2007 Jill (Zimmerman) McFadden
Homemaker • Baltimore, Maryland, USA
On Campus 2004-2007 ∙ DipCS ’05, MATS ’07
I’m wife to Ian and mom to three littles. I grew up in Panama City, Florida, which will always be my original hometown, but Baltimore feels like home now too: we’re involved in planting a church here, and this is where we’re raising our family.
How Regent made a difference:
My experience at Regent shapes and colors everything, really.
As a worship leader, the basics of the biblical narrative that I gained from core courses like OT and NT Foundations subtly informed how I selected songs and set up services. I never had a class on how to lead congregational worship, but the big picture education I got at Regent totally affects how I go about it.
Our time at Regent also shapes how Ian and I raise our family. For example, we’ve been trying to model Sabbath rest for our kids. This is something I remember Loren Wilkinson talking about in “Christian Life,” and Darrell Johnson in “Preaching & Worship.” We talk about the Sabbath being for “praying and playing” (a Eugene Peterson phrase), and the kids look forward to it throughout the week. Yearning for rest and recreation, trusting that the redemption of the world and the flourishing of our little church is ultimately God’s work and not ours, modeling dependence and embracing creaturely limitations—these are things we want to do and want our kids to see us doing.
More From Jill
How I got to Regent:
Before I came to Regent I was studying theology at a little residential fellowship program called the Trinity Forum Academy. I chose Regent for further studies because it was one of the first seminaries to take seriously the study of theology and the arts. It’s also evangelical but multi-denominational, and I knew that having that variety of perspectives and traditions would be of great value to me.
Most important lesson:
The most important thing I learned at Regent is how unity is possible in a community made up of people from so many countries, denominations, and generations. Seeing professors model what it looks like to disagree charitably, while still pursuing Christ and Christ-likeness together, gave me a bigger vision for unity and community within the body of Christ broadly.
Life after Regent:
After finishing my time at Regent, I married fellow Regent grad Ian McFadden, and we worked together in churches in Louisiana and Maryland. I worked as a worship arts director. I loved encouraging artists to find their aesthetic voice in church, and helping “non-artists” explore creative expression.
Almost five years ago I quit my church job to be at home with our growing family. My seminary education took on a new and very different significance. Instead of crafting worship services artistically grounded in the biblical narrative, I was crafting dinners and changing diapers. There were no encouraging Monday morning emails about how much my work meant to people. Regent’s emphasis on God’s calling on the totality of our lives and the Spirit’s desire to work through and in the ordinariness of the “other six days” helped me situate my day-to-day duties in that same narrative of how God is rescuing the world. However hidden or mundane my service may sometimes seem, I’m participating in the same story. After all, the Jesus I want my children to know is a Jesus who reveals himself in ordinary bread and wine, who calls himself a door and a gate and a light and a shepherd, and who graciously shows up again and again as I nurse an infant in the middle of the night, fold laundry, or chop vegetables.
During my time at Regent, I formed a band called Ordinary Time with two of my friends and classmates, Ben Keyes and Peter La Grand. We all live in different cities now, but we’ve had occasional opportunities to play and record together. We still try to keep this up—in fact, we’re looking forward to performing together when we’re all in town for Regent’s 50th anniversary!
A call to gentleness:
One Regent memory that stands out for me is a morning walk with Dr. Houston. It was a beautiful day. I asked him what he saw as the greatest need for the church in the next generation. What was our calling? What would be needed for us to be effective light-bearers and shalom-bringers in the world? His answer: gentleness.
I honestly didn’t get it at the time. But in the intervening 15 years—especially as I’ve looked at the world from my perspective in the USA, with its tumultuous and dichotomized political climate and racial divisions—I’ve come to understand. I am seeing more and more our desperate need for gentleness—a courageous gentleness that moves toward the other, works for justice, and upholds truth in a winsome, caring, thought-filled way.
Checking back in:
I have been privileged to visit Regent many times in the last decade since graduating, mostly playing music there and in the Vancouver area. Every time I walk into the Atrium, it feels at once very different and very “the same.” Different faces, different artwork, new renovation projects. But the same buzz of conversation, the same pursuit of knowing God through study and in community. The same ratio of people to mugs of coffee or tea!
I’ve gotten to know several individuals who have made their way to Regent since my time there, and I love hearing stories that remind me of my own time there—stories about the deep personal care professors have taken in their lives during hard times, stories about the way their classes have transformed how they think about the Bible and about their everyday lives.
I can still walk into someone’s house and think it feels “Regenty”: warm, welcoming, full of books and mason jars and onions and garlic, maybe even smelling of simmering soup. I can meet fellow Regent alumni—whether they attended before or after my time there—and feel immediately connected to them. In short, my experience and impression of Regent over the last 15 years—even through faculty changes, building projects, and student turnover—has had great continuity.
Why I support Regent today:
We support Regent out of thankfulness for the role Regent played in our own stories. We believe in its vision, and it gives us hope to know there is an institution—a community—devoted to cultivating integrated, thoughtful, truth-loving-yet-gracious followers of Christ. And we want to see that continue.
Regent in three words:
Best Regent memory:
I was able to be part of one of the last Bible study groups that Rita Houston hosted in her home. We would sit at the table off the kitchen, sipping tea with our Bibles out—I could listen to Rita read Scripture all day—and admiring the beautiful view of the mountains out the window. I remember a comment she made on a particularly grey day when the mountains were shrouded in cloud: “every time, it reminds me of God—you know he's there, even when you can't see him.”
Funniest Regent memory:
One night Peter La Grand, Ben Keyes, and I were going over to Maxine and Cam Hancock’s condo for dinner. We were bringing the soup. The moment we stepped out of the elevator, one of the handles of the soup pot broke off, sending an entire pot of Moroccan lentils spewing onto the floor. In about two seconds flat, Maxine and Cam were there with towels and cleaning spray—as if they had been waiting at their front door for just such a calamity. Maxine then added whatever vegetables and leftovers were in the fridge to the sad remains of the soup, and we still enjoyed a wonderful evening together!
Favorite Regent class:
Old Testament Foundations
Favorite place to study:
Favorite things about Vancouver:
Seeing the mountains after a long stretch of grey days. I also love the UBC Endowment Lands.
As a donor, I'm supporting Regent's ongoing mission.
Would you join me?