Saturday, 1 October 2022

Prayer Letter: October 2022

Monday, October 3 - Friday, October 7:

October 3 is the application deadline for the opening for a Senior Member in Philosophy at ICS. We are grateful for all of the applications we have received, and we pray for the Search Committee as they now begin to evaluate candidates and start the interview process. Please pray that the committee may be granted wisdom in assessing these candidates and their potential contribution to the ICS academic community.

October 3 is also the first Educational Policy Committee meeting of the year at ICS. At this meeting, the EPC will consider the results of a survey of ICS students and instructors that was conducted earlier this year and will advise the Academic Council on the assessment of student work on the basis of those results. Please join the EPC in its own prayers for its work, from the collect for the feast of Hildegard of Bingen: God of all times and seasons: Give us grace that we, after the example of your servant Hildegard, may both know and make known the joy and jubilation of being part of your creation, and show forth your glory in the world; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

CPRSE Associate Director and PhD candidate Héctor Acero Ferrer will be preaching this week at the CRC Campus Ministries at the University of Toronto’s Wine Before Breakfast service. Héctor’s reflection will focus on the image of God the pilgrim as articulated by Liberation Theology. Please pray for Héctor as he prepares his reflection, and pray in gratitude for the important work done by the CRC Campus Ministries, as they provide a space for faithful reflection and fellowship for the university students in the GTA.  

Senior Members Edith van der Boom and Gideon Strauss will be travelling to Grand Rapids, Michigan on October 5-7. Edith and Gideon will be meeting with the Friends of ICS on the evening of the 5th to give an update on the latest news and projects at ICS. Edith and Gideon will then attend the Kuyers/INCHE Conference at Calvin University. On October 6, Edith will present on “Decolonizing Christian Education for Human Flourishing” and on October 7, Gideon will present on “The Question in Hand: When Teaching Change Leadership Demands Change.” Please pray for Edith and Gideon as they travel and spend this valuable time meeting with colleagues and ICS supporters.


Monday, October 10 (Thanksgiving) - Friday, October 14: 

During this week of Canadian Thanksgiving, we want to join together and give thanks for the many answers to prayer this year. We have been blessed by our ICS community again and again as you faithfully supported us in our times of need and we have been encouraged by the grace and strength that God has given us during the difficult times. We are beyond grateful for the presence of each of our Junior and Senior Members and the unique contributions they make to the ICS community, and we give thanks for all of the ICS staff and the ways in which they faithfully serve the educational mission of ICS. 

Earlier this fall, Dr. Neal DeRoo joined the ICS team in the capacity of CPRSE Postdoctoral Research Associate. Dr. DeRoo is thrilled to put his experience and knowledge at the service of our ICS community. Please pray for Dr. DeRoo as he joins the CPRSE team, for a fruitful and smooth transition into his new role.

Our first staff meeting of the academic year will take place this week. This is a busy time of year for ICS administration, with many projects on the go and deadlines approaching. Please pray that the ICS staff might find mutual encouragement for their individual and shared tasks during this meeting and in their ongoing work together. 

During the month of October, the Critical Faith podcast will resume its activities after a year-long hiatus. The podcast’s re-launch episode will feature an interview with Eric Van Giessen, Toronto activist, artist, and PhD student at York University. Please pray for the Critical Faith team as they start activities for this academic year.


Monday, October 17 - Friday, October 21:

On October 17, the Academic Council will receive and discuss a report from Senior Member Nik Ansell reflecting on his own practices as a learner, teacher, and lover of Scripture. We pray that this might be a time of gratitude and celebration for Nik’s singular contributions to the academic and spiritual life of the ICS community.

On the evening of October 19, we will host an online Info Night for ART in Orvieto 2023. This event will feature an overview of the art, religion, and theology seminar led by Senior Member Rebekah Smick, the Artists’ Workshop led by David Holt, and the Writers’ Workshop led by John Terpstra. There will also be a Q&A period for any questions hopeful attendees may have. Email academic-registrar@icscanada.edu if you or someone you know would like to join us and find out more about this wonderful learning opportunity. And please pray that the event will prove both helpful and inspiring to those who attend.

Our Academic Integrity & Citation Management Workshop is taking place on October 20, led by Librarian Peter Gorman. Please pray for Peter as he prepares for this session and for the students who attend this event, that they might gain valuable insights and tools as they pursue their research projects and interests in the coming academic year.

The 16th Annual Society for Ricoeur Studies Conference is being held on October 20-22 in Los Angeles, California. CPRSE Associate Director Héctor Acero Ferrer, ICS alums Andrew Tebbutt and Abbi Hofstede, and PhD candidate Mark Standish will all travel to this conference to present the panel “Public Fragility, Fragile Publics: Ricœur’s Political Thought from Root to Branch.” Please pray for this ICS delegation as they share with the Society’s international audience the product of their reflection on the political, economic, and religious thought of Paul Ricoeur. 


Monday, October 24 - Friday, October 28:

It’s Reading Week at ICS! Please pray for our Junior and Senior Members during this week that they might make the most of this opportunity to attend to the various projects on which they’re working. Please pray for our Junior Members and students that they might have the creative energy and space to complete their writing and study assignments. Pray, too, for the faculty, that God would graciously encourage and refresh them in their educational vocations at ICS.

The next issue of Perspective will be on its way to a mailbox near you shortly! In this issue, you’ll be able to read some reflections from Senior Members Ron Kuipers and Bob Sweetman, alumnus Drew Van’t Land, Kristin Kobes Du Mez, as well as our newest Junior Members on the traditions in which they find themselves and the life they find therein. Please join us in thanksgiving for each of these contributors and the time they’ve spent sharing their insights, and please pray for the editors, designers, and printers as they put the final touches on this issue.

Please hold the Board of Trustees in your prayers as they oversee the vision and mission of ICS, especially as they plan for their next major Board meeting coming up in mid-November and attend to the details of the upcoming Annual General Meeting on November 19 as well. Pray for strength and wisdom for each Trustee as they continue to provide support and leadership in the working out of God’s call to ICS now and into the future.

On Thursday, October 27 at 3:00pm at Regis College, the ICS community will gather to celebrate the publication of Seeking Stillness or The Sound of Wings: Scholarly and Artistic Comment on Art, Truth, and Society in Honour of Lambert Zuidervaart, the second volume of the Currents in Reformational Thought book series. The celebration of this publication will also be an opportunity to honour the contribution of Senior Member Emeritus Dr. Lambert Zuidervaart to the Reformational philosophy tradition. Please pray in thanksgiving for Dr. Zuidervaart, as well as for the numerous contributors to the volume and all those involved in the planning of this celebration.  


Monday, October 31:

Please pray today for the Advancement and Finance teams as they work to organize and send out the necessary materials for the AGM on November 19th and this year’s Advent Appeal. Pray especially for Harley Dekker as he works with the auditors to finalize the annual audit of our financial records for the fiscal year which ended on June 30, 2022. We continue to be amazed by the generosity of our support community and have seen positive financial developments even amid the global financial stresses of this past year. We give thanks for God’s enduring care for us.


A Living Tradition of Faithfulness

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
and righteousness will look down from the sky.

—Psalm 85:10-11


At ICS, we spend a lot of time thinking about and imagining what it means for a Christian tradition to be faithful. How do we recognize faithfulness when we see it? This question is harder to answer than it first seems, because we must avoid confusing faithfulness with the mere adoption or repetition of the intellectual beliefs or doctrines that have been codified by previous generations of Christians. Faithfulness goes deeper than that. Active reception and appropriation of a tradition includes an effort to make it “one’s own,” and that effort involves the communal discernment of what it means to be faithful in one’s own time. The answer to that question, an answer that is ultimately revealed by the fruit of faithful living, often is, and should be, different than the answers previous generations have produced. Yet somehow the faithfulness remains recognizable as a continuation of what had come before.

We know that faithfulness has something to do with accepting Scripture’s invitation to share a vision of a redeemed—a healed and transformed—world, the one so beautifully portrayed in Psalm 85. The psalmist envisions a world where chesed (steadfast lovingkindness and mercy, giving oneself completely in love and compassion) and emet (truth as faithfulness) meet, where tzedek (righteousness or justice) and shalom (peace, harmony, wholeness) kiss.

How can we be faithful to that vision today? While there is no automatic or simple answer to that question, we must never cease striving to answer it . Thankfully, the Spirit of our Maker and Redeemer is here to help us in this task, and Scripture provides much needed guidance and orientation for our approach. Even so, we still have the responsibility to discern for ourselves, in faithfulness, what faithfulness in fact requires of us today (and tomorrow, and the next). 

Scripture bears witness to God’s people struggling with this question time and again, and even shows them coming up with new answers that they are convinced remain faithful to this scriptural vision. I think we understand these people’s efforts at discernment better if we come to understand faithful living as something akin to a craft or skill, a way of living that organically evolves over time as it is passed from person to person and from generation to generation. While past virtuoso performances provide the necessary examples and inspiration to guide our current efforts, we remain called to contribute our own unique, novel performances, thereby making space for the spirit at work in this tradition to breathe new life into our own time and open an alternative future than the destructive one that today’s powers and principalities are constructing.

Friends, let us pray together for the eyes and ears that will help us notice and celebrate all the new ways of inhabiting our tradition that expand our imagination about what makes for faithful living, and which build our desire for our Maker’s chesed, emet, tzedek, and shalom!

Ron Kuipers

CPRSE at Society for Ricoeur Studies Annual Conference

The CPRSE will travel to present at the upcoming 16th Annual Society for Ricoeur Studies Conference, held on October 20-22 in Los Angeles, California on the theme of Capability, Fragility, and Joy. The event will feature keynote addresses by Brian Treanor (Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles) and Christina Gschwandtner (Fordham University, New York City) as well as a number of presentations and workshops from international conference participants.

CPRSE Associate Director Héctor Acero Ferrer will moderate some of the conference sessions. Héctor and ICS alums Andrew Tebbutt and Abbi Hofstede, and PhD candidate Mark Standish will also together present the panel “Public Fragility, Fragile Publics: Ricoeur’s Political Thought from Root to Branch,” exploring the political, economic, and religious thought of Paul Ricoeur.

You can find out more about the Society for Ricoeur Studies and their annual conference here.

October 4 - Season of Creation: Panel Discussion

On Tuesday, October 4, 7pm - 9pm EST, The Church of the Redeemer in Toronto will host a panel discussion on the church and climate change titled: "The Season of Creation - What If...?"

This event will be both in person and online, and will be moderated by the Rt. Rev’d Andrew Asbil, Bishop of the Diocese of Toronto. The panellists include: The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, (26th Governor General of Canada and an Anglican), Paige Souter, (Member, Bishop’s Committee for Creation Care), The Rev’d Alison Hari-Singh (adjunct lecturer at Trinity College), and Brian Walsh (activist theologian, former ICS Senior Member and former pastor of the Wine Before Breakfast community, Wycliffe College).

Please register here if you'd like to attend (whether in person or online). There will be a reception to follow the in-person event.

When?
Tuesday, October 4, 7-9pm EST

Where? 

Church of the Redeemer (162 Bloor Street West, Toronto)
Also possible to join online. Register for the link.


Save the Date: Online AGM on November 19

This year's Annual General Meeting for ICS Members will be held on the afternoon of Saturday, November 19th. The meeting will take place online so that ICS supporters can join from anywhere in the world to hear the latest on what's happening at ICS.

Voting materials, an agenda, and details for how to join the meeting will be sent out in the coming weeks, so keep an eye on your inboxes and save the date in your calendars. 

Edith van der Boom & Gideon Strauss in Grand Rapids

Dr. Edith van der Boom and Dr. Gideon Strauss will be travelling to Grand Rapids, Michigan from October 5-7. On October 5th at 7pm, Edith and Gideon will spend an evening with the Friends of ICS, providing an update on the latest news and projects at ICS. This event is being graciously hosted at the Woodlawn Christian Reformed Ministry Center by FICS President Barbara Carvill and Woodlawn CRC's Mike Abma. 

If you haven't already, you can let us know you'd like to attend by emailing ics-communications@icscanada.edu.

On the 6th and 7th, Edith and Gideon will then attend the Kuyers/INCHE Conference at Calvin University. On October 6, Edith will present on “Decolonizing Christian Education for Human Flourishing.” Here is an abstract of her presentation:

In this session I will highlight some of the history of residential schooling which was set up across Canada for the purpose of eradicating the culture and language of Indigenous peoples. I argue that those of us who are settlers need not only to continue to learn more about Indigenous peoples and our history but we also need to begin the task of decolonization for human flourishing. I suggest the practice of critical reflection as a means to expose unconscious assumptions, biases, and other forms of injustice. 

On October 7, Gideon will present on “The Question in Hand: When Teaching Change Leadership Demands Change.” Here is an abstract of his presentation: 

I teach a course in the graduate-level educational leadership program of the Institute for Christian Studies with the title Lead from Where You Are. At the heart of the course is an introduction to the practice of change leadership in the face of tough organizational problems. This paper is an account of how my annual teaching of this course over the years 2018-2022 demanded I exercise precisely those skills which I try to teach my students, including the cultivation of trust through the presentation of vulnerability. As such, this paper offers testimony to my lived experience of scholarship as discipleship. 

More information about sessions at the Kuyers Conference can be found here.