Christian Clement-Schlimm, PhD candidate at Wycliffe College, has been awarded Ontario Graduate Scholarship for 2023.
The Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) program encourages excellence in graduate studies at publicly-assisted universities in Ontario. Since 1975, the OGS program has been providing merit-based scholarships to Ontario’s best graduate students in all disciplines of academic study.
Christian’s research is focused on the intersection of missiology and eschatology among nineteenth-century evangelical Anglicans. Specifically, he analyzes the theological development and legacy of Edward Bickersteth (1786-1850) – a prominent evangelical Anglican missionary and administrator who was also a vocal proponent of mainstream premillennial eschatology, and a facilitator of evangelical unity and activism. The aim of the research is to clarify how the disparate fields of missiology and eschatology inform one another and provide understanding of the past, present, and future of evangelicalism.
“This topic truly represents the coalescence of my personal interests, family history, and felt needs of my various communities,” he says. “One of the most influential spiritual examples in my life was my grandmother. After she passed, I was surprised to inherit her Moravian Catechism and Book of Common Prayer. Despite our Baptist identity in Canada, I was amazed to learn of my family’s dynamic evangelical history in Barbados. It was my exploration of our ancestral, spiritual journey that sparked my research into evangelical missionary efforts throughout the nineteenth century.”
Christian is also intrigued by the attempts of missionaries who navigated the complexities and challenges of British imperialism, Atlantic slavery, and religious diversity.
“Those considerations eventually brought me to the question of eschatology: how views of the Millennium could powerfully shape missionary methods and objectives.”
Christian wears many hats. In addition to his studies at Wycliffe, he serves as an elder of Grace Baptist Church in Richmond Hill, Ontario – a church that he has been part of since his was a year-old baby. Currently, he is involved with various responsibilities, including occasional preaching, leading prayer meetings, facilitating discipleship studies. He was also director of youth ministries and a pastoral intern.
“My passion for theological studies has been and is inextricably linked to my love for ministry to my local church and the encouragement I receive from the people there.”
On his academic achievements, Christian thanks his supervisors, Drs. Alan Hayes and Thomas Power, who provided practical advice on writing compelling academic pieces, using archives and databases, and navigating relevant literature and methodological approaches.
“My supervisors have been constant sources of constructive feedback and genuine encouragement. Their ongoing passion for church history and its various theological applications is infectious and inspiring,” he says. “As I was applying for scholarships, namely OGS, Drs. Hayes and Power were accessible and interested. They provided critical counsel on presenting my research, developing my plan of study, and articulating the value of my project.”
Christian hopes that his research will contribute to ongoing conversations regarding the legacy of evangelical missions and the importance of eschatology, in both the Church and the academy.
"As evangelicals, especially those of African and West Indian descent, ask questions of our past and seek answers for our future, I believe my research will be uniquely pertinent."