Monday 19 December 2016

Prayer Letter: January 2017

Tuesday, January 3: Winter Semester starts today, and the first course up this morning is Rhetoric as Philosophy from Isocrates to the Age of Abelard and Heloise, with Dr. Robert Sweetman. We pray for an energetic and edifying three hours!
Please note that further detail about this semester’s courses can be found at

 Wednesday, January 4:  Each year we offer an Interdisciplinary Seminar (“IDS”), which includes all available Senior Members. This semester’s offering is Archaeology, Power and “Truthtelling” in Michel Foucault as Challenge to and Resource for Christian Thought. Bob Sweetman will be teaching again this morning, ably joined by Dr. Nik Ansell. This will no doubt be a challenging but rewarding session. May the Lord bless Junior and Senior Members alike as they interact in pursuit of understanding and wisdom.

Thursday, January 5:  This morning, Dr. Nik Ansell leads God/Sex/Word/Flesh: Gender, Theology, and the Body. He brings fresh eyes to the biblical text, in ways that are often provocative but always an encouragement to Junior Members to delve deeper and follow the Spirit’s guidance to hear the Word of God with greater clarity. May our Lord bless them richly in this quest.
Later today, Dr. Ron Kuipers returns to his favoured time slot to teach Pragmatism and Religion: From Classical to Neo. A noted authority on Richard Rorty, Ron always attends to the implications for serving Jesus in daily life and scholarship, as expected from someone who has learned so much from his study of the pragmatists, and no doubt even more from his mentor, Senior Member Emeritus Dr. Henk Hart. Please uphold Ron and his students as they work this afternoon to the glory of God.

Friday, January 6:  The response to our Advent Appeal, still ongoing, has been marvellous. At time of writing, we have met our targets in most areas, and we encourage everyone to continue to give, thus sustaining our mission in Christian graduate education. We are deeply thankful to God for His provision, and also for you, our faithful members and donors.

Monday, January 9:  Our off-campus courses begin today. The first two are in on-line (distance) format: Biblical Foundations, led by Jeff Hocking (PhD Candidate and Registrar) and Leadership: Vision and Mission, to which we welcome Dr. Dirk Windhorst (late of Redeemer University College) as Instructor and Adjunct Faculty. The third course is Vocational Wayfinding, with Dr. Gideon Strauss; this will be offered in hybrid mode (partly on- and partly off-campus). May the teaching and learning in these courses redound to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, January 10:  In mid-December, we received the very welcome news from The King’s University that they hope we proceed expeditiously in our discussions towards the merger of our institutions. Praise God! King’s President, Dr. Melanie Humphreys, will this month prepare an agreement clarifying the terms of this endeavour and how we will move forward. This will help to frame a meeting (probably virtual) between representatives of King’s and ICS. Please importune our Sovereign Lord that there be positive outcomes of this stage, and that further steps may be taken to achieve the partnership we fervently desire.

Wednesday, January 11:  John Calvin has been credited with inventing committees, and we certainly have quite a few of these! These are all essential, of course (we do not establish committees without necessity, to echo Occam’s Razor), and a prime example is our Educational Policy Committee, meeting this afternoon. As most of you well know, EPC is the first rung in our ladder of oversight, from whence proposals for our academic program proceed to the Academic Council and thence to Senate (and ultimately, the Board of Trustees). Please pray for the members of this committee, and for all who have been entrusted with this responsibility as the ladder is ascended. May we be reminded that there is a ladder from earth to the Throne of God, and may we implore Him to gift each and every one with insight and wisdom. May God indeed be the truly ultimate overseer of our vision and mission.

Thursday, January 12:  We expect to hear the week after next about the sale of our share in 229 College Street. This is of crucial importance to us, in itself and also in relation to our negotiations with King’s. King’s rightly wants us to present a balanced budget. We have all been praying about this for some time, and we must continue to do so. Thank you for being our prayer partners--I hesitate to say “prayer warriors”, but we do need to recall that we are in a battle, not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities in the heavenlies.

Friday, January 13:  The Finance Committee meets this month, at a time not determined at the time of writing. This is a very important meeting, indeed, as plans have to be in place for our essential goal of a balanced budget for the next financial year. Once again, there are hard decisions to make. Though the parameters of the budget have been set, the details need to be finalised, for consideration by the Board. Our prayers need to be with them.

Monday, January 16:  Please pray with us as we work to revitalise ICS's continuing education contribution around the metaphor of Wayfinding. We are experimenting with ways of leveraging a Reformational understanding of vocation: in our Wayfinding MWS at large, in versions of Vocational Wayfinding online, and in the community we are building via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. As well as enrolling students in the courses, we need to partner effectively with churches and other ministries and organisations if we are to have the long term benefit and impact we hope for.

Tuesday, January 17:  The adage that “teaching is in the service of learning” underscores the fact that Junior Members are at the heart of our mission. Please pray for them as they work assiduously in their studies (they all certainly do this!), and for their families and friends, who support them in their dedication to Christian scholarship. It comes at a cost, and often does not ultimately reward them in the way people in similar callings can anticipate. But they come to ICS to seek treasures that will not rust and decay, but belong to the Kingdom of God. At this time, please pray also for Junior Members working hard on another JM issue of Perspective. We know how much this initiative was appreciated a couple of years ago, and we are thankful to them and to God that they have again volunteered for this.

Wednesday, January 18:  As noted previously, Academic Council is a vital link in the chain (yes, a switch from the ladder metaphor) that binds our core mission, that of teaching and mentoring those who will provide biblically authentic academic leadership in colleges and universities and in many other roles besides. Do please pray for Council as it convenes this afternoon.

Thursday, January 19:  Pray for CPRSE Director Ron Kuipers and ICS Junior Member Hector Acero-Ferrer as they develop case studies of partnerships between faith-based and government-funded settlement organisations. Ron and Hector will conduct key informant and focus group interviews with representatives from the Interfaith Council of Peel, the Peel Newcomers Strategy Group, and World Renew. This research is part of a two-year SSHRC Partnership Development project, Faith and Settlement Partnerships: Setting Newcomers and Canada Up for Success, led by the Centre for Community-Based Research in Kitchener, Ontario.

Friday, January 20:  We currently have a few vacancies on the Board of Trustees. Thankfully, a number of people have stepped up for this responsibility -- and have done so enthusiastically! The Board tends our vision and mission, so is vitally important. Ballots will be sent with the Membership package early next month. Please pray for those who have offered themselves, and for all of us in preparing to vote.

Monday, January 23:  The Leadership Team meets every two weeks, thus including this morning’s meeting. Bob Sweetman (Dean), Ron Kuipers (CPRSE), Pat Webb (Advancement) and Harley Dekker (Finance) constitute this committee, charged with consulting with and advising President Doug Blomberg. Please pray for their deliberations, as together they seek direction for ICS as a whole, not as just a collection of parts.

Tuesday, January 24:  As reflected in the last issue of Perspective and the graphic on the front page of the Annual Report, our alumni are spread across the world and serve in many different capacities. There are numerous others who could have been identified but, whether named or not, please pray for them whoever and wherever they are. They are continuing to carry the vision of a world in which “not one square inch or centimetre” is acknowledged to be beyond our Lord’s control.

Wednesday, January 25:  The sale of our share of the building, for which we prayed two weeks ago, will in one way or another affect where will be located. We have been exploring various sites, and believe we have found something quite suitable. We do need to cut our rental costs significantly and hope this will be possible. Pray with us that the Lord leads us to a place where we can viably continue our mission.

Thursday, January 26:  Give thanks for the ICS Advancement and Administrative Teams: Pat Webb, Kathy Lynch, Vidya Williams, Harley Dekker and Jeff Hocking. They make a vital contribution to the execution of our mission, and support it wholeheartedly. They are faithful servants indeed (“administrators” are “ministers”), a calling Paul affirms as a gift.

Friday, January 27:  This afternoon, Presidents of the Association of Reformed Colleges and Universities meet in Washington DC, in conjunction with the Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities. The latter focuses on US concerns; ARCU is an annual gathering of our sibling institutions, on both sides of the border. President Doug Blomberg will participate in this important opportunity to gather with our closest partners. Please pray our bonds will be strengthened even more, especially as we seek to reposition ourselves in an alliance with The King’s University.

Monday, January 30:  In Fall this year, we will celebrate our Jubilee, DV. We have very much indeed to be thankful for. All of us in our reformational tradition know what a life-changing matter it was for us, in coming to understand that Jesus is King over all creation, scholarship not excluded. Yes, some were born into it, and have been faithful to it; some were converted to it, captured (perhaps, enraptured) by a fuller, more comprehensive expression of the gospel. Praise God for His incarnation in Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. And pray as we head into this year for those who will be planning the best way to bring us together in what promises to be a stellar celebration! Hallelujah!

Tuesday, January 31:  New Year’s Eve was a month ago, and “Auld Lang Syne” was oft sung. At the end of this month, we take time to remember our forebears, without whom ICS would not be what it is. We remember especially our Emeriti, Calvin Seerveld, Henk Hart, Jim Olthuis, Lambert Zuidervaart, and the late George Vandervelde. We by no means name all those who have contributed to our ICS reformational tradition, but we would be (and are) much the poorer without them.