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

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”

Learning on Purpose 2018 registration deadline extended

There’s still time to register for 2 weeks of learning in community with the Centre for Christian Studies at the beautiful Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria, BC.  Sign up now for Learning on Purpose 2018!

The CCS website was down for part of this past weekend (too much traffic), so we’re extending our registration deadline to May 15th.  If you were thinking about taking advantage of this opportunity to dive deep into your calling for social justice, spiritual care, education, worship, and theology but didn’t get around to registering, this week is for you! Continue reading “Learning on Purpose 2018 registration deadline extended”

Learning on Purpose focusses purpose

There is no actual typical. That is as true for CCS students as it is for the rest of the world.  CCS’s signature leadership program, Learning on Purpose, attracts a wide-range of students ~ diaconal, lay, ordained, Anglican, United. There are often students from the Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre and other theological schools, various denominations and occasionally other countries and faith groups.

We recently spoke to four students who might be considered atypical, about their experience taking CCS’s signature leadership program, Learning on Purpose. Two are ordained ministers in the United Church and two are lay ministers in the Anglican Church. As an added point of interest, they are two couples. All of them live in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Min Goo Kang is the minister at Fort Garry United Church. Ha Na Park is the minister at Immanuel United Church. Stacy Stanley Young is a self-employed book-keeper and volunteer treasurer at St. Paul’s Anglican Fort Garry. Evan Young works for the city of Winnipeg and is a liturgical lay leader at St. Paul’s. Min Goo and Stacy attended the LoP in August 2016. Ha Na and Evan attended in August 2017. Continue reading “Learning on Purpose focusses purpose”