Images from Ministry as Community-building 2022
This month, from October 12 to 18, six students gathered at the Centre for Christian Studies for the Ministry as Community-building learning circle, exploring the nature of community and the ways in which social justice is grounded in a vision of vibrant, healthy, empowered community. For a couple of students this was their first time back at Woodsworth House in years and for others it was their first time ever. We all relished the opportunity to sit in a circle, to share meals, to laugh and talk without worrying about muting ourselves, and to learn together with our whole selves.
Facilitation was provided by CCS Program Staff members Janet Ross and Scott Douglas. The new CCS Principal, Alan Lai, was available as chaplain for the circle, taking the opportunity to start getting to know students. A session on activism featured a conversation with Esther Epp-Tiessen and Diane Dwarka, both thoughtful and committed activists for justice. A trip to 1JustCity’s West End Drop-in Centre gave us the opportunity to sit down and chat with community members who make use of the drop-in centre, followed by a conversation about community ministry with the drop-in centre’s lead staff person, diaconal minister and CCS grad Josh Ward. We spent an afternoon on patrol with the Bear Clan, learning how people in the community provide care and safety by picking up discarded sharps, offering hot dogs or granola bars to hungry people, and most importantly by engaging vulnerable people with respect and compassion. We used role plays, simulation games, and other creative activities to explore issues of inclusion, economic justice, and safety, while exploring theological visions of the beloved community and the ways that historically church has been community and has related to community.
A role play activity cast students as tenants in an old apartment building with an absentee landlord, encouraging them to think of different ways to work together to make change. (“Myrtle” was in favour of being patient and praying for the best, while “Sparks” was ready to start some fires.)
In the session on inclusion and difference, Scott repeatedly stepped on Janet’s toes, wearing boots while she wore sandals, leading to a discussion about privilege and how to respond when you hurt others without knowing. (“Ow, you stepped on my toes.” “I’m so sorry.” “But you’re still stepping on my toes!”)
In one session talking about community health, we strung a line through the middle of the room and taped up words describing various impacts that the covid pandemic had on our communities, and then reflected on how those impacts “hung” in the room.
Four of the students, some of whom had never met before, rented a house together during the circle. This provided an opportunity to continue creating community outside of session time. As it happens, three of the four were part of a student-led planning team for the circle. (Apparently Lisa put her headphones on while the other three did their planning in the evenings.) Their student-led session on community and organizational systems had us building houses out of chocolate bars and reflecting on how different expectations and resources lead to different approaches. (We also ate a LOT of chocolate. I’m not sure if that had a pedagogical function, but it was tasty.)
The Ministry as Community-building participants built community among themselves while developing skills, approaches, and theories to build and maintain communities in their ministry.
Photos by Alan Lai, Lisa Leffler, Jamie Miller, Andy Pitter, Lauri Ladd, Scott Douglas, and the West Broadway Bear Clan.