Continuing the Conversation – Program Consultation Report

Andrew Reesor-McDowell and Pat Thompson
Andrew Reesor-McDowell and Pat Thompson

In January the CCS Program Committee, staff, and a number of invited guests gathered for  three days of discussion on the strengths, challenges, and future of the Centre’s program.  The Program Consultation was facilitated by Andrew Reesor-McDowell and Pat Thompson.  At the CCS face-to-face meeting earlier this month we spent some time looking at Pat Thompson’s skillful summary and synthesis and of the conversation.

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Here’s an excerpt:

By all accounts, the Centre for Christian Studies is like a mustard seed. Smaller than other theological schools. Prolific, economical and tenacious, it grows wherever planted and is able to self-sow. The entire plant is thought to have curative powers. Like CCS, mustard is consistently described as a seed of great utility, piquancy and promise.

It is not surprising then that many people, including us, see CCS’s identity, program and context through an ecological lens. We understand it as a living part of an ecosystem connecting the church and the world in all its complexity.

This understanding has shaped, therefore, what we heard during the consultation and how we’ve documented the group’s “best thoughts.” While we provide more detail in the following pages, we offer these three points as a quick summary:

  • Participants affirmed CCS’s ecumenical diaconal identity and relationships. They suggested, however, that CCS’s identity is different from its image.
  • Participants were concerned about the economics of theological education and training in Canada. They think CCS’s educational model is its most valuable asset, in particular its learning circles and theological reflection spiral.
  • Participants named this moment as a time of renewal for CCS. Unlike other turning points in its long history, this one is part of a historic shift that is transforming how churches and their affiliated schools relate and function.

To continue the conversation, we’ve chosen three words rooted in the Greek word oikos meaning household: ecumenism, economy and ecology. We heard participants call CCS to:

  • a greater commitment to ecumenism in ethos and practice
  • a renewed economic model based on a thorough analysis of enrolment trends, revenue streams and fiscal arrangements
  • disciplined collaboration on critical issues with churches, theological schools and others in the diverse ecology of justice-seeking communities

We know that CCS is committed to carrying the questions and insights from this consultation forward and to widening the circle to include others. This particular household is also in the habit of singing songs of resistance, empowerment, reversal and transformation in the tradition of Deborah, Hannah and Mary. For these reasons, we look forward to hearing where the questions and songs take you next.

Download the full Program Consultation Report.