Word of Hope, Example of Ingenuity
“I have had my eyes opened to the diversity of the diaconate in this course,” said a student last Saturday morning as the Ministering by Word and Example class met over Zoom.
The Centre for Christian Studies’ “Word and Example” course is a 6 week/12 session online learning circle offering a specifically Anglican focus on diaconal formation. Co-facilitator Marcie Gibson comments on how it’s going:
We are about two thirds of the way through this circle, and so far everyone is engaged, eager, and enthusiastic about learning together. There is one participant from central Alberta, one from southwestern Ontario, and six from the Diocese of Rupert’s Land. Most are in a formal formation process for the diaconate in their diocese, while others are curious or discerning. Only three of the eight have taken a CCS learning circle before, and two are currently registered for the CCS Anglican Certificate program.
While we are meeting online – along with the rest of the universe – this circle was always planned to be online, in the hopes of offering Anglican-specific programming to those outside of the Winnipeg area and across Canada. Drawing on the previous incarnations of Ministering by Word and Example held in 2013 and 2016, this version incorporates CCS’s growing wisdom about online pedagogy, updated resource readings, and a focus on the competencies of the Anglican Iona Report. (Thanks to the Anglican Foundation gift which enabled us to fund this online course conversion and re-design.)
Participants engage in small group discussions, creative exercises to integrate the assigned course readings, bible study, leadership of Morning Prayer and evening Compline, and conversations with guests. Most sessions have included a guest (usually a deacon) who shares their experience on a given topic and helps participants understand the various ways that the diaconate is lived out across the Anglican church. Topics have ranged from social change in the public square to home communion and pastoral care to diaconal history in the Anglican tradition to ecumenism and the Worldwide Communion. (And the list goes on.) Participants have brought critical thinking and reflection, and their own personal experience, to each of these topics.
Ministering by Word and Example benefits from Lori Stewart’s expertise in diaconal formation and pedagogy (and her experience teaching the previous Word and Example courses) and from Marcie Gibson’s background in the Anglican church and experience teaching CCS circles online. They are enjoying the opportunity to plan together.
It is a challenge and a gift to consider the current particular need for Anglican formation in the spirit and longevity of CCS’s Anglican roots and programming. We hope that this will be an accessible model for the future, both as a stand-alone circle and in combination with other CCS learning opportunities. May the journey together continue.
Ministering by Word and Example is supported by a grant from the Anglican Foundation.