Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Prayer Letter: September 2016

Thursday, September 1: As per the reminder in our News column on the website, the Board of Trustees is seeking nominations for new Board members. Please ask the Lord to send us the servants we need. And pray also for the meeting of the Board of Trustees this month, on a date yet to be determined.

Friday, September 2: We give thanks to God for sending us Harley Dekker to be our Manager of Finance. Please pray for him as he takes up this vital role, that he will pick up the many matters he will oversee with relative ease and that the on-campus community will surround him with loving support. (Do look at the News item that gives more information about Harley, if you have not already done so.)

Monday, September 5:  Today we observe Labo(u)r Day, in commemoration of the struggle for workers’ rights in the late nineteenth century. Though the significance of this holiday is often overlooked, it should remind us to pray and work for a more just society, in which “labo(u)rers are worthy of their hire”, not only in North America, but globally.

Tuesday, September 6: Today marks the commencement of Orientation Week at ICS. We happily welcome our returning and new Junior Members as they meet with faculty and administration to help chart a course for the academic year. May their conversations be blessed by the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, September 7: We continue to face uncertainties around the lease of our facilities at 229 College, to do with area, expense and length of lease. Please pray with us for a beneficial outcome.

Thursday, September 8:  Today is ICS's Community Fall Retreat. This annual event has traditionally served as a wonderful start to another year of our life together at ICS and we pray that this year will be no exception. We meet once again at St. Andrew’s by the Lake on Toronto Island, a delightful and hospitable venue.

Friday, September 9: You will understand how vital it is to ICS that the sale of the building proceeds expeditiously. This is ultimately in the hands of the Receiver, as we hold a minor share of 229. The Receiver has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure the best possible outcome for the many creditors, who have been waiting a long time for redress. We beseech our Lord to bring this matter to a speedy conclusion, for the good of all involved.

Monday, September 12:  The first class of the semester begins today: “Reformational Philosophy” with Bob Sweetman. This is a compulsory foundational course for Junior Members in the MA and PhD programs, drawing on the rich heritage of the tradition that led to the establishment of ICS in 1967. This course is often challenging, as one would expect. Pray for Bob and the Junior Members participating, that they may all grow in love and understanding of the comprehensive call of Jesus to serve him in all areas of life, including the realm of higher education and scholarship more broadly.

Tuesday, September 13:  Courses at ICS address our philosophical and cultural tradition broadly, and specific topics always in depth. Two classes begin today: “Nietzsche, Foucault, and the Genealogical Approach to the History of Philosophy” with Bob Sweetman and “The Aesthetics of Compassion” with Rebekah Smick. We are thankful for the invitation God issues to engage with the breadth of human thought from a biblical perspective.  

Wednesday, September 14:  Our second foundational course, “Biblical Foundations” led by Nik Ansell, nurtures Junior Members in the biblical perspective that we desire to pervade each and every course. Senior Member Emeritus Jim Olthuis -- who just keeps on giving -- leads our Junior Members and others beyond our immediate student body (from the Toronto School of Theology, in particular) in the other course commencing today, “Deconstruction and Hermeneutics”.

Thursday, September 15:  Nik Ansell revels in addressing hard questions in a provocative manner, always rooted in biblical orthodoxy. His course, “Facing the Darkness: The (Human) Nature of Evil”, is no exception (and we hope the same for all our courses, not only Nik’s). “Community, Faith and Judgment: Hannah Arendt and Religious Critique” (Ron Kuipers) is today’s second offering, engaging with significant and pervasive issues and an incisive mind (that of a “secular Jew”) to explore a fundamental conviction of our tradition, the religious rootedness of all intellectual discourse (“criticism” being a matter of digging down to the roots). In this, as in all courses, we pray that God’s voice will be heard, that wisdom will be uncovered in the many voices of creation, especially the voices of those made in the image of God.

Friday, September 16: Junior Member Joonyong Um (PhD candidate in Philosophy of Education) and alumnus Justin Cook (Director of Learning, Ontario Association of Christian Schools) recently conducted a Project Based Learning workshop in Korea. Joonyong served as translator, and reports that “it was a great success, with 150 enthusiastic teachers”. We give praise to God for this opportunity, which we trust will bear much fruit among teachers there.

Monday, September 19:  Three distance education classes begin this week: “Ways of Learning” with Joonyong Um under the supervision of Doug Blomberg,  “Christianity and the Ecological Crisis” with Chris Allers, ABD, and Vocational Wayfinding” with Gideon Strauss. This course also marks the launch of the Wayfinding concentration in our Master of Worldview Studies.
Tuesday, September 20: The Centre for Philosophy, Religion and Social Ethics has secured funding for research into how partnerships among faith-based and government-funded settlement organizations can foster better outcomes for newcomers to Canada. Give thanks to God for this provision, and pray that it will bear good fruit. (More detail is provided in our News column on the website.)

Wednesday, September 21: We are continuing our negotiations around the joint development of an MWS in Malawi with Edinburg Theological Seminary, Texas and Marion Medical Missions, Illinois and of an MA in (Educational) Leadership with Redeemer and Tyndale  University Colleges. There are many curricular, personnel and logistical issues to address. Please uphold these discussions in your prayers and ask the Lord to guide all of those involved.

Thursday, September 22: As we pursue our commitment to partner with a kindred higher education institution, we ask you to support our discussions in your prayers. Our heartfelt desire is to see the vision and mission of ICS sustained, and we are open to how the Lord will lead us forward. We believe God has plans to prosper this vision, giving us hope and a future, whatever form this might take. Let us call on the Lord and pray to Him, for He will listen (see Jeremiah 29:11-12).

Friday, September 23: Each year, Junior Members visit our “Library Annex” in Hamilton, where the bulk of our collection is housed. We are very thankful for this cost-saving facility, under the dutiful care of Isabella Guthrie-McNaughton, and for the willingness of St. Stephen on the Mount Anglican Church to host us these past several years. Do pray for Isabella, Manager of Library and Information Services, in her untiring dedication to ensuring the best possible resources and assistance for Junior and Senior Members, and the many who visit the ICS Library, in person and at a distance (through the Institutional Repository and the Faith and Learning Network).

Monday, September 26: Please continue to pray this week for the on-going development of our Wayfinding program which was launched last week with the course Vocational Wayfinding. We have made strong connections with a number of churches and Christian ministries who want to use this program in their adult discipleship or professional development programs. Pray for wisdom as we work out the myriad of details that are part of partnering together in the offering of this type of program.

Tuesday, September 27: We have been undertaking exploratory work in case the need for alternative accommodation arises. Though we hope a move will not be necessary, it is important we are prepared. Please pray for guidance as we investigate various possibilities.

Wednesday, September 28: The Centre for Philosophy, Religion and Social Ethics is developing a number of further exciting projects. Rebekah Smick is a curator of the “Mystical Landscapes” exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Occ 22-Jan 29). A partnership with the Toronto International Film Festival, Imago, Knox Presbyterian and Ryerson University hosts a two-day event entitled “Post-Secular Cinema” in March 2017. And in May, there is a multi-sectoral conference on the theme of religious citizenship in Ottawa. Please pray for Ron Kuipers, Dr. Smick and others involved in the ongoing and naturally complex organisation of these three events.

Thursday, September 29: We offer prayers of thanks for the many people who have presented ICS with gifts of prayer, money and expressions of appreciation these last few months in response to our latest appeal. We are constantly blessed by your interest and support and we pray that God will strengthen our partnership as we work together in the mission field of higher education.

Friday, September 30: Many of our recent graduates have naturally moved into new areas of service. Tricia Van Dyk and Benjamin Groenewold are among them, jointly taking up the position of Professor of Ethics at LCC International University in Klaipeda, Lithuania. Do uphold them, and their children Miriam (9) and Peregrine (5), as they embark on this ministry.