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Out of the Blue

$1.5-million gift surprises Emmanuel College principal Peter Wyatt

The Bible says, “Ask and you shall receive,” but Peter Wyatt never dreamed raising money for Emmanuel College would be quite that straightforward.

At a dinner last autumn to launch a fundraising campaign for theological education and congregational leadership, the Emmanuel College principal posed a challenge to his 80 guests: raise $1.5 million for a single endowed chair.

Much to his surprise, Rev. Jane Brushey-Martin (BMus 1972, BEd 1973, MDiv 2002) and her husband, Geoff Martin (BMus 1971), called the very next day to say that they would provide the entire amount.

“I thought, ‘Hallelujah!’” says Wyatt. “It was quite out of the blue.” The decision surprised Brushey-Martin, too. “There comes a moment in our lives, at least for some of us, when a voice deep inside us prompts us to do something we had previously never considered,” she says. Hearing Rev. Wyatt speak at the dinner was her catalyst. “It was as if someone had lit a fire in my soul.”

The Martins’ gift prompted Wyatt to raise the bar; he’s now seeking an additional $5 million to fund two more endowed chairs – in church music and theology of religions – and scholarships for doctoral students.

With church attendance declining in Canada, Wyatt says graduates of Emmanuel College need to be able to touch the constituencies they serve with greater imagination and power. “It takes a more entrepreneurial style of ministry,” he says.

Wyatt hopes the campaign will raise the college’s profile and make theological education attractive for more people. “I see the campaign unfolding as when a pebble is thrown into a pond,” he says. “The pebble is the energy to endow a chair. As this news spreads, more people will be touched, fresh thoughts about theological education will ripple out and the number of candidates excited about the challenge of leadership will grow.”

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