Risking relationship – Graduating class of 2018

In the Presence of the Creator of the world, eternal God,
We come from many places for a little while.
With the Redeemer of humanity, God with us,
We come with all our differences seeking common ground.
Enlivened with the Spirit of unity, go-between God,
We have come on journeys of our own
to a place where journeys meet.
So here in this place today
Let us take time together.
For when paths cross, there is so much to share and celebrate~
~Call to worship from the 2018 Service of Celebration

Marcie Gibson offered the citation for the 2018 CCS graduates at the Service of Celebration on April 15.

It my pleasure to share with you our graduates of the Centre for Christian Studies Diploma in Diaconal Ministries 2018 class.

Melanie Ihmels, from Victoria British Colombia and BC Conference, Tiffany McNaughton inabstentia from Fernie British Colombia and Alberta Northwest Conference, Anita Rowland from Orangevill Ontario and Toronto Conference, and Catherine Underhill from Peterborough Ontario and Bay of Quinte Conference.

Some of you who attended the graduation banquet last night will have heard a bit about their individual journeys, but today I wish to speak to you about these four students as a graduating class together.
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DUCC, DUCC, Goose

This is one of a series of reflections about Courageous Risking, the 2018 gathering of DUCC (Diakonia of the United Church of Canada). 

It was an amazing few days of learning about forgiveness, colonization and economics with a social justice bent, and being inspired by filmmakers, survivors and change makers. Hearing amazing stories from amazing people about how we can, as the saying goes, be the change we want to see in the world. Wonderful, inspiring.

Then there were a couple of moments that I looked out and on the other side of the window was a guy. You probably know the guy: disheveled, boots too big, wearing a winter coat in spring weather. The kind of guy we might find at one of our outreach ministries or asking for change on the corner. A reminder that yes, it’s great to be inspired, and yes, that world is right out there, just on the other side of the window.
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Closed for a breather!

The office will be closed on Friday, April 27.

We’re taking the day off!

We’ve graduated the grads, celebrated the Companion of the Centre and gathered in learning communities to engage and learn about Relationships and Right Relations. The Central Council has met face-to-face and diaconal ministers from across Canada have congregated in Winnipeg for a bi-annual gathering.

We’ve just completed what we like to call “the week of everything” although this year it was more like 2 weeks!  We’ve laughed and cried and learned and connected and gathered and feasted and celebrated. And now we’re going to take a day off.

The office will be closed on Friday, April 27.
Catch us back here next week!

Heartbeat of healing

This is one of a series of reflections about Courageous Risking, the 2018 gathering of DUCC (Diakonia of the United Church of Canada). 

My diaconal ministry classmates and I were invited to join the DUCC conference outings on April 18th. Diaconal ministers and students from across the country spiraled out into Winnipeg, visiting sites about Truth and Reconciliation, social enterprise, Indigenous art, community ministries, corrections and justice, ally-ship, and courageous risking through art making.

At the Winnipeg Art Gallery exhibit Insurgence/Resurgence I was drawn to Ejinda-pushit, the stretched caribou hide that formed a huge drum amplified by a speaker. This piece was created by Tsēma Igharas, interdisciplinary artist and member of the Tāłtān First Nation.
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5 minutes to bust myths at 1JustCity

This is one of a series of reflections about Courageous Risking, the 2018 gathering of DUCC (Diakonia of the United Church of Canada). 

As a visitor to one of the four sites of 1JustCity, I was given an opportunity to spin their “roulette wheel of risk”. The risk that came up for me is the white one in this photograph….it challenged me to: Build a new relationship. Spend 5 minutes getting to know someone at a place like 1JustCity.

Fortunately for me, my opportunity to risk had already happened – I had just spent 30 minutes in conversation with a volunteer at 1JustCity – an open, honest and unassuming 40-ish man named Brent. We chatted about his job as a volunteer at the West Broadway Community Ministry (WBCM is one of 1JustCity’s 4 sites). During that conversation, Brent described daily life at the centre, and daily life for Brent. Like the roulette wheel, Brent over-turned many common myths about folks who find themselves in need of the services and support of agencies like WBCM.
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Courageous Risking at DUCC Gathering 2018

This is one of a series of reflections about Courageous Risking, the 2018 gathering of DUCC (Diakonia of the United Church of Canada). 

The Diaconal story begins with the radical image of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples, and includes the examples of courageous risk-taking of Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers, dining with the marginalized, and healing the outcasts. Jesus pushes us to think outside the box. His message is always to find another way, a better way.

What does it mean to actively engage in courageous risking? Most of us don’t recognize when we are doing it. What one person calls risky is not necessarily what another person would call risk taking.

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The week of EVERYTHING!

A week in pictures.

This has been the week of everything at the Centre for Christian Studies.

Integration Year students gathered at Woodsworth House on Monday, April 9, for their final learning circle. On the 11th, students participating in the Relationship learning circle began the first of back-to-back circles, meeting just down the street at St. Peter’s Lutheran church. The Central Council met for their annual face-to-face meeting from the 12th to the 14th. On the weekend we celebrated new grads and this year’s Companion of the Centre, first at the Celebration Banquet and then at the Service of Celebration.

Also, this year the Diakonia of the United Church of Canada (DUCC) met in Winnipeg from April 17th to 20th and the Right Relations learning circle will gather from the 19th to the 26th.

It’s been a full week!

Click on a gallery to scroll through the photos.

Integration Year 

Marcie Gibson (staff), Tif McNaughton, Melanie Ihmaels, Anita Rowland, Catherine Underhill

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Ontario gov’t excludes diaconal ministers from officiating at weddings

This letter was sent to DUCC members in Ontario.

Earlier this month the Coordinating Committee became aware of a change in practice of issuing licenses to marry by the Ontario government’s Marriage Office, Office of the Registrar General. Effective immediately the Marriage Office is issuing licenses to marry to ordained clergy only. The Marriage Office is not granting licenses to anyone who has not specifically been “ordained”, which includes candidates for ministry who are in student supply appointments, DLMs (recognized) and Diaconal Minsters (commissioned). Those people who currently have licenses to marry can continue to perform marriages.

Myself and our DUCC staff person, Eric Tusz-King have been in contact with Jenny Stephens, the Team Leader Policies and Programs for Ministry Personnel, who informed us that the Executive Secretary of Hamilton Conference, Peter Hartmans, is taking lead of responding to the Ontario government and is seeking advice from legal counsel. He has agreed to keep Eric and myself in the communications loop.
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Community across the country – CCS annual meeting

CCS is big on community.  As a national school we are very intentional about keeping connected and evolving technology has helped with this. Over the years, advancements in conference calling improved the annual meeting as people called in from across the country.  It was still a challenge as connections were often poor and hearing who was speaking was sometimes difficult.

This year’s annual meeting on March 8 saw a big leap as newer technology allowed many people to gather through video conferencing. Folks in Winnipeg congregated at Woodsworth House joined by people on video from coast to coast along with a few by phone.

 

Screen shot of Zoom video conferencing.

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Congratulate our 2018 Grads and Companion

On April 14 and 15, we will be celebrating this year’s graduating class and Companion of the Centre!

The Celebration Banquet will be on Saturday, April 14 at St. George’s Anglican Church at 5 p.m. If you’d like to attend, or to sponsor a student to attend, contact the office at office@ccsonline.ca.

The Annual Service of Celebration will be Sunday, April 15 at 2 p.m. at the Thomson Funeral Home, 669 Broadway in Winnipeg. All are welcome!

Please offer your congratulations in the comments section.

Graduates Catherine Underhill, Tif McNaughton, Anita Rowland and Melanie Ihmels.

Cathy will be commissioned April 29th with the Bay of Quinte Conference into a pastoral charge located in a farming community. She is also honoured to graduate with a BTS in Diaconal Ministry from St. Stephen’s College.  She says, “As a green gal, I am rooted in contemporary social movements through my long standing love of gardening.  For any of you who are gardeners, activists and educators who transform the system by planting seeds, tending the plants and peeling back the hard-edged concrete, my hope is that together we bring about a more beautiful and just world.”
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What Would Jesus Tweet?

For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light— for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth— proving what is pleasing to the Lord. And do not have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; instead, expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things are exposed when they are revealed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore He says: Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
                                              ~ Ephesians 5: 8-14 Modern English Version

This year’s Lenten period and its search for light coincide with the emergence of several social justice movements, each seeking to expose those things done in secret. The “MeToo” campaign is shining a light on abusive conduct in places of prominence and privilege everywhere; the planned student walkout for March 14th is shining a light on America’s dark obsession with guns. In Canada, many are shining a light on the lack of diversity in our justice system.

 

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Experience this for yourself! – a Deacon’s reflection

Sharon Dunlop is a Deacon at St. James’ Anglican Church in Kingston. She attended Learning on Purpose in 2016.

My ministry area is in corrections, restorative justice and victims – an area I have been passionate about for most of my life.

In the spring of 2016 I was encouraged to attend the June “Learning on Purpose” leadership development training program in Toronto offered by the Centre for Christian Studies (CCS). At the time, I knew little about CCS in general and this program in particular, so I did some research and was impressed by what I found! On a very warm day in mid-June I drove to Toronto to embark on this new adventure.

The training program was held in the Friends House (Quaker), a beautiful century old Georgian mansion surrounded by colourful gardens. Friends House contains many quaint and quiet rooms to gather in for team meetings and project planning.

The program itself was quite full and a little overwhelming at first glance. We met for six days, Sunday was a day of rest and then we met for six more days. The participants were from the United and Anglican Churches, which provided ample opportunity to learn more about our faith traditions – the similarities and the differences.
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Hamilton DUCC annual overnight winter retreat

By Linda Clark

Each winter, the diaconal folk of Hamilton Conference gather for an overnight retreat, held at Crieff Hills Retreat Centre in the House of the Prophet. We have been doing this for several years now; I have records going back to 2009 in my computer, but I suspect it was even before that. Our main purpose is Sabbath time. In some years, we have done a bit of DUCC work, but overall, it is time to just be. As folks arrive sporadically on a Thursday morning, the coffee table begins to get piles of snacks for sharing, until there is no more room. Coffee and tea is made. During this gathering time, we spend time doing what we each want or need; some knit, others colour. We talk about our lives in general terms, and do a more formal check-in usually starting over or after lunch, for a couple hours. Then we take a break to go outside, or nap, or whatever. Of course throughout this time, we are munching on the wonderful snacks. Then we continue check-in over dinner. Continue reading “Hamilton DUCC annual overnight winter retreat”

Anarchist Priest – Living in the tension

By Gwen McAllister

Not long ago at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church where I am priest, a friend and parishioner good-naturedly called me out as a hypocrite: “You preach against hierarchy, but you’re an Anglican priest.”

It’s a tension in which I have found a rather comfortable vocational home, living in the messy “now” of Christianity in upheaval, working like so many others — in my small, local way within community — to reclaim the Christian faith tradition from Christendom and Empire. I do preach against much in which I am complicit: systems of exploitation and privilege, domination, wealth. Together with many others, I reach for much that is rare and precious in our daily context: sharing of resources, mutuality in relationships, a celebration of all that lives and our embraced interdependence.

I don’t frequently identify as an anarchist. It seems presumptuous: I don’t think I do enough to earn the title. And then, taking on that label sounds like it is too much about me and my identity, when in fact I live out my vocation and identity together with others as part of a parish community, a larger faith community, and a larger non-religious community of resistance. But also, “anarchist” is not an identity I hold to in the same way I hold to understanding myself as part of a vast and rich faith tradition. Yet faith has brought me to politics which in turn have contextualized my faith; each informs the other.

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Viewing healing ministry through diaconal eyes

By Ross White
 

When we are present, we see that there really is a Holy Plan, and that it is happening right now. Consciously participating in the miraculous unfolding of reality is Holy Work and it is the greatest source of satisfaction that we have.” (Understanding the Enneagram, 56)

I am a confirmed eclectic. Many of us are. I feel indebted to several clinical forms of pastoral care like Transactional Analysis, Gestalt Therapy, the Goulding’s, the Kabat-Zinn’s, and Mindfulness training. These therapeutic schools employ the use of sound psychological theory together with skilled application. They all teach valuable insights to life. However, from the earliest days of my spiritual journey, I had a longing for a therapy of a different sort. I’ve known experientially that deep life insights of incredible power are available to me. I knew this power was capable of coursing through my very being: cells, tissues, bones AND mind. It happened to me one night while reading the Gospel of Luke and changed my life. It also started in me a journey fed by a hunger for the mysteries of prayer and meditation . . . something I’d been doing at the time.

It was in 1992 that I began to find a form of healing that matched my understanding of Jesus. Rochelle Graham, then a physiotherapist teaching Healing Touch on the sideline, was invited into Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to do some of her work with church folk offering services to the marginalized and homeless. I met up with her there as she instructed workers and volunteers at First United Church. She noticed that when faith groups were instructed (to use their faith) there came an additional boost of power and energy in the room and in the participants, themselves. A prayer as simple as “thy will be done,” seemed to enable the presence and guidance of Spirit. People began to feel the actual texture of another’s energy field through their hands! The requests from church folk poured in and by 1995 Rochelle had drafted a curriculum designed for healing ministry in churches which became known as Healing Pathway. I want to make some observations in this article about the link between the emergence of Healing Pathway and diaconal ministry. Continue reading “Viewing healing ministry through diaconal eyes”