Reflections on the “Maylanne Maybee Award”

“How does it feel to have an award named after you?” asked Deacon Pam Nesbit, President of the newly named  Association of Episcopal Deacons (formerly the North American Association for the Diaconate) while we were sharing an elevator at the recent gathering of the Association of Anglican Deacons in Canada.  Good question. 

When I stepped down from my position as founding President of AADC (I think it was in 2005), the Board asked me to leave the room and when I returned, they announced their decision to name an award after me.  I didn’t find the stepping down easy, and I must confess this news made me even grumpier.  I was reminded of the reaction of Moses Coady, founder of the cooperative movement in Nova Scotia, when he was made a monsignor by the RC archbishop:  “Those ****s can’t do that to me!”

In fact, when I was asked some years ago if I would stand for nomination for the “Stephen Award”–more accurately, the “Recognition of Diaconal Ministry  in the Tradition of St. Stephen”–of what was then NAAD, I declined.  It went against the grain for me to associate diaconal or servant ministry with anything that smacked of competition or “excellence”. 

Being a deacon in my mind means making room for others, making space for those who are sick or vulnerable or disadvantaged to be healed and strengthened and integrated, not claiming the limelight for oneself. 

And yet in my heart, when I think of the two women who have received the award since it was established, I am proud and moved.  Marlene Carscallen was one of the first candidates to be ordained to the lifelong or distinctive diaconate in the diocese of Toronto.  I mentored and supervised and laid the stole on her shoulder at her ordination.  She served faithfully in a nursing home for seniors, in a well-to-do but spiritually hungry parish in north Toronto, and more recently as the Diocesan Coordinator for Diaconal Ministry.  She was pastoral and attentive to me and to many others – a true networker among deacons. 

The second recipient, Chris Ross, who was given the award at the London AADC conference last week, has been a feisty and resilient advocate of the diaconate and those whom they serve for as long as I’ve known her – going on thirty years now.  For years, the diocese of Kootenay was ambivalent about and resistant to the idea of a distinctive diaconate.  Yet Chris endured these wilderness years with humour and good will, and when the circumstances were right, she led the way for that ministry to be restored, and then gave her energy for a Canada-wide association to be formed, at a time when her life was in transition and upheaval.

I have mixed feelings about “awarding” people for ministry, and even more about having the award named after me.  I appreciate that The Episcopal Church has chosen the language of “recognition” (though  I BLUSH that they use the name of Stephen and Canada uses the name of Maylanne).  And in the end, I am very pleased and proud that these two fine women have been recognized for their contributions, and in a way that links them to me, their friend and ardent admirer.

Marlene Carscallen, Chris Ross, and Maylanne Maybee

Thinking Forward and Backward

Maylanne Maybee reflects on her first weeks as Principal of CCS:

It’s now two weeks since I’ve assumed the role of Principal of the Centre for Christian Studies.  My appointment to CCS was announced at the end of April, so I’ve had three months to think about and plan for it. 

I spent those three months finishing up current projects, saying goodbye to friends and family almost every day, and preparing to come to Winnipeg – deciding where to live, sorting my stuff, getting rid of things, packing for the movers, taking time off to go canoeing with friends.  Not a bad breakdown of time.  I was feted with joke gifts and songs from Toronto friends about what to anticipate in Winnipeg:  a winter scarf, warm woolen socks, an extension cord for a car heater, a mosquito helmet, mosquito repellant, a miniature sand bag, plus small gifts, tourist brochures, and maps.  In spite of the levity, these tokens helped me to anticipate the change of cities in concrete terms. 

Thinking forward as well as backward meant spending time in July with Charlotte Caron, the Acting Principal, to learn what pieces of work I had to pick up.

Charlotte was exemplary in the way she prepared handover information – broken down month by month in a binder.  This helped me to think forward in a chronological way, while providing a window for learning about a host of complex and multi-faceted responsibilities.  Charlotte’s calm and methodical manner helped give me a sense that the job was do-able in spite of its complexities, especially if I can learn to abandon my perfectionist tendencies!  Charlotte was very good at setting boundaries to her time and being realistic and good humoured about what she could and couldn’t do.  May I learn to do the same.

I also did some preparatory reading – a slightly dated but still relevant tome on Non-Profit Management; a book called The Next Level by Scott Eblin, about making the shift from being a functional manager to being in an executive role;  another called Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath, which is self-explanatory; and Gwyn Griffith’s history of the Centre for Christian Studies, Weaving a Changing Tapestry

But no amount of one-to-one conversations or reading will make up for the school of hard knocks as I go about my tasks day by day. The CCS staff have been wonderfully welcoming.  Our weekly meetings, beginning with prayer and check-in, are proving to be an excellent forum for figuring things out, as have the individual interviews I’ve had with each staff person. 

I’ve asked them to be patient as I learn each step and make mistakes on the way.  And I only ask the same of students and prospective students. 

In the final sermon I gave on July 24 at my parish church in Toronto, St. Mary Magdalene, I said that I felt like Sarah who laughed out loud when she learned she was with child in her old age.   I too feel joyfully astonished that I have this new opportunity to learn and apply my experience and skills in a new way when others of higher station or greater means might be planning for their retirement.  I feel young and eager to learn and excited by untested possibilities.  And I look forward to sharing with you in the weeks and months to come how things actually unfold!

Maylanne Maybee arrives as Principal of CCS

Maylanne Maybee, Principal of the Centre for Christian StudiesIt’s now a little over a week since I’ve assumed the role of Principal of the Centre for Christian Studies.  Scott Douglas said the day would come that I won’t be counting anymore!  I’m not quite there yet. 

In the month before arriving here, I attended the Celebration of Life of Rhea Whitehead, a dear friend and neighbor, and rejoiced at the birth of my first grandchild, James Bruce Whittall.  The end of one life, well lived and much missed, and the beginning of another, full of promise at the threshold of the years.  That’s how I feel about coming here – the end of one kind of life, the beginning of a new one full of promise and possibility. 

For the moment I have formulated my thoughts about what I’d like to see happen at CCS during my tenure here into three “D”s:

  1.  Define our strengths and build on them – naming what is distinctive about CCS in a way that makes it appealing to prospective students for ministry but isn’t too restrictive;
  2. Diversify the program – packaging and promoting it so it is appealing to a wide range of potential students not only from the United and Anglican Churches, and not only to diaconal students and deacons, but beyond;
  3. Develop the constituency – making connections with our graduates, partners, churches, faith communities and above all our prospective students in a way that will increase the health and wealth of CCS. 

I hope these “Three Ds” will help me focus on the many, many tasks and expectations that I’m already encountering, and look forward to sharing on these pages how things unfold as reality dawns!

About You – Barbara Barnett

In a recent community update, to advertise the upcoming farewell to Charlotte gathering, Marc posted some bird pictures and invited readers to name the bird (Charlotte is an avid bird-watcher).

The winner was Barbara Barnett.  The was a prize (a $25 gift certificate), and also, in Barbara’s words, a price…

The price was Marc’s invitation to write about life after CCS. I completed my term as Anglican co-chair of Central Council 2 years ago, after a challenging time of change and transition for the community. When I look back, I realize that my 6 years on Central Council were significant for me in my own time of change and transition. I had made the decision to leave my position as Coordinator of Spiritual Care at Deer Lodge Centre in Winnipeg, after treatment for breast cancer. I knew that my life was worth more than my pay cheque. CCS offered me the gift of community, and the opportunity to exercise my gift of administration and facilitation as I eased into this new stage in my life.

How do I use those gifts now? On a much smaller scale, I am the “loomsetter” for the Manitoba Sacred Web/Earth Charter Singers (women who gather in circle to sing the music of Carolyn McDade – who was the first Companion of CCS). Together with women from 10 other singing circles across Canada and the U.S., we are preparing to record another CD (Widening Embrace) at the Banff Centre for Fine Arts in August. Carolyn’s music is ever evolving – some of the music is reflective, meditative, chants or mantras repeated several times – a little like Taize music, all is passionate, all is beautiful.

“Singing is a way of weeping in the soul” – one line of the one of the songs on Widening Embrace . My love of birds started at the age of five, and has grown and deepened into a love and deep pain for the planet which we share with them, and the more than human world. So I come and I sing, and I also try to live into the words. I lead school groups at FortWhyte Alive – a not for profit environmental education and recreation centre – created on reclaimed industrial and agricultural land. I love helping people learn, and so have also ventured into leading Beginning Birders groups at the Spring Migration Birding and Breakfast (where I bump into Charlotte – who is not a beginner!) I’ve volunteered for the past two years in planning Manitoba EcoNetwork’s Reel Green Film Festival.

Swimming and gardening, some labyrinth facilitation and photography – I’ve discovered the joy of a macro lens and seeing deeply into unexpected beauty in surprising places”

About You – Beth Baskin

In Beth’s words:

“ My name is Beth Baskin and I graduated from CCS in Toronto in 1990 as an Anglican with a specialty in Youth Ministry. Of the last 21 years of paid professional lay ministry I have managed to be employed for seven and a bit years within the Anglican Church, twelve within the United Church and almost a year with KAIROS. Yes, there is some unemployed time in there too, but there are real advantages to going to an ecumenical school. Although I was originally from BC I am firmly transplanted in Ontario now and have ministered primarily in the City of Toronto. My past work has included all aspects of the diploma program with stints of children, youth and adult Christian education along with some pastoral care and a strong streak of outreach and social justice work.

I am now The Social Justice Coordinator for Toronto Southeast Presbytery. The Social Justice Project is a brand new two year project within the presbytery inspire and give life to congregations wishing to engage in social justice ministry. This coordinator will assist people to translate their beliefs and principles into actions and activities that reflect their spirit and passion and faith.

This is an exciting opportunity that will have me leading workshops, listening and telling stories, supporting people in their advocacy work and many other tasks waiting to be discovered. I identify myself as a educator and facilitator whose work is deeply grounded in my faith and who seeks places to work where I can change the world. This feels like the right fit at this time.

I could not have predicted where my CCS training might take me, but give thanks for the practical field based approach to learning and for the challenges of my Core group along with the incredible support of the staff that have enabled to take that training and learn from it to become the minister I am today.

In addition to my work I love to read, sew, volunteer with Scouts Canada and play outdoors in tents and canoes with my husband Keith, daughter Morgan (15) and son Liam (10)” – Beth Baskin

A Prayer for the Church

We will keep practicing love until we get it right:

 Drawn to the round table, living in life-centered diversity of community

We will keep celebrating the sacred until we embody it.

In authenticity and prayer, an embodiment of Christ, an embodiment of spirituality

We will keep calling for justice until it prevails.

As a critical yet hopeful, prophetic minority

Following a deeper understanding of the way of the cross.

 We will keep longing for kin(g)dom until kin(g)dom comes.

 Teaching love and justice, making earth like heaven.

                                                            Written by Bob McMillan, Jacqueline Samson, gwen McAllister, Ted Dodd and Alice Watsonm

                                                            April 2011 Spring Learning Circle Educational Ministry Year

Pray For Us

The Integrating Year Learning Circle starts tomorrow as final year CCS students enter their last two weeks before graduation.  Next week Thursday the Educational Ministry Learning Circle will arrive for two weeks of learning.  That Friday (April 1, no joke) the members of the CCS Central Council will be gathering in Winnipeg for two days of meeting.  Then on Saturday is a grad banquet and introduction to the Companion of the Centre – Mary Ellen Moore, followed by the CCS Annual Service of Celebration on Sunday at 3pm (St. George’s Anglican Church, 168 Wilton).  Seriously, for the next three or four weeks, this joint is going to be jumping!

If ever we needed your prayers, it’s now.

The Centre for Christian Prayer Cycle is an invitation for friends and supporters of CCS to keep us in your prayers in an intentional and sustained way.  The prayer cycle focuses on a different part of the CCS community each month (eg. students, staff, volunteers, alumni, etc.).  You can pray for us anything, and whenever you feel like it, but if you’re looking for a day, why not on or around the 26th of each month.  (The 26th of December is the feast day of St. Stephen, one of the earliest diaconal ministers,  and from that the worldwide diaconal community has taken the 26th of each month as a significant day of remembering the gift and the calling of diakonia.)

You can download the CCS prayer cycle from the CCS website or directly from here.

Black History Month

From Wednesday morning staff worship, February 9, 2011 
The first recorded person of African heritage to set foot in what would become Canada arrived on our shores some 400 years ago. It is believed that, in 1604, Mathieu Da Costa arrived with the French explorers Pierre Du Gua De Monts and Samuel de Champlain.
Slavery existed in Canada from 1628.  Upper Canada, now Ontario, was a pioneer in the movement to end slavery.  In 1793 Governor John Graves Simcoe passed the Anti-slavery Act. This law freed slaves aged 25 and over and made it illegal to bring slaves into Upper Canada, which became a safe haven for runaway slaves.
In 1779, in an effort to win the War of American Independence, the British invited all black men, women and children to join the British cause and win their freedom for doing so. Many accepted the invitation, and as a result 10 percent of the United Empire Loyalists coming into the Maritimes were Black.
Between 1800 and 1865, approximately 20,000 black people escaped to British North America via the Underground Railroad.
In 1858, nearly 800 free black people left the oppressive racial conditions of San Francisco for a new life on Vancouver Island. Governor James Douglas had invited them to settle in British Columbia. Though still faced with intense discrimination, these pioneers enriched the political, religious and economic life of the colony. For example, Mifflin Gibbs became a prominent politician, Charles and Nancy Alexander initiated the Shady Creek Methodist Church, and John Deas established a salmon cannery. The group also formed one of the earliest colonial militia units, the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps.
During the First World War, patriotic black Canadians attempted to join combat units but were prevented. However, they still contributed to the war effort. In 1916, a segregated battalion made up of black Canadians, the Number 2 Construction Battalion, was formed. It was responsible for crucial work building bridges, digging trenches and clearing roads.
In the Second World War, black Canadians’ persistent efforts to join the armed forces was rewarded with success and they went on to serve with distinction in all branches of the military.
According to the 2001 Census, 662,215 Canadians identified themselves as Blacks. The majority of black Canadians live in five Canadian cities. As of 2001, Toronto, Montréal, Ottawa-Gatineau, Vancouver and Halifax were home to approximately 78.4 percent of all black Canadians. The black population of Canada is made of people from all over the world—multigenerational Canadians and recent immigrants. 

And so this morning we give thanks for black sisters and brothers who have helped make Canada what it is today.
Let us give thanks for:
The Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander, from Hamilton, Ontario, World War II veteran, lawyer and the first black person to become a Member of Parliament in 1968 and served in the House of Commons until 1980. He was also federal Minister of Labour in 1979–1980. In 1985, Lincoln Alexander was appointed Ontario’s 24th Lieutenant Governor, the first member of a visible minority to serve as the Queen’s representative in Canada.
For the The Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander and all who serve in parliament, we give thanks!
The Honourable Jean Augustine, the first black Canadian woman elected to Parliament, introduced the bill to officially recognized February as Black History Month in December 1995.  The motion was carried unanimously by the House of Commons.
For the Honourable Jean Augustine and all who introduce bills to right historic oversights and wrongs, we give thanks!
Carrie Best was born in 1903 in Halifax. In 1946, Mrs. Best founded The Clarion, the first Black-owned and published Nova Scotia newspaper. Her radio show, called The Quiet Corner, aired for 12 years and was broadcast on four radio stations throughout Canada’s Maritime Provinces. In 1968, she was hired as a columnist for the Pictou Advocate, a newspaper based in Pictou, Nova Scotia. The column ran until 1975 under the heading of “Human Rights.”
For Carrie Best, and all who broadcast and publish for Human Rights, we give thanks!
Thornton and Lucie Blackburn were fugitive slaves from Kentucky who originally settled in Detroit. However, their former owner tracked them down there and tried to return them to slavery. In a highly publicized escape that left Detroit engulfed in riots, the Blackburns were able to make it to Canada. The Canadian Courts defended them against the threat of extradition. This was seen nationally and internationally as a symbol of Upper Canada’s role as a safe haven for black refugees. The Blackburns worked tirelessly in their new community of Toronto for the abolition of slavery and to help other Underground Railroad refugees settle in Canada.
For Thornton and Lucy Blackburn, and all who help refugees, we give thanks!
Anne Clare Cools was born in 1943 in Barbados, West Indies. A pioneer in addressing domestic and family violence, in 1974 she founded one of Canada’s first women’s shelters, Women in Transition Inc., and was its Executive Director. Recommended by Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, she was summoned to the Senate in January 1984, becoming the first black person in the Senate of Canada and first black female senator in North America.
For Senator Anne Clare Cools and all who have immigrated to Canada and served politically to shape our country, we give thanks!
Mathieu Da Costa arrived with the French explorers Pierre Du Gua De Monts and Samuel de Champlain 1604. Da Costa, a free man, worked as an interpreter, providing an invaluable link with the Mik’maq people encountered by the Europeans.  His name is the first name of a black person recorded in Canada’s history.
For Mathieu Da Costa, and all those who came but will forever remain nameless, we give thanks!
Viola Davis Desmond was an African-Canadian who ran her own beauty parlor and beauty college in Halifax. On November 8, 1946, she decided to go see a movie in the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow. She refused to sit in the balcony, which was designated exclusively for Blacks. Instead, she sat on the ground floor, which was for Whites only. She was forcibly removed and arrested. Viola was found guilty of not paying the one-cent difference in tax on the balcony ticket. She was sentenced to 30 days in jail and paid a $26 fine. The trial mainly focused on the issue of tax evasion and not on the discriminatory practices of the theatre. Dissatisfied with the verdict, the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, with Viola’s help, took the case to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. The conviction was upheld.  But on April 15, 2010, the province of Nova Scotia granted an official apology and a free pardon to Viola. Viola’s 83-year-old sister, Wanda Robson, was there to accept the apology. Premier Darrell Dexter also apologized to Viola’s family and all black Nova Scotians for the racism she was subjected to in an incident he called unjust.
For Viola Davis Desmond, and all blacks who have suffered unjust treatment in Canadian courts, we offer our regret.
The Very Rev. Dr. Wilbur Howard was the first Black Moderator of The United Church of Canada, 1974-1977. The church is grateful for the contributions of Dr. Howard, and many other African Canadians, for their role in shaping our life and ministry.
For Wilbur Howard, and all black ministers and members of the United Church of Canada, we give thanks!
Michaëlle Jean, journalist and stateswoman, served as the 27th Governor General of Canada. Jean was a refugee from Haiti, coming to Canada in.  After receiving a number of university degrees, Jean worked as a journalist and broadcaster for CBC, as well as undertaking charity work, mostly in the field of assisting victims of domestic violence.
For Michaelle Jean, and all who live as role models for young black Canadians, we give thanks!
Michael Lee-Chin first came to Canada in the early 1970s to attend McMaster University. After earning a civil engineering degree he returned to his native Jamaica to work, but was soon back in Canada. In 1987, he bought Advantage Investment Counsel, now AIC Limited, one of the country’s biggest mutual-fund companies with assets of more than 12 billion dollars.  Michael Lee-Chin is also known as a philanthropist. In 2003, he made headlines when he donated $30 million to the Royal Ontario Museum.
For Michael Lee-Chin and all who live with generous spirits, we give thanks!
Elijah McCoy, born in Ontario, showed an early interest in machines and tools and an aptitude for mechanics. His parents sent him to Edinburgh, Scotland to study mechanical engineering.  He worked on the railroad where he developed and patented a particular type of lubricating cup that dripped oil onto the moving parts of a train while it was in motion. It is said that buyers of the lubricating oil cup asked specifically for the “Real McCoy” because it was extremely reliable and they wanted no substitutes. That was just one of the more than 50 products he developed and patented. For example, in response to his wife’s desire for an easier way to iron clothes, he invented and patented the portable ironing board.
For Elijah McCoy and all who invent things that make hard work easier, we give thanks!
On January 18, 1958, Willie O’Ree stepped on the ice at the Montreal Forum to play his first game in the NHL for the Boston Bruins — and made history as the first black player in the NHL.  He was known for his speed and checking abilities, but his career was cut short by an injury.  Today, Willie O’Ree is the director of the NHL’s diversity program. He travels across Canada and the United States promoting and teaching the game of hockey to children from all cultural backgrounds.
For Willie O’Ree and all who break through barriers of race in sports, we give thanks!
Harriet Tubman, a runaway slave from Maryland, became known as the “Moses” of her people and the “conductor” who led hundreds of slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad. In 1850, when the far-reaching United States Fugitive Law was passed, she guided fugitive slaves further north into Canada. When angry slave owners posted rewards for her capture, she continued her work despite great personal risk.  St. Catharines, Ontario was on the route and offered employment opportunities, making it a common destination for the former fugitives, including Harriet Tubman, who lived there from 1851 to 1857. Many of the people she rescued were relatives of those already in St. Catharines including her own parents, brothers and sisters and their families.
For Harriet Tubman and all who worked for the Underground Railway, we give thanks!
Portia White embarked on her stellar singing career at her father’s Baptist Church in Halifax. Before she began singing professionally, she supported her musical career by teaching in rural black schools in Halifax County, and eventually made her professional debut in Toronto. Soon afterwards, she performed in New York City to rave reviews.  Portia White went on to international success, performing more than 100 concerts, including a command performance before Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
For Portia White and all who open hearts though song, we give thanks!
AnWe pray in thanks for all the many contributions of black Canadians to our culture and we pray in hope for an end to racism and racial barriers in this country.
We pray also for CCS in our work to expose racism and to live in unity across boundaries.

We pray, O God, trusting that your reign of wholeness will come!

MV # 209 – Go Make a Difference

Search Result “Fun”

Reflection by Charlotte:

It is Monday morning. Coffee in hand, I opened the CCS website this morning to get a piece of information I needed. I was taken aback to see an ad by google on our search results page offering sexual “fun.” This was not what I was looking for! Scott has now discovered a way to eliminate ads from our site because we are in the non-profit/university category. So hopefully I will not have to get into a Monday morning grump up about hot ads again! At least not on the CCS website.

But once again I think about how much in the world of advertising offends me. In-my-face ads on the internet, on billboards, on TV inviting, urging, manipulating me to behaviours and products that I do not either want or need. Advertisements that are distasteful or cross the line to quite offensive. Advertisements that suggest such things are Ok and desirable, that use and abuse people, that have destructive consequences and that frequently sexualize girls and women in unhealthy ways.

Yesterday’s scripture called us to be light to the world. As Christian people we are called to bring light to situations that need change. While CCS may be able to get an exemption from sexualized google ads (for which I am very grateful), not all can or choose to. So we need to bring to light the kind of ads that need to be changed, to name what we see as wrong with them, to persist in enlightening the world for goodness. A little light goes a long way! May you and I be and bring light to the world!

Groundhog’s Day Liturgy

From this morning’s staff worship at CCS:

Hymn: All Creatures of Our God (Voices United #217)
All creatures of our God, come sing,
with hoof and scale and fur and wing:
Hallelujah, hallelujah!
Bright burning sun with golden beam,
soft shining moon with silver gleam,
sing praises, sing praises,
hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!

Enter the caves of the rocks
and the holes of the ground
from the fearful glory of God’s majesty
when God rises to shake the earth.
On that day people will throw to the groundhogs
their idols of silver and gold. (Isa 2:19-20)

Justice is far from us,
and righteousness does not reach us.
We wait for light, and lo! there is darkness;
for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. (Isa 59:9)

At that time the great protector of the people, will arise.
Everyone whose name is found written in the book will be delivered.
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake.
Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens. (Dan 12:1-3)

For once you were shadows,
But now in God you are light.
Live as children of light.
“Sleepers, awake!
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.” (Eph 5:8&14)

My beloved spoke and said to me,
 “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.” (Song of Solomon 2:10-12)

Reflection: How to you keep your spirit alive in the waiting time?

Good God Almighty, it’s cold!
It’s a miracle that we survive at all.
Don’t let our hearts be frozen.
Make us conscious in the cold
of those who shiver for want of kindness, justice and compassion.

Groundhog of All Being,
Wake us from our hibernation
at least long enough to recognize the world around.
Let us not shirk from our shadows,
but rather face the unresolved.
Let us confront those things that need changing
and accept the things that simply are.
Don’t let us rush back to sleep prematurely.

O you who descended into the earth,
and rose again with the dawn,
Open our eyes to light,
even the cold crisp light of winter.
Let it awaken in us irrational hope,
the unreasonable possibility of spring in the depth of winter,
the possibility of kindness in a world desperate for warmth.

God of the meantime,
Let us huddle together while we wait,
let us nestle and dream, reach out to each other
and comfort each other in the warmth of our prayers.

(Prayer cycles and prayers for specific people)

From deep inside our burrows
we call out for you.
Hear our chirps and growls and snores,
and in your love answer.

Hymn: Joy Comes With the Dawn (Voices United #166) 

Where Do They Go From Here?

The Centre for Christian Studies is about preparing women and men for ministry.  You may be curious where students end up after they graduate.  In the last decade over seventy CCS grads have entered into a variety of forms of diaconal ministry.

  • Many serve in rural congregations (34).
  • A number minister in urban teams (16).
  • Some have positions in community outreach ministry (3).
  • A few work with First Nations communities (3).
  • Two or three have primary responsibility in youth ministry.
  • Two or three are working as Conference staff.
  • One is pursuing further academic studies.

Hear about the work of some our grads from the class of 2008 have been up to!

Kathy Douglas, Youth Minister
Huron-Perth Presbytery, Blyth, ON

I have been in the full time position of Presbytery Youth Minister for over 2 years now.  I could not have envisioned a more perfect diaconal fit for me.  My work seems generally to divide into three categories.  I work directly with youth in programming and spiritual development.  I participate as a member and resource for several community agencies; this work often helps to foster bridges between church and local community.  Finally, I support the 60 plus congregations in the presbytery, through worship services, confirmation classes, youth leaders support events, local camp work and resource consultations.
On a regular basis, I am creating, preparing, facilitating and evaluating by involving and listening to both adults and youth who help me to plan my work.  Thanks, to CCS, for the fantastic ‘teaching /sharing/ encouraging’ that prepared me for this work.

Keith Simmonds, Team Minister
Communities in Faith, Trail, BC

In 2009, I was placed in a team ministry with a four point pastoral charge in the Kootenays of British Columbia.  Team ministry in a four point pastoral charge, in changing times demands all of the requirements of ‘traditional ministry’ (worship design and leadership; sacramental ministry and pastoral care), and a grounding in: social systems; interpersonal dynamics; learning styles; group facilitation; workshop design; community organizing and making space for other voices to be heard.  Fortunately, I went to CCS where I was grounded in the basics of all of the above, and confirmed in the blessings of my own experience.

Marilyn Shaw, Community Minister
Kitchener, Ontario

I minister in a Lutheran and United church partnership outreach ministry in downtown Kitchener. I was settled in the position I held prior to graduating from CCS.
My CCS experience enables me to deepen how I minister with people through the experiential learning style which I use especially in my roles of advocacy and education. Working collaboratively with other students, mentors, facilitators etc strengthened my sense of who I am and the gifts I bring to ministry and how I can use them as I journey with and empower others.

Tracy Fairfield, Christian Education Minister
Delta, BC

CCS prepared me extensively for team ministry and I am grateful for that.  After graduation, I moved from Ottawa to rural Saskatchewan where I worked in team ministry helping to lead pastoral ministry: preaching about twice a month, sharing children’s times as well as pastoral care, weddings, baptisms, funerals and weddings. I also discovered my inner polity geek!  I became involved in presbytery and national committees. I’ve also been studying part time to finish my MA with the University of Winnipeg.  I’ve managed to find time to meet my life partner and then relocate to be with her and her boys in Delta, BC. I am currently working in another team ministry doing Christian Education.

If you are thinking about ministry, the Leadership Development Module may be the place to explore your interest.  Or maybe you know someone with gifts for ministry.  Give them a tap on the shoulder.

Food for Thought

Today after our staff meeting we all sat down to enjoy a lunch provided by an anonymous donor. This has happened a number of times before around the Christmas season – the folks at Food For Thought (a local catering company) phone us up to tell us that someone has donated a lunch to the staff at CCS and when would we like it?

It was “food for thought” in a number of ways. It got us thinking about generosity and gratitude and how nice it is just to know that someone’s thinking about you. And in our prayers at morning worship, as well as thinking of friends and community-members who are struggling, we remembered with thanks all the people who supported CCS in various ways over the past year. This week Ted is doing some preparatory work for the multi-faith component in the Spring Learning Circle by making connections with some of the faith communities our students will be visiting, and so was reflecting on the gift of hospitality he receives when he visits various temples and houses of worship, and trying to be a gracious guest.

The lunch was lovely, by the way. And it feels like a good way to begin a new year – with food and friends and gratitude.

Christmas Wedding Cake

This story was passed  on to us by one of our students, Kimiko Karpoff.  It is a re-write of one of her grandmother’s memories from her time in Oyen, Alberta in the early 1940s.  Kimiko’s grandmother, Florence Karpoff, was a deaconess, and later a minister’s wife.  But, as Kimiko says, “her deaconess-ness never really left her.”  Enjoy.

Florence carefully wrapped up the Christmas cake.  She had saved pennies and scraped together enough to purchase precious sugar, fruit and flour to make the cakes.  It was hard during the war.  The minister couldn’t expect to get paid if everyone else in town was just getting by.  Even if they had money, supplies and staples weren’t easy
to get.
 Her children gathered around her legs, eyes round, wanting to eat the cake now but knowing that if they waited it would be even better at Christmas.
  Florence was not surprised to hear a knock at the door; the minister’s family often had callers.  The children followed as she ran to answer it.
 “Is the minister home?”
 An elderly couple stood at the door, wrapped against the November cold.  They were not locals. 
 “He’s not in at the moment, but will be home shortly.  You’re welcome to come in.”
 With her guests seated in the living room, Florence turned back toward the kitchen when she noticed little Jimmy had already climbed onto the gentleman’s lap.  Smiling, he waived away her protest.
 “I like children,” he said.  So Jimmy sat and Florence sat and John, Polly and Teena gathered on the floor around them. And a story unfolded before their eyes.
 Harry and Mary had come to be married by the minister.
 Mary had been Harry’s housekeeper for close
to 40 years.  She was the widow of Harry’s friend Bill, an old school mate from his childhood in Minnesota. 
 Harry’s family had a pioneer place in the 1870’s.  His father was a bum and the fighting household was ruled by his Mother.  She had no time to show her boys affection.  But he remembered always the gentleness he felt from Bill’s mother whenever he went home with Bill.

 Harry had run away to Canada when he was in his mid-teens and had eventually homesteaded near Empress Saskatchewan.  He’d gone back to Minnesota one winter in time to act as Bill’s best man when he married Mary. 
 Over the next five years, luck had fallen hard on Bill.  He lost his farm and had had to work out as hired help.  He and Mary and their two girls lived in a shack on the farmer’s land.  Harry’s homestead, on the other hand, prospered, and he found time to make another trip south to visit his old friend whom he found leading a bleak existence with his family.  Mary was expecting another child in the spring.
 During Harry’s visit, Bill was gored by the farmer’s bull and died.
 At the funeral, Harry listened to conversation of the women preparing the coffee.  The farmer would need new help and would need to have his shack back.  Where would Mary go? they wondered.  She had no family.
 As neigbours left the funeral gathering, Harry stayed.  He wanted to know, was it true, did Mary have to move?  “Yes,” Mary confirmed, “the farmer needs his shed.”
 “Well, I need a housekeeper,” Harry decided right then.  “Come home with me.”
 The next day Harry loaded Mary and the girls and their few possessions into his sleigh and brought them back home to his homestead.
 So in a sense, Bill’s family became Harry’s family.  He set Mary and the girls up in the living room.  It had never had any furniture anyway.  She took over the housekeeping and all waited for the spring baby, a third girl.  Over the next few years Harry added a lean-to onto the house.  Now the girls had a room and so did his hired man. The girls grew up, went to school. Mary had refused to accept wages from Harry having felt that she could expect no more than that he feed the four of them.
 Now, like many farm women, she laid the breakfast table at night — turning upside down the big soup plates ready for oatmeal. Mary soon found that on the first of each month she would find bills under her plate. Harry would say of the money, “Oh, go buy something.” As the girls grew older their plates began to give silver, and then bills. When the girls finished high school Harry sent them to university, one into nursing. “I could afford to,” Harry said.
 When the oldest daughter shared the news that she was marrying a young doctor, Harry thought the old house too shabby for a big wedding. He built a new house and the hired man moved into the old one with his family.
 And so the years went on. Each daughter was married with Harry giving away the bride. Each of Mary’s grandchildren had been welcomed.
 Last fall Mary’s eldest daughter and her doctor husband had come home to visit. She embraced her mother and then stood back to look at her. “Mother, what is the matter? Are you sick?” Mary was evasive. She was really just tired, she said. “You know, since the war we’ve taken on another hired man. They’re both older so it takes two to do the work of one. But it makes three men to cook for and wash for and many things are hard to get,” and on she went.
 For the first time Harry looked at Mary and saw a frail, white-haired woman. He suddenly realized that he, too, was a white-haired old man. Before the week was out he went to town and returned with a “girl” to help out.
 This spurred a question among the neighbours. “Does Harry need a housekeeper to help out his housekeeper now?” When this filtered back to Mary she was mortified. She announced that she better try to find a place in the little nearby town. Perhaps the girls could give her a bit of money to help out.
 Harry had another idea. “Let’s get married, Mary. Frankly, after forty years, home wouldn’t be home without you.” After much discussion, Mary agreed. They had their license and here they were.
 Just then, Florence’s husband Ted, the minister, arrived. 
 “I’ll go next door and get Claira,” Florence said. “She can act with me as one of the witnesses. Come,” she said to the children, thinking to take them across the road with her. Harry, smiling at his new friend Jimmy said “Let them stay.”
 And so the wedding proceeded. When the ceremony was over, Ted announced, “You may now kiss the bride.” Harry leaned down and kissed Mary heartily. Beaming at the minister’s family gathered around he said, “That’s the first time I ever kissed her.” Mary smiled. “That’s not true,” she said. “You kissed me on the day I married Bill.” “That would only have been a peck, not a real kiss like this,” he said and kissed her again.
 Florence slipped out of the room to put on coffee. On the counter were the cakes she had just wrapped for Christmas. When she carried the plate in, Mary knew exactly what she’d done and protested. But Christmas cake was now wedding cake and the children got their wish of not waiting to Christmas to taste it.
 As Mary and Harry collected their coats and prepared to leave, Florence wrapped up the rest of the cake and slipped it into Mary’s hands. Mary smiled. “Now I’ll have a piece of wedding cake to share with our girls when we go into Saskatoon next week to tell them,” she said. The bill Harry pressed into Ted’s hand was enough to pay for  supplies for several Christmas cakes. If they could get the sugar.

Advent Candle Prayers

Here are some advent candle prayers I wrote a number of years ago. They won’t be much use for this year but maybe some other time.

Advent 1 – Hope

Luke 1: 35-38, Matthew 1:20-23, Luke 1: 46-55, Luke 1: 76-79

Advent is a time of waiting.
With anticipation, we await the coming birth.
With expectation, we await a coming fulfilment of justice and compassion.
With hope, we await the coming of Emmanuel; God with us.

Advent is a time of preparation.
With anticipation, we prepare ourselves for re-birth and renewal.
With expectation, we prepare for the promise of peace on earth.
With hope, we prepare to be God’s incarnate love for the world.

During this cold time of the year,
the daylight grows shorter.
We light this candle as a sign of hope.
The sun will return.

During this festive time of the year,
we are aware that many, in this season, are lost and lonely.
We light this candle as a sign of hope.
Despair is not the final word.

During this joyous time of the year,
we are aware that much, in our world, is broken.
We light this candle as a sign of hope.
The promise of Christmas will not be broken.

(lighting of the first Advent candle)

Advent 2 – Peace
Luke 1: 12-13, Luke 1: 76-79, Luke 1: 26-30, Luke 2: 13-14

We light this candle remembering the song of the angels.
Glory to God…
We light this candle knowing there is not peace in our world.
…and on earth peace.
We light this candle hoping some day there will be peace.
Glory to God…
We light this candle knowing in many homes there is not safety.
…and on earth peace.
We light this candle hoping for a safe space for everyone.
Glory to God…
We light this candle committing ourselves to peace-creating,
to justice-making,
and shaping a world that is filled with love.
Glory to God and on earth peace.

(lighting of the second Advent candle)

Advent 3 – Joy
Luke 1:13-14, Luke 1: 39-44, Matthew 2: 9-10, Luke 2: 8-11

With music and song,
with laughter and mirth,
with movement and dance,
Let us celebrate the source of joy,
the spirit of life who will be born in our midst.

With stillness and prayer,
with wisdom and depth,
with passion and heart,
Let us celebrate the source of joy,
the spirit of life who will be born in our midst.

With action and care,
with service and love,
with respect and grace,
Let us celebrate the source of joy,
the spirit of life who will be born in our midst.

In the midst of planning and rushing,
in the midst of shopping and feasting,
in the midst of worshipping and candle-lighting,
Let us celebrate the source of joy,
the spirit of life who will be born in our midst.

(lighting of the third Advent candle)

Advent 4 – Love
Luke 1:26-28, Matthew 1: 20-23, Matthew 2: 11, Luke 2: 15-20

In the song of the angels: Mystery.
In the awe of the shepherds: Wonder.
In the birth of the child: Grace.
We light this candle remembering the love of God.

In the voice of concern: Compassion.
In the hand of friendship: Support.
In the relationship of trust: Care.
We light this candle remembering the love incarnate in others.

In the cry of the oppressed: Liberation.
In the tears of the vulnerable: Justice.
In the rage of the violated: Peace.
We light this candle remembering the love needed in the world.

We light this candle remembering we are called to love God.
We light this candle remembering we are called to love our neighbour.

(lighting of the fourth Advent candle)

Thanksgiving for Revelation

Thanksgiving for Revelation

Creator God
genesis of the universe
in midnight northern lights
in the brooks and birds
in meadow=s hush
in rainbow colour
You come moving over the face of creation.

Divine Star maker
source of being
in beauty
in nature
in wonder
You come as the one who has created and is creating.

Divine Artist
in Bach=s variations and Van Gogh=s swirling fields
in Michelangelo=s sculpture and McDade=s passionate music
in Hildegarde= s mystic poetry and Haverluck=s outrageous angels,
You open our senses.

Holy name
in music and song
in craft and picture
in dance and movement
You paint your presence on our souls.

God of scripture
of wrestling angels
of praising psalmists
of raging prophets
You offer insight and wisdom.

God of Abraham and Sarah
God of Moses and Miriam
God of Mary and Peter
in parable, poetry and prose
in wisdom and sacred story
in epistle and gospel
You reveal yourself like an open book.

God of exodus liberation
in slavery overturned
in civil rights addressed
in women empowered
in lives affirmed
You are incarnate in the seeking of justice and the resisting of evil.

God of justice
in wrongs redressed
in powers confronted
in freedoms gained
You reveal yourself loving and serving others.

Jesus of Nazareth
in lessons taught
in healing extended
in tables shared
in tables turned
You reveal life abundant.

God of cradle, cross and tomb
in stable birth
in unjust crucifixion
in Easter hope
In life and death and life beyond death, You are with us.

Holy friend
in hands held
shoulders cried upon
laughter shared
You enter into relationship with us.

God of love
in warmth and support
in challenge and expectation
in affection and intimacy
You reveal that we are not alone.

God of love
in a moment of knowing
in a flash of insight
in a grounding deep
You are there.
You are there.
You are there.

God of
       Ellen and Arlene,
       Beth, Barbara, and Bob
       Carol and Kimberley,
         Kelley and Kristin
       Marcie, Michelle, and Mark,
       Alice and Alice,
       gwen and Vicki,
       Thérèse, Tracy and Ted
         Jackie and Jacqueline and Jamie,
in seasons of self-worth when we know our value and giftedness
in struggles for conversion and transformation when we long for newness of life
in times of self-acceptance when we dare to embrace forgiveness
You are there.
You are there.
You are there.