Meet the 2021 Graduates

Meet the 2021 Graduates

Four CCS students graduated from the Diaconal Ministries program this year. There were three opportunities to meet them and celebrate with them and with the 2021 recipient of the Companion of the Centre Award: The Profiles in Diakonia event, the Annual Service of Celebration, and the Online Tea Party. (See below)

Congratulations to graduates Alana Martin, Bri-anne Swan, Karlene Kimber, and Rebecca Pike, and to Companion Anne Manikel!

If you weren’t able to make it to any of these events (or even if you were), please drop a word of congratulations to any or all of these fine people in the comments section.

Alana Martin, Toronto, ON
Karlene Kimber, London, ON
Anne Manikel
Anne Manikel, 2021 Companion of the Centre, Nanaimo, BC
Rebecca Pike, St. John’s, ON
Bri-anne Swan, Toronto, ON

At the Online Tea Party reception, CCS program staff member Marcie Gibson spoke about the group of graduating students:

It is my pleasure to share with you our graduates of the Centre for Christian Studies Diploma in Diaconal Ministries, 2021 cohort.

  • Rebecca Pike – born, raised, and residing in St. John’s Newfoundland.
  • Alana Martin – originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia where she was born and raised, and who currently calls Toronto home.
  • Bri-anne Swan – originally from Oro-Medonte just outside of Orillia, Ontario, but also now calls Toronto home.
  • And Karlene Kimber – born, raised, and residing in the area of London, Ontario.

Student Rachel Nadon in Calgary was also part of this Integration Year cohort, and has chosen to defer her graduation to next year so that she can do some additional learning and preparation for ministry. I’m glad that we get to keep her a little longer J.

One of the gifts of this cohort, was the ministry experiences that they brought to discussion and used to integrate their learnings. From Karlene in a rural two-point charge, to Bri-anne in a justice role at the Regional Council, Rachel and Rebecca both at large urban multi-staff churches but one focused on elder pastoral care in Calgary Alberta and another on children and youth in St John’s Nfld, and Alana coordinating a national scope ministry of the GO Project.  These contexts not only allowed them to learn from each other, but also witness to the breadth of expressions of diakonia.

One of my favourite quotes as a young adult was from Ani Difranco; “Because the world is absurd, and beautiful, and small”.  This year, it has felt even more so.

Absurdly, all three of their Integration Learning circles have been online this year; creating both an intimacy in zooming from home, with pets and beloveds, and a reminder of the distance – spanning three, four, sometimes six, distant time zones.

There is a particular sacredness in circle. Lighting six candles at once, as we gathered in the light of Christ, reminded me of how our students are so grounded in their personal contexts – of ministry, of relationships, of responsibility, of joy – and yet come together with amazing intention to foster and nurture community among them.

This Integration cohort was particularly adept at using technology to connect – not only over Zoom, but also texting each other, checking-in regularly, and making a point to meet as students through the year.  They also found creative ways to connect with mentors, with Candidacy boards, with theme students, with diaconal community, and yes – with staff.  In the face of a lot of other isolation and pivoting, their finesse at networking and intentional care, was incredible – making the distances smaller.

One of the things that I value most about this cohort is their commitment to relationship.  Relationships among them, relationship with Creator and their faith, relationship with those who have gone before, those who are yet to come; with movements for racial, ecological, and indigenous justice, and shaping their ministry with a robust intersectionality.  They have sustained each other with prayer, laughter, challenging questions, thoughtfulness, and blessed grace. 

Bri-anne, Alana, Karlene, and Rebecca – today as ever, we give thanks for you, and we celebrate you! May your next journeys be both exciting adventures and gentle footpaths.  May the Spirit continue to whisper in your ear and lead from your hearts.  May you know your landing place here with CCS, and the breadth of God’s world before you.  With respect, blessings, and thanks.

Comments: 12

  1. Barbara Lloyf says:

    Congratulations Bri- Anne and Alanna on your upcoming graduation. I’m sure you have gained a wealth of experiences, learnings and new relationships along the way. May your journey in diaconal ministry continue to bring new life, hope and joy for you and others.


  2. Barbara Lloyd says:

    Above is from Barbara Lloyd.

  3. J.Keith Hall says:

    Congratulations to former classmates Alana and Rebecca. YOU DID IT!! Blessings on the end of your IY circle and the events of the next week. You are remarkable people and the United Church is blessed to have you as a soon to be commissioned Diaconal minister in their midst. Offering prayers of thanksgiving for you both.

  4. Meghan Gilholm says:

    Congrats to our Grads! I’m so proud to say that I know all four of you and have had the honour of being in Circle with each of you, at least twice (if memory serves me correctly).

    Alana: I celebrate your creativity, gifts with children, youth, young adults AND folks of all ages, your passion for social justice and ability to meet people where they are and teach with both word and just living out who you are and setting an example. The church has been blessed by your leadership for years, and will continue to as you officially enter the Order of Ministry. I also loved the Broadview article written about both you and your Mother! One favourite memory I have is that I needed to unpack a film I just saw, and was curious on your perspective from a social justice and feminism perspective. You quickly sent me some fantastic articles and resources and we had a meaningful discussion. Thank you!

    Rebecca: I was able to be learning partners with you, and it was really fun and neat to stay connected in that way, and all the ways I believe it really deepened our relationship and friendship at that time. Your intellect, knowledge, resilience, courage, strength and natural pastoral, non anxious presence always astounded me. I also appreciated your natural leadership and watched you really come out of your shell several times. A favourite memory was leading a Student Led session with you. I got asked a question and for a milisecond panicked because I had no idea how to answer it….but before I had to say anything, my team mate and fellow group leader jumped in and not only answered but taught me something important and new, too. Thank you!

    Karlene: Another Learning Partner, and external course classmate (x2? x3?). You are a bright light and every time I think of you, I smile! Your artistic ability, drive, commitment to lifelong learning, leadership, humour, and overall essence are truly beautiful, through and through. I enjoyed time in Port Elgin alongside you, Christina, Dan and Barb at our Regional Meeting (with all our Regions together), and have so many other awesome memories with you too. To name two: I loved your creative art pieces; one that became the cover photo for our CCS Students FB group, and another that was a collage shared in our external: Women in Hebrew Scriptures course in Edmonton. Even thinking of it now, I’m just in total awe. I loved what you did with art and collaging to make (her) come alive! *I’m brain farting on the woman. Tamar?*
    You, too are such a gift! Thank you.

    Bri-Ann Swan: The first thing that comes to mind when I think of you is “Is there anything this woman CAN’T do? I didn’t get the chance to know you as well on your journey, but your expertise, awareness, mindfulness, knowledge, music, drama, graphic design and so much more just never failed to blow me away. A favourite memory was the skit your group put together to illustrate the history of land injustice. There were puppets, and you played the main role, and honestly…it was blanket-excercise-level for me in how brilliantly that skit captured this part of our history. I wish we had video-taped it! Thank you!

  5. Karen Orlandi says:

    Rebecca & Alana – You’re not the same, but I always remember meeting you together in our LOP, when I thought I might die if I had to do one more ‘ridiculous’ art project. Your belief in me sustained me into the next year and those that followed. I learned so much from both of you, and I am honoured to have learned alongside you both. You bring such different and special talent, skills and gifts, all churches and organizations will be better for your presence. Plus, above all – you make me laugh! I’ll never be as smart as Rebecca, and she’s not pissed off in circle, she’s in love with rocks, and probably the most poignant moment… How can I practice truth and reconciliation when the Indigenous people of my province are extinct? Alana – I can’t even begin to stop laughing at ‘your look’ – you know the one, and you trying to teach me the french tuck, and hopefully reduce my fear of small people. I pray I continue to learn from both of you – I need it! So proud to have been on this journey with you.

    Bri-Anne – Well, aren’t you something! I love how you hold me to account and bail me out on videos I should have done before. You remind me of a kid that grew up, but never stopped asking ‘but why?’ It’s a good look on you! You’ll do amazing things and I will be telling everyone, yeah, I knew her when, I taught her that… Remember, we have a pact – celly! The church is safe when I know there are people like you still pushing.

    Karlene – my rumi! Thanks for putting up with me as a roommate, and for being our policy guru. Someone has to be, and you do it well. Your capacity for seeing things from a perspective different than mine is the greatest give you give me, and it hurts… so I must be learning! I look forward to more shenanigans, and Lipton will always hold a special place in our hearts. You have already been a gift to your congregations… and there will be more! Muah! P.S. may you continue to Coast!

  6. David Edwards says:

    Warmest congratulations to Rebecca, Karlene, Bri-Anne and Alana o your graduation, , and to Anne on being named as a companion of CCS. We have been richly blessed in the ministry here at Camrose of Diaconal Minister Helen Reed. All good wishes to you on the road ahead.

  7. Marilyn Hart says:

    Congratulations Karlene!

  8. Cindy MacKinnon says:

    Congrats Karlene! I was so honoured years ago when you confided in me that you were considering this…and the time has flown. Diaconia is such a great choice for today’s needs in particular. Stay well and strong and enjoy the continued journey ,

  9. Helga Kimber says:

    Congratulations Karlene!
    Mom and Dad are so happy for you and so proud of your accomplishments.

  10. Betsy Anderson says:

    Wonderful team of grads. Special congrats to Alana and Bri-anne.
    Betsy Anderson

  11. I was sorry not to be able to attend your final celebrations Alana, Rebecca, Karlene and Bri-anne. I am grateful, and consider myself blessed, to have sat in Circle with you. The journey has been long and you completed it during this time which brought different opportunities and challenges. What you have learned along the way and through this time will enrich all aspects of your lives and, I am sure, will become or enhance the gifts that you (already) share in abundance.
    One of the great blessings of the diaconate is our strong interlinked communities. We continue to be in community together. Hurray! ?

  12. Kristie Pilling says:

    Congratulations and blessings to all of you! I have been fortunate enough to have been with each of you in a circle or two. I want to thank all of you for your caring insight and loving hearts; I have learned so much from each of you.

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