Meet Our Executive Director

Rev. Andy Cornell
Rev. Andy Cornell

When you trust in God, life will be a journey. I learned that truth early in my adult years, relying on his Holy Spirit to open doors and provide wisdom and direction.

Life has taken many twists and turns in my 54 years. Now I enter a new door: The Renewal Fellowship within The Presbyterian Church in Canada.

I am honoured and humbled to be called as your executive director.

My birthplace was London, England. I came to Canada as an infant and grew up in the other London, where I attended Western University (history) and Fanshawe College (broadcast journalism) and where I had my first full-time employment, as a reporter at CJBK/BX93 Radio. From there, I felt the call to print journalism and my first taste of small-town life in Tillsonburg, Port Hope and Simcoe. I settled in Chatham to be with my bride, Pam, and where we raised our two sons, now aged 20 and 22 and attending post-secondary education. In 2008, I began part-time seminary studies at Knox College. In August 2011, I resigned as assistant managing editor of The Chatham Daily News to finish my studies and begin work as student pastor at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in nearby Dresden, which called me as minister of word and sacrament in late 2012. I was ordained in early 2013 and have remained at St. Andrew's, growing and learning along with my congregation.

Starting July 1, my time will be split 60/40 between my congregation and Renewal Fellowship. I am grateful that my session, congregation and presbytery have agreed to my amended call.

A cynical person might ask why I left one dying industry to join another. (God does have a sense of humour). However, neither journalism nor the church is dying. There will always be a demand for news and we will always need journalism to keep watch on the abuses of power. And there will always be a great, gaping need for a connection to our triune God and people willing to cut through the lies the enemy has planted. Christ is our only hope.

It's amazing how God prepares us for the next step in our journeys. As I told the Renewal search committee, my 24 years in broadcast and print news helped me understand the need to cut through the rhetoric and be clear in our communication. Supervising and managing news employees – a notoriously rebellious, creative cast of characters – under deadline pressure helped me understand human nature and learn diplomacy. I expect to put this to good use; while the debate in the PCC has been mostly cordial, there is tension and the real possibility of conflict.

I discovered Renewal Fellowship shortly after my ordination and was amazed that such an organization was not fully supported and embraced by the PCC. I am not a lifelong member of the PCC, having been raised Anglican and attending Baptist and Christian Reformed churches along the way. (In fact, I actually left the church from my late teens until my early 30s, but that's another story.) The more I learned about the PCC's gradual drift away from a solid biblical foundation, the more I was drawn to the company of those of like mind. Renewal's existence made sense. At my first annual general meeting in 2016, I was among kindred souls.

This is a time of great uncertainty in the PCC. We are deeply divided over our theological positions on sexuality and marriage – among other things – and the actions of our congregations and decisions of our General Assembly commissioners over the next few years will set our course. These are not "ordinary times." Renewal Fellowship will have a vital role to play in the coming debate. I pray that we can be a source of encouragement and strength for congregations, elders and ministers – some of whom are feeling increasingly alone in a changing culture. We need to tell them it's OK, you have many friends from coast to coast to coast.

With thanks to our Father God for setting the course, to Christ for our salvation and foundation and to the Holy Spirit as our guide, the words of the Apostle Paul come to mind: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:8 NIV)

So, my new journey begins and my seatbelt is fastened. I look forward to meeting you, working and praying together to advance the Kingdom. To God be the glory!

Rev. Andy Cornell <amcpastor1@gmail.com>
call/text 226-229-1695