Michael Pawelke has a vision for Briercrest and its graduates.
“I offer this aspiration,” said Pawelke during his installation address as Briercrest’s sixth president on Sept. 27. “Our calling is to inspire a movement of leaders who will equip the church and engage our world.”
“We want to produce leaders who love the church and want to serve the church,” Pawelke continued. “We are partnering with the church because we believe that the church is the agency of God’s presence and activity in our world. The church is the messenger of grace, liberty, forgiveness, hope, and reconciliation with God. We have no greater partnership. We have no greater message.”
Briercrest’s new president sees the ability to engage and influence the world as an outgrowth of this kind of leadership.
“We want to inspire our students, our graduates, and our alumni to engage our world,” he exclaimed. “We want to bring compassion, creativity, imagination, and integrity to whatever context our graduates are placed in, and so advance the message of hope, redemption, and transformation.”
The service honoured the school’s rich history but highlighted and looked forward to the future.
“We look back on our history with fondness and indeed gratitude,” Briercrest’s VP Academic, Wes Olmstead said. “Recent interaction with the Saskatchewan Higher Education Quality Assurance Board has introduced a new day in our province. With the official authorization of our BA Humanities degree in April, Briercrest stands at an important turning point in its history as it takes its place more fully amongst Saskatchewan’s degree-granting colleges and universities.”
Olmstead explained how this juncture in the school’s history is a key time for Pawelke to be named president.
“Dr. Pawelke has a deep appreciation for our past – he has known each of our presidents,” he said. “But he’s committed to looking forward as Briercrest seeks to make its most strategic contribution to the church and to our broader society in years ahead.”
Pawelke honoured the three past presidents who took part in the ceremony.
“I stand on the shoulders of these remarkable leaders and pillars of the faith,” he exclaimed. “I thank them for their sacrifice, wisdom, and faithfulness to the cause of Christ and to the advancement of the impact of Briercrest in Canada and in our world.”
Former president Dwayne Uglem prayed a blessing over Pawelke as he assumed the new role of leadership.
Reverand Jack Hannah, president of Central Baptist Seminary and mentor of Pawelke, charged the new president, saying that providing leadership for the school could be as simple as A,B,C – Acknowledge God, Be a servant, and Consider your calling.
Several dignitaries participated in Saturday afternoon’s event. The Honourable D. Wayne Elhard, Provincial Secretary of Saskatchewan read Scripture and the Honourable Rob Norris, Saskatchewan’s Minister of Advanced Education personally delivered congratulations to Pawelke. Other congratulatory letters, including one from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, were read during the service.