It was a red letter day for Wycliffe College in 1990 when a key donor and friend of Wycliffe College dropped in to the office of then Principal Peter Mason. Their conversation about future directions and current needs of the college soon led to the topic of evangelism, and how it ought to become an integral component of the curriculum.
An embryonic vision for an institute emerged. It was a vision with a three-pronged focus:
- teach evangelism to Wycliffe students;
- offer seminars, conferences, and workshops for clergy and lay leaders in the wider church;
- create opportunities for writing, research, and resource development.
A search process ensued, and the Rev. Dr. Harold Percy, rector of Trinity Anglican Church in Streetsville, was appointed director of this new body. The formal inauguration of the Institute of Evangelism was held in October 1991. Harold was then joined by the Rev. Dr. Michael Knowles, a recent Wycliffe graduate in New Testament, who served as an associate with the Institute. Together they laid the groundwork for work in each of the three focus areas: teaching, mentoring, and resource development.
When Michael accepted a full time position at McMaster Divinity School, Dr. John Bowen came on board in 1998, serving as an associate with Harold. John then became Director of the Institute in 2000; leading it faithfully for 15 years. In June of 2013 the Rev. Dr. Judy Paulsen took over the teaching of Wycliffe’s courses in evangelism, as John took on some new responsibilities at the college. Judy was then appointed Director of the Institute of Evangelism in January 2016. In 2023, on Judy’s retirement, Rev. Jeremy McClung was appointed Transitional Director of the Institute of Evangelism, to undertake a two year process of discernment that will include such things as gathering feedback, assessing resources and structures, and suggesting strategic new initiatives.
Today the Institute of Evangelism’s mission remains the same as at its founding: to help every church become an evangelizing community, through teaching, mentoring and resource development.
We hope you’ll join us by praying for and giving generously to support this important ministry.