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.
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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.
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DUCC, DUCC, Goose

This is one of a series of reflections about Courageous Risking, the 2018 gathering of DUCC (Diakonia of the United Church of Canada). 

It was an amazing few days of learning about forgiveness, colonization and economics with a social justice bent, and being inspired by filmmakers, survivors and change makers. Hearing amazing stories from amazing people about how we can, as the saying goes, be the change we want to see in the world. Wonderful, inspiring.

Then there were a couple of moments that I looked out and on the other side of the window was a guy. You probably know the guy: disheveled, boots too big, wearing a winter coat in spring weather. The kind of guy we might find at one of our outreach ministries or asking for change on the corner. A reminder that yes, it’s great to be inspired, and yes, that world is right out there, just on the other side of the window.
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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.
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5 minutes to bust myths at 1JustCity

This is one of a series of reflections about Courageous Risking, the 2018 gathering of DUCC (Diakonia of the United Church of Canada). 

As a visitor to one of the four sites of 1JustCity, I was given an opportunity to spin their “roulette wheel of risk”. The risk that came up for me is the white one in this photograph….it challenged me to: Build a new relationship. Spend 5 minutes getting to know someone at a place like 1JustCity.

Fortunately for me, my opportunity to risk had already happened – I had just spent 30 minutes in conversation with a volunteer at 1JustCity – an open, honest and unassuming 40-ish man named Brent. We chatted about his job as a volunteer at the West Broadway Community Ministry (WBCM is one of 1JustCity’s 4 sites). During that conversation, Brent described daily life at the centre, and daily life for Brent. Like the roulette wheel, Brent over-turned many common myths about folks who find themselves in need of the services and support of agencies like WBCM.
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Courageous Risking at DUCC Gathering 2018

This is one of a series of reflections about Courageous Risking, the 2018 gathering of DUCC (Diakonia of the United Church of Canada). 

The Diaconal story begins with the radical image of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples, and includes the examples of courageous risk-taking of Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers, dining with the marginalized, and healing the outcasts. Jesus pushes us to think outside the box. His message is always to find another way, a better way.

What does it mean to actively engage in courageous risking? Most of us don’t recognize when we are doing it. What one person calls risky is not necessarily what another person would call risk taking.

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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

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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.

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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.
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Join us in Vancouver!

Join CCS principal Michelle Owens for an evening with ecumenical and international partners in diaconal ministry.

The Central Committee of Diakonia of the Americas and the Caribbean, DOTAC, will be meeting in Vancouver. Along with CCS, they will host an evening gathering on November 9 to celebrate the many and diverse expressions of international and ecumenical diakonia. Continue reading “Join us in Vancouver!”