Tuesday, 16 October 2018

ICS Junior Member Featured Speaker at Parliament of the World's Religions

This year's Parliament of the World's Religions is happening in Toronto November 1-7, 2018. The event is one of the largest interfaith gatherings in the world featuring numerous presentations, panels, workshops, training, worship opportunities, and celebrations. 


ICS Junior Member Héctor Acero Ferrer is participating in the week's events as a featured speaker of multiple panels:

Face to Face: Building Relationship and Understanding through Conversation (Panel and Workshop). This panel will deal with the realities of interfaith and intercultural dialogue among youth and young adults.

Navigating the New Religious Pluralism in Canada: The Growth of the Canadian Interfaith Conversation (Panel). This panel will consider ways in which the Canadian Interfaith Conversation is strengthening Canadians' notions of pluralism in practice.

In his role as Associate Director of the CPRSE, Héctor is also participating in a panel led by the Canadian Interfaith Conversation called Faith and Interfaith Engagement in TorontoThis session will look at interfaith engagement in Toronto and will explore questions like the following:

Assets: What initiatives are faith communities and others currently undertaking and what impact are these efforts having?

Liabilities: What is not being done and where are the biggest omissions?

Future: How do youth respond to interfaith and what might this mean for the future of faith engagement in Toronto?


The Parliament is an unprecedented opportunity to interact with various local and global religious communities, and a fantastic opportunity for Héctor to gain further engagement with his research. We are very excited that he has this opportunity. 

If you are in Toronto and able to attend, tickets to the Parliament are still available at parliamentofreligions.org, and Héctor's panels will occur during November 2-4. If you're unable to attend, please pray for a fruitful time of discussion and interactions for Héctor and for the religious communities involved in the Parliament. 


Monday, 15 October 2018

Upcoming Art Show from ICS Alum Janet Read


Painter and ICS Alumna Janet Read would like to announce her upcoming show Travelling Mercies in the North Gallery of the Propeller Gallery in Toronto. The show runs from October 17 to November 4. The artist is hosting an Opening Reception on Saturday October 20, 1pm-4pm. Below is a statement from Janet regarding the show:

Travelling Mercies is a show of works created from travels over the past few years in China, Ireland, the Bruce Peninsula and my own backyard of Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe. Light over water is a constant theme as well as visual language developed in response to these journeys. The experience of being in the natural world animates my work. Saturated colour informs these works on paper, vellum, canvas and birch panel.

I work with the natural environment as a catalyst for mark-making in the form of painting. Volatile yet radiant forms of light over water inform the work. Playful visual language is evident in small works on paper and duralar.

Janet Read: dawn rise, 40x40, oil and cold wax on birch panel

Janet Read: april sky, 40x40, oil and cold wax on birch panel
Janet Read: bloom, 9x9 inches, oil on Arches paper

To see the show, you can visit Propeller Gallery at the following address:
30 Abell St. Toronto,ON (just south of Queen, east of Dufferin) 
Hours: Wed-Sat. 12-6 pm, Sunday, 12-5 pm
phone: 416-504-7142

You can also visit Janet's website to see more of her work here: www.janet-read.com.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Cal Seerveld News

Senior Member Emeritus Cal Seerveld has just published a small book with Dordt College Press (2018) titled Never Try to Arouse Erotic Love Until--. It is a companion study book to his earlier translation of the Old Testament Biblical Song of Songs, The Greatest Song, in critique of Solomon. There are provocative questions for discussion, reflection on friendship, and comment on redeeming spoiled love.

Cal has a short essay titled "WANTED: Vegetarian Kuyperians with Artistic Underwear" in Pro Rege 46.3 (March 2018), 24-28.

Also, Cal has written an extensive review of Bob Sweetman's book, Tracing the Lines: Spiritual Exercises and the Gesture of Christian Scholarship, in Pro Rege 46.4 (June 2018), 26-30.

Prayer Letter: October 2018

Monday, October 1 - Friday, October 5:

We give thanks today for Danielle Yett who began last month as ICS’s new Communications Coordinator. Danielle’s role will consist of organizing and synthesizing ICS’s suite of communications, including advancement communications, social media, and promotion of public outreach events so that our messaging to our diverse audiences is consistent and effective. Please pray for Danielle as she takes up this multi-layered and complex role while at the same time continuing her studies here at ICS.

We thank God for the successful installation of our computer network, telephone, and internet connection late last month. Without this essential infrastructure in place, we have had to get creative in order to accomplish the many tasks necessary for the daily operation of ICS. While we have been grateful for everyone’s willingness to “make it work,” we are also thankful to get back to full connectivity.

Bob Sweetman is presenting a paper titled “Languishing in the Wild Spaces of Love: What is Shared (and Not) by Plato’s Alcibiades and Some Thirteenth-Century Love Mystics” for the conference “The Way of Beauty” to be held on 5-7 October at Villanova University in Wayne PA. Please pray for travelling mercies for him and for a time of fruitful discussion.

Monday, October 8 - Friday, October 12:

During this Thanksgiving week, we thank God for the many mercies shown to us throughout this past year as an institution and as individuals. We thank God for the many opportunities we have had to witness personally the dedication of faculty, staff, Junior Members, and ICS families, volunteers, and supporters. And we pray that this time of year brings you much joyful reflection in gratitude.

We are especially grateful to God for his grace and strength last month as we made the move to our new home in the lower level of Knox College. We made the deadline of leaving 229 College by August 31st and successfully had the classroom space ready for our students for the start of classes on September 10th. We ask for your continued prayers for flexibility, patience, and smooth transitions during the ongoing renovation work this month.

Please pray this week for Harley Dekker and others in the Finance office as we prepare to receive the auditors later this month or early November to evaluate the annual financial statements.

Monday, October 15 - Friday, October 19:

Bob Sweetman will be giving a paper titled “Gilson, Medieval Studies, and Right-Left Divide in France and North America” for the conference “Symposium 2018: Medieval Studies at the University of St. Michael’s College: Past, Present, and Future” to be held at the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto on October 19-20.

Our Junior Members wear many hats in addition to pursuing studies here at ICS. We ask for prayers on their behalf as they balance life’s many demands with regard to work, family, relationships, and well-being. We pray for them that they may find fulfillment, joy, and opportunities in what can often be a hectic time of life.

Monday, October 22 - Friday, October 26:

This week is Reading Week at ICS. We ask God to provide our students and faculty with the necessary space in their lives for rejuvenating rest and creative thinking as they prepare for classes and get caught up on their research and writing projects.

For our Junior Members, we pray that God will give them wisdom in applying complex texts and theories to a complex world.

Monday, October 29 - Wednesday, October 31:

Please pray this week for the successful delivery and setup of the new workstations for our faculty and staff. Everyone has been most patient making do with a small table and chair upon which to work and we are looking forward to settling in to more comfortable and efficient workspaces.

We also pray that God will foster genuine dialogue between seemingly opposing factions throughout the world.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Lock, Stock, and Barrel!

For the past 46 years, ICS has made its home at 229 College Street. On September 1, 2018, we will start the school year off in a new home, a freshly renovated office suite in the lower level of Knox College on 59 St. George Street, at the heart of the University of Toronto’s St. George campus. As we look back with fondness on our tenure at 229 College, and all the blessings we experienced while there--including many great achievements--we also look forward to the fantastic opportunity for ICS that this move makes possible.

September will be a challenging month, as we still have many hurdles to jump after we load-in the things we are taking with us from 229 College. As I write this, ICS staff are busy packing and emptying out our offices at 229 College. At the same time, the renovation of our space at Knox is very nearly complete. Our movers and some finishing trades will have to work around each other on move-in day, but everyone understands the situation and are working to help us meet our deadline to vacate 229.

Faculty, staff, and students are all bracing to meet the coming challenges facing our transition to the new space. Because we are moving into roughly 1000 less square feet of space than we used to have, we have invested in new modular office furniture, which has now been ordered and will be custom built to make the most efficient use of our reduced footprint (see diagram, right). We expect the workstations to be delivered and installed in late September/ early October. In the meantime, all ICS faculty and staff will have to make do with working from our old classroom tables and whatever chairs we can scrape together!


We are currently also still investigating the best solution for our communications needs, including telephone system and internet. We are exploring several options right now, and we want to get this decision right. This move is an opportunity for us to improve our current systems and bring them up to date, and to find the most cost effective way to do so. The top priority is to provide wifi internet throughout our space as soon as possible. Ethernet connections will likely not be ready until after our systems furniture has been installed. While we determine what our new phone system will look like, we are planning to forward calls to 416-979-2331 to a temporary cell phone, and assign staff to monitor this phone regularly for messages and relay them to the relevant parties.

We will definitely be drawing on the patience and creativity of our faculty, staff, and students in the coming days and weeks, as we work together through the hiccups we will no doubt face in the early days of operating in our new home. Even so, I am personally excited about how the new space is shaping up. In the end, it will be a wonderful base of operations for our graduate school, and a new beginning for ICS in so many different ways. Please pray that our move will go smoothly!

Monday, 27 August 2018

Prayer Letter: September 2018

Monday, September 3 - Friday, September 7

Please pray this entire month for all the staff, faculty and students at ICS -- it is Move to our new home month! This month, especially in the initial weeks, will be hectic, stressful and inconvenient as we attempt to set up our new office spaces and teach classes while we wait for new equipment and modular furniture to be delivered, set up, and installed. We ask for an abundance of God’s grace and patience.

On Tuesday, we formally welcome returning and new Junior Members to ICS for the 2018-19 Academic Year. JMs will meet with faculty and staff in a series of orientation events this week. We give thanks for this re-gathering of the ICS community and pray our Lord’s blessing on the launch of another year of Christian scholarship.

Please pray this week for Elizabet Aras, our Registrar, as she travels to Sweden to attend her best friend’s wedding. She will be away from August 30 to September 10. She covets your prayers for a safe trip for her, a smooth move to Knox while she is away, and that her preparations this summer for the ICS retreat, student registration, and the first week of classes go well during her absence.

On Thursday, our annual start-of-year Retreat will again take place, this time at the home of Bob and Roseanne Sweetman. We give thanks for Bob and Roseanne and all the others who have contributed to the many preparations that have taken place to make this an enjoyable day of relaxed fellowship and worship for all who attend.

Monday, September 10 - Friday, September 14

Please pray for those involved in preparing our Fall issue of Perspective, as authors, editors, organisers, designers, and printers. It is always a challenge to get such a publication ready in a timely manner, and we ask our Lord to guide and uphold all contributors to the process as they aim to mail this issue to supporters in early October.

This is the first week of Fall classes, and it is fitting to begin with one of our Foundational courses: “Biblical Foundations,” led by Dr. Nik Ansell. Please pray for lively interaction and edification for participants.

On Tuesday, Dr. Rebekah Smick begins her course “Grace as an Aesthetic Concept.” Pray for Rebekah and the students as they engage the material in an effort to understand the concept of grace within its theological, philosophical, literary, and art theoretical contexts, both for its historical significance and its potential usefulness for the philosophy of art today.

On Wednesday, we see the commencement of two courses: “Nature, the Supernatural and Miracle in the Thought of Thomas Aquinas” with Dr. Bob Sweetman, and “Nothing Can Separate Us…!:The Dialectical Materialism of Slavoj Zizek” with Dr. Jim Olthuis.

Monday, September 17 - Friday, September 21

This Monday evening, the first in-class session will be held for Dr. Gideon Strauss’ distance hybrid course “The Observant Participant: Applying Research Craft to Professional Practice.” Please pray for Gideon and the students as they interact in a classroom setting for the first time in this course. Pray also for the many details that need to be settled regarding venue, equipment, etc.

Please pray for our Board of Trustees this week as it meets on Tuesday evening. For most of the board members, this will happen via conference call as they are spread across Canada and the US. Pray that all will go smoothly with the arrangements, especially on the technology side. This is the first time they will meet in our new home at Knox and it could be quite chaotic because of the renovations and moving-in that are still in process. Pray that, despite these potential inconveniences, their meeting will be productive and that they will have wisdom and insight as they seek to provide leadership in the working out of the mission and vision of ICS

Please pray this week for ICS PhD candidate, Benjamin Groenewold, who plans to submit what he and his supervisor, Bob Sweetman, expect will be the final submission of his dissertation, in fulfilment of the requirements of his PhD program at ICS. The dissertation is titled "Beyond Contempt: Interpretive Creativity in Hugh of St. Victor and Even Less Likely Places." Pray also for Bob and all of our faculty as they strive to maintain their level of excellence in their teaching and mentoring roles in these busy weeks of transition to our new home at Knox College.

As the academic year begins, CPRSE staff and research assistants prepare to work on a number of exciting initiatives, including publications, institutional collaborations, and community outreach. We pray that CPRSE continues to be a source of life, activity, and inspiration for all members of the ICS community.

Monday, September 24 - Friday, September 28

This Monday evening, the first in-class session will be held for Dr. Gideon Strauss’ distance hybrid course “World-viewing.” Please pray for Gideon and the students as they interact in a classroom setting for the first time in this course. Pray also for the many details that need to be settled regarding venue, equipment, etc. will go smoothly.

CPRSE continues to build on the “Currents in Reformational Thought” series, featuring the contributions of our current and emeriti faculty to our scholarly tradition. Currently, the CPRSE team is working on the final editing stages of a forthcoming festschrift on the work of Emeritus Senior Member, Lambert Zuidervaart. Please pray for those involved in editing, producing, and publishing this important series.

Monday, September 31

Currently, CPRSE is exploring new partnership possibilities with community organizations that share the spirit of inquiry and openness of ICS. Please pray that CPRSE is able to continue its history of partnership through collaborations, and that these partnerships be fruitful and life-giving in the new academic year.