The 2023 Steinbach Bible College grad celebrations took place Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, with 34 students putting on a cap and gown.
Interim President Terry Hiebert says, while most of the graduates were from southern Manitoba, others came from across Canada and around the world.
Hiebert explains why their grad numbers were down this year.
"The pandemic did take a toll on us, especially with new students. In the past, we've had great retention, but we've also had two years of fewer students coming, and so we're kind of on in a bounce-back year this year. We did see some more first-years this year and it looks good for next year. But yeah, the 2023 graduation class is a bit lower than it has been in the previous two.”
Hiebert says this year has felt more normal.
"For the most part, it visibly looks normal and it's somewhat similar to what we had in previous years, but there's been a lot of things happening internally in students' lives. So, back in September, the students chose the theme "Revival", because of some of the emotional toll that the previous two years had taken on them. Even though we had been a little bit more normal than maybe some places were, you could sense that over the last year, there has been a slow kind of return to normal, and kind of a revival has been happening for them as well.”
Hiebert notes that in the years following the pandemic, many SBC students were re-learning to trust others again because of social distancing, which he feels also led to an emotional kind of distancing as well.
“It's taken them a while to come back together again as a community. There have been some events, that have really been helpful. Like the Mission X program, which we do every February, as well there was a group that went to northern Manitoba, and then there was a third group that went to Turkey and spent three weeks there, which happened to be right after the earthquake. During these times away from campus, we really saw them get reconnected again within those groups.”
"Looking back", Hiebert says, “It was so gratifying to see the results of building community, but also just the excitement that they had met other people and connected with them and were able to share God's love with them.”
The Steinbach Bible College Graduation weekend kicked off Friday night with the Spring Showcase featuring music and drama performances. It was an informal event highlighting some of the faculty and staff who have been around for a long time.
Saturday afternoon, the graduation ceremonies included the formal address by former President Rob Reimer and Riley Hiebert the class Valedictorian, as well as Dave Reimer who was introduced as the new president of the school.
Hiebert’s Interim Presidency and SBC career comes to a close
Reflecting, Heibert says, “I was filling some huge shoes as Rob Reimer was here for 15 years, but I've had a really good year. It's been a year of learning a lot of new things; connecting with a lot of people outside the school that I haven't connected with for a long time, and it was kind of a great opportunity for me as it's also my last year at SBC as a full-time faculty member, so it was a way of me also being able to connect with people and say ‘thank you' for the 28 years that I've been here.”
The next president of Steinbach Bible College was announced as Dave Reimer back in February of this year.
"He'll do an excellent job. We've been friends for years. In fact, I hired him back in ‘07 as a faculty member, and so it's good to see him come kind of full-circle and take this position. We've already been talking quite a bit about the future and what that's going to look like, and so I'm quite hopeful that he'll have a good handle on the school. He's also got a really great presence and he's kind of this solid-character that I think will be great to stabilize and also direct the school in the coming years.”
Hiebert shares these farewell words to the students and staff at SBC.
“Say 'Yes' to God often. Be ready to take on new challenges and new opportunities and see God directing in new ways. It's so easy to get caught up in self and kind of get into what your career is going to be like, and who you are going to be related to for the rest of my life, and those kinds of things, and yet the key thing is, what we've been telling them (the students) through the last one-two-three years, is to be open to God's direction and God's leading, and so I would encourage them to say 'Yes' to God often.”