Celebration of the Installation of Dr. Ross Hastings as Sangwoo Youtong Chee Chair of Theology
The Sangwoo Youtong Chee Chair of Theology was generously established in October, 1989. The Chair is named in honour of Mr. Sangwoo Youtong Chee, a prominent businessman, educator, and church leader in Hong Kong. The holder of the Chair must advance Christian understanding in accordance with the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, the confessional heritage of the Reformation, and Regent College's theological position. The incumbent must maintain unequivocal commitment to Holy Scripture, demonstrate specialization in theology, and exercise excellence as a teacher, researcher, and writer in service of the whole church. The Chair's first occupant, Dr. J.I. Packer, was succeeded in 1999 by Dr. John G. Stackhouse, Jr. Thousands of Regent College students have benefitted from the Chair, which has made a positive impact for the Gospel across the globe.
On Saturday, April 9, Dr. Ross Hastings was installed into the Sangwoo Youtong Chee Chair of Theology at Regent College. Dr. Hastings received a standing ovation for his address, “Echoes of Coinherence: Theology and Science in Conversation.” Student Kasey Kimball reflects on the joyful celebration.
From my usher’s post by the door I watched them stream into the Regent Chapel: students from the library stacks below, staff members roused from weekend rest, Ross's proud TA Meredith, his beaming wife Tammy, and his delighted children cradling their own children in their arms. The extended Chee family, though demanding no special attention, was shepherded to the front row in honor and gratitude. We rose as Jeff Greenman wearing his still-new presidential medallion led the procession of faculty awash in alma mater colors, accompanied by founding father James Houston and former Chee chair J.I. Packer.
As I look back, my memories of that night mingle with my favourite image of the eschaton in Isaiah 60: all the nations of the world streaming to God’s eternal city, offering the best of what their minds and hands have made. Processing in academic robes, led by skillful musicians, giving the best of our resources, and celebrating together over finely-made cheeses that night, we embodied the truth that our work is eternally valuable to God, that what we offer in worship will endure. The principle embodiment, however, was Ross himself. Bringing together the fullness of his expertise in both science and theology, he reminded us that the world in which we live is indelibly marked by the relationality, immanence, and transcendence of the Triune God who made it. He called Christians to welcome into our house of praise the work of those who labor in laboratories and under microscopes; to learn to read again the language of the book of nature penned by the Word in creation.
At the conclusion of Ross's speech, the faculty stood and surrounded him. Led by Dr. Packer, they entered into a prayer of thanksgiving, blessing, and intercession. Their prayer was not only for Ross, but also for all of us who seek to use all available data to grow in the knowledge and love of God. It was a fitting conclusion to a celebration in which the spiritual and academic intermingled, conducted in a space that houses both lectures and worship services. On that night I saw a glimpse of the coming kingdom: a kingdom of prayerful scientists and embodied theologians, a kingdom where we rejoice at the world we’ve been given and return our study and stewardship of it back to God in thanks and praise. May it be so.