Walter Bergen used Psalm 146 primarily to encourage the students attending UBC, Regent College, and Emily Carr to consider received wisdom, whether from university, from society or from church, with the same skepticism they should reserve for all things not borne of God. Noting that the received wisdom of 25 years ago said that an Asian should not be the pastor of a Mennonite congregation, Walter said that his own pastor, April Yamasaki, is now the longest-serving pastor in the BC conference. Encouraging boldness and commitment in the listeners, Walter noted one must take a step forward toward God, and only then can God guide your path. Those who never try, God cannot help. Walter retold the story of the founding of the Menno Simons Centre, of the five couples who committed financially to be missionaries to the academic world of UBC in a new way. Since then, hundreds have benefitted from their wisdom and boldness, and now the world is full of Christian leaders who are as capable of rigorous inquiry as any academic. Walter noted that the students, an intelligent and committed group, would be called on to be leaders in their careers, communities and churches within a decade.
Walter encouraged them to consider how they wanted to be used by God right now, because their training has already begun, and there is little time. Their path may be bumpy, they will be insulted or taken advantage of, but they are not to give up their morals or ideals. By example, Walter reviewed the challenges faced by Charles Darwin in his discovery of bioturbation, revolutionizing soil science in the process. He also pointed out how received wisdom and self aggrandizement can be so malicious it can cost peoples lives, in the story of Trofim Lysenko, a Soviet scientist whose work was so worthless it caused terrible famine, but whose attachment to the Soviet “princes” made his influence so powerful, even over genuine far-seeing biologists like Sergei Vavilov, one whose identification of genetic centres of origin assured the world’s genetic diversity, and founded the largest seed bank in the world in St Petersburg. Walter encourage the students not to put their trust in princes, but in God, for only the truth remains when people of imagination and conviction stand firm, and permit God to guide them. [AP].