Announcing the 2023 Companion of the Centre
The Centre for Christian Studies is pleased to announce that the 2023 recipient of the Companion of the Centre Award will be Greer Anne Wenh-In Ng (吳 詠 嫣 Wu Yong-yan).
Wenh-In is an ordained United Church minister, an educator, and an advocate for anti-racism and interculturalism. She was ordained by Toronto Conference in 1986 and received a Doctor of Divinity from Victoria University in 2010. She is described by one of the people who nominated her as a “trailblazer” and “a fabulous educator” who specializes in “helping students overcome their own biases to engage others who are different, especially those who are historically marginalized.” Another nominator notes that she has “gently yet intrepidly crossed borders in her advocacy for justice throughout her life – in her teaching, scholarship, and practices of Christian education, in her ministry of networking, especially for gender and racial justice.”
Born in the former British colony of Hong Hong, Wenh-In – her name means “reciting poetry” and ”smile” – became grounded in global citizenship via a childhood in Macau and Hanoi. Secondary education in mission schools grounded her in pre-Vatican II Christianity, later expanded by the Reformed faith of the China Congregational Church in Hong Kong. Following two post-secondary degrees at the University of Hong Kong, Wenh-In found her fluid sense of “home” reinforced by doctoral study years at Columbia University in New York City, while her ecumenical awareness blossomed in neighbouring Union Theological Seminary. Both were strengthened by several years as a lecturer at Trinity Theological College in Singapore. Upon her young family’s move to Canada, she brought these strands of herself into her first contributions as a writer of mission education and church school curricular resources in the final “simplified” phase of The United Church of Canada’s Core ‘New’ Curriculum.
This integration of church education and theological education has characterized Wenh-In’s subsequent teaching-learning ministries – five years as Christian Development Officer of Hamilton Conference (1981-86), nine years at the Vancouver School of Theology (1986-1995), and until her retirement in 2002, at Emmanuel College, Victoria University in the University of Toronto. Other characteristics include: practising and teaching a feminist, liberative pedagogy (a la Paulo Freire), enabling/leading Bible study based on postcolonial Biblical interpretation (R.S. Sugirtharajah and others), preaching and liturgical development from intercultural and inclusive (including Asian/North American Asian) perspectives, and incorporating a justice dimension in all societal and ecclesial endeavours. This last conviction was lived out in her interim position as General Council Minister for Racial Justice, and as Toronto Conference’s Conference Minister for Social Justice and Ethnic Ministries (2005-2009), in her continuing involvement on CEARN (Canadian Ecumenical Anti-Racism Network), and in contributing a chapter addressing anti-Asian hate and violence to a new edition of Injustice and the Care of Souls (Fortress Press 2023).
One of the most meaningful projects of Wenh-In’s years at VST was participating in the development of its Native Ministries M. Div. by Extension program. It is continued in her current attempts to raise awareness of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s work and its Calls to Action, both personally, in faith communities, and in her current study and research.
An ongoing practice is mentoring/nurturing younger ‘minority’ students and younger scholars, especially those who often lack support in their own ‘majority’ institutions in both the US and in Canada, as a faculty advisor in the movement PANAAWTM (Pacific Asian North American Asian Women in Theology and Ministry). Her advisory support of the UCC’s Ethic Ministries Council and its Sounding the Bamboo biennial conferences (for United Church BIPOC women) led to a more sophisticated study that resulted in a chapter on the UCC in the volume Christianity and Ethnicity in Canada (U of Toronto Press 2008).
These days, Wenh-In stays connected to Emmanuel College by co-chairing its Committee on Asian/North American Asian Theologies (CANAAT) in Emmanuel’s multifaith Centre for Religion and Its Contexts. To sustain herself, Wenh-In practises an embodied spirituality by engaging daily in the Eighteen Movements of Taiji-Qigong (Shibashi in Mandarin), supplemented by Chinese brush calligraphy, writing hymns (and sometimes playing them on the harmonica). Her current goal is learning how to be a worthy elder and, eventually, become a good ancestor.
Wenh-In Ng will be presented with the Companion of the Centre Award at the Centre for Christian Studies’ Annual Service of Celebration in Winnipeg on April 23, 2023.
(Photo credit: Richard Choe)