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.

 

Continue reading “What Would Jesus Tweet?”

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.
Continue reading “Experience this for yourself! – a Deacon’s reflection”

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.

Continue reading “Anarchist Priest – Living in the tension”

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”

Courage – worshiping with the Tragically Hip

Courage - a Tragically Hip liturgy

On a cold November night in East Gwillimbury, armed with a live band, two projectors and about 100 glowsticks, 40 people gathered at Sharon Hope United Church to sing, dance and pray along with songs by Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip.  Our theme was Courage, and the many forms it takes in our daily lives.  Each song was paired with a reading from scripture or by contemporary writers.  During the liturgy, we examined the lyrics of “Grace, Too” through the lens of Ruth and Boaz on the threshing floor.  “Nautical Disaster” was paired with multimedia highlighting the refugee crisis in the Middle East.  We sat with the horror and grief of the Residential School system with a reading of “When We Were Alone” by David Robertson and singing “The Stranger” from Secret Path.  

Courage: A Tragically Hip Liturgy was the second in new series of Rock Liturgies hosted by Living Presence Ministry.  Our third,The Frost is All Over, explored the Advent and Christmas story through the work of Canadian folk singer/songwriters.  With these services, we are working though how to treat popular music as hymnody during worship.  What else do these songs have to offer us when intentionally placed within a worship context?  We heard from many of those present that simply having the lyrics projected helped the words they’ve been listening to for years sink in deeper.
Continue reading “Courage – worshiping with the Tragically Hip”

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”