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Columbia News

Columbia News

COVID-19 Updates - April 19, 2022

Throughout these COVID-19 years, Columbia Bible College has aligned its policies and practices with those of the Government of British Columbia, and in particular, the Ministry of Advanced Education. Therefore, with the recent updates from the Province as our guide,  we will be discontinuing the vaccination requirement for campus residence and any activities that take place at Columbia.


If you have any questions, please contact Karen, Columbia’s Dean of Students.

April 19, 2022

Tribute to Professor Emeritus Dr. Gary Yamasaki - February 24, 2022

After a life devoted to God and the study of Scripture, Columbia Bible College Professor Emeritus, Dr. Gary Yamasaki passed away unexpectedly while recovering in hospital on February 19, 2022. Gary had a brilliant mind, and he pursued novel approaches to both studying and teaching the Bible.

During his 26 years as a member of the Columbia faculty (1990-2016), Gary Yamasaki made a positive impact upon many students as he challenged them to delve deeply into God’s Word. He always looked for innovative ways of engaging his students. This included making ample use of popular culture – especially movies – as a means of helping students understand biblical texts more clearly. At the same time, he worked hard to introduce his students to the latest developments in Biblical scholarship. Following the conclusion of teaching responsibilities at Columbia, Gary also served as Columbia scholar-in-residence for a number of years. He deported himself in ways consistent with and supportive of the ministry and mission of Columbia Bible College.


Dr. Yamasaki also made his own contribution to scholarship, especially in the area of point-of-view crafting in Biblical stories. His 2007 book entitled Watching a Biblical Narrative: Point of View in Biblical Exegesis was a finalist for the Trinity Book Prize. In 2016, Fortress Press released his volume on the relevance of popular movies for the interpretation of Biblical stories, Reading the Bible in the Twenty-First Century: Insights from Filmmaking for Analyzing Biblical Narrative.


When information becomes available regarding Dr. Gary Yamasaki’s memorial/celebration of life service, we will pass it along.

Intercultural Studies Program Change - February 2, 2022

Columbia Bible College is announcing a strategic refocusing around the way we equip students for intercultural ministry and leadership.  As a result, the Intercultural Studies program in its current format will be discontinued. This change is designed to respond to ongoing changes in the world of intercultural mission and to modify our academic programs to meet emerging needs. It is also made in response to budget challenges that we are facing due to enrollment losses and pandemic-related limitations on our activities.

We are seeing significant changes in the world of intercultural mission, changes that have been accelerated by the pandemic.  We live in a globalized world where the influence of the church is dispersed and diverse. We believe that students who want to serve interculturally will need to develop a flexible skill set – one that will enable them to be self-starters and perhaps to work bi-vocationally.

One of the most difficult aspects of these program changes is the impact that they will have on long-term faculty member Kara Bergstrom as this will unfortunately mean the end of her time at Columbia.  Kara has made a significant and valuable contribution to Columbia over the past eight years.  She has been a champion for Intercultural Studies, she has invested with students both inside the classroom and out.  She has also been a dear colleague and an important part of the Columbia team.  Her departure will be felt deeply by students, staff, faculty and alumni.

These changes represent a loss in terms of both a long-term program and a valuable member of our faculty. They also represent a strong intention to prepare Columbia students to participate in God’s mission within a rapidly changing world.  We expect to have more details on how our academic programming will be adapted in the weeks and months ahead.

Any questions regarding this program shift can be directed to academics@columbiabc.edu

The official statement can be read here.

Tribute to Professor Emeritus Jürgen Schönwetter - January 6, 2022

Jürgen Schönwetter (1938-2021) 

After a life filled with love for God, family, and dear friends, Jürgen Schönwetter, passed away unexpectedly in his sleep on December 23, 2021. Jürgen had a passion for learning and discovering, for teaching, and a love for music. Most of Jürgen’s ministry career was spent at Columbia Bible Institute/College. He taught full-time at the College from 1975-78, and then returned for a much longer stint (1981-2004). He taught part-time on other occasions, while also serving in full-time pastoral roles within the MCBC Conference. 


Jürgen’s life was the sum of vast experiences. He was anything but a passive observer. His life-changing encounter with the God of the Bible as a young adult changed his life and plans drastically and continually. Most of Jürgen’s adult life was spent “investing in the lives of people, particularly in young people,” as he was often heard saying. A favorite saying of his, “The only thing God will ever rescue from this planet is people, His people. Therefore, invest your life in people.” Another one of his favorite sayings was, “When I die, I want to be remembered as someone who has done the best with what he’s had.” There are many Columbia students who will always be grateful for having had the opportunity to learn together with such a kind and committed man of God.  


The following memories are provided by his long-time friend and colleague, Columbia Faculty Emeritus Ron Voth. 


It was 41 years ago to this month that I first met Jürgen Schonwetter. I had just moved into my office behind the old library. His office was two doors down. (John Vooys’ office was between us.) Jurgen was a great host. At coffee time he’d have coffee freshly brewed, always with Coffee Mate standing by. We had many wonderful conversations! He was a passionate man. He’d get excited – even a little red faced when he spoke. I gleaned from these conversations that he loved Jesus, loved his family, loved the church, and loved the college students he was teaching.  

His office was remarkable for its size and supply. He set it up to be pleasant and inviting. He also made sure that it was well stocked. Ask him for a paper clip, and he replied, “What size? What colour? What shape? Metal or plastic? He was on the cutting edge with technology. Before the college had computers, he was already equipped. While he may have had a fondness for technology, he invested for the sake of his classes. I can remember him pulling a cart to class on which he had various audio-visual assists for his teaching. Oh, to be the person who could buy his left-over equipment – still top of the line and in top condition after Jurgen’s use.  

Jurgen was a passionate teacher. Over the years he taught a variety of courses: Communication, Ethics, Contemporary Religious Movements, World Religions, The Book of James, and toward the end of his time some psychology courses as well. Part of the World Religions course was to visit and host leaders from other religions. Jurgen had remarkable relationships with these leaders. He listened well and then also politely presented his convictions regarding Christ.  

In the last number of years, we’d meet for coffee at his place or go to Tim Horton’s. The conversations were seasoned with grace. He had constant pain, his heart was frail, his eyes had weakened so that he could no longer drive…but while acknowledging life’s difficulties, he’d always express thankfulness to God. His faith was solid. He was also poised to hear my side of life. When our time ended, he would often say, “I wonder if we could pray before we go?” And we did.  


Bearcat Summer Camps - August 2021

Columbia’s Athletic Department launched its Jr. Bearcats Kids Summer Camps this year! We had over 250 campers attend and 20 staff members participate both our Adventure and Muti-sport camps! From rock climbing to wilderness adventures, campers developed key physical literacy skills, made new friends and learned about Jesus!


One mom shared this, “I had a teary 11-year-old boy on the way home today because he loved his week at camp and is so sad it is over! He felt so loved and accepted!”


To learn more about Jr. Bearcat Camps, visit columbiabc.edu/cbc-camps 

Campus Renovations - August 2021

Campus Renovations 

Over the course of a few months, renovations were completed on Columbia Hall, the primary male residence. These updates included new floors, completely new bathrooms, and updated windows, all of which give this 40-year-old building a fresh new look!


Columbia Place, our athletics centre, also received a few updates this summer. The gym floor got refinished to include our updated Bearcat logo!

COVID-19 Updates - August 24, 2021

Guidelines for the 2021-2022 Academic year from the BC Government.

On August 24, 2021, British Columbia Public Health announced a number of changes to its back-to-school plan for post-secondary schools in response to the fourth wave of COVID-19.

  1. Vaccinations: Vaccinations are required for Residence Students. “Students who are living in on-campus housing will require proof of vaccination.” Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. Residence students are expected to have their first vaccination prior to September 7th. Vaccinations are NOT required for Commuter Students.Vaccinations are NOT required for Faculty and Staff.
  2. Masks in indoor, public spaces.“In response to rising COVID-19 cases and as students return to in-person learning on campus, I am issuing a new mandatory mask order for all indoor public areas on campus.” Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer.  
  3. Columbia Bible College continues to follow Public Health Orders that have been put in place by the provincial government. Please feel free to reach out to the following Columbia Student Development staff for further conversation regarding questions around any of these developments.  Niamh (Women’s Residence Director): Teams or niamh.reynolds@columbiabc.eduGlenallen (Men’s Residence Director): Teams or glenallen.christo@columbiabc.edu

Karen (Dean of Students): Teams or karen.thiessen@columbiabc.edu


Columbia Bible College is fully abiding by, but not going beyond, what the provincial government has decided and issued as public health orders for the protection of community health and safety.

Like all post-secondary institutions, CBC is required to adhere to public health orders under the Public Health Act. We are committed to supporting our students, faculty, and staff through this process, and will be reaching out to them directly with further information and guidance.


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Columbia Bible College Partners with REES to Address & Prevent Sexual Violence on Campus - February 16, 2021

Columbia Bible College launches as first REES partner in BC.

Columbia Bible College has partnered with Manitoba-based REES to make online reporting of sexual violence available to our campus community.

REES (Respect, Educate Empower Survivors) is a 24/7 reporting and information platform that provides increased reporting options for students, staff and faculty to report sexual violence on campus.

“REES provides a victim centered, trauma-informed platform that empowers victims of sexual violence with numerous options for reporting and support. We look forward to integrating REES into our overall vision for a safe campus where all students are able to thrive,” says Bryan Born, President of Columbia Bible College.

Sexualized violence is a range of behaviours that includes misconduct, harassment and assault and can occur both in-person and in online spaces. According to the Survey on Individual Safety in the Postsecondary Student Population 2019 from Statistics Canada, a majority (71%) of postsecondary students witnessed or experienced unwanted sexualized behaviours in the past year and one in 10 (11%) women students experienced a sexual assault in a postsecondary setting during the previous year.

“REES empowers survivors by providing a safe, secure space to record incidents of sexual violence on their campuses,” said Mary Lobson, Founder of REES “while gathering critical data to inform development of policy, supports and resources. Anonymous reporting enables students to tell their institution about any unwanted sexualized behaviours as they work together to create a safer campus community.”

The REES Community is an online platform dedicated to supporting survivors of sexual violence through increased reporting options and access to information, resources and supports.

Website: https://reescommunity.com


Mary Lobson 
Founder, REES Community

Karen Heidebrecht-Thiessen
Dean of Students, Columbia Bible College