Packer College to open in Fall 2022

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JI Packer. Photo: Sue Careless

NEXT SEPTEMBER the Anglican Network in Canada plans to launch its own theological college in St John’s, Nfld, to be called Packer College after world-renowned theologian J.I. Packer. 

Dr. Packer, author of the Christian classic, Knowing God, was a member of ANiC who died in 2020. His widow Kit gave permission for his name to be used with “much joy” and “hearty approval,” said Diocesan Bishop Charlie Masters when he made the announcement in his opening charge to the ANiC Synod held online on Nov. 17. 

Bp Masters hopes the seminary “will raise up a new generation of pastors.”

Packer College would be housed in the Good Samaritan Church in downtown St. John’s. (Last year, through an anonymous donation, the Good Samaritan congregation was able to move into its own large building on a spacious property.)  When asked by Bp Masters if they would be willing to house such a college and allow its theological students to be involved in parish worship and outreach, the parish council unanimously endorsed the idea.

The residential coed college would aim to represent the Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical/Reformed and Charismatic traditions within Anglicanism. It would facilitate Anglican spiritual formation, which would be centred on the chapel life of the college – with daily Morning and Evening Prayer, and Feast Day Eucharists. 

The academic program would be primarily the study of the Scriptures (including biblical languages) together with church history and historical theology. There would also be a focus on church planting, mission, pastoral care and supporting the faith of children and families.  

A working group, chaired by Canon David Short of St John’s Vancouver, had been researching the possibility of launching such a seminary for the past year.  

An anonymous donation allowed ANiC to hire Dr. Gary Graber as Advisor to the Bishop on Theological Education. He concluded his term with Ryle Seminary in Ottawa in June 2020 after serving there as Professor and Academic Dean for nine years. Dr. Graber is a member of the working group tasked with considering the accreditation and legal requirements of launching the new college. He presented his findings to Bp Masters on Sept. 1.

Currently ANiC ordinands are studying at several Canadian seminaries: Regent College in Vancouver, the Artizo program out of St John’s in Vancouver, Ryle Seminary in Ottawa (which has a Burlington campus), Christ College (an online seminary based in Abbotsford, B.C.) and Wycliffe College in Toronto. 

Starting in 2007, a number of Anglican individuals and congregations chose to leave the Anglican Church of Canada for doctrinal reasons and form a more theologically conservative body – the Anglican Network in Canada. 

On its website, ANiC describes itself as “a continent-wide family of churches which, like the majority of Anglicans worldwide, remain faithful to established Christian doctrine and Anglican practice.” 

Today the denomination has 80 churches. It has five predominantly Chinese congregations, as well as one Japanese, one Filipino and one Sudanese congregation. 

ANiC is a founding diocese of the Anglican Church in North America and a member of the global Gafcon movement which represents about 70 of the 90 million Anglicans worldwide.   TAP