1997 Jennifer (Hall) Thompson
Registered Nurse • Vancouver, BC, Canada
On Campus 1993–1997 ∙ DIPCS, MDIV ’97
I am wife to Richard and mom to two teenage boys, Carter and Reid. We have a dog named Webster, who joined us for the family photo below. I work more than full-time in the Emergency Room at UBC Hospital and spend a great deal of time making meals. If I had spare time, I would be reading or quilting.
How Regent made a difference:
How has Regent not changed my life? It rescued and liberated me into a much larger space. Here I am able to do cross-cultural missions or be a mom or be nurse across the street. It gave me perspective on who I am to God, apart from and beyond what I do for him. I learned that working with God, tending to the garden he has given me right now, is a legitimate and holy calling.
I have kept connected with Regent over the years through public lectures and an occasional course or two. I am looking forward to re-engaging with studies as time opens up for me. I would love to focus more on spiritual formation. I wasn't in a place where I understood those courses while I was studying in the '90s, but I think that might be different now.
More From Jennifer
How I got to Regent:
I was a critical care nurse and active in ministry and outreach through my church. I wanted to play an increased role in church life, but I was told that, as a woman, I had reached the limit of what the church could offer me. The only concession was that I could head to the mission field, and I was encouraged to obtain some theological training prior to going. The message was that, yes, I could be a nurse and love God, but the only legitimate means to demonstrate that was to become a medical missionary. I was sincere in my desire and took this advice to heart.
I had never heard of Regent, but a friend who’d taken a summer course mentioned it to me. I was definitely not encouraged to attend a school called the “un-seminary”—it was viewed as a distant second to a denominational school (or, frankly, to any other school). But I felt inexplicably drawn. I resigned from my job and moved to Vancouver, intending to study for one year. I thought that would be more than enough time to affirm what I already knew about theology.
Ironically, the course that intrigued me the most was Paul Stevens’s “Work, Vocation and Ministry.” I registered for my first term. The unraveling was about to begin.
What happened next:
I now realize that I came to Regent looking for a seal of approval that would somehow qualify me for ministry and legitimize my desire to be involved in God’s work. I had never been exposed to any system that challenged this way of thinking. When I first began my studies at Regent, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing—it seemed scandalous! Far from affirming my understanding of Scripture and quickly equipping me for cross-cultural work, my time at Regent caused a lot of undoing. I considered leaving after the first term. But I can see now that there was a foggy recognition of truth. God was slowly and gently re-painting the picture of my identity and my place in his work and world.
Like many of us, I found my one year at Regent extending into several. Even four did not seem like enough. But it was a new beginning—one that continues to mature and grow to this day. I feel that God holds my story—and all our stories—with such tenderness. How gracious he is to constantly bring us into new awareness!
Life after Regent:
After I graduated, I married Richard and had the delightful (expensive) experience of putting him through a ThM. I continued to work at UBC hospital, where I’d worked during my Regent studies, and eventually transitioned from ICU to the Emergency Department. Over the years I have also worked in a plastic surgery clinic and as an international flight and air ambulance nurse.
My husband and I both studied at Regent. Decades later, I feel we are still trying to recover financially! Attending Regent had costs—accumulation of debt, loss of savings, years of pension not accrued—that will likely delay our retirement. When I could have been making clinical advancement at work, I was doing my MDiv instead. But life is about choice—often between what is good and what is better. I know we have made the better choice despite some of the hard realities.
I am now almost finished raising my two boys and husband. I have attended more sporting events than I care to mention; we have driven to Mexico and back in a minivan with their youth group; I have provided my teenage sons with valuable advice that has been respectfully disregarded. I am looking forward to some peace and quiet!
On a more serious note, as I enter a new phase of life, I am asking and waiting for what might be next. It may be an age thing, but in the past few years I desire a more contemplative way of being. Solitude and silence are increasingly important to me. Emerging from that time is an increased awareness of the presence and action of the Trinity in me and in the world.
Three words that describe Regent:
Only Regent people…
…have been eating the same soup since 1987.
Best Regent memory:
Singing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” at chapel on the first day of classes. Coming to Regent was not easy for me—or for anyone, I would imagine. That song gained a new meaning for me that day, and it still gets me every time.
Favourite Regent class:
Biblical Theology with Bruce Waltke and Gordon Fee. Enough said!
Favourite thing about Vancouver:
The rain! Well, not really, but it does help me to remember that God’s grace falls equally on everything.
Aspect of my life that would have surprised me as a student:
That twenty-two years after graduation I am still around Regent and still work at the hospital across the street—and that both are still gifts.
1. I have a terrible sense of direction. I despise words like “east.”
2. As I mentioned, I’m looking forward to taking more classes in the future. There is so much I want to learn and relearn. But not Greek. Never again! I made it through those courses by the grace of God, strong coffee, and Dave Diewert’s pity.
3. My favourite place to study as a student was a corner of the library that, after the renovations, became my husband’s office. Weird!
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