2023 Knox College Convocation
Watch the entire Convocation service below, or on Knox’s YouTube page.
Congratulations, Class of 2023!
Knox College conferred degrees, certificates, and diplomas upon thirty-two graduates on May 27, 2023. This special Convocation ceremony included the conferral of degrees upon the Class of 2023 as well as special recognition of the Classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022, who graduated under COVID restrictions. This was the first Convocation ceremony since 2019 entirely without pandemic restrictions.
In his remarks, Principal Ernest van Eck said, “The principal characteristic of a college or university and its great teachers should be a relentless discontent for the current state of knowledge. It is this discontent, not being satisfied with what we think we know… that should push us to explore further, to ask more questions, to look into new possibilities, and to advance human knowledge. University is about unbounded curiosity.” He told the graduates, “I hope… that you will never stop learning.”
Principal van Eck presented the 2023 Willis Memorial Prize (formerly the Knox College Gold Medal) to James MacDonald, the graduating Master of Divinity student with the highest academic standing in the 30-credit program. Claire Lemiski, graduating with the Master of Theological Studies degree, received the Mathewson Memorial Scholarship, the top prize for a student in the 20-credit Master of Theological Studies or Master of Pastoral Studies program. The 2020, 2021, and 2022 recipients of the Willis Memorial Prize and Mathewson Memorial Scholarship were also recognized. See the complete list of 2023 student prizes here.
Guest speaker Lori Ransom shared the Convocation Address, “Reconciliation, Spiritual Violence, and the Mystery of Indigenous Christians,” highlighting reconciliation as the central message of the gospel. She said, “If we focus our efforts fulsomely to live into our central gospel calling, to leave our gifts at the altar and first go and be first reconciled to our brothers and sisters, including in the natural world… and truly take steps to repair what has gone wrong, we may yet witness to Christ in ways that attract the attention of the very many people in our country and around the world who wonder what relevance the Church has to their lives and the challenges we are experiencing.”
She concluded, “The people who God has created to inhabit this earth are emphatically resilient, emphatically creative, emphatically disposed to helping each other out and moving forward, and emphatically peoples of hope and optimism. When history looks back on us, I hope and trust that they will see us not as having lived in a time of decline of the church, but in an age of experimentation and transformation, even a time of re-formation – as the people of God who lived into our calling to reconcile with God, with other peoples, and with Mother Earth.”
Knox College conferred the degree Doctor of Divinity (honoris causa) upon the Rev. Peter Bush (1989 MDiv) for his extraordinary commitment to his calling to God’s ministry – within congregational settings, in affairs of public life and the academic world, and through his pastoral ministry, writings, creative leadership, and meaningful and healing personal connections in broader society.
The Rev. Dr. Stuart Macdonald presented remarks written by the Rev. Dr. John Vissers. He said, “For over 30 years, Peter has been a faithful and creative minister in remote, small-town, and urban churches. . . In each place, Peter has thought deeply about the meaning of the gospel with his people as he preached and taught. He has lived among them as a caring pastor and authentic follower of Jesus Christ, and he has led them courageously in worship and witness in their communities. Beyond his core commitments as minister of word and sacraments in local congregations, Peter has also given creative leadership at all levels of the church’s life.” He presented the Rev. Bush for this degree, “For his contributions to pastoral ministry, his scholarly work in the service to the church and academy, and his service to the Presbyterian Church at all its levels, and to the community – and all of this with energy and faith.” Learn more at knox.utoronto.ca/hdd2023.
The May 27, 2023, Convocation ceremony acknowledged graduates’ accomplishments and officially conferred their degrees according to requirements of the University of Toronto, the Toronto School of Theology, and the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.
Watch the entire service here, or on Knox’s YouTube page: