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Reverend Dr. John Vissers nominated as Principal of Knox College

John Vissers

Knox College’s Board of Governors is pleased to nominate the Rev. Dr. John Vissers as Principal of Knox College to the 143rd  General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada, effective July 1, 2017.

The Board of Governors appointed a Search Committee, chaired by Board member Peter McKinnon, to represent the Knox College community. The committee included members of the Board, Faculty, senior staff, alumni/ae, and students – plus representatives from the General Assembly Council Executive and the Toronto School of Theology. It circularized presbyteries to make them aware of the search and to request nominations; fifteen nominated Dr. Vissers.

The committee conducted a rigorous and time-consuming international search, reading materials submitted by applicants, conducting interviews of four strong candidates, and checking references. The committee asked Dr. Vissers to present a public lecture at the College, after which committee members met with each of the groups in the Knox community to hear their general comments and feedback. Peter McKinnon submitted a report to the Board, recommending that Dr. Vissers be nominated as Principal of Knox College, and the Board approved the recommendation unanimously.

Raised in The Presbyterian Church in Canada, Dr. Vissers was ordained as a minister of Word and Sacraments by the Presbytery of West Toronto on May 24, 1981. From this date forward, he has been an active and supportive Presbyter, holding many offices and serving on many committees, both at the presbytery and national level. In the year 2012-13, he was Moderator of the 138th General Assembly. He has also served the church as senior minister at Knox Presbyterian Church in Toronto and as professor and Principal of Presbyterian College, Montreal. Currently he is a full professor (Historical Theology) at Knox College and the Toronto School of Theology and he is the Director of Academic Programs at Knox College.

Dr. Vissers graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Victoria College, University of Toronto, followed by a Master of Divinity degree from Knox College and a Master of Theology degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. He earned his Doctor of Theology degree from Knox College, University of Toronto: his doctoral dissertation is titled, ”The Conception of Revelation in the Theology of Walter W. Bryden.”

Throughout his career, Dr. Vissers has written extensively, mainly in the theology and history of the Reformed Protestant tradition and its effect on the Canadian context. He wrote The Neo-Orthodox Theology of W.W. Bryden and co-edited and contributed to Calvin at 500: Theology, History, and Practice and Studies in Canadian Evangelical Renewal: Essays in Honour of Ian S. Rennie. In addition to these books, he has written numerous journal articles, chapters in books, book reviews, and magazine articles. He has received several awards for the quality and relevance of his research.

His teaching has focused on his deep knowledge of and passion for theology, which he has shared through courses such as “Principles of Christian Theology,” “Christianity in a Global Perspective,” “Church, Ministry, and Sacraments,” “Theology of John Calvin,” and “Reformed Theology in Dialogue.”

Dr. Vissers has broad interests, as demonstrated by his writing and his contributions to our national church. In recognition of his contribution to ecumenical theological education, the Montreal Diocesan Theological College at McGill University awarded him the degree Doctor of Sacred Theology, honoris causa.

Join with the Knox College Board of Governors in celebrating the Rev. Dr. John Vissers’s contributions to The Presbyterian Church in Canada. His strong faith and well-endorsed character, demonstrated passion for theological education, and leadership qualities led the Board to recommend Dr. Vissers as Principal with enthusiasm and confidence.