“A better fit”: finding diaconal ministry

1979 Core group

In 1977, Deb Hinksman was a young theology student and candidate for ordination when she met CCS principal Marion Niven at a conference. When Marion asked Deb what she planned to do after graduation, Deb described to her a ministry of working with people (children, family, youth work), programming and education and learning. She remembers Marion smiling at her and saying “I think you might find a better fit for what you hope to do at The Centre for Christian Studies.” These are some of Deb’s memories of her time as a student at CCS.

I had the joy of living at the residence on Charles street and had some student colleagues who are still busy in the life and work of the Diaconate. Kay Pearson was the face of the residence. And her face was the one you wanted to see when you came through those doors. Hers were the ears which heard many a joy and sorrow. Her presence was a blessing to all who lived there.

The class preceding mine: Anne Naylor, Cheryl Kirk, Nancy Wetselaar. Leadership from Gwyn Griffith, Shelley Finson, Helene Castel and Doug Shanks and with Marion still occupying the role of Principal. Classmates such as Lori Crocker, Ray McGinnis (who was just learning the guitar at the time!), Anne Burnham, Alyson Huntley, Joan Robertson, Anne Marie Allen and others whose names I would have to look up! Cheryl Kirk was a part of this class as well – she double dipped (i.e. did a second year of first year core group)!

Our peer sessions were so important as we shared goals and learning and had the support and challenge that that offers. I had my first student field placement at Victoria Village United Church and in year Two at the Juvenile Detention centre on Jarvis street. I was looking for my second placement and I was strongly “encouraged” to change from my comfortable and familiar work in a congregational setting, to work on ministry in the world. Looking back, it was a wise push that I likely didn’t know how much I needed.

Life in residence often highlighted the special program that CCS provided. I couldn’t begin to say how many conversations I had with residents who were enrolled in the MDiv program at Emmanuel who openly wished they were learning some of what we were as they felt they would be more practically prepared for congregational life. To this day I can cringe when I am at a meeting that I can tell is bereft of any good planning processes!

Images of learning the [David] KOLB model for experiential learning and preparing our core sessions with PGO’s (purpose, goals, objectives) at the top of our list for planning are still visceral sensations to me even now as I prepare for learning sessions with others. The early days of the spiral I think!

When we signed up for our learning sessions in groups, often depending on the goals we set at the beginning of the year – I remember us being intentional on balancing the head learning and the experiential learning. Helene Castel teaching us to use the experiential role play “The Game of Life” (that I remember so distinctly beginning to understand how privileged I was). We had some wonderful leadership from the community who came in an assisted us in our learning.

I remember distinctly the community of our core groups – and the learning and planning that came from that. I remember our faithful trying to figure out what ministry was going to be like for us. I remember a community of friends that kept me sane and hope-filled.

After 3 decades of ups and down, changes and challenges but mostly joy, I still am thankful for that pivotal sentence: “I think you would find a better fit for what you hope to do at the Centre for Christian Studies”.

 

1979 Core group
1979 Core group
back row-Alyson Huntley, Anne Marie Allen, Helene Castelle, Anne Burnham, Joan Robertson, Deb Hinksman, Ray McGinnis
front: John Patterson, Nancy Stevenson, Lori Crocker, Anne Gilbert (Morrow), Iris Ward

 

 

Making space for grace

It was a gorgeous fall afternoon in October. My partner and I wanted to celebrate the day, find a wonderful place to be outside. We remembered an area of woods in Winnipeg, inside the city but what seems like miles away, the Bois des Esprits. The Seine River runs through it and it’s watched over by wood spirits, faces carved into the trees.

The walk was everything we hoped for. The trees were almost bare, and we heard my favorite seasonal soundtrack, the rustle of leaves beneath my feet. We saw an animal swimming in the water and chased after it, walking through branches along the shoreline trying to get a closer look – beaver? Otter? We didn’t get close enough to see, but wished it well on its journey.

Another moment, a couple of weeks later: church on Remembrance Day Sunday. There was a musical postlude, a duet with piano and violin. The service was over, but the congregation sat rapt, transfixed as the music echoed, almost hauntingly, through the sanctuary. The beauty and majesty of the music took over.

In a recent circle at the Centre for Christian Studies, Alydia Smith, Program Coordinator Worship, Music & Spirituality of the United Church office led a few sessions. One of the ideas I took out of one of the sessions was the idea of making space for grace in worship. Our walk in the woods, and the music at the service were both moments of deep grace, being totally present with, and surrounded by God’s love in and for the world. Being present to the holy, whether worshipping informally in the woods (or where ever we are in the world), or formally in church.

How do we find, or create those grace-filled moments? Psalm 46 tells us to ‘be still and know that I am God.’ Maybe we don’t need to go to the woods to find grace. Maybe those moments are right here. Step back. Look around. What surrounds you? Where you can see God’s love at work in the world?

One final moment: back at home, watching the sun set off the front porch, chatting with our neighbor, our cats on the porch. That too, was a moment of God’s grace, a small celebration of wonder, beauty and being present.

 Nancy Renwick is a member of Augustine United Church in Winnipeg. She attended the Worship learning circle in October.

 

One of the wood spirits carved in a tree in the Bois des Esprits

A Tea Party to Celebrate 20 Years!

Drop by for tea or enjoy a cup wherever you are to celebrate our special anniversary. Mark your calendar!

The Centre for Christian Studies has been in Winnipeg for 20 years! On November 16 CCS will host an Anniversary Tea Party, physically for friends who are near enough to drop by and virtually for those who are farther away.

 

Come and go tea party in Winnipeg
with tea and cupcakes
~View historical material.  ~Write a note to a graduate.  ~Tell a story.
~Show and tell with pictures or artifacts you bring.

Friday, November 16, 2 – 5 p.m.  Central time
Woodsworth House, 60 Maryland Street
(limited parking and ramp available at the back)

 

Join the tea party from wherever you are!
~ Have a cup of tea on November 16 and share a photo on facebook or send to communications@ccsonline.ca

~ Host your own tea party or get together with some diaconal friends. Share a photo on facebook or send to communications@ccsonline.ca

Make a cup of tea and join a Virtual Tea Party!
The Virtual Tea Party will be between 4 & 5 p.m. central time. [2 p.m. BC, 3 p.m. Alberta, 4 p.m. Manitoba, 5 p.m. Ontario/Quebec, 6 p.m. Maritimes, 6:30 NFL]
You could even link your tea party to our Virtual Tea Party!

Join the Virtual Tea Party on Zoom.  Click here or enter meeting number 493085825 in your Zoom app.
Questions? contact communications@ccsonline.ca.

 

Use resources from CCS Sunday at your tea
Whether you’re gathering with a few friend or pouring a cup for yourself, you might want to use a prayer or watch the video from the CCS Sunday. Find resources here.

 

Community, Grief, and Learning: walking together to remember Brody

Community, Grief, and Learning: An Interview with Brenda Curtis and Keith Hall

On April 6, 2018, the bus of the Humbolt Broncos hockey team collided with a semi truck. Sixteen people died, including team statistician Brody Hinz. CCS graduate Brenda Curtis and Integration Year student Keith Hall conducted Brody’s memorial service. Janet Ross spoke to Brenda and Keith about that time.

Brenda: When the first reports came in about the bus crash we were in the middle of an ecumenical community concert at the Catholic Church with the Watoto Children’s Choir from Uganda. The choir had just stepped on stage and was beginning with a countdown: 10, 9, 8, … when someone showed me their cell phone – “Humboldt Broncos have been in an accident”. The choir sang a few songs but soon everyone in the audience had their cell phones out. By 8:15 pm we knew there were fatalities and that they were significant. The choir was asked to wrap up quickly and Father Joseph offered a prayer, naming the uncertainty of knowing about the fatalities. Everyone was invited to go to the Uniplex to wait together for more news. It was interesting that we were all at this concert, including our ecumenical ministerial group, and could all be at the Uniplex together. When we arrived, the city of Humboldt already had counsellors and many support people in place.
Continue reading “Community, Grief, and Learning: walking together to remember Brody”

Mother, daughter DUCCs

Alana Martin is a current student at CCS. Her mother, Martha Martin, a diaconal minister, graduated from the Centre in 1998. Courageous Risking, the 2018 gathering of DUCC (Diakonia of the United Church of Canada) happened in Winnipeg this past April.

DUCC 2018

Taking part in several nights of the DUCC Conference was so beneficial. First, spending time with my mom was life-giving! She was having an amazing time introducing me to all of her colleagues and former classmates. And second, when the ‘seasoned DUCCs’ reminisced about their program and their work over the years, I was able to listen in. That’s when I learned the most. So many of them had struggled throughout their careers in ministry to be recognized equally, to be heard, and to be appreciated in their diaconal roles. It is through their hard work and trail blazing that the journey has been relatively painless for me – but that struggle is still underlying the work I do and am preparing for. So, much has changed, and they changed it! But much is still the same. Continue reading “Mother, daughter DUCCs”

What happened in Victoria changes lives! Learning on Purpose – 2 weeks in pictures

This year, the Centre for Christian Studies held its 2-week signature program, Learning on Purpose, in beautiful Victoria, BC. Christ Church Cathedral provided a dramatic stained glass backdrop and awesome organ music. Students gathered from June 11 – 23 to learn what it means for them to be faith leaders that uplifts others, are analytical about and critical of structure, rooted in tradition while walking boldly in the future, reflective and responsive.

Click on a gallery to scroll through the images.
Continue reading “What happened in Victoria changes lives! Learning on Purpose – 2 weeks in pictures”

The top 5 things that all Companions share – who do you nominate?

Every year, the Centre for Christian Studies names one person, or occasionally two people, as Companion of the Centre.  Companions of the Centre epitomize diakonia and provide inspiration to all of us on how to live into this ministry.  While the people who have been distinguished over the years are fairly diverse, there are 5 traits that they all share:

  • the spirit of diakonia infuses their whole lives
  • they are passionate about the world around them
  • their ministry has touched others profoundly
  • they offer in the spirit of love and service
  • they inspire us
2018 Companion of the Centre, Sue Taylor

The CCS Awards Working Group is now inviting nominations for the 2019 Companion of the Centre Award.  Continue reading “The top 5 things that all Companions share – who do you nominate?”

A circle of Right Relations

The Right Relations learning circle gathered from April 19 – 25.  CCS students were joined by students from the Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre, six continuing studies students (both lay and clergy), Elders and special guests.

Prayers for the children

Richard Manley Tanis is the Minister of Evangelism, Mission & Church Development at the Winnipeg Presbytery, the incoming principal at St. Andrew’s College in Saskatoon and a graduate of CCS. This is a reflection from his blog A Deacon’s Musing.

Creator's Children

Creator’s Children

This last Sunday I offered the Prayers of the People during the Annual Service of Celebration for the Centre for Christian Studies (CCS). This service marks the graduation of Diaconal Ministers and also honours a new Companion of the Centre each year. This service is also significant for me as I, myself, graduated from the programme in 2009. Needless to say, I felt honoured and a little anxious.

The Prayers of the People are part of the worship experience that brings forth the concerns and worries, hopes and celebrations that are present in a faith community and beyond. Sometimes they are understood as an intercession with the Holy in which prayers are presented with the hope of intervention. For some, the prayers are less about an expectation of action and more about being able to name–in community–that which might otherwise be silenced. Regardless of the approach, whether a mingling of the intention, I have always understood this worship act as one of the ways that Creator is channelled.
Continue reading “Prayers for the children”

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.
Continue reading “Risking relationship – Graduating class of 2018”

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.
Continue reading “Heartbeat of healing”

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

Continue reading “The week of EVERYTHING!”

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.”
Continue reading “Congratulate our 2018 Grads and Companion”