Dr. Jim Payton Retires
Redeemer community shares memories and impact of 30 years of service
3 min. read
March 13, 2015

After 30 years of teaching and administration, Dr. Jim Payton, professor of history, will be retiring from Redeemer University College. In March and April, Redeemer faculty, staff and students gathered to commemorate Dr. Payton’s work and impact. Dr. Payton’s retirement was celebrated with speeches by his four children, his colleagues in the History Department, by a former student and by Dr. William Koopmans, Ecumenical Officer for Canada and fellow leader on the CRC’s Ecumencial and Interfaith Relations Committee. Before coming to Redeemer, Jim served as a pastor at a Presbyterian church in Pennsylvania and a Christian Reformed church in Stratford. With a B.A. in Religion and M.A. in Theology from Bob Jones University, Dr. Payton discovered his love for Church history in graduate school. At Westminster Theological Seminary he completed a Th.M. in the field, along with his M.Div. This program sealed his interest in history, and enabled him to receive his Ph.D. from the University of Waterloo in the Intellectual History of Early Modern Europe. Dr. Payton spent eight years as a pastor before joining the Redeemer community. Dr. Payton has served Redeemer as an academic dean, a professor of history, a member of some of Redeemer’s most significant committees, an academic senator and as the first and, so far only, marshal for convocation and other ceremonies. Thirty years after beginning his work at Redeemer, Dr. Payton is a world-renowned and highly respected and prolific scholar. He has published four books, has a fifth completed and a sixth underway. Some of Dr. Payton’s books have been recognized with awards from the Word Guild and this past October, Christianity Today named his book Getting the Reformation Wrong as one of the top ten books on the Reformation. Dr. Payton is also a highly sought-after speaker at national and international conferences and special events. Dr. Payton began his scholarly career in late medieval/Reformation-era studies, but his interests increasingly moved eastward, to the history of Eastern Europe and of Orthodoxy. When he began teaching in the history department, all of the courses taught were in European and North American history. That is not that unusual in North America, and even today it tends to predominate in many places, explained Kevin Flatt, associate professor of history and chair of the department of history and international studies. “Jim saw how important it was for us as Westerners, and as Western Christians, to learn from these Eastern Christian civilizations and histories. And so Jim forged ahead and undertook his own study of this area, and he and his students were the better for it. Several CCCU (Council for Christian Colleges and Universities) schools now offer courses in the study of Eastern Orthodoxy, and they assign Jim’s book, Light from the Christian East,” Dr. Flatt said. In addition to these accomplishments, Dr. Payton is beloved by students for his wit, care and his passion for history. “Jim is loved by his students for so many things: for teaching them history from a Christian perspective, for his passion and enthusiasm for history and for how much he cares about them,” said Provost and Vice President, Academic Doug Needham in his reflections. David Zietsma, associate professor of history and vice president, marketing and enrolment, continued in this vein in his remarks: “Today, there are hundreds, likely thousands, of Redeemer alumni whose lives you have touched in some way, Jim. People whom you’ve inspired to think more deeply, to act more charitably and to live more fully. They are in turn touching the lives of others wherever they find themselves.” Redeemer University College, its students, alumni and supporters, thank Dr. Payton for his many years of service and wish him God’s blessings in his retirement.

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