Thursday, 1 March 2018

Art in Orvieto 2018 Information Meeting

This summer, the Institute for Christian Studies is offering a three-week course on Art, Religion, and Theology in Orvieto, Italy! If you are a practicing artist, or someone who is interested in the role of the image in Christian traditions, this is an opportunity not to be missed. If you would like to hear more about what this course offers, ICS will be hosting an Information Night on Thursday, March 15, from 7:00-8:30pm at the TST building. Please join us for a presentation and some light snacks!

For more information visit Art in Orvieto.
If you have any questions, please email Danielle Yett at

ICS to host its Second Annual Undergraduate Workshop!

The Institute for Christian Studies in cooperation with the John Mary Fraser Centre for Practical Theology at Regis College is currently soliciting proposals for a three-day undergraduate workshop on the theme of Storytelling. Questions we hope to consider include but are not limited to the following:

  • How do stories create and disrupt meaning for human life?
  • Whose stories organize contemporary life, and whose stories go unheard?
  • Do different media (film, novels, paintings, children’s books) tell stories differently? Does digital media change the narrativity of our lives?
  • What do stories have to do with the sciences?
  • Are biblical, theological, or traditional stories malleable? 
  • Does the postmodern “suspicion toward metanarratives” mean an end for big stories?
  • What stories construct social categories like race, gender, and class?

Selected participants will have the opportunity to present their own work before peers and receive feedback from ICS faculty and graduate students, making connections and “learning the ropes” of the scholarly enterprise at the graduate or professional level. The workshop is a great opportunity for outstanding undergraduate students who might be interested in deepening existing lines of research and pursuing new ones with guidance from budding and established scholars in disciplines such as philosophy, theology, religious studies, etc.

The call for papers deadline is April 6, 2018. For more information, click on the following links: 

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Prayer Letter : March 2018

Thursday, March 1 - Friday, March 2:

  • We ask for your prayers for Senior Member Rebekah Smick over the next few weeks. Rebekah’s mother passed away on Friday, February 23rd. We ask God for grace and comfort in this time of loss and for strength to carry out the many details that have to be seen to at this time.
  • Our new Registrar and Student Services Coordinator, Elizabet Aras, asks for prayer this month. There is a lot to learn in this new position for her at ICS and as always in this kind of situation, being challenged on a regular basis can cause a lot of stress. As well, she has the added concern of having to get her visa extension completed, and while we don’t believe there will be any issues, we ask for prayer for a smooth sailing in the process so that she can stay in both the city and workplace she has come to love. She asks for prayer that she will see this as a learning experience instead of a struggle as she has to learn something new every day. In the midst of the excitement and stimulation she has been looking for, we pray that a spirit of calmness and faith will pervade her working space each day.

Monday, March 5 - Friday, March 9:
  • Please pray this week for our Junior Members as once again they work hard to bring completion to the articles for the winter issue of Perspective they are putting together. Please pray for them as they write, collaborate and edit. It’s sure to be a delight to read!
  • Please pray this month for one of our MA students, Danielle Yett, as she researches and writes for her thesis in the area of imagination, metaphor, and modal aesthetics. Danielle’s working title for her thesis is: Infinite Finitude: A Study of the Imagination in Calvin Seerveld's Modal Aesthetics. We ask for a creative mind for Danielle and productive interactions with her mentor, Rebekah Smick.

Monday, March 12 - Friday, March 16:

  • The Finance Committee will begin the preparations this month for developing the 2018-19 budget proposal for consideration by the Board at its May meeting. Please pray for each member of the committee, our Director of Finance, Harley Dekker and the rest of the Leadership Team as they plan and forecast for the next year.

  • On March 14, ICS/CPRSE will welcome Matt Bernico, Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Greenville University, to lead our Scripture, Faith, and Scholarship Seminar. Please pray for Matt and the ICS community as we engage in dialogue about the many ways our Christian faith shapes and influences our scholarly work.

Monday, March 19 - Friday, March 23:

  • Please bring our administrative staff before the Lord for His encouragement and blessing: Elizabet Aras, Kathy Lynch, Vidya Williams, Harley Dekker, and Pat Webb.

  • Preparations for the meeting of the Senate in early May begin this month. We pray for those diligently at work on the materials necessary for this event, noting especially Registrar Elizabet Aras and Academic Dean Bob Sweetman. We pray also for the Senate itself, as it oversees the academic program of ICS, and for Dr. John Kok in particular as he provides leadership as Senate Chair and Chancellor.

  • Since 2016, CPRSE has been actively involved in the SSHRC-funded research collaboration “Faith and Settlement Partnerships: Setting Immigrants and Canada Up for Success.” Building on the research results, CPRSE and partner organizations will launch a community toolkit and webinar series to further faith and settlement partnerships across the country. Please pray for the success of these events and for the communities involved.

Monday, March 26 - Friday, March 30:

  • Let us give thanks to God for one another, ICS supporters in prayer and financially, for the wonderful response to our Advent Appeal. May God bless and keep all of you, in the various ways you serve in our Lord’s vineyard. Pray with us that God will continue to bless the work of the staff and faculty at ICS for his glory.

  • The Second Annual Undergraduate Workshop is planned to take place in two months time (May 24-26). This year's theme is "Life as/of Storytelling" and applications are now open with a final submit date of April 6th. The workshop is an opportunity for undergraduate students to share their research and receive constructive feedback from ICS Senior and Junior Members. Please pray for the workshop’s planning team, our Junior Members who are organising this event, as they receive the first round of applications and inquiries about his event.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Dr. Ronald Kuipers appointed President of ICS

In its meeting of January 16, 2018, the ICS Board of Trustees unanimously passed a motion to change the job title of Dr. Ron Kuipers from ICS Provost to ICS President.

Dr. Kuipers became ICS Provost on July 1, 2017, after being interviewed by a committee of the ICS Board, as part of a leadership transition period during the final months of the Presidency of Dr. Blomberg. With the retirement of Dr. Blomberg as ICS President on October 31, 2017, Dr. Kuipers took over as the institutional leader of ICS, thus completing the leadership transition that began on July 1. The change of Dr. Kuipers' title to President is intended to reflect the reality that he has assumed this leadership position, and to communicate that status clearly both internally and externally. Dr. Kuipers has expressed to the Board his enthusiasm in accepting the challenges and responsibilities involved in the role of ICS President, and we thank him for his willingness to serve ICS in this capacity.

An investiture of Dr. Kuipers as President of ICS will take place at the next ICS Convocation, scheduled for May 11, 2018.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Ron Kuipers as the new President of the Institute for Christian Studies. We wish Ron God’s rich blessings as he gives leadership to the ICS in this capacity.

Dr. John Valk, Chair
Board of Trustees, ICS

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Prayer Letter: February 2018

Thursday, February 1 - Friday, February 2:

  • Please pray for Hilary Barlow, ICS’s Librarian, as she attends the Ontario Library Association Conference these two days. This is Hilary’s first opportunity to represent ICS at this conference. We pray that the time she spends with her peers from other institutions will be fruitful and encouraging.
  • On Wednesday, January 24th, we had the privilege of welcoming Elizabet Aras as our new Registrar to our community. Elizabet has recently moved to Toronto from her home in Sweden where she completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees in education, and worked as a professional Early Childhood Educator. Please pray for Elizabet as she not only learns how to perform all the tasks of her new role, but also settles into her new home in Toronto.

Monday, February 5 - Friday, February 9:

  • February is the month in which faculty evaluate applications of prospective students and make decisions about who will be accepted to study at ICS. Please pray for the faculty’s wisdom in this process, and that their deliberations are worthy of the thought, effort, and hope of those who are seeking to join us in our mission.
  • We ask for prayer for Jeff Hocking, former Registrar/Student Services Co-ordinator at ICS, in his new position as Registrar at Wycliffe College, one of the colleges in the Toronto School of Theology. Please pray for Jeff as he becomes accustomed to his new environment and learns his way around the administrative systems at Wycliffe. All of us at ICS are missing him already but are very happy that he is just down the road.
  • Please pray this month for one of our MA students, Kiegan Irish, as he works hard to bring his thesis to completion. Kiegan’s thesis addresses Hannah Arendt's relationship to economic science and how her ideas of natality and the public realm disturb settled understandings of politics and economics in modern Western states. We ask for a creative mind for Kiegan and productive interactions with his mentor, Ron Kuipers.

Monday, February 12 - Friday, February 16:

  • We ask for prayer for Ron Kuipers as he continues in his leadership role as President of ICS. Pray for wisdom and discernment as he leads the Leadership Team in the many matters that require decisions, particularly those related to the financial management of the institute and our ongoing relationship with The King’s University.
  • Please pray this week for our deliberations around the development of an MA in Leadership in consultation with Hamilton District Christian High and the Ontario Christian Schools Administrators Association. Please pray specifically for Bob Sweetman and Pat Webb as they meet with representatives from HDCH and OCSAA on February 12th to bring further definition to the program design.
  • The first in-person class this semester of the Vocational Wayfinding course taught by Gideon Strauss takes place on Wednesday, February 13th. The class will be held on site at Toronto District Christian High school and there are 9 teachers registered to take the course, 5 for degree credit and 4 for audit. Please pray that the logistical arrangements will go smoothly and that the interaction and fellowship during the class will be fruitful and uplifting.
  • Please pray for Bob Sweetman who takes on three guided readings this semester with two of our MA students, which are outside the regular curricular activities. For your interest, the readings are: “Philosophers as prophets and storytellers”; “The effect of Lutheran pietism on German philosophy”; and, “The philosopher Alvin Plantiga”. Pray for Bob as the addition of these three readings will make this semester a very busy one for him.

Monday, February 19 - Friday, February 23:

  • Reading Week commences on Monday of this week. This is a welcome opportunity for Junior and Senior Members alike to bury their heads in their books, or digital equivalents, and to concentrate on their current research. May our Lord give them perseverance and insight.
  • The CPRSE continues to partner with a number of academic institutions and community organizations in research and knowledge mobilization projects. Please join us in giving thanks for the CPRSE’s successful participation in the research collaboration entitled “Faith and Settlement Partnerships: Setting Immigrants and Canada Up for Success,” which will come to an end in May 2018.
  • Please pray this month for Pat Webb and Ron Kuipers as they travel to various locations across southwestern Ontario to represent the advancement interests of ICS. We pray for protection on the road, and blessed interactions with our supporting community.

Monday, February 26 - Wednesday, February 28:

  • The CPRSE continues to enlarge its scope of action through collaborations that combine academic and community-based research. This month, please pray for the CPRSE and partner organizations as they seek funding opportunities for research projects involving mental and relational health in Canada.
  • Please continue to pray for the finalization of the administrative details surrounding the proposed move to our new home. We are working with space requirements and we are very grateful to have a professional architect working with us.
  • Plans are underway to host a second Undergraduate Workshop, titled “Philosophy as/of Storytelling.” Please pray for our Junior Members, who are the workshop’s planning team, as they continue to promote the event among prospective participants and supporters.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Prayer Letter: January 2018

From all of us at ICS to you, our faithful friends and supporters, may God’s richest blessings of love, joy and peace be yours in 2018. We hope you enjoy our new format of the Prayer Letter for January 2018. Please join us in prayer before the Lord.

Monday, January 1 - Friday, January 5:

Please pray for our advancement and administrative team (Harley Dekker, Vidya Williams, Jeffrey Hocking, Kathy Lynch, and Pat Webb) as they perform the vital tasks that contribute to the execution of our mission. Pray for strength and joy in service.

We ask for your prayers this week for Senior Members (Ron Kuipers, Bob Sweetman, Rebecca Smick, Nik Ansell, and Gideon Strauss) as they prepare for the Winter semester classes beginning next week. Please uphold them before the Lord as they seek work out their calling as teachers and mentors.

Please pray this week for our Junior Members who are returning from their homes, some from far away, that they might have safe travels. We ask too for their encouragement in their studies as they start a new semester of classes next week.

Monday, January 8 - Friday, January 12:

Please pray this week for Bob Sweetman who will be teaching the first class of the semester in his course: “Individuality in the Franciscan Thought of John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham”. Pray too for the students as they begin this new semester of learning.

Please pray this week for the Inter-Disciplinary Seminar for this year which is titled “The Legacy of Seerveld, Hart, and Olthuis.” It meets on Tuesdays from 1:45-4:45. The IDS has Nik Ansell and Bob Sweetman as the instructors of record but Cal Seerveld, Henk Hart and Jim Othius will be attending and participating in as many of the sessions as possible, especially those sessions in which their own work is spotlighted. The January sessions will be dedicated to Cal's work under four rubrics: Systematic Aesthetics, History of Aesthetic Theory, Theory of Art History, Biblical Literary Criticism/Hermeneutics.

On Thursday of this week, the first day of the courses: “Birthpangs of the New Creation: Judgment unto Salvation in the Book of Revelation” with Nik Ansell and “Imagining the Word with Ricoeur: Narrative, Action, and the Sacred in Ricoeur's Hermeneutic Phenomenology” with Ron Kuipers. Pray for Nik and Ron and all the students who will be participating in these courses.

Please pray for Julia de Boer this week as she defends her thesis The Allusivity of Grammar: Developing Theory and Pedagogy for Linguistic Aesthetics on Thursday of this week. Julia is one of Bob Sweetman’s MA students and we also ask for grace and strength for both Julia and Bob, as well as the other examiners in this important session.

Monday, January 15 - Friday, January 19:

This week, the Distance Education course “Curriculum: Organizing the World for Learning” begins. Please pray for Doug Blomberg and Joonyong Um as they prepare and work together to teach this online course. Pray too for the students, especially for those for whom this is their first experience with this type of learning.

Please pray for the board this week as it meets for the first time in 2018. For most of the board members, this will happen via conference call as they are spread across Canada. Pray that all will go smoothly with the technology 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.

Every year, CPRSE gives an emerging scholar the opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary work through its Research Associate position. We pray for the CPRSE’s current Research Associate, Richard Gauthier, as he prepares to present the fruits of his work at ICS in the spring of 2018.

Monday, January 22 - Friday, January 26:

Plans are underway to host a second Undergraduate Workshop in the spring of 2018. Please pray for the success of the planning team’s efforts to make this workshop an annual event of ICS’ community outreach calendar.

We thank God for the response to our Advent Appeal, still ongoing, which has been marvellous. At this time of writing, we are doing well to meet our targets in most areas, and we encourage everyone to continue to give as they are able so that we can continue to sustain our mission in Christian graduate education. We are deeply grateful to God for His provision, and also for you, our faithful members and donors.

Monday, January 29 - Wednesday, January 31:

Please join us in giving thanks for all Junior Members involved in the production of Critical Faith, ICS’ recently launched podcast. Through this new media platform, ICS will effectively share the fruits of the work of Senior and Junior Members with the broader community. We pray that Critical Faith will become a space for learning, dialogue, and reflection

We give thanks this week for the new opportunity we have in our Wayfinding program. On Wednesday, January 31st, Gideon Strauss will teach the first class in our new format of Vocational Wayfinding. The course will be offered in a hybrid format consisting of weekly online work and five in-person sessions. The in-person sessions will be hosted by Toronto District Christian High.

Please pray for the upcoming ICS summer course offering: ART IN ORVIETO—an immersive exploration of art, religion, and theology. Join us in prayer for Dr. Rebekah Smick, Dr. Thomas McIntire, David Holt, and Dr. John Skillen as they prepare for this three-week in-depth study of Christian understandings of the arts. This course will run July 15 to August 4, 2018, and consists of a graduate seminar and/or artists’ studio workshop in beautiful Orvieto, Italy. The deadline for application is March 31st so please pray that those who are interested will contact ICS quickly.