Monday, 10 April 2017

Richard Middleton Speaking Tour

ICS Alumnus Richard Middleton will be in the UK from April 20 through May 4, speaking at a variety of venues (at least ten), all organized by the the reformational organization called Thinking Faith Network, in Leeds (previously known as WYSOCS). One of the venues (St. Andrews) will be hosted by Tom Wright, and one at the Jubilee Centre in Cambridge by Jonathan Chaplin. Richard's speaking schedule is available online.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Mark Novak Presenting Papers

Junior Member Mark Novak will be very busy presenting papers this spring!

On April 20 he will be presenting a paper titled "Metaxologizing Our God-Talk: Desmond, Kearney, and the Divine Between" at the Symposium on work of William Desmond at KU Leuven (Belgium).

On May 13 he will present a paper titled "Eschatological Erotic Enfleshment: Incarnation as Nuptial Nexus of Human and Divine"at the Graduate Conference on "Unravelling Religion" at Queens University (Kingston).

On May 30, he will present a paper titled: “‘Yes, yes’ with/out ‘No, no’: Understanding (apparent) Equivocation in Derrida” at the Canadian Theological Society annual meeting at Ryerson University (Toronto).

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Prayer Letter: May 2017

Monday, May 1:  We give thanks and praise to our Lord Jesus Christ for the sale of our shares in 229 College Street a week ago today. It was a very difficult step for the Board to take, and we give thanks also for their leadership in the many governance issues they deal with.

Tuesday, May 2:  The Finance Committee will be finalising the draft budget this week, for consideration by the Board when it meets in Toronto on May 11. Please uphold the members of this committee in prayer: Ken Van Wyk (Chair), Samir Gassanov, Dan Jack, John Valk, Harley Dekker and Doug Blomberg.

Wednesday, May 3:  Last week we completed interviews with a number of applicants for the Library Services Associate position, and conversations with referees are taking place. As we seek to finalise this appointment, we ask you to pray for discernment, and that the person whom we invite will be willing to accept the call.

Thursday, May 4:  Preparations are underway for the ICS annual phonathon coming up next week. Pray for all of us in advancement that the work of preparing the information and materials needed for this important event will go smoothly.

Friday, May 5:   Next week, the ICS Senate and Board will meet in Toronto. Please pray for them as they study the materials distributed in preparation for these meetings, and for safety in their travels to and from, however short or long these trips will be.

Monday, May 8:  Today is the first of two days in the Whole Society Conference in Ottawa. Please pray that this significant gathering will be a blessing for all involved, and uphold especially Ron Kuipers, who is a member of the planning committee.

Tuesday, May 9:  As we continue in our discussions with The King’s University around our merger, may we implore our loving Creator, Redeemer and Counsellor to lead us on a path to the celebration of God’s glory in higher education.

Wednesday, May 10:  Please pray for our Junior Members as they wrap up their course papers, with some also working on their theses. It is an intensive period, with diligence and focus required. May the Holy Spirit guide them as they develop their insights.

Thursday, May 11:  Senate convenes at 9:00 a.m, under the leadership of Chair (and ICS Chancellor) Dr. John Kok. Please pray for John and the external and internal senators as they deliberate on the range of issues the agenda comprises concerning ICS academic programs.

Friday, May 12:  The ICS Board of Trustees meets today and tomorrow morning. Every meeting of the Board is significant for the often weighty matters it has to consider in formulating and overseeing policy directions. At this meeting, the projected merger with King’s will naturally be a major item, as also the budget will be. We ask our Lord to grant them wisdom as they “reason together”, with God in their midst.

Tonight the ICS community gathers as it is able for our annual Convocation. Here we give thanks to God for sustaining and guiding us in our mission, and for the achievements of our graduating Junior Members. May we celebrate with gratitude the diligence and insights these graduands have demonstrated these past years, and pray for them in the callings to which they are called. We pray also for Senior Member Emeritus Dr. Lambert Zuidervaart, as he presents his “Exaugural” (an ICS coining, it seems), and thank God for his inestimable contribution to our mission.

Saturday, May 13:  Please continue to hold the Board in your thoughts and prayers this morning, as it concludes its deliberations and many depart for home in the afternoon.

Monday, May 15:  In the wake of last week’s meetings, there are many matters for the administration and faculty to consider and implement. Appropriately, the Leadership Team meets this morning. We ask God to give wisdom, as the Apostle James encourages us to do.

Tuesday, May 16:  From today until Friday, the Undergraduate Workshop organised by Junior Members Joshua Harris and Héctor Acero-Ferrer will be held at Scarboro Missions. Please pray that the nine presenters from Canada and the US will enjoy valuable interaction with ICS Junior and Senior Members. We give thanks as well for the generous donor who has provided travel scholarships for students from the US, making it possible for them to participate.

Wednesday, May 17:  Planning for the upcoming Jubilee celebrations in the fall is underway! Please pray for all those who will be involved -- members of the board, staff, students and faculty at ICS, and the many volunteers in the different cities where the events will take place -- that God will grace each one with creativity and energy in their work.

Thursday, May 18:  The sale of our shares in the building brings with it concerns about the possibly imminent need to relocate, and to a more affordable site. Please pray that God will lead us to what we hope will be our new home and ask for His wisdom to be granted to those negotiating with potential lessors.

Friday, May 19:  We give thanks for last month’s film and spirituality conference (in partnership with the Toronto International Film Festival and others) and the opportunities for community outreach it provided. Please pray also that the potential for this to be a recurring event will be realised over the coming years.

Tuesday, May 23:  Summer is often a time for vacations, but also a time for concerted attention to research and course planning by Senior Members. Many Junior Members too will have their heads down as they write MA theses and PhD dissertations, or prepare for their post-coursework comprehensive exams. We invite you to come before the throne of God to importune His guiding grace.

Wednesday, May 24:  Our small community in Toronto continues to grow, with more and more young children being carried, or crawling, walking or running around our campus. This is a joy for families and friends, but brings with it -- as all parents know -- challenges and pressures, including financial ones. Please pray the Lord will give them strength and provide their every need, as they sacrifice to seek first the Kingdom of God.

Thursday, May 25:  We want to take this opportunity to give thanks for our donors who have responded so faithfully to our phonathon. We are grateful for God’s provision to us through them and are inspired by their commitment to our mission.

Friday, May 26:  Our alumnae/i are spread far and wide, serving God and the world in many different callings. We invite you to pray for them, wherever they are, whatever they do -- and as alums, for one another.

Monday, May 29:  The Leadership Team will meet this morning. Please support them prayerfully in their deliberations.

Tuesday, May 30:  We ask you to join with us in thanking God for the service of Morris Greidanus (Chair), Peter Borgdorff (Secretary-Treasurer), and their colleagues on the Friends of ICS Board, and for all our many faithful supporters in the US. We invite you to pray for Luke Seerveld (also a FICS Board member) who has volunteered to interview significant figures in the history of ICS for a video marking our 50th year. It will be a demanding undertaking, but one Luke joyfully assumes!

Wednesday, May 31:  This last day of May means we have one month left to meet our donations target for this fiscal year. It is vitally important we achieve this goal as it obviously impacts our ability to balance our budget. Please pray that God will continue to provide for this real need through the help of our friends and supporters, as you consider your response to our phonathon appeal.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Opening Frames: Cinema and Transcendence

Opening Frames, our upcoming conference on spirituality and film (April 3-4 at the TIFF Lightbox), has garnered great media coverage, both locally and internationally! Toronto's Now Magazine published a story on the conference, and the Globe and Mail also published an extended piece in the Friday Film section of their March 31 edition. Here's a quote from John Semley's article in the Globe and Mail (p. R5):

"[Serious spiritual cinema is] a cinema of quietude; of slowness, stillness and devastating moments of subtle grace. It's the cinema of transcendence. And it's the subject of a two-day conference hosted in Toronto this weekend by the Institute for Christian Studies."

There are only a handful of spots left in this conference, so act fast and register if you want to attend!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Bob Sweetman and Joshua Harris in Toronto

Senior Member Bob Sweetman will be presenting his paper "The Pastoral Uses and Limits of Mimesis: The Case of the Vita Lutgardis of Thomas of Cantimpré" on April 6 at The Medieval Academy of America's Annual Conference held this year at the University of Toronto.

Junior Member Joshua Lee Harris will be presenting his paper “Transcendentals in Medieval Philosophy: Worthless or Crucial?” at this conference on April 8.

For more information about this conference visit

Monday, 27 March 2017

Prayer Letter: April 2017

Monday, April 3:  Today and tomorrow we are holding our second CPRSE Art Talks! event this year: Opening Frames: Cinema and Transcendence (details on our main web page). Tonight, American film legend Paul Schrader is the keynote speaker. Pray that this conference will be a blessing to all those attending.

Tuesday, April 4:  Sadly, we have to report that Dianne Bergsma’s husband Jerry passed away on March 14, at the age of 80. Dianne thanks you for your prayerful support and acts of kindness during his illness. Please pray for her and her extended family in this time of grieving.

Wednesday, April 5:  
This afternoon the Educational Policy Committee meets, for what is the last scheduled meeting of the academic year, though other meetings will be convened if necessary. Please pray for this team as it conducts its important business.

Thursday, April 6:  The Medieval Academy of America is convening this year at the University of Toronto. Please pray for the success of this gathering, and for Bob Sweetman and Josh Harris as they present papers, today and Saturday respectively. (See News on our website.)

Friday, April 7:  It is hard to think how quickly the academic year passes! Another semester concluded this week. We give thanks for the wonderful Junior Members who are part of our community, and we pray for them as they wind up their course papers over the next few weeks. Tonight, as is customary, we gather to celebrate God’s goodness to all and God’s grace evidenced in one another. Praised be His Name!

Monday, April 10:  We give thanks for all those who have responded to our annual membership renewal mailing, for their continued faithfulness in support of Christian graduate education. Please also continue to pray for our new Board members as they take up their responsibilities in their various regions, and for our “at large” trustees also.

Tuesday, April 11:  We are anticipating the purchaser will close on the sale of our shares in 229 College Street next week. Please importune our gracious God that there will be no last minute impediments!

Wednesday, April 12:  Academic Council meets on a close to monthly basis. As with EPC, this is the last scheduled meeting of the academic year, and it will focus on finalising the agenda and supporting materials for the upcoming Senate meeting (May 11). Please pray that they will accomplish all that is needed in this busy time.

Thursday, April 13:  The Finance Committee is hard at work on the coming year’s budget. Please pray for them in their deliberations, that these will be suffused with the wisdom the Holy Spirit graciously affords.

Good Friday, April 14:  Today we remember in a more focused way what we remember constantly, as we take up the cross daily and follow Jesus. We praise Almighty God: our Heavenly Father, Who sent His Son to die for us; Jesus, Who surrendered His life in loving obedience to His Father; and the Holy Spirit, Who fulfils the promise to be with us, our constant companion and counsellor. And we look forward in anticipation to Easter Sunday, when we commemorate and celebrate, also in a highly focused way, Christ risen from the dead, breaking the bonds of sin and death. Hallelujah!

Monday, April 17:  We pray for the Friends of ICS Board in the United States, under the leadership of Morris Greidanus and Peter Borgdorff. We also give thanks for board member Luke Seerveld, who has once again volunteered his time and expertise to produce a video for ICS. This will feature a series of interviews with people who have contributed significantly to our vision and mission, some from almost the beginning, with an eye on our upcoming Jubilee celebrations later this year. Please pray for him as he finalises his schedule and prepares to visit with people in Sioux Center, Grand Rapids and Toronto. The project, with all the preparation required, will be demanding. May the Lord give him strength, and may the product redound to the glory of God!

Tuesday, April 18:  We want to pray this month for all those who will be participating in our annual phone-a-thon. We ask particularly for God’s blessing on our students as they talk with our friends and supporters across Canada and the US, that it might be an enriching and encouraging time of fellowship for all.

Wednesday, April 19:
  Faculty will be regretting that classes have finished for the year, but they will continue to be busy mentoring Junior Members and evaluating course papers. We give thanks to our Saviour for bringing them here to serve Him in their teaching and research. May He continue to uphold them and guide them in their scholarly vocation.

Thursday, April 20:  
We ask for your prayers as we draw closer to our Undergraduate Workshop mid-May, when selected students from colleges across North America will come to Toronto to present papers and receive substantive feedback from ICS Junior and Senior Members. Please pray that this unique opportunity is spiritually and academically edifying for all involved, especially the undergraduates, many of whom have never done anything like this before.

Friday, April 21:  We covet your prayers for all those with administrative roles at ICS, whether full- or part-time: Kathy, Jeff, Harley, Vidya, Pat, Doug, Bob and Ron. May our Lord bless and keep them as they serve in their vital tasks.

Monday, April 24:  
The “Our Whole Society” conference is coming up on May 8-9 in Ottawa, with the themes of Solidarity in Diversity, Reconciliation, and Immigration and Refugees. Pray for the final stages of preparation of this event, in which Ron Kuipers is heavily involved, and that this conference will be a blessing to all those attending and that it will foster peace and mutual understanding in Canadian society.

Tuesday, April 25:
  These days we are looking forward to the celebration of our 50th Anniversary in October and the celebrations that will take place to commemorate this milestone. Please pray along with us that God will provide the necessary support, both financially and people, that will be necessary for the planning and execution of the events in different cities in Canada and the US.

Wednesday, April 26:
  We give thanks to our Lord Jesus, for the prospective merger with The King’s University. As we continue to explore and negotiate this, we ask for your steadfast prayer support. The merging of colleges and universities is a growing phenomenon in the United States and elsewhere, and there is always much to consider in melding two institutions, their heritages, faculty and staff.

Thursday, April 27:
  We invited you three weeks ago to pray for Junior Members as they write their class papers and urge you to do so again, as they work hard to bring these to a form with which they are satisfied.

Friday, April 28:
  In two weeks, the Senate and Board meet again in Toronto. We give thanks for their service, and pray for safety as they travel from near and far. We pray also for the final preparations for Convocation at that time, on May 12.