Semester in Scotland

Alumni Reflections – John Gardner & Jackie Ellis Gardner


Continuing in our series of past students reflecting on how the programme has impacted them, this week we are hearing from John and Jackie Gardner.

John Gardner and Jackie Ellis Gardner – Autumn 2004
Then – Geneva College students
Now- John is the youth pastor at Chapel Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Beaver, Pennsylvania; Jackie, his wife, is a teacher at Beaver County Christian School. 

John and Jackie in 2004

John and Jackie in January 2018

My wife Jackie and I attended the Semester in Scotland program in the fall of 2004. Though it was over a decade ago, the memories and experiences gained through one semester abroad in the particular context of Airdrie RP had an incredible impact on our love for Christ’s church and our love for the people of Airdrie. The Semester in Scotland program is rigorous in instruction, deep in theological preparation, and absolutely unique in the way that it brings students into the community life of the church.

Even though neither of us are in the RP church, the theological insight into the Covenanter movement and the church which it has helped to create was a fine introduction to a storied past. The depth of contact with the stories and locations was top notch, and presented in such a way that regardless of one’s traditions, God is given the highest glory for the sustaining of his people.

With friends sharing stories from other study abroad programs, no other program seems to have attained the depth of Christian community as the Semester in Scotland. We were part of a small group that we loved, we served students with whom we are still Facebook friends, and we connected with people who expressed a genuine commitment to hospitality for a bunch of weird Americans who would only be around for a few months. Any institution can assemble students for study in a new place, and throw in a few interesting cultural tidbits. We know of no place that was so deeply committed to loving and serving students for a semester as the RP Church in Airdrie. This is no mere program of Andrew Quigley and a few students, but an investment by an entire church who all played a part in our education, and more importantly, our edification.

We remain deeply grateful for each day in Airdrie.