“In a good way”
Learning at Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre
by Kim McNaughton
“In a good way” is a phrase Elder Rev. Bernice Saulteaux used during prayer and teaching at the Christology learning circle in April. I am a 4th-year student in the diaconal ministry program at The Centre for Christian Studies (CCS); in September I will be entering the Integration (and final) Year. As part of the external studies requirement of CCS for a “Christian specific” course, I was able to meet and study Christology with students at the Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre and to learn “in a good way” from the Elders, Rev. Bernice Saulteaux and Rev. Andrew Wesley.
For me, the circle was as much a healing circle as a learning circle. I experienced both. Rev. Wesley encouraged us to “live into” our Christian faith by finding ways to step into the gospel stories, to make them each our own story in order to deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ. I witnessed how it is possible to help Indigenous congregation members to honour and hold to their Indigenous traditional teachings along side their Christian faith.
Rev. Wesley’s teaching focussed on how to help engage with the Gospel. Similarly, in her 2002 address to the gathering of the Diakonia of the Americans and the Caribbean (DOTAC), Louise Williams spoke to the mission of diaconal ministers as one of “storytelling” – our own stories and biblical stories. “The diaconal task of storytelling is not just to tell the Jesus stories–to help the biblical stories come alive in the hearts of people,” she said. “It is also to help people tell their own stories of their pain and suffering, of their joys and triumphs, of deaths and resurrections, of God at work among them–to bring those stories back to the community for witness, celebration, instruction, and prayer.”
I left the circle equipped to be a better storyteller and encourager of story-telling. I left SSSC equipped to better serve as a minister and an ally to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people “in a good way” – that is, in a way that honours each person’s identity and tradition and is respectful of differences.
I am very appreciative of the opportunity to learn “in a good way” at Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre and I strongly encourage others to consider participating in continuing education at the Centre or CCS students to take a required external there!
Kim McNaughton is a student at the Centre for Christian Studies entering the Integration Year.