Students in the Educational & Liturgical Ministry Year at the Centre for Christian Studies are into their third week of the fall learning circle. Twenty-two United Church and Anglican ministry students, from Victoria, BC to St. John’s, Newfoundland are gathered in Winnipeg for three weeks of intensive learning.
On the first day of circle, program staff member David Lappano led the group in an experiment with a wooden pole: a group of eight or ten stood in two lines, face to face, with a horizontal pole balanced between them on the fingers. Their task was simple: lower the pole to the ground. Not as easy as it sounds. From this simple activity, students were able to draw insights about the nature of learning (each group that tried it had the benefit of having observed the group before, but also had to experience it for themselves each time), about communication and teamwork (the groups that succeeded at the challenge talked a lot and recognized that it wasn’t just a matter of coordinating, but of recognizing each person’s unique experience), and about perseverance.
Perseverance is one thing the students will need, along with the support of their peers, to get through the learning circle. It is exciting, and there are lots of laughs, but it’s also mentally and spiritually taxing. After a few days of exploring the ways that people learn and change, wrestling with living scripture as revelation, planning for student-led sessions, sharing case studies, and thinking ahead to ecumenical visits, some of the students took a break for an evening of board games. Others slept.
On the Tuesday of the middle week, the circle was joined by students from the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre. The SSSC students were in the midst of a learning circle of their own, facilitated by CCS principal Maylanne Maybee, on the subject of diaconal ministry. The joint sessions today in Winnipeg allowed the Sandy-Saulteaux students to be in conversation with a bunch of folks actively training for diaconal ministry, and allowed the CCS students to get a glimpse of what their diaconal calling looks like from an indigenous perspective.
The rest of week two the CCS students launched into three days of student-led sessions, with small groups leading activities and discussion on ministry with children, ministry with youth and young adults, curriculum, Bible study, spiritual formation, and empowering lay leadership.
Week three featured a focus on worship. Students were invited to think of the order of worship as a story, and then asked to re-tell a well-known fairy tale as a “worship story”. A day of workshops had experienced worship leaders sharing their tips with the students. Workshop leaders Bill Millar and Damber Khadka were impressed with the insightfulness of the CCS students, commenting on their “strong clear, deep faith.” For their part, many students commented on how exhilarating and inspiring the worship workshops were.
Week three will also feature some invited guests who will help students to think about how the church looks to the rest of the world, a trip to the Manitoba Theatre Centre to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, discussions on the nature of God, and a time for students to review their learnings with each other.
Please hold the students in your prayers.