Wednesday, 25 November 2020

COVID-19 Update: Delayed Start to Winter 2021 Semester


The following is an important change in the start date for winter term classes in January. ICS will be following the lead of the University of Toronto, Knox College, and the Toronto School of Theology by delaying the start of the Winter 2021 semester by one week. 

This means that classes for the winter term will now begin on Monday, January 11, 2021. For regular 13-week synchronous courses, final assignment deadlines will also be extended by one week. The dates for Reading Week remain the same (February 15-19, 2021). The Academic Calendar has been updated to reflect these changes, and a list of Winter 2021 courses is available here.

Below is a brief note from President Ronald A. Kuipers about this schedule change:

To quote President Gertler of the University of Toronto, these decisions are “prompted by the fact that we’ve all been under an extraordinary amount of stress for months now, because of the burdens imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.... [W]e care deeply about the wellness of each and every one of you. We want to make sure that you’re able to rest and recharge, and to make the most of the upcoming holiday break.”

Let me echo President Gertler's comments, and offer my own words of encouragement to the ICS community. The global pandemic has thrown many challenges our way, and has dramatically changed our daily working and studying routines. I deeply appreciate the efforts everyone has made to maintain community in the midst of our relative isolation. Let's continue to support, pray for, and reach out to each other. If you are struggling, please let us know, so that we can find ways to care for you or address any concerns that you have. Let us continue to bless each other as we have since this all began.

I wish you all God's strength and peace as we continue on this strange journey,


Please reach out to Elizabet, course leaders, or our Senior Members if you have any questions or concerns.

Monday, 9 November 2020

Undergrad Workshop: November 13-14 with Mary Jo Leddy

On November 13th and 14th, the CPRSE will host ICS's Fourth Annual Undergraduate Workshop, "Evil, Resistance, and Judgment: Creating a World Fit for Human Habitation" via Zoom. After many months of COVID-19 contingency planning, we have managed to put together a fantastic program.

This two-day virtual conference will feature four seminar sessions with visiting undergraduate students from across the world presenting their own research projects, and an ICS Junior Member panel where JMs will share their latest research as it connects with the topic of the workshop. 

The workshop will begin on Friday afternoon with a keynote presentation from Dr. Mary Jo Leddy, founder of Romero House, TST professor, and a member of the Order of Canada. Dr. Leddy's keynote is entitled “From Above and From Below: Hannah Arendt's Two Encounters with Evil,” and she is looking forward to engaging in conversation with members of the ICS community following her presentation.

We wish all the workshop participants well over the course of these two days as they discuss these weighty topics and consider their own research more deeply in community with one another. If you would like to attend Dr. Leddy's keynote address, you can find the Zoom details below. Please RSVP to if you'd like to join us for this event.

From Above and From Below: Hannah Arendt's Two Encounters with Evil
Dr. Mary Jo Leddy
Friday, November 13, 4:00-5:00pm (EST)

Zoom Meeting Link:
Meeting ID: 853 3969 1503
Passcode: Undergrad

A special thanks to Scarboro Foreign Missions for sponsoring this event.

Friday, 30 October 2020

Grateful Notice

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan.

—Luke 17:15-16

Since Thanksgiving Day on October 12, my thoughts have often turned to the very idea of gratitude. Perhaps due to my philosopher’s tic, I have found myself asking, ‘what is gratitude, really?’ What is happening in us and through us when we find ourselves grateful for something? Why, moreover, do we find it important to stop and reflect upon what we are grateful for? 

In that perplexity, I have been struck again by the story of the Samaritan who turns back to thank Jesus for the healing he experiences. Why don’t the nine others do the same? One thing that I think is happening in this story is that Luke is trying to get us to notice the noticers, even and especially when they belong to groups we callously dismiss as not mattering. The healed Samaritan is such a noticer: “Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back….” Were the other nine simply ungrateful, then, or might they have actually failed to notice that they had been healed?

While I’m not going to argue for that latter reading, necessarily, I do think it is interesting to entertain its possibility, for it sets up rather nicely the answer that Jesus gives to the Pharisees, recorded right after this story, when they ask him when he thinks the kingdom of God will come. To recall, Jesus gives the enigmatic answer that the kingdom cannot be observed, for it is already “among you” (vs. 21). But why, if it is already among us, do we have so much trouble noticing, or observing it? Why can’t we, like the Samaritan, notice when we are in the midst of healing and the possibility of being healed?

Jesus, as Luke portrays him in this chapter, wants his followers to become noticers like the Samaritan. That is why turning back in gratitude is such an important spiritual exercise: it accustoms us to notice, and even expect, God’s redeeming work in our midst. For healing to become actual, we must notice—with the ‘eyes’ of faith, or the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11)—that God’s healing power is at work among us and thus available to us. Recall Jesus’s words to the Samaritan, lying prostrate at his feet: “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well” (vs. 19).

In the spirit of the healed Samaritan, today I turn back to you and say, ‘Thank you for keeping faith with us!’ As we journey in faith together, may we both notice and become agents of God’s healing possibility—for each other and for everyone else.

Shalom, my friends!

Ronald A. Kuipers

Prayer Letter: November 2020

Monday, November 2 - Friday, November 6:

Please pray this week and next for our Perspective production crew, especially H├ęctor and Danielle, as they work with our designer and printer to meet the deadline for dropping the mailing in mid-November. This is always a hectic time so we ask for grace and strength for each one as they work together. May all enjoy a sense of accomplishment in the completion of this important and special project.

Please continue to pray for Harley Dekker this week as he works diligently with the auditors to finalize the annual audit of our financial records for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2020. We need to have the information in time for the AGM and the Annual Report so we ask that God would bless each one with grace and speed of deliberation. Once again, we are very thankful for God’s watchful care over us, especially in the second half of the year during the pandemic.

During the U.S. federal elections this week, we pray with our American friends, family, and supporters for a fair and peaceful election at all levels. We pray that those elected to offices across the land will seek justice, mercifully advocate for the oppressed and vulnerable, and strive to bridge the deep polarization that currently divides the U.S. population.

Monday, November 9 - Friday, November 13:

We ask for your continued prayers as we find more ways to communicate with our Christian educators about the Master of Educational Leadership (MA-EL) program. We have adapted the scheduling of the courses so that they are more accessible for working students. Please pray that this will result in a good number of students registering for the courses that we will be offering in the winter term.

On Tuesday, October 10, ICS PhD Candidate and Sessional Lecturer Dean Dettloff will hold the first session of his course, “God of Solidarity: Liberation Theology as Social Movement.” Please pray in thanksgiving for the gift of Dean’s presence in our community and for the many ways in which he contributes to the life of ICS. May all course participants receive in gratitude the fruits of Dean’s dedicated research, which he makes available to his students through engaging, timely, and innovative instruction. 

After many months of COVID-19 contingency adjustments, the ICS Undergraduate Workshop planning committee is thrilled to report that the Fourth Undergraduate Workshop, “Evil, Resistance, and Judgment: Creating a World Fit for Human Habitation” will be held on November 13-14. Please pray that this edition of the workshop, in its new synchronous online format, will be an enriching opportunity for all those participating in the event. 

Monday, November 16 - Friday, November 20:

Please pray for Edith van der Boom as she does the important work of reviewing all of the courses in the MA-EL program in order to consider how best to adapt them so they are more deeply contextualized and relevant for educators. We ask for wisdom and insight for Edith as she leads this process.

During these pandemic times, ICS has worked tirelessly in improving its different communication platforms so that we can offer timely, comprehensive, and engaging information about the scholarship and programming produced by our Senior and Junior Members. One of our most effective means of communication is the Critical Faith podcast, which features conversations with diverse ICS stakeholders and partners. We pray in thanksgiving for the Critical Faith production team, as well as for all its interviewees and listeners. 

We would value your prayers this week as we work with our printer to get this latest very special issue of Perspective out in the mail to our ICS community. Last May, initially because of the restrictions about gathering together, we decided to outsource the preparation of the mailing to our printer. It saved much money and effort, so we decided to continue using this method for all our big mailings. We’re grateful for the expertise of our designer and printer, and pray that the many pieces of this process will come together in a smooth and timely manner.

Monday, November 23 - Friday, November 27:

On Friday, November 27th, the Board of Trustees will meet virtually in two 90 minute sessions, before and after lunch. Please pray for grace and wisdom for our Chair, John Joosse, and all our Board members as they deliberate together on the various matters before them during these unpredictable times. Pray also for ease of use of the virtual meeting technology so that the deliberations go smoothly with little or no disruption.

Our Annual General Meeting will take place virtually on Saturday, November 28th. Please pray for John Joosse as he gives leadership to the meeting and for all those who will participate in the presenting of reports.

In an effort to strengthen the coherence and appeal of our programs, the Educational Policy Committee and Academic Council have undertaken the task of revising the Junior Member handbook. The revised document will aim to present ICS in a way that is both up-to-date and inviting, while preserving what makes our institution and its work unique. Please pray for wisdom and clarity as the EPC and Academic Council bring this monumental task to completion. 

Monday, November 30:

As we quickly move into the end of the Fall term, we would ask you to please pray for our Senior Members (and adjunct and sessional faculty) as they teach in the final two weeks of classes, and as they prepare for their teaching in the quickly approaching Winter term. Pray too for our Academic Dean, Gideon Strauss, as he leads the faculty in their academic programming and policy deliberations.

We would also ask you to pray for our recruitment crew as they work with the faculty to promote the upcoming winter term courses. We ask for wisdom and creativity as we experiment with different ways to package some of our course offerings to make them more attractive and accessible to a wider audience.

Monday, 19 October 2020

New Janet Read Exhibition and Online Opening

Artist and ICS alum Janet Read will be opening her new exhibition, High Arctic Light: Paintings and Bookworks, through the Propeller Art Gallery on November 7th. The exhibition will start before the opening, and run in person at the gallery from October 28 through November 15.

Please read more below for details about the gallery and a statement from Janet about the inspiration for the exhibition, and consider joining the virtual opening on Nov. 7th for yourself.

Artist Statement by Janet Read

My current body of work presents “landscapes of consciousness” from a month’s immersion in high Arctic geography. I visited Pond Inlet, Grise Fjord and areas of Devon, Philpotts, and Ellesmere Islands.

Paintings reference the artist’s “being” in the natural world and encounters with those for whom the high north is both wild and home. My paintings are reflective of my personal experience, always aware that Inuit voices must be heard to tell their own stories and history. My work tells the story of a visitor, a sojourner to a remote and sublime region of Canada.

My purpose is to highlight this region and the themes of "wilding and cultivation." These themes invite the viewer to unpack moral, aesthetic, and legal relationships to the land and the people for whom it is sustenance and spirit: landscape and home. The wild is evident in the land and sea. Cultivation is the sea as resource and garden.

Wilding and cultivation go hand in hand in this delicately balanced environment. My work explores these dualities to raise awareness of this fragile and beautiful part of our country through explorations of light, earth, and sea.

Opening and Artwork

Due to the pandemic there will be a Zoom opening on Saturday, November 7th at 2 – 3:00pm EST, rather than a physical onsite opening. To attend, please register with Eventbrite through the gallery by Friday, November 6th:

Janet's drawing, High Arctic: dark horizon #1, was awarded the Juror's Prize at the 2020 Carmichael Landscape Exhibition: Tradition Transformed, at the Orillia Museum of Art and History. [Oct. 2 - Jan.17, 2021]

Janet's experience with Adventure Canada, the impetus for this body of work, is also highlighted as part of the Mindful Explorers section on their website:


Exhibition Details

Janet Read | High Arctic Light: Paintings and Bookworks
Propeller Art Gallery: Oct. 28 through Nov. 15, 2020
Wednesday through Sunday: 1:00 to 5:30 pm or by appointment
All Covid-19 protocols are in place at the gallery.

Propeller Art Gallery, 30 Abell Street, Toronto, ON
Phone: 416-504-7142 

A full e-catalogue of works will be available for viewing on the gallery website when the show opens, or you may email the artist at to receive a pdf.

- - -
First image: High Arctic: the vernacular of light, 60x42, oil on linen
Second image: deep ice, deep sky #1, 18x18, oil on panel, 2020 
Third image: Ice #3, 5x5 inches, oil on duralar, 2020

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

The Gift of Hendrik Hart

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them….
But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
—Matthew 6: 1-5

“No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light.”
—Luke 8: 16-17

If you take a brief walk through the University of Toronto St. George campus, you will notice many buildings named after wealthy Toronto philanthropists. With Matthew 6 in mind, I often ponder the role that such personal recognition plays in these philanthropic efforts. Without knowing these people personally, I like to think that their motivation for giving does not rely on receiving such recognition, but rather that they want their giving to become a kind of public witness to the worthiness of the causes they support. In a similar way, we Christians, through our giving, may also bear witness to the worthiness of those causes we believe make a powerful contribution to our Maker’s redemptive work, and inspire others “to join us.” For such witness to be possible, however, the private act of charity needs to come into public light.

In this spirit, I would like to introduce a major gift that ICS recently received from Hendrik Hart, ICS Senior Member Emeritus and also ICS’s first faculty member. The context is poignant: Henk has been waging a battle with cancer for over 20 years. This past summer, he made the difficult decision to stop further cancer treatment, and instead enter into palliative care. At this point in his life Henk has decided to make a gift of $100,000 while he is still with us and to share with others his motivation for making such a gift, and tell us why he thinks ICS is a cause worth supporting. We at ICS are enormously grateful to Henk for this generous gift, and beyond that we thank him for his lifetime of service to ICS, and praise God for the gift of that life.

In agreeing to a public announcement of his donation, Henk invites you to read in his own words what motivated him to make this donation.

Be well, friends!

Ronald A. Kuipers

* * *

Why did I make a substantial end-of-life donation to ICS?

By Hendrik Hart

My earliest connection to what eventually became ICS goes back more than 60 years. I was a student then at what is now Calvin University and philosophy professor H. Evan Runner set out a spiritual direction in his teaching that I felt called to follow. I am now a Senior Member Emeritus at the institution that was Runner’s dream when I first took a class with him in January of 1956. And I still follow the spiritual direction he taught me, the same direction that has animated ICS from its beginning and still inspires it today. My end-of-life donation says thank you for this.

ICS was never simply a place of employment for me. Instead, it was the setting for my life, filled with challenges and blessings. There were periods of hardship, sometimes related to making ends meet, sometimes having to do with conflicts. But these times of stress did not tempt me to abandon my commitment to this unique community of scholars. Students and colleagues became lifelong friends. Our common bond was our focus on the spiritual roots of understanding our world. My end-of-life donation says thank you for this.

ICS has always been small and likely always will be. A free standing academic institution is not cut out to grow into the size of a university. But though small, a place like ICS can be significant. Canadian universities recognize this in their admiration for ICS. When colleagues from these universities read ICS theses as outside examiners, they usually express their amazement that a small underfunded and understaffed school can deliver results at such a high level. My end-of-life donation says thank you for this.

ICS is unusual not only in the quality of its work but also, and perhaps even more, in the character of that work. A graduate school with a focus on the spirituality of the academic enterprise does not easily fit into the prevailing secular mood of our age. That’s another reason for ICS’s small size. But it’s also a reason for how well it is respected and for why its graduates are teaching all over the world. ICS not only strives to maintain its academic excellence, but also its spiritual integrity. My end-of-life donation says thank you for this.