Principal Maylanne Maybee writes:
Has CCS ever done such a thing before? Has there ever been anything like it? About 100 people – students and staff, past and present, graduates, Friends, supporters, and honoured guests – converged in Winnipeg from Thursday evening until Sunday morning. People came from Victoria, BC to St. John’s, Newfoundland, from different decades and denominations, with stories to tell, minds alive to learn, voices to sing, hearts and hands to make community.
When the Communications and Promotions Committee, aided and abetted by Marc Desrosiers, suggested a “homecoming” weekend as a way to celebrate the 120th Anniversary of our school and its predecessors, I wonder whether any of us ever dreamed the idea would come to life as spectacularly as it did!
The Weekend was the brainchild of the Communications and Promotions Committee, and it was the Local Planning Team who put wheels under it. Charlotte Caron, Barbara Barnett, and Irene Rainey, with staff support first from Marc, and later from Lori Stewart on contract, came together last May, determined to put on something substantial. They decided to call it an Anniversary Weekend rather than a “homecoming”, since the Winnipeg site for CCS was not “home” to everyone. They wanted an event that combined a public lecture, panels and workshops, reunions by decade or by group category (staff, Western Field Based, Friends), with an historic display, a celebratory banquet, and a final service of celebration.
All these things happened, but no one could have predicted the Spirit that pervaded the weekend- the joy of friendship, the sense of pride and accomplishment, the rich awareness of our struggles, losses, and triumphs. The parties, the lectures and lessons, the deep respect paid to our past and our tradition, the sense of community and the presence of the Holy in worship and community. It was a foretaste of God’s reign.
In the end, it was a homecoming – and we discovered just what “home” was: not a geographic location, and not a building, but a vision and practice of ministry, a community of learning, a song of faith, and a company of friends.
She comes sailing on the wind, her wings flashing in the sun,
on a journey just begun, she flies on.
And in the passage of her flight, her song rings out through the night,
full of laughter, full of light, she flies on.
120th Anniversary Weekend Highlights in Pictures, Words and Online
Thursday Evening – Raheel Raza and Stan McKay – Diversity, Transformation, and Hope
You can’t imagine the phone calls, e-mail exchanges, conference calls, and changes of plans that went on behind the scenes in order to pull together the opening public event on Thursday evening. Stan McKay and Raheel Raza spoke in dialogue, from the heart, about Diversity, Transformation, and Hope. Betsy Anderson moderated. (Watch the CCS for video clips coming soon.)
I worried whether enough people would come to listen to and learn from the wisdom of our two guests. No need – the upper hall of Young United Church was filled to the rafters, completely engaged in listening to and learning from the wisdom, grace, and challenge that Stan and Raheel presented. My dream was an evening that invited the wider public into a celebration of and reflection on transformative leadership. It came true.
Getting Ready – Open House, Registration, Displays
You can’t imagine the work that went on behind the scenes. Gwenna Moss, with assistance from a summer student, Taliah Klippenstein, worked tirelessly to assemble photographs and artifacts. They surprised us not only with a stunning display of photographs and letters, essays and newsletters, but also with the gracious presence of Dorcas the Deaconess who greeted people at the registration table.
I was amazed at the work of Liz Bachmann and a small army of volunteers that went into organizing food, seating, transporting of displays from CCS to Young United around the corner. The work of registering people, receiving payments, making name tags, recruiting people (Anglican deacons!) to staff the registration table.
Friday was a day for Woodsworth House, the Winnipeg home of CCS, to shine. And so it did. The Property Working Group made sure it had a new roof and a new coat of paint. I saw Ann Naylor sweeping up the surrounding walkways. We had a decorator come in and help us hang pictures and reconfigure furniture.
Registrants got to choose from a collection of “old bags for old bags” – conference bags recycled from previous events rather than producing a new one. The only “SWAG” we offered was a bookmark with quotes about diakonia from the Anglican and United Church tradition. (That in itself was an organizing feat!)
Second Friday – A Theology of Liberation and Justice
The second Second Friday lunch and learn event attracted a large and lively audience, again at Young United, to listen and engage in conversation with Barb Lloyd, Yoon Ok Shin, and me about “A Theology of Liberation and Justice.” I was touched by the passion in the room – and by the warm response to Yoon Ok’s reminder that in our pursuit of justice and righteousness, we are not to forget the gift of joy.
Class and Group Reunions
Charlotte Caron did the heavy lifting for the class reunions: organizing people into decades and groups, recruiting hosts and facilitators, finding space and extra chairs and arranging refreshments for each group. I can’t tell you the sensation of listening to bursts of laughter emerging from all corners of Woodsworth House as people reminisced and told their stories!
And then in the evening, we were uplifted by Hope Uprising, a singing circle with Carolyn McDade. Another moment to be amazed – at the stunning exhibit of banners that welcomed us, at the gift of words, image, and music as we celebrated Spirit, community, and creation. Thank you Carolyn.
Saturday Morning – Principals’ Panel and Student-led Skit with Discussion
And that was only the first full day of the Anniversary Weekend! On Saturday morning, I slept in – and raced by taxi to arrive in time to participate in the Principals’ Panel with Caryn Douglas and Gwyn Griffith, moderated by Charlotte Caron. But first there was a chance to choose from muffins, fruit, coffee and bagels – all gleaned from congregations and parishes with help from local stores, thanks to the labours of Lori Stewart.
The Principals’ Panel was a time to hear stories of the success and losses of CCS, to learn from our history of feisty and courageous women and men, to be reminded of the struggle and conflict in our relationship with churches, and to imagine a wider future. Again, Charlotte thought up the questions, kept time, brought in the audience. This is who we are, this is who we have been, this is who and what we can become. The presentation was followed by students’ hopes for the future, doing things as only CCS can – beginning with a skit that made us think and laugh, followed by small group discussion, in which students listened and took notes.
Throughout the morning, there wasn’t a moment to get bored, fall asleep, or become resentful from imposed passivity. It was fantastic.
… was an organizational miracle, thanks largely to Ted Dodd,who worked to arrange students and visitors to be transported to local outreach and community ministries – the places of true diakonia where ministry happens. Others had the choice of participating in a workshop about the unique learning model of CCS, or listening to a panel of deacons and diaconal ministers from different traditions – Anglican, United, Roman Catholic, and Lutheran. Still others had the common sense to take a break and have a nap!
Saturday Evening – The Banquet
Then it was Saturday evening, and the much anticipated banquet of 140 people. It was a sellout event, with Helen Reed hosting and keeping us on time. How do you limit speeches from six different people?
A citation speech to introduce Caryn Douglas and her acceptance speech as the newest Companion – in a room full of Companions from previous years. What a wonderful moment to see them all together!
A speech by Steve Willey of The United Church of Canada to introduce Ted Dodd and Ann Naylor as this year’s recipients of the Davidson Trust Award, a recognition by The United Church of Canada of their excellence in teaching and scholarship as theological educators. Followed by brief but stirring words of acceptance by Ann and Ted. Then one more speech by Tim Sale to acknowledge the result of our Endowment Campaign, Giving Life, Shaping Justice and to pay tribute to those who gave it feet – Caryn Douglas, Kirsten Earl McCorrister, Dorothy and Michael Peers, and Marion Pardy.
Sunday – Service of Celebration, Group Photo, Lunch and Farewell
We weren’t done yet! On Sunday those who were still awake gathered at Thomson Funeral Home to worship in an amazing service of celebration that combined the Anglican and United Church traditions of Word and Sacrament, of preaching, prayer, wine, grape juice and bread, sewn together by song and music. The centrepiece of the morning was Marion Pardy’s sermon, “Shrub Seeds of Transforming Hope”.
Scott Douglas organized us for a group photograph. We had lunch, we said goodbye, and it was over. It will be a week or two before the dust settles – before all the chairs are returned, the contributors thanked, the photographs organized, the bills paid. But I think it will be a lifetime before we forget the gifts of this weekend and the people who were part of it. We did it!! And may we be graced by another centenary or two of transformative hope. Amen.