2009 Kathy Tyers Gillin
Writer/Editor • Bozeman, Montana, USA
On Campus 2006-2009 ∙ DipCS ’07, MATS ’09
Sixty-something and recently remarried, I work as a freelance writer, mentor, and editor, and I’m passionate about vegetable gardening, but I have been a semiprofessional flutist, microbiology tech, and elementary school teacher. I grew up Methodist, attended an Evangelical Free Church for several decades, worshipped Anglican while at Regent College, and now I’m with the Presbyterian Church in America.
I tried to take a vivid mental snapshot during Convocation, as I sat next to a Thai friend and stared up at the marvelous faculty. I had found my people, after a lifetime search, and even though I would have to continue my membership from afar, I felt honored, blessed, encouraged, and hopeful. Returning to the world outside of academia would be a struggle, and I had known all along that working on “one huge goal” couldn’t last. The few photos that I have from the day show me dazed with grief and joy.
More From Kathy
How I got to Regent:
Over the ten-year period before coming to Regent, I watched my husband sink into alcoholism. During those years, my career as a science fiction author also sank and faded. In 2004, I became an empty-nest widow with a questionable publishing future. What I needed and found was a supportive community of lively, intelligent Christians, plus the academic challenge I craved. I told myself that even if I didn’t succeed, I could say that I had “taken a few courses toward a graduate degree.” My decision to come was also influenced by hosting a young German exchange student during my first year as a widow. I figured that if sixteen-year-old Jan could spend nine months on the far side of the Atlantic, I could survive a Vancouver adventure.
Liturgy and God’s presence:
While I was at Regent, I worshipped at St. John’s Vancouver Anglican church. I had been influenced by C.S. Lewis as a young Christian, so this felt like completing a journey toward the liturgical tradition. There and at Regent, I felt the continuity with my Christian brothers and sisters from previous centuries and around the world. At Regent, I also grew more sensitive to God’s presence throughout creation, as well as in Scripture.
Most important lesson:
It’s hard to pick just one! Maybe this: that my “hopelessly middled” place in the metanarrative of creation, redemption, and eternity is exactly where God wants me to carry out my calling.
How Regent made a difference:
After losing my husband to alcoholism after twenty years of trying to be an “excellent Christian wife,” my sense of calling was pretty well shot. Regent restored a sense of purpose. I also gained a better global and historical perspective on the Church. Regent was a time for recovery, restoration, and making inspiring friends from all over the world. It reassured me that God is working in places that rarely get mentioned by the North American media. It also stretched me intellectually in ways that I could not have anticipated. I felt that my entire subconscious theology, particularly my eschatology, was deconstructed and reassembled. That was painful but lifesaving.
I also remember writing on my Regent application, “I miss my dreams.” I’m still a dreamer, and I still enjoy speculative fiction, but my appreciation of and gratitude for this world have grown so much richer and deeper that I no longer miss the old dreams so much. I have new dreams that I share with the length, depth, and breadth of the Church.
Life after Regent:
I came to Regent as a widow and remarried several years later, when God knew I was ready to love again and sent Bill into my life. My career has also shifted; before Regent, I would have described myself as a science fiction writer. Now, I do more editing than writing, and I find it utterly satisfying.
I never imagined I would marry a cowboy! He’s also a retired pilot, but as I write this, he’s at the family ranch feeding cattle at twenty below.
When I returned to Montana, I became involved in a growing PCA congregation where the value of the arts is occasionally taught (by several people, including me) in adult Sunday School classes. The music is excellent, and the teaching is Scripturally deep. We have brought in guest lecturers including, most recently, Malcolm Guite.
Why I support Regent today:
It’s not easy to afford a graduate degree, nor to live in Vancouver. When I was studying, with no idea what would come next, I watched every penny. I suspect that the people who are now at Regent putting their lives back together—or gathering themselves for a leap forward—are going through similarly scary financial times. Also, part of Regent’s incredible value to me was the astonishing faculty. Academic folks who are that marvelous also make sacrifices to continue there.
Compared with my lean-and-scary grad student years, I am more financially secure now. How could I not help? I think that people who come to Regent with an empty tank and at a point of crisis, as I did, need those of us who can step up later and help in whatever way we can, whether it’s encouraging friends to try a summer school course, supporting the best bookstore in all of creation (surely!), or just praying and sending financial help. I feel compelled and responsible to help others along the way, knowing that every raindrop helps swell the river.
Only Regent people…
...would rather reminisce about the Regent Bookstore than actually spend time in any other bookstore on the planet.
Regent in three words:
Best Regent memory:
Cooking a double batch of cornbread muffins to represent the U.S. at the annual Regent potluck, and watching the whole bowlful disappear.
Funniest Regent memory:
During an Old Testament Foundations study group session led by the incomparable Matt Mattoon, he asked a Star Wars-related trivia question. I blurted the answer, and that’s how he found out that I had written two novels for the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
Favorite Regent class:
That would have to be Old Testament Foundations, as deep and rich as a bowl of melted chocolate. No, wait ... what about Summer School Hebrew? That was a total, insanity-producing treat. But there also were those marvelous, eye-opening, heart-healing history classes, to say nothing of Christian Thought and Culture. Or Systematic Theology with Dr. Packer? Ah! I know! Craig Gay’s technology/Christianity courses. Never did I work so hard to comprehend a paragraph of assigned reading. Over and over, on every page. And never did I come away with my worldview so effectively shifted.
Favorite things about Vancouver:
Driving north through Dunbar, coming over that hill and suddenly seeing the North Shore and all the ships in the harbor. That never got old.
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