2017 Timon Schneider
Principal/CEO • Winterthur, Zürich, Switzerland
On Campus 2015–2017 ∙ MATS ’18
I’m a sportive generalist who likes people, theology, and education. My heart beats faster when I’m at the top of a mountain with skis on my feet, when I’m on the floor tussling with my kids, and when I sit with my friends over a beer and enjoy their friendship. My wife, Ursula, and I have three kids.
Most important Regent lesson:
A key experience at Regent was the realization that as Christians we are not primarily saved from something but to something. I learned that Christianity is not only about dying or taking up our cross, but also about living—about beauty, art, and life at its fullest. Regent taught me to develop a vision for this life in the tension of the already/not-yet: to leave my own ambitions behind not at the cost of this world, but for this world.
More From Timon
How I got to Regent:
My primary education is in economics, and before coming to Regent I worked as a high school teacher and business consultant. Nine months before I arrived in Vancouver, I quit my consulting job without knowing what would come next. I only knew that it would be great to go someplace far away with my young family. In the following weeks, I realized that an ideal way to connect my “itchy feet” with my theological interest would be to study abroad somewhere. I’d always dreamed about a theological education, but I’d never seriously considered it before.
I asked a friend to recommend three theological schools to me. One of them was Regent College. I applied, and never regretted it for a second. It was only later that I realized that, since my intention was always to return to the marketplace, Regent was a great fit. It addressed precisely the kind of questions that connected not only to church ministry but also to the everyday lives of people like me.
The time we spent in Canada was very formative for us as a family. Ursula and I arrived in Vancouver with two kids: Carlotta (then nineteen months old) and Geronimo (just seven weeks old). Selma was born during our second year at Regent and is now a proud Canadian citizen. It was in Canada that our identity as a family was formed and it was and is a privilege to share this adventure and the memories of it together. My family is the closest and most important community I’m part of, a safe place for all of us where we can just be.
Before coming to Regent, I had a hard time committing to a church. I evaluated my church membership largely in terms of the things I could get out of it. One thing I gained in Vancouver was a deeper understanding of the church as a sacrament and the beauty of its “ordinariness.” The church is a beautiful place, and I’m part of it because I am following Christ, not because I get something out of it.
One thing we brought back from Vancouver was a painting by a fellow student, Troy Terpstra. It now beautifies our living space at home and reminds us of our wonderful time and friendships in Vancouver, and also of the importance of art and beauty in the Christian life. Troy is a great artist and if you get a chance to see his paintings, you should!
Life after Regent:
Re-adjusting to our old/new life in Switzerland has been unexpectedly strenuous. We left Vancouver in 2017, and we needed at least as much time to adjust to our old home as we needed to adjust to our life in Vancouver. Even though we had many wonderful friends, a great place to live, and an interesting job to start, in retrospect it was too much changes at once and we often felt lost and empty in the first months. The rich Regent experience and community seemed far away. Ursula and I realized that it was hard (but important!) work to translate the Regent experience into the ordinary Swiss everyday life. Regent seemed more like a long camp than real life, and the things we learned needed to take on different forms in our own context. This process has gone on until this day, and what was strenuous at first has become an exciting journey of exploring the many ways of living in and through Christ.
Two weeks after our return to Switzerland, I started to work for the Christian foundation Stiftung SalZH, which runs several schools and childcare centres. After three months, I took over the CEO position. It was a great opportunity to step into a leadership position where I could draw from my backgrounds in economics, education, and theology. I love the job because I can connect these fields in a unique way.
How Regent made a difference:
I’m much more at peace with the complexity of my life because I now know that Jesus is not simply a friend to comfort me in need, but my Lord. My life has become this beautiful journey where speed doesn’t matter and detours are part of the plan.
Regent also gave us friends all over the world, which is simply amazing and a wonderful privilege.
Why I support Regent today:
I’d say I have two main reasons for supporting Regent on a regular basis:
1. The time at Regent changed my life, and I am deeply thankful for all the resources that were given to me during my time there. An easy way to say “thank you” is to support Regent financially. It’s also a great way to stay emotionally connected to the staff and friends who are still at Regent.
2. For us as a family, it was critical that Regent had considerably low tuition fees compared to many other schools. I know that this is only possible because people support Regent on a regular basis. I like the idea that part of each student’s tuition is subsidized by donors, and I want to help current students study with the lowest tuition fees possible.
Only Regent people…
…know that there is no theological education without a community in which it is embedded.
Best Regent memory:
Sitting in the atrium trying to read something, but constantly being interrupted for a personal chat or some theological problem to solve (or by a bowl of soup, or by a lunchtime concert, or by an art show…so many interruptions and distractions to a busy student!).
Funniest Regent memory:
Going on an East Vancouver brewery tour with friends on a rainy Saturday as my “baby shower.”
Favourite Regent class:
Christian Thought and Culture
Favourite place to study:
The atrium, and “Be Fresh” on Broadway
Favourite things about Vancouver:
Spanish Banks Beach, microbreweries in East Van, and the ability to go anywhere by bike.
Aspect of my life that would have surprised me as a student:
How little time I have to read theological books…
1. I applied to Regent without knowing anything about the College except that it was in Vancouver. (I guess I mainly liked the website…)
2. I can’t properly pronounce the difference between recipe/receipt or pen/pan. I constantly mixed them up, to the amusement of countless shop owners.
3. I’ve never blow-dried my hair, ever, in my life.
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