About a hundred and fifty people involved in United Church theological education from all over Canada are currently gathered in Toronto for a consultation with UCC General Council about the state and future of ministry training in Canada. (I’m actually posting this from the meeting!) Principals, deans, faculty and program staff, students, board and council chairs, as well as representatives of the national church have come together for a three day discussion, trying to come to terms with issues like shrinking financial resources, decreasing numbers of people going into ministry, and the challenges of leadership in times of transition. All that said, it seems (so far) to be a gathering of hopeful, enthusiastic, committed people who are relishing the opportunity to connect with each other. There are folks from Vancouver School of Theology, Naramata Centre, St. Stephen’s College, St. Andrew’s College, Calling Lakes Centre, the Designated Lay Ministry Program, the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre, University of Winnipeg Faculty of Theology, Queen’s University, Emmanuel College, Five Oaks Centre, United Theological College, the Atlantic School of Theology, and of course, the Centre for Christian Studies. (I’m sure I’ve missed someone in that list. Let me know in the comments and I’ll correct it.) Representing CCS are Principal Maylanne Maybee, program staff Ann Naylor, program administrator and cub reporter Scott Douglas, Jamie Bradshaw representing students, and Carolynne Bouey-Shank and Walter Deller representing Council. There are also lots of other CCS friends and alumni who are here in other capacities. (For example, Vicki McPhee, CCS council secretary, is here on behalf of the Naramata Centre.) Chris Corrigan is facilitating the discussion. This morning’s session ended with some useful discussion of the difference between cynicism and skepticism (critical thinking) as well as some important/unsettling naming of some of the “elephants in the room”.