An image I have used many times with our staff is this: navigating Redeemer through our changing times is like a canoe ride through river rapids — it will be a bumpy ride, but we need to keep paddling forward, in unison, steering carefully to avoid the rocks.
Our voyage of late has been through a pretty rough stretch of water. The same demographic trend that caused high schools to experience declining enrolment since 2006 is now cycling through Redeemer. This has a significant effect on our enrolment, and hence, our budget. As a result, we are now having to go through the very painful exercise of downsizing staffing at all levels. We make these difficult decisions in order to continue our efforts to balance budgets and ensure Redeemer can continue its mission for the long term.
Demographics and current budget challenges do not tell the whole story, however. We are seeing in Christian families a growing tension about the purpose of post-secondary education. Should students answer the siren call of job training and economic security promised by “prestige” universities and specialized programs? Or should they choose a university like Redeemer that—through all of its academic programs—encourages students to grow in faith and Biblical wisdom and prepares them for vocations in ways that allow them to realize a Kingdom vision for their talents and their whole lives?
This is, of course, a false dichotomy; Redeemer’s liberal arts and sciences programs have track records of graduating students who have gone on to meaningful and transformational callings and careers. But meanwhile, as scholars like Anthony Kronman and Harry Lewis have argued, prestige universities have lost their vision for the meaning of life, leaving a profound hollowness in contemporary learning and culture that so many youth long to have filled.
That’s why our mission remains so vital, even through these turbulent times. The intellectual and educational vision professed and worked out at Redeemer prepares the leaders who answer this call and who are urgently needed for leavening our culture today and tomorrow. It is a vision that can be seen in our academic program, including our new Core curriculum. and in the shalom-filled relationships our graduates develop across communities, cultures and workplaces, in areas such as law and indigenous education. It’s also why we must “paddle through” these rough waters – we want to be in the position to carry out God’s calling for Redeemer for the long term. As we navigate today’s challenges, we trust that God, who has led Redeemer through many rapids in the past, will continue to lead and use Redeemer for His purpose in the future. We thank you for your support as we “lean in” to the mission God has given us.