Listening brings healing

Racism is not an easy thing to talk about with white people, or so I’ve found. When I was bullied all through grade 7, shoved up against lockers and called “Paki,” my caucasian friends just kept walking, as if they’d seen nothing. I was too ashamed to bring it up myself, so we just acted like it hadn’t happened – even though it happened every single day.

Many years later, at a friend’s 40th birthday party, I sat with 3 of my closest high-school friends. It occured to me that after all these years it might be a good thing for me to share honestly with them about my experiences back in school; the struggles my family went through and why we never talked about them outside of our home.

It did not go well. Continue reading “Listening brings healing”

“Café del Soul” serves change and purpose

Meet Pinegrove UC, a medium-sized church in Rosslyn, NW Ontario. Rosslyn used to be a community of farmers, but with Thunder Bay nearby it’s taking on some characteristics of a bedroom community. Pinegrove used to be the thriving community hub, but when I started there 5 years ago it felt more like a rudderless ship. People pining for the days of yore, when there was hardly enough room to hold the congregation, with a choir that shook the rafters, when there was a thriving Sunday School, when… in short, think your average United Church.

I wasn’t sure how long I’d stay with these lovely but lost people. As a restless person, I felt confined and misplaced. I was eager to form new faith communities, not work with these stuck-in-the-muds. But as I walked with them through times of great joy and deep despair, I got to know them. After a while, I knew them better than I ever thought I would. And with it came love, and with love came an awareness of their God-given potential. I decided to stay a little longer. Continue reading ““Café del Soul” serves change and purpose”

Living Stones

Recently retired diaconal minister Allison Halstead shares  her May 2017 reflection to the Manitoba North West Ontario Conference.

I recently hiked Hadrian’s Wall in northern England. A stone wall made of squared stone 120 km long, 3 m wide, 5-8 m high. There’s not much of it left and some think that’s a shame — we humans seem to love a good wall!

But as I walked, I thought – the wall is still here , or the stones are – the carefully chosen, shaped, and placed rocks are still here — but now in stone fences that divide pastures so sheep may safely graze, in bridges and roads so all may safely travel, and in barns and houses so all may safely dwell. Continue reading “Living Stones”

Highlights of World Diakonia

The 2017 Assembly of the Diakonia World Federation was held in Chicago, from June 28 to July 5 July, 2017.  Many CCS staff members, alumni, and friends were in attendance.  Lori Stewart offers reflections on the gathering…

On the first morning of the World Diakonia Federation gathering I was among an excited, colourful group of members, gathered on the sidewalk in anticipation of the start of a procession into the building where we would hold our meetings for the coming week.

Preparing for World Diakonia procession

Yolly, a deaconess from the Philippines, introduced herself and took a selfie with me—I felt like I was among friends.  That initial experience carried through the whole conference.  There were friends there that I hadn’t met yet, for sure, but each of the conversations I had started from a place of familiarity.   We held in common not only our calling to diakonia, but also a depth of purpose as people who follow Jesus out of the church and into the community.  Knowing that there are sisters and brothers all over the world who share the joys and struggles of this commitment, is heartening in the midst of my own! Continue reading “Highlights of World Diakonia”

An Invented Life

CCS grad Terrie Chedore reflects on her calling as a diaconal artist…

“What are you doing these days?” That was the question everyone was asking at World DIAKONIA 2017. What an amazing event! About 450 women and men from over 31 countries! I wasn’t sure how well I would fit in because I am one of those diaconal folk who serve on the edge of the church. That was not a problem. I met other diaconal folk who are also doing new things and describing themselves with titles like ‘spiritual animator,’ ‘arts and environment coordinator,’ and ‘healing facilitator.’  I call myself a ‘diaconal artist.’ When I explained what that meant to me, one woman suggested that I live ‘an invented life.’ Yes, perhaps that is true. Continue reading “An Invented Life”

Happy Aboriginal Day

Happy National Aboriginal Day!  Are there any events or opportunities for you to connect with Indigenous people and communities in your area today?  Any ways to actively reflect on solidarity and decolonization?  Or just to celebrate the contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples make to our shared culture.

Maybe you’re staying in today.  If so, here are some of our favourite videos from the Second Fridays series we ran at the Centre for Christian Studies a few years ago, where we invited indigenous and non-indigenous speakers to challenge and inspire us… Continue reading “Happy Aboriginal Day”

I Was A Witness

This spring Centre for Christian Studies student Lynn McGrath traveled to Israel and Palestine as part of a “Come and See” trip organized by the United Church of Canada and BC Conference.  (CCS diaconal ministry students are required to engage in a Global Perspectives experience as part of their program.)  The trip was led by retired minister Rev. Marianna Harris, and while there, participants connected with UCC partners such as Sabeel, Wi’am, Defence for Children International and Ecumenical Accompaniers.

Here are Lynn’s reflections on the experience:


Lynn and former CCS student Anne in Bethlehem

In April I joined eleven United Church people with curiosity and a sense of adventure for a tour of the Holy Land. I soon discovered I wasn’t just a tourist; I was a witness to the challenges that people of this land face in their daily lives. I had no prior perceptions of the Israeli or Palestinian people, but by the second day I discovered definite divisions between the two. Continue reading “I Was A Witness”

In the Beginning was the Logo – Continued

You may have noticed that the Centre for Christian Studies has a new logo popping up on our website and other places.  A few months ago I presented a retrospective of CCS logos past, and now that our new logo is here it seems appropriate to continue the story.  We’ve asked Del Sexsmith, chair of the Communications and Promotions Committee, to offer some thoughts on the nature of logos….


In the beginning was the Word… (John 1: 1)

We are all familiar with that text. All things start with the Word. We are marked by it.

And what does that have to do with our new logo? A little trivia first.

Logos is Greek for “word” and typos is Greek for “imprint.” Out of “logotype”, we have the abbreviation “logo”, the longer form of the word telling us that a logo is a graphic mark, emblem or symbol. We live with logos every day; they are synonymous with a corporate brand. In fact, we probably see a hundred or more logos every day without their truly registering with our conscious thoughts. Did you see the Apple logo when you turned on your laptop? The Windows logo on your desktop? Of course, you did. But you have already pushed this observation into the matrix of images that you accept as part of navigating your world. Continue reading “In the Beginning was the Logo – Continued”

The Only Point Is To Be Together

CCS student Meghan Witzel recently accompanied eleven youth from Waterloo Presbytery as a leader/chaplain on the “Two Countries One World” trip to Colombia.  Meghan shares some of her reflections:…


I have always believed in relational ministry. I think when we connect with people, whether on faith-based mutual ground or not, we discover the Holy in each other.

“In true relationships, the only point is to be together. Once there is another point, the relationship withers under the heat of expectations and obligations.”  – theologian Andrew Root.
Continue reading “The Only Point Is To Be Together”

Unsettled

Shelagh Balfour is a recent graduate from the Centre for Christian Studies’ course for Anglicans exploring the diaconate – Ministering by Word and Example.  One of the goals of the course was to help students develop their capacity for biblical and theological reflection, and to connect their reflections to pastoral and social responses.  She’s agreed to share her reflections on Leanne Simpson’s article “Liberated People, Liberated Lands” as an example of the kind of critical thinking our students are invited to engage in. Continue reading “Unsettled”

Ann Teaches Us To Stand

This month CCS program staff member Ann Naylor received approval to move from “medical leave” to “long-term disability.”  At our recent Annual General Meeting, CCS student Anita Rowland delivered this tribute to Ann…


Anita Rowland

I don’t know how many of you remember your first few minutes at CCS or your first conversation with Ann but for me, those two things took place at the same time.  Within minutes of walking through the door of CCS for the fall learning circle, Ann had greeted me.  So early in the morning no one else was around yet.  We talked about how long tea can be reused, moved on to the subject of quilting, and then, to the handwork of previous generations of women; and the self-expression which found voice through their work.  Continue reading “Ann Teaches Us To Stand”

Ellipses

Canada 150

The dominant group in any nation state often resorts to nostalgia, to mental or cultural ellipses, and to general forgetfulness in search of meanings and definitions to serve its own ideological needs of the moment.

-Quoted in Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry, p. 75

CCS Program Staff member David Lappano reflects on Canada’s sesquicentennial… Continue reading “Ellipses”

Dream Job

CCS principal Maylanne Maybee writes…

Maylanne MaybeeAs the search gets underway for a new principal, I’ve heard from some, “Oh, I could never do that job!”     I remember when I thought the same thing. About six years ago I had lost a job, needed and wanted another one, and had pinned all my hopes on a position near Toronto, where I lived, which I was sure “had my name on it.”

Well, I was wrong.  I did not get my “dream job”.  In the mean time I had been approached by the Centre for Christian Studies Search Committee, asking me to think about applying for the Principal position or help them find suitable candidates.  “I could never do that job!” thought I, “at least not now. And not in Winnipeg!” Continue reading “Dream Job”