Courses and Circles

The Centre for Christian Studies offers courses and circles for students in our Diploma (Diaconal Ministries) and Certificate programs, as well as for Continuing Studies students. Some courses and circles have prerequisites.  Visit the Tuition page for course and circle fees, and the Admissions page to apply for the Diaconal Ministries or Continuing Studies program.  (If you’ve already been accepted into a program, you can register for specific courses here.)

Circles and Courses for 2024-2025

June 17-28, 2024Learning on Purpose (LoP) in-person, Montreal, QC
Aug 12-23, 2024UCC Admissions Orientation (online)
Sept 2024 – May 2025Praxis
Sept 2024 – May 2025Field
Sept 29 – Oct 4, 2024Integration 1 (IY1)(in-person)
Oct 2024 – March 2025Integration 2 (IY2)(online)
Oct 16-22, 2024Eco-Justice (SJ04)(in-person)
Oct 24-30, 2024Culture and Identity (EW04)(in-person)
Jan 7 – Feb 13, 2025Ministry as Community-building (SJ01)(online)
March 24-29, 2025Integration 3 (IY3)(in-person)
March 26-April 1, 2025Worship (EW05)(in-person)
April 3-9, 2025Grief and Loss (SC02)(in-person)
May 7-14, 2025Ministry as Listening (SC01)(online)
June 16-27, 2025Learning on Purpose (LoP) (in-person, Winnipeg)

Course and Circle Descriptions


Explore your calling, develop your leadership skills, and discover the meaning of “learning-in-community.”

  • LoP Learning on Purpose – a 2-week introduction to learning in community, self-awareness, group skills, conflict, making change, and approaches to theology, scripture, pastoral care, education, worship, and social justice.


Theme Learning Circles are 6-day in-person intensives (or 8-10 week online courses), exploring various themes in ministry and faith-based leadership and action.  Learning Circles include readings, assignments, and group work.  Two in-person Learning Circles are offered back-to-back in the fall, and two back-to-back in the spring.


  • SC01 Ministry as Listening – ministry of presence, pastoral visiting, prayer, counseling and spiritual direction, pastoral ethics and boundaries.
  • SC02 Grief and Loss – pastoral support to the dying and those they leave behind, end of life issues, funerals, and questions of afterlife.
  • SC03 Relationships – intimate and familial relationships, sexuality and gender, family systems, weddings, covenants, relationship break-ups, and the role of minister as support.
  • SC05 Spiritual Practice – history and diversity of Christian spiritual practices, private devotion and communal spirituality, discipleship, companioning.


  • SJ01 Ministry as Community-Building – healthy community, issues of safety and comfort, advocacy, congregational systems, and theology of the reign of God.
  • SJ02 Power and Privilege –social location, individual and systemic power, social analysis, and the role of the prophet.
  • SJ03 Oppression and Resistance – systems of oppressions (racism, sexism, heterosexism, colonialism, etc.), models of change, and theologies of resistance (liberation theology, feminist theology, queer theology, etc.)
  • SJ04 Eco-Justice – environmental concerns, climate change, water and food security, population displacement, and the theology of creation.
  • SJ05 Right Relations – the relationship of indigenous and settler people in Canada, treaty as covenant, truth and reconciliation, indigenous spiritualities, land, and the theology of mission.


  • EW02 Ages and Stages – ministry with various age groups, development theory, curriculum, youth ministry, children’s ministry, adult education, ministry with seniors, and intergenerational ministry.
  • EW03 Living Scripture – practical bible study, understanding and interpreting the bible in context, and the theology of revelation.
  • EW05 Worship – liturgy planning and worship leadership, sacraments, and special services.


What is “praxis?”  It’s action combined with reflection, and it’s how experiential learning happens.  Diaconal ministry students do Diaconal Praxis for every year they are active in the diploma program.

  • Praxis Year – the ongoing learning community for all Centre for Christian Studies diaconal ministry students across the country. Students set their own learning goals and plans for the year in consultation with program staff. Throughout the year reflection papers ask students to make connections between what they are learning (in learning circles, external, elsewhere) and their experience. Each student connects with a learning partner, and with a Diaconal Mentor, with whom they explore questions of ministry identity and diaconal perspective.


Practical field experience and engagement with the world allows Diploma and Certificate students to put theory into practice, and provides contextual grounding for Learning Circles and Academic courses.

  • Field Placement 1, 2, and 3  – an 8 month practical learning experience.  Students arrange their own field placement (approved by CCS staff) and practice their ministry skills for 330 hours over the course of 32 weeks (approx. 10 to 12 hours per week). Students meet regularly with on-site learning facilitators for guidance and advice, and with local committees for support.  (Field placements can be combined with a paid ministry positions provided clear distinctions can be established between a student’s learning goals and their professional obligations.)
  • GPE Global Perspectives Experience – a 10-14 day study trip to another part of the world with a recognized partner organization.  The GPE provides an opportunity to step outside of one’s comfort zone, make theological, social, political, and economic connections between Canadian and global contexts, and deepen one’s understanding of accompaniment and solidarity.  The trip is preceded by orientation and preparatory reflection, and followed by intentional integration and action.


Students in the Diaconal Ministries program are required to take 8 academic courses in theology, Biblical studies, church history, and ethics.  These courses are often referred to as “externals”, as they are not taken at the Centre for Christian Studies but at a recognized theological education institution outside of the CCS. (For more information and to see a list of recognized institutions, visit the External Course page.)  The 8 required academic courses are:

  • Theology (2) – an introductory theology course and a course on a more specific theological focus (eg. Christology, feminist theology, contemporary indigenous theologians, etc.)
  • Christian Scriptures (2) – an introductory Christian Scriptures or New Testament course and a course on a more specific focus (eg. the Gospel of Mark, images of nature in Revelations, etc.)
  • Hebrew Scriptures (2) – an introductory Hebrew Bible or Old Testament course and a course on a more specific focus (eg. women in the Hebrew Bible, Exodus, etc.)
  • Church History (1) – a course providing an overview of Christian church history.
  • Christian Ethics (1) – a course providing an overview of ethical models and methodologies in the Christian tradition.


In the final year of their diploma program, diaconal students take an integrating year to pull together all they’ve learned and prepare for a life of leadership in the church and the world.  (Integration Circles I, II, and III are taken in the same school year.)

  • IY1 Integration I – theology, personal faith statements and official creeds, diaconal/vocational/ministry identity.
  • IY2 Integration II – a 6-session online connection focusing on denominational identity and polity.
  • IY3 Integration III – a 6-day circle focusing on preparation for active ministry.


Mini-courses are short, self-directed online courses focusing on some of the tools, skills, and ideas that are foundational to the Centre for Christian Studies’ education model.  These non-credit courses can be taken as a refresher for CCS students, or as a “taste” of what CCS offers for the general public. Contact the registrar directly for more information.

  • The CCS Action-Reflection Spiral – Learn to use this tool for understanding and transformation.
  • Giving and Receiving Feedback – Tips for offering encouragement and challenge without alienating people, and accepting comments without being defensive.
  • The Alumni Reading Circle – A special online community for our alumni and diaconal mentors, with access to all the readings assigned to current students and a forum for discussion and sharing of resources.


How much does a course or learning circle cost?  Check out the Tuition page.


Course/Circle/Activity Prerequisite
Mini-courses no prerequisite
Learning on Purpose no prerequisite
Diaconal/Vocational Praxis Learning on Purpose
Up to 4 Theme Learning Circles (Learning on Purpose is encouraged.)
5th Theme Learning Circle

Learning on Purpose
2 Academic Courses (externals)

1st Field Placement Learning on Purpose
2nd Field Placement 3 Theme Learning Circles
Global Perspectives Experience 10 Theme Learning Circles
Integration I, II, and III 12 Theme Learning Circles + 3 Field Placements + 8 Academic Courses (externals) + Global Perspectives Experience

Course and Circle FAQ

How much do Courses or Circles cost?  Check out the Tuition page.  Tuition costs don’t include travel or accommodations.

Where do learning circles take place?  Most in-person learning circles take place in Winnipeg.  The Learning on Purpose course often moves around the country.

Do I have to take a Praxis Year every year?  If you’re in the Diaconal Ministries program, yes, you should do the praxis component every year.  It’s how you develop the practice of reflecting on and integrating your experience, regardless of whether that experience is attending learning circles, doing a field placement, taking academic courses, or just living your life as a diaconal student.  If you don’t want to or are unable to do the praxis component, you could consider becoming Inactive.

What does Inactive status mean?  Sometimes life gets in the way of your being able to be a student.  “Inactive” means you’re taking a break from being a CCS student for awhile – to look after your health, care for a loved one, travel, work, whatever – and you plan on coming back to your studies when you’re done.  After more than 3 Inactive years in a row, we’ll consider you withdrawn from your program and you’ll have to reapply.

What would a “full” year of the diaconal program include?  A typical full year would be made up of: Diaconal Praxis, a Field Placement, 4 theme learning circles (2 in the fall, 2 in the spring), and maybe a couple of Academic external courses.  An Integrating Year would be made up of: Diaconal Praxis, and 3 Integration Circles.  (Global Perspectives is also usually considered part of the Integrating Year, though one’s actual trip might have occurred earlier.)

Is there a schedule of courses and  learning circles for the years to come?  There is a tentative schedule. Generally, Praxis components and Field Placements will run from September to May each year.  Integration 1 learning circles will be in September each year, Integration 2 will be online and run between October and the Integration 3 circle, and Integration 3 will be in March or April, depending on when Easter falls in a given year.  Two theme learning circles will usually be offered in October and two in March or April (again, depending on Easter and the Integration 3 timing).  Two theme learning circles will be offered online during a year.  The tentative rotation of Theme learning circles looks like:

Fall: SJ04 Eco-Justice / EW04 Culture & Identity
Online Jan/Feb: SJ01 Ministry as Community-building
Spring: SC02 Grief & Loss / EW05 Worship
Online May: SC01 Ministry as Listening
Fall: SJ02 Power & Privilege / SC04 Heath, Pain, & Trauma
Online Jan/Feb: SC05 Spiritual Practice
Spring: EW01 Ministry as Storytelling / SJ05 Right Relations
Online May: EW02 Ages & Stages
Fall: SC03 Relationships / EW 03 Living Scripture
Online Jan/Feb: EW04 Culture & Identity
Spring: SJ03 Oppression & Resistance / SC01 Ministry as Listening 
OnlineMay : SJ02 Power & Privilege
Fall: SJ04 Eco-Justice / SC02 Grief & Loss
Online: SC03 Relationships
Spring: EW05 Worship / SJ01 Ministry as Community-building
Online: EW01 Ministry as Storytelling
Fall: SC05 Spiritual Practice / SJ05 Right Relations
Online: EW03 Living Scripture
Spring: EW02 Ages & Stages / SC04 Health, Pain, & Trauma
Online: SJ03 Oppression and Resistance
This is a five-year rotation, during which each learning circle is offered twice, sometimes online, sometimes in-person. The following circles are only offered in-person: Grief & Loss; Health, Pain, &Trauma; Right Relations; Eco-Justice; Worship.