Students sometimes struggle with written reflections, or chafe about self directed learning, or would prefer to not be responsible for others’ learning in community. But they also find that learning at CCS breaches their comfort zones and brings openness to learning more.
Terrie Chedore and Tracy Fairfield found that once they completed their CCS diplomas, they wanted to keep learning. Each decided to put her CCS credits towards an academic degree; Tracy at the University of Winnipeg and Terrie at St. Stephen’s College. CCS has a joint program agreement with both these institutions.
Tracy needed only four more courses to complete the Master of Arts in Applied Theology. But more than just fulfilling requirements, she found she was able to move to practical application immediately in her pastoral charge. The course that had the most influence was a course in Evangelicalism. Tracy found that although she often disagreed with the prof, this course helped her confirm what she believed and convinced her that the United Church where she is in ministry doesn’t take evangelism seriously enough. The U of W course provided depth, vocabulary, and a comfortable way into discussing how our faith is passed on. She has been able to engage her members in conversations and sermons about their beliefs and how they can share with others what they value about their faith. This degree, combined with her formation at CCS, gave her tools to dialogue with her congregations about evangelism, ecumenism, world religions, and First Nations relations. Doing this degree has had lasting effects on every aspect of pastoral ministry from sermons to one on one conversation. Tracy will receive her Masters at graduation in June.
Terrie decided to pursue a Bachelor of Theological Studies which required her to write a Work of Art Integrative Study. She names being an artist as her diaconal work so it isn’t a surprise that she chose to combine these passions in her topic – Colouring outside the lines: parallels in the history of diaconal ministry and religious art. She examined six periods of diaconal history when the church supported or suppressed diaconal ministry and religious art. Together with her written work, Terrie created six pieces of art relating to each time in history when change was occurring. She discovered that any time either diakonia or art began to evolve in response to the needs of the day, the movement away from expected standards scared the church.
Terrie isn’t the only one to benefit from this unique project. Using the art she created, she prepared a PowerPoint presentation in which the characters tell the story of diaconal ministry. (Visit Terrie’s website to see some of her art.) Her mom, who’s 80 years old, commented “I never heard of diaconal ministry until you began your studies; seeing this visual narrative helped me understand why it’s not well known”. Ted Dodd is using the PowerPoint for relating diaconal history in learning circles. It’s left its mark on the CCS students who’ve seen it. Terrie says she deliberately used broken sea shells in her creative process because they remind her of the broken people who come together to do the work of the church; fragile yet strong. She notes, “Despite the pressure to conform, religious artists and the diakonia remain vital components of the church”. Terrie has just submitted her work.
We are proud of Tracy, Terrie, and others who have completed degrees through their work at CCS. The joint program agreements with the University of Winnipeg and St. Stephen’s College offer our students the best of both learning worlds, bringing together adult and academic styles of education in ways that can only benefit our students’ congregations and the larger church.