IY 2020 Off to a Great (online) Start
From September 16-23rd, five students gathered online with program staff and guests for the Integration-I Learning Circle; a first change to delve into learning in community for their final year as CCS diaconal diploma students.
They came with personal goals such as “To explore my own creativity and how to integrate that into my ministry – to find and integrate joy and beauty.” Or “to pay attention to ‘What is the role of Church when we talk about God?’ How and when are we talking about the same thing? and What does it mean that we are in the United Church at this time and to these questions?” Or “to articulate my personal theological beliefs and explore how that impacts my ministry leadership.” Crucial questions and crucial quests.
For all of us, there was also a recurring theme in the goal “To be present and prepared, especially with work distractions”, as we balanced being at home, dogs, family, and long days interacting on screen. In order to have the energy and focus for a learning circle in the midst of everything else, students needed to set boundaries on their ministry: which would be infinitely easier had they flown to Winnipeg. Practicing boundaries is of course is a crucial skill, too, and one that our students, grads, and colleagues are grappling with in their own contexts these days.
Despite the circumstances, the group was able to share laughter and deep conversation about theologies, pastoral relations, the evolving Indigenous church polity, creeds, diakonia, and the integration of their learning experiences over the last four or five years. Sometimes the comments were funny “Every student should learn improv comedy”, and often profound “If I am sitting in that place [of wondering] then probably someone else is, too.” Sometimes the questions were practical “how do I access the optional health plan?” and often deeply reflective “who is the ‘we’ we are referencing when we speak of ‘we the church’?” or “What is the difference between God as Creator and God who creates?”.
Having the space to ask these questions, having the space to test out answers for each other, having the space to listen, create, pray, reflect, analyze, set intentions – and yes, integrate – is what this circle is all about.
The students have now ‘journeyed home’ to work through their individualized learning plans for the year and major culminating assignments. They will meet monthly for the Integration-II Learning Circle, which focuses on contextual theology and United Church polity, and find connections with each other, staff, and mentors. We wish them well on this exciting year ahead.
Haikus for the Church
by the 2020-2021 Integration Year students
Hands grasping hands tight; Yet, still waving to the world, We walk slowly on Church Community Growing our Faith together Following Jesus Organization Spirit of the Creator embodied in the world Community forming Ways of being changed Celebrating sacred remembering God remembering me, you, all remembering Life What is this thing church? Not what another tells you. It changes your heart. call now to be brave exception to go to church belonging somewhere