Irene Rainey is a diaconal minister, she has been on the CCS Central Council, and was a guest at the recent Pastoral Care Learning Circle. Irene says…
“ I recently had the privilege of joining the Pastoral Care Theme Year Learning Circle this Spring for 3 days as a “seasoned” diaconal minister. At the end of our time together I shared that in the midst of a period of significant disillusionment about the state of the church and the future of our world this experience had restored my hope. The many gifts and skills, the deep faith and commitment and the amazing creativity and vision that I saw being developed and nurtured in the Circle and offered as leadership to the institutional church and the world beyond sparked afresh my own passion for justice and faith in a God who asks only for our companionship in building that “kindom” where all are included and loved.
I was commissioned as a Diaconal Minister in 1998, after 15 years of paid ministry in the United Church as a Staff Associate and 5 years of intensive study, learning and growing through the Western Field-based Training Program in Diaconal Ministry. I then had the amazing good fortune to be settled with a diaconal teammate into outreach ministry in inner city Winnipeg. For 10 years we had the privilege of shared ministry, walking with folks who live on the margins. We learned again and again that the poor and disenfranchised have much to teach us, We learned that speaking truth to power is difficult and discouraging. We learned that an ongoing community of support and accountability is essential to maintaining commitment to the possibility and vision of an inclusive community where all have a place. CCS and the diaconal community became central components of that support for me.
When, in 2006, I was asked to join CCS’s Central Council as a United Church rep I was excited to be involved in a new way with the Centre and their visionary model of participatory theological education and ministry training. It was a challenging 6 years of discovering how difficult it is to actually live out a theological vision of justice, compassion and mutuality and how painful it is to fail. A time of transition turned into a period of chaos, certainly not the first to be lived through by the organization and likely not the last, but nonetheless one in which people were deeply hurt and faith was sorely tested. Yet the vision prevailed. It has been inspirational to me to see and experience the commitment of staff and volunteers that has brought us back to a place where hope is tangible once again.
Micah 6:8, “What does God require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” has been my challenge and my inspiration throughout my adult life. My head knows that the way of justice seeking will never be a smooth or easy road but when my heart grows weary and my energy falters, I give thanks for companions like those at CCS who have the grace to call me back onto the path. My 6 years on the Central Council are finished but my belief in the training that CCS offers to ministry students and in the lifelong learning opportunities that we are all invited to embrace is strong. I am deeply grateful for the ongoing witness of the Centre for Christian Studies in seeking ways to live a theology of justice and am honored to be counted as one of CCS’s friends.” – Irene Rainey