadership Award is presented to an outstanding graduating seminary student preparing for pastoral ministry; this year’s recipient was Chris Girvan.


Samuel Program Certificate

Adam Janzen

Nate Nelson

Nathan Peacock


Andrew Smith

Emily Weston


Bachelor of Christian Studies

Lee Janzen

Caleb Smith

Bachelor of Christian Ministries

Alex Brown*

Tracy Onley

Master of Biblical Studies

Timothy Lenko

Master of Christian Studies

Conrad Au

Lisa Congo

Sungho Moon

Master of Christian Ministry

Chris Girvan*

Master of Divinity

Siseung Ahn

John Baker*

Jordan Bergen


Alicia Hein*

Andy Menjivar*


*With distinction (cumulative grade point average of 3.8 or higher)




* Note that all comments will be reviewed before appearing on this page.


On May 8, 2020 Heather Fraser commented:
Congratulations to your nineteen graduates. May God bless them all and guide them as they pursue His leading in their lives. Thank you, Dr. Blackaby for your inspiring message.