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.

Thursday 14 December 2017

Annual Report and Perspective Online Now

The ICS 2016-2017 Annual Report and the latest issue of our newsletter <i>Perspective</i> are now available for viewing and download.  This issue of <i>Perspective</i> celebrates ICS's 50th anniversary with twelve full pages of content including articles by Fred Reinders, Barbara Carvill, Henk Hart and Doug Blomberg.

View or download the Fall 2017 issue of Perspective at

View or download the 2016-2017 Annual Report at

Friday 1 December 2017

ICS celebrates its Jubilee Anniversary

On November 11th, we celebrated 50 years of God’s blessing on the working out of the mission of ICS in Christian higher education to the academy, the Church, and the public sphere of civil society. Over 160 friends, staff, faculty, alumni, and students gathered at King’s Christian Collegiate in Oakville to worship and fellowship together. The Prayer and Thanksgiving Service, including the moving Meditation by Cal Seerveld, reminded us of the depth of God’s faithfulness over these 50 years; the fellowship around the tables at the Gala Luncheon in the beautiful atrium of King’s was a gift in remembering how good it is to be in community; and the Formal Program was a memorable weaving together of our “stories along the way” with contributions from ten speakers and a video presentation by Luke Seerveld. All in all, a wonderful reminder of what happens when a small band of God’s people take on a Kingdom endeavour.

Many thanks to the incredible staff at King’s Christian Collegiate who made it all work and to the many friends who joined us on the day and/or made a generous contribution to the expenses. And to our 50th Anniversary planning team--thank you for all your hard work in ensuring it was a day to remember!

ICS Launches Critical Faith, a Podcast Exploring the Contours of Religion in a Plural Society

In Critical Faith, ICS's new podcast, we will hear from researchers, activists, educators, students, and more as we try to think through what makes faith such a crucial component of so many of our lives. Along the way, we will also let ourselves be troubled by some hard questions about our own traditions, spiritualities, and communities.

To access Critical Faith click here.

In our inaugural episode, Neal DeRoo presents his paper, "Toward a Material Spirituality: Religion and Phenomenological Expression." The recording is the first of three parts, all from a Scripture, Faith, and Scholarship Seminar hosted at ICS last September. Neal DeRoo is Canada Research Chair in Phenomenology and Philosophy of Religion and Associate Professor of Philosophy at The King's University in Edmonton, Alberta, and the author of Futurity in Phenomenology: Promise and Method in Husserl, Levinas, and Derrida (Fordham: 2013).

Thursday 30 November 2017

Prayer Letter: December 2017

Isaiah 9:2 “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.”

December means Advent and Christmas, a time of waiting followed by a time of feasting in the old Christian calendar. Some of the stories that follow involve waiting, whether filled with anxiety or growing excitement. Others really deserve a toast in honour of accomplishment and bright prospects for the future. And that is the funny thing about life in a community -- waiting and feasting, anxiety and the delicious prickle of hopeful anticipation, they are all jumbled together. The pessimist can feel in his rights in saying that there are dark moments even in the brightest of days. But the optimist is equally within her rights to insist that it takes only a small light to transform darkness into light, however dim, by which to see. I tend toward the former; I am working to practice the latter. But the mixture of joy and sadness that calls out for your prayers just means at its most basic that the ICS community is alive, and that means the bearer of all the precious ambiguity that Life gives to life here between the “yes” and “but” this side of Christ’s Ascension, this side of the Eschaton. Read about a few of our joys and sadness, and, please, it would be one of our joys if you joined us in our prayers. Our best wishes go out to you in your waiting and feasting this December.
From Bob Sweetman’s book of meditations Changing to Stay the Same, Week One (Advent)

Friday, December 1:  Please join us in giving thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ for the wonderful celebration of our 50th Anniversary last month. It was a time of great blessing. We regret that so many in our community who live far afield could not join us. We pray for God’s provision that we might have the opportunity to host an event in western Canada in the Spring of next year so.

As mentioned in the November Prayer Letter, Doug Blomberg is hoping to visit an ICS alumnus, currently in prison. Please pray all will go well on the morning of Sunday December 3 and that they will be able to spend a few hours together in fruitful conversation. This person hopes to transfer into our PhD program, so we ask you to pray also that the many details to be sorted out with respect to ICS requirements will proceed as smoothly as can be expected in these unique circumstances.

Monday, December 4:   Please pray for wisdom for Ron Kuipers, Bob Sweetman, and Harley Dekker, as today they embark on a series of meetings at The King's University in Edmonton in order to start determining the scope and nature of the proposed affiliation between ICS and The King's University.

Tuesday, December 5:  On November 30, CPRSE Director Ron Kuipers and Associate Director Hector Acero Ferrer submitted a Partnership Development Grant application to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The CPRSE is seeking $200,000.00 from SSHRC to fund a two-year research partnership with the Shalem Mental Health Network in Hamilton and the Centre for Community Based Research in Kitchener-Waterloo. The project, titled RESTORING JUSTICE: Restorative Justice as a Path to Building Healthy Relationships in Faith Communities, proposes to research the effectiveness of a restorative justice approach to the work of promoting justice and healing broken relationships in religious communities living through difficult situations. Please pray that the significant time and effort that went into developing the application will bear fruit, so that ICS can continue to engage the church in discussions concerning the relationship of faith and justice.

Wednesday, December 6:   Please take this opportunity today to pray for our Board of Trustees as they continue to serve in their oversight of the mission and vision of ICS. We pray too for our two new Board members, Lynnette Postuma and Marci Frederick. We give thanks for Matt Bonzo who has served so faithfully on both the ICS board and the FICS board as he now retires.

Thursday, December 7:   Please pray today for the success (so that it can be cleared for formal submission) of the latest full draft of Joshua Harris’s PhD thesis Neither Solitary nor Diverse: Transcendental Multitude in Thomas Aquinas. Joshua is one of Bob Sweetman’s PhD students, and the thesis is being co-directed by Wouter Goris (VU).

Friday, December 8:  Today Senior Member Gideon Strauss will be leading a 3-hour workshop on vocational wayfinding at Toronto District Christian High. The workshop is titled Your Next Five Years: Mapping the Adventure. Please uphold Gideon and those participating in your prayers.

Monday, December 11:  Please say a prayer of thanks for the formal submission of of Julia de Boer’s thesis The Allusivity of Grammar: Developing Theory and Pedagogy for Linguistic Aesthetics. Julia is one of Bob Sweetman’s MA students and we also ask for grace and strength for both Julia and Bob as they prepare for her defense scheduled for January 11, 2018.

Tuesday, December 12:  Today we want to give thanks for the successful launch of the CPRSE's new podcast, Critical Faith last month. The podcast explores themes related to the intersection of religion and public life, and is available for free on such platforms as iTunes and Google Play (see ICS News item November 23). Please pray for future episodes, including a 3-part discussion with Kate Hennessy, granddaughter of Dorothy Day and the author of Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty, a widely acclaimed book that is a family memoir, social history, and intimate biography of Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement.

Wednesday, December 13:  We give thanks today for the Fall 2017 World-Viewing course and all of its participants, including the four ICS Senior Members who participated. Please pray for Gideon Strauss's Research Assistant Grace Carhart, who will be interviewing Nik Ansell, Ron Kuipers, Rebekah Smick, and Bob Sweetman during December for four forthcoming episodes of the new ICS podcast, Critical Faith, which will explore themes from this course.

Thursday, December 14:  Today is the final day of classes for the fall semester at ICS. As is our custom, this evening we will share in a time of fun, fellowship and good food at our annual Christmas Party. We give thanks for and celebrate the gifts we have in one another in this blessed community of learning.

Friday, December 15:  Please pray for Bob Sweetman’s PhD student, Benjamin Groenewold, as he continues the work of revising the full thesis draft of his thesis (as yet untitled) on Technological Creativity and Mystery in Light of the Technology of Reading and View of the Mechanical Arts of Hugh of St. Victor.

Monday, December 18:  Please add Chris and Elaine Gort to your prayers as they live out the reality of his ALS diagnosis this past June. If you wish to be added to the updates he sends out periodically, please advise Kathy Lynch at

Tuesday, December 19:  As the day of celebration of Christmas in the giving and receiving of gifts approaches, we thank God for our committed and faithful friends for their gifts of prayer and financial support. We pray each one of you will receive the amazing gifts of love, joy and peace this Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 20:  Plans are underway to host another "Opening Frames" conference on religion and cinema in partnership with the Toronto International Film Festival's Higher Learning program. Please pray for the success of the planning team's efforts to secure the keynote speaker services of an internationally renowned filmmaker, and also that this conference might become an annual event on ICS' community outreach calendar.

Thursday, December 21:  Please remember Gideon Strauss in prayer as he makes the necessary preparations for the Vocational Wayfinding and Meaning and Method courses he is teaching in the Winter 2018 semester. Pray too for the successful recruitment of students to these courses.

Friday, December 22:  Please pray today for the families of our staff, faculty and students as they spend time together at this special Christmas season. Some of our families are spread far and wide so we ask God for his protective hand on those who will be traveling. We also ask our Lord to comfort our loved ones who because of distance or health reasons will be apart from their families. The Christmas season can be a particularly trying time to be separated from those we hold dear.

Monday, December 25:  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours.

Tuesday, December 26:  In this Christmas week, we want to remember people who are suffering around the world in areas of conflict and war. We need to hear the angels' call for "Peace on Earth" and so we offer prayers that peace and joy can be realized throughout the world.

Wednesday, December 27:  We pray for stamina and enthusiasm for Senior and Junior Members alike, who are preparing to start their new courses in January, and for our administrative colleagues whose selfless service enables us to function.

Thursday, December 28:  Please give thanks for the Ask More Questions youth ministry training event of the Anglican dioceses of Montreal and Ottawa last month, for which Gideon Strauss facilitated a research workshop. Please pray for Gideon Strauss's continuing education work on everyday world-viewing and vocational wayfinding in collaboration with churches, schools, and other partner organizations.

Friday, December 29:  As 2017 draws to a close, we give thanks for another fruitful year of work at ICS and for all our supporters and friends who made that work possible through their prayers and financial gifts. We especially give thanks to God for the grace and wisdom he gave in bringing closure to the financial difficulties with 229 College. We pray for God's blessing upon our staff, faculty, and students as we work out our mission, in the classroom and beyond, throughout this next year.

Saturday 28 October 2017

King’s and ICS to Begin Affiliation Discussion

For years, there has been talk about affiliating two Canadian institutions in the Reformed tradition: The Institute for Christian Studies (ICS) and The King’s University. King’s and ICS signed a Memorandum of Understanding on September 30 at the Board of Governor’s twice-yearly meeting at King’s.

"It’s been a long process getting to where we’re at, which is the very beginning," said King’s President Dr. Melanie Humphreys. "ICS operates under a Legislative Act in Ontario and we operate under an Act in Alberta, and it’s important that we maintain both of these."

The two institutions have a vision for accomplishing something bigger than either can accomplish on their own – a Canadian Christian university in the Reformed tradition offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees. The initial scope of discussion includes the development of conjoint degrees, a financial agreement, and a study of governance structures that may need to happen in order to give full effect and meaning to an affiliation. This would also contribute to King’s vision for a centre for Christian thought and action, a goal in the university’s strategic plan, Shared Vision 2020.

Outgoing ICS President Dr. Doug Blomberg initiated conversations some time ago to bring the two institutions together and affirms that he is "deeply grateful for this outcome."

"Our institutions align ideologically quite well, and it’s very exciting to envision what our affiliation could become, including imagining how it might extend our shared mission in Christian higher education" said Dr. Ronald Kuipers, new Provost at ICS.

"We have a lot of questions to answer and work to do in figuring out what will allow us both to benefit and build capacity," said Humphreys. "This is just the beginning of exploring what we can do to advance both our missions programmatically."

In the upcoming year, King’s and ICS will set timelines and processes in motion to be able to realize this vision.

This article is being jointly published in both Connection and Perspective magazines.

Friday 27 October 2017

A Conversation with Kate Hennessy

On November 3rd, the Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics will host author Kate Hennessy to talk about her work, followed by an interview and an open Question and Answer period from the audience.

Hennessy is the youngest of Dorothy Day’s nine grandchildren, a writer and the author of Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty. Her widely acclaimed book is a family memoir, social history and intimate biography of Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement. Day has been called “the most significant, interesting and influential person in the history of American Catholicism” and certainly is a key figure in the recent history of Christian activism.

This is a unique and intimate opportunity to learn more about Hennessy, her grandmother, the Catholic Worker, and to explore some of the connections between academic work and social activism that fuel much of ICS's historic mission.

Monday 16 October 2017

For Such a Time as This! Worship meets justice and the arts in turbulent times

ICS' Centre for Philosophy Religion and Social Ethics is sponsoring this one-day workshop on October 21, 2017 at First Christian Reformed Church in Toronto. The workshop will explore creative ways in which the arts can be integrated into worship settings so that Christians can be inspired by the Gospel's call to pursue justice. The day will include a live performance of the play Just Faith? by students from Toronto District Christian High School!

Sunday 15 October 2017

Prayer Letter: November 2017

“We have this treasure in earthen vessels….”

I recently used the phrase, “God’s grace is perfected in our weakness” and I was asked to explain what this meant. This set my mind a-whirling, as happens in conversations. An exciting state to be in! I was of course echoing our Lord’s promise to Paul that His grace is sufficient, His strength is perfected in our weakness, so much so that we are to glory in our vulnerabilities (2 Corinthians 12:9). God’s grace heals us in our infirmities; He is the God of healing that we might be whole, through Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice.

When newly-converted, I was reading Scripture avidly and memorising Bible verses from Navigator cards, I found “perfect” a strange term. This was particularly so when I read that Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt 5:48) (in the “AV” – Authorised Version, as Anglicans say; I was reading my father’s copy, evidently untouched since his Confirmation memento). I learnt later that the Greek root is telos – the end, goal, completion – in this case, the purpose for which we were created. Humble service of our Creator-Redeemer throughout the length and breadth of creation is why He called us to be, bearers of His image. In Jesus, we see the perfect exemplar of what it means to be wholly human. In serving God wholeheartedly, Jesus humbled himself unto death, even to death on the cross (Philippians 2:8-9). Love obliges the sacrifice of self for the sake of others. We too are called to take up the cross, daily!

There is no doubt: ICS has been a relatively small, frequently struggling institution. Yet I recall a statement twenty years ago by one of our graduates, who came to us from overseas: “It is amazing how such a small institution could have the impact it has.” I’ve no doubt he would acknowledge, “This is by God’s grace.” And it is by God’s grace that we have enjoyed our 50th year, our year of Jubilee coming to maturity last month. It will continue to be a time for celebration and thanksgiving, for the Spirit of Jubilee now abides with us daily. Yes, common usage of this word trivialises this promise of God’s blessing, His unbounding provision that saves thus frees us; most especially those who are broken, captive, blind, poor (also in spirit). Theirs is the Kingdom coming. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus proclaims Jubilee, “the year of the Lord’s favour” (Luke 4:19; cf., Isaiah 61:2, 42:1). This is the foundation of His vocation, reiterated throughout in the stories He told. His teaching ministry culminates just prior to Gethsemane in “the Parable of the Sheep and Goats”. This title is unfortunate, given the connotations it has garnered. A restricted understanding of justice as retribution overlooks the heart of justice, which is restoration of shalom and liberation from injustice’s effects. Justice and peace embrace in God’s perfected purpose. We know full well this parable teaches that as we serve the widows, aliens, orphans, the destitute, homeless, hungry, thirsty, we serve Jesus. And this is not of us, but of the grace that is with us (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Leading up to Jesus’ call to perfection, He shockingly urges us to love and pray – not only for our neighbours, but for our enemies. There are no exclusions: we are to love God and love others as ourselves. There is to be no “us” and “them”. God’s grace is comprehensive (“common grace”, in our Reformed tradition). In this, we will become whole, in ourselves and together as members one of another. We will fulfil our calling to image our Lord, Who is love. To love our enemies, to forgive those who have wronged us sorely, is deeply humbling. Yet in service of our Lord, we are to humble ourselves.

Humility is central to our calling at ICS to research, teach and engage with the broader community. We pursue knowledge grounded in the fear of the Lord. Scripture is replete with exhortations to know, and this, truly. We are to know in love, for this is wisdom. Our hearts are to be rooted in total dependence on the love of God in Christ, not idolatrous love of what God created, including sparkling ideas that itch the ears. When we exalt anything or anyone as superior to the Name above all names, we go woefully astray.

We have depended on our Lord Jesus Christ these fifty-plus years to lead, and yes, to forgive and heal us in our weakness. He has not disappointed. May God’s grace be perfected in our weakness, and may we give Him the glory. Only then can we be truly servants on the way of truth and life.

“We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Doug Blomberg

Wednesday, November 1:  Things are ramping up in our preparations for our 50th Anniversary event on Nov 11th. Please pray for Vidya Williams, Pat Webb and Doug Blomberg as they bear the brunt of attending to the myriad details. We ask our Lord to uphold all who will gather that day and those who have particular roles in the Prayer and Thanksgiving Service and giving speeches, providing music, setting up and taking down, and more.

Thursday, November 2:  Tomorrow, the Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics will host author Kate Hennessy to talk about her work, followed by an interview and an open Question and Answer period from the audience. Pray that this unique and intimate opportunity to learn more about Hennessy, her grandmother, the Catholic Worker, and to explore some of the connections between academic work and social activism that fueled much of ICS's historic mission will be one of thanksgiving and inspiration.

Friday, November 3:  Please pray for Bob Sweetman today and tomorrow as he facilitates the seminar by Gill Goulding CJ, "Configured To Christ: The Dynamic Effect of Mercy on the Mission of the Church." This seminar is at the annual conference in Pittsburgh, PA to discuss the work of this year's Henry Luce III Fellows (a program of the Association for Theological Schools).

Monday, November 6:  Doug Blomberg formally began his sabbatical last week, but it won’t start in earnest until after our 50th Anniversary celebration. He aims to write a book on how different theories of learning, each offering significant insights, are often conflicting because they are reductive. However, these insights may be reconciled within an integral, biblical understanding of humanness – or so he hopes to demonstrate. Please pray for Doug as he continues this research project throughout the coming year (and other projects besides).

Tuesday, November 7:  These first weeks of November bring with them the task of preparing the 2016-17 Annual Report for the AGM on the afternoon of November 11th. As we reflect on this year, we are reminded again of how faithful God has been through our staff, faculty, students and supporters. Please pray this process will go smoothly and will instil in each of us a deepening sense of gratitude for the task our Lord has entrusted to us.

Wednesday, November 8:  We pray for supporters across the continent and elsewhere, giving thanks to God for them. We are thankful for the gatherings a few weeks ago in western Canada, where Doug and Heather Blomberg were able to thank people personally for being with us in ICS, quite a few on the journey for fifty years… and more! We praise our bounteous Lord for the blessings showered upon us, enabling our vision and mission to flourish. His grace is indeed perfected in our weakness.

Thursday, November 9:  The Trustees gather tonight and tomorrow in Toronto, with many able to be present in person (and some joining electronically). Pray for them as they continue to safeguard our vision and chart our course. It is an often onerous task, with many weighty matters to consider, yet they serve with joyfulness and unremitting dedication. We praise God for calling them to serve ICS in this way.

Friday, November 10:  Tomorrow is Remembrance Day, an anniversary we will honour when we open with worship and the traditional two minutes of silence. We treasure the memory of the millions who sacrificed, often unto death, in the Great War and in so many equally wars since and before, for the sake of justice and freedom in Christ. We gather in Oakville to remember those who have served ICS faithfully these past fifty years and more and to look forward to our future in God’s hands.

Monday, November 13:  Pray for ICS, and especially Harley Dekker, as he works towards finalising the annual audit of our financial records for the year ended June 30. We have had many positive financial developments in the past year, and have much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 14:  We praise God for the successful retrieval of our share of the rental income of 229 College from the receiver late last month. This has been a long and difficult process and we thank God for the grace and strength he provided to Harley Dekker and Doug Blomberg as they persevered.

Wednesday, November 15:  Continue to pray for the “in-person” class of our new course World-Viewing: An Introduction to Worldview Studies at ICS. Pray for Dr. Gideon Strauss as he teaches and for the participants that they may enjoy lively and meaningful discussion and interaction as they seek God’s path.

Thursday, November 16:  In two weeks, Doug Blomberg plans to visit a prisoner in the United States, who hopes to work with him on an ICS PhD. At time of writing, they both await approval from the Correctional Services authorities. Please importune our Lord and Saviour for this opportunity to serve someone in such circumstances. We seek to serve him and in doing so, we serve Jesus. May God grace us in our weakness, each and every one.

Friday, November 17:  Continue to pray for further openings for the Wayfinding program, particularly the Vocational Wayfinding course, to be offered as adult discipleship classes in churches and professional development courses in Christian organisations. Interest continues to grow, as we devote time to develop connections and work out the details for each group. Please pray along with us that this opportunity to reach out to the broader Christian community will see fruit in God’s time.

Monday, November 20:  Gideon Strauss asks for prayer on behalf of his colleagues in South Africa that there will be a positive outcome for a grant application to the Nagel Institute for World Christianity. This would support a collaborative project with the Center for Public Justice (Washington DC), the Beyers Naudé Center for Public Theology and the Unit for Research on Theology and Development at the University of Stellenbosch. The focus will be on faith formation and political agency during emerging adulthood in a context of extreme inequality.

Tuesday, November 21:  We give thanks to God for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with The King’s University to begin discussions to affiliate. Pray for the guidance of the Spirit for both institutions as they work together to build a cross-Canada Christian University in the Reformed tradition. We look forward to the creative opportunities awaiting both institutions as faculty, staff and students imagine possibilities arising from an Edmonton and Toronto presence.

Wednesday, November 22:  We ask you to uphold Senior Members in prayer that God grant them grace and energy in their teaching and mentoring ministry. These last weeks of the semester are full of extra responsibilities as papers become due and exams are overseen. We ask for them joy and inspiration as they carry out this important educational mission.

Thursday, November 23:  We give thanks for the generosity and support of our amazing ICS community in the months leading up to our 50th Anniversary Celebrations and ask for your prayers as we prepare for our Advent Appeal.

Friday, November 24:  Please pray for Ron Kuipers today and tomorrow as he participates in a capacity-building event for faith-based campuses and their partners hosted by the Centre for Community-Based Research at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo. At Engaging Communities through Research, Ron participates in a panel discussion on “Reflections on Community-Based Research in Practice: Pitfalls and Successes” and leads a skill-building workshop entitled “Creative Knowledge Mobilization”.

Monday, November 27:  We are very grateful for the support Edgar Hielema and his network at Gardiner Roberts LLP have given as ICS navigated the many changes of the last few years. These include the sale of our 27% share in 229 College, finalising the amounts owing from the receiver, and now helping ICS manage discussions with The King’s University. We could not have done this without their expert assistance and thank our Lord for His provision.

Tuesday, November 28:  Please pray for a successful outcome as our negotiations to lease premises at Knox College continue. More than a physical space and even substantial financial savings are at stake, for we look forward to a communal space of sharing with Knox faculty, staff and students. Let us pray for a smooth move, perhaps as soon as the Christmas break, as relatively brief and busy this will be. It would be less disruptive than during a semester.

Wednesday, November 29:  As we enter the last weeks of the fall semester and winter approaches, we pray for stamina and good health for Junior Members in particular. They will soon be busy writing their papers, during a period in which there will be many Christmastide events likely to challenge their concentration. May they and their families be truly blessed.

Thursday, November 30:  Please pray for Doug and Heather Blomberg as they head on their way to Australia tomorrow to begin this next chapter of their lives. We thank them for their long years of service to ICS and ask God to protect them on their (also long, relatively) journey. May they enjoy God’s grace and strength as they adjust after fifteen years (plus six semesters since 1975) in Canada. May they enjoy with their family not a white but invariably sweltering Christmas in their native land – “a sunburnt country … a wide, brown land.” These last phrases are the words of a poem – by a 19-year-old! – they learnt in primary school. Let it remind you of the wonder and richness of God’s creation. “Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow.”

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!
Dorothea Mackellar, “My Country”, verse 2 (1904)

Friday 29 September 2017

SAVE THE DATE – Saturday, November 11th, 2017

We are celebrating our 50th Anniversary!
you are invited!

When:   Saturday, November 11th, 2017 from 11:00am to 5:00pm

Where:   King’s Christian Collegiate
              528 Burnhamthorpe Rd West, Oakville ON L6M 4K6 · Map

Ticket Price:   $50 per person


A donation receipt will be issued for any amount above the personal ticket price. To reserve a table (8 tickets) please call 416-979-2331 ext. 223.

Featuring:  Prayer and Thanksgiving Service at 11:02; Gala Luncheon at 12:00 with a program of celebration and the launch of our 50th Anniversary Campaign
Annual General Meeting will follow at 3:30

You won’t want to miss this special day of
Looking back with gratitude. Looking forward with anticipation!

Thursday 28 September 2017

Bob Sweetman in Pennsylvania

Bob Sweetman is presenting a paper Sat. 14 Oct.--"Aemulatio and the Practice of Scholarly Friendship in Abelard's Historia Calamitatum and his and Heloise's Subsequent Exchanges" for the Session titled Intimacies in Medieval Thought at the conference "A Sacrifice of Praise: Liturgy, Prayer, and Hymnody at the Center of Faith and Life", the 42nd Patristic, Medieval and Renaissance Studies Conference at Villanova University, Wayne PA (13-15 October 2017).

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Richard Middleton Organizing Conference in Rochester

On October 20-21, Northeastern Seminary will be holding a theology conference on its campus in Rochester, NY, co-sponsored with the Canadian-American Theological Association. The plenary speaker will be Richard Mouw and there will be about three dozen academic papers presented on the conference theme: "Evangelical Theology: New Challenges, New Opportunities."

Here is the link for the conference:

Tuesday 26 September 2017

World-Viewing: ICS introduces new course

On September 27th, ICS introduced a new course in the Master of Worldview Studies program. This course, World-Viewing: An Introduction to Worldview Studies, taught by Associate Professor of Worldview Studies, Dr. Gideon Strauss, serves as a touchstone for the MWS program as a whole, providing students with an overview of the program, an initial set of frameworks and tools for finding their way through the program, and a selection of readings that will prime students for reflecting on six interrelated wayfinding questions: Who am I? Where do I belong? What do I believe? What do I love? What opportunities and constraints do I face in my particular context? What am I to do with my life? The course will use a new hybrid format, with six bi-weekly in-person classroom sessions as well as weekly structured interactive online forum discussions in response to reading assignments.

Monday 25 September 2017

Prayer Letter: October 2017

Sunday, October 1:  John and Ann Vanderhoek are hosting a gathering of supporters this afternoon at their home in Chilliwack. Doug and Heather Blomberg will be present. Please pray for an edifying interaction around ICS’s vision for the future.

Monday, October 2:  Today, we ask you to pray for CPRSE's Partnership Development Grant application for the next academic year (to be submitted in November). As grant applications time draws near, please pray for the wisdom and discernment needed to expand the research work of CPRSE in paths that are respectful of ICS's historical mission as a Christian institution of higher learning.

Tuesday, October 3:  We ask God to give wisdom and clarity to Bob Sweetman today as he participates on a panel at Classis Toronto Meeting "Ever Reforming: What Does the Reformation Mean for the Christian Reformed Church in North America Today?"

Wednesday, October 4:  Please pray today for the 50th Anniversary Planning Committee as they meet to bring closure to some of the many decisions that need to be made for the November 11th event. We are grateful to God that the venue details have been finalized and so thankful for the folks at King’s Christian Collegiate who have been helping us. Please pray for wisdom in the program planning in particular this week.

Thursday, October 5:  Following a year of negotiations, we are hoping soon to move operations to Knox College at the University of Toronto. This will save considerable costs in rental and embed us in larger community within the Calvinist tradition. We are praying for a smooth transition -- moving is usually a challenge! -- and very positive collegial relations among faculty, staff and students from both institutions.

Friday, October 6:  Jan and Fran Boer have invited supporters to join them for lunch tomorrow in a Surrey restaurant. Doug and Heather Blomberg will be part of this event to celebrate ICS’s 50th Anniversary. A number of past Board members and alumni have accepted this invitation. May this be a time of encouragement for all, as they reflect on the history and ongoing vision of ICS.

Tuesday, October 10:  Please pray with us this week as we work to finalize the compilation of our Jubilee edition of Perspective. We desire to have the issue in the mail to everyone by the 16th and so in these days we ask God for energy and clarity to ensure that all the details are taken care of before it goes to print. Pray particularly for Kathy Lynch, Vidya Williams, Pat Webb and Doug Blomberg in this process.

Wednesday, October 11:  Tonight the second “in-person” class of our new course called World-Viewing: An Introduction to Worldview Studies takes place at ICS (see News item above for more details). Pray for Dr. Gideon Strauss as he teaches and for the participants that they may enjoy lively and meaningful discussion and interaction.

Thursday, October 12:  In partnership with TIFF, Ryerson University, and Imago, CPRSE has begun the planning process for a second edition of "Opening Frames," our interdisciplinary conference on film and spirituality. We ask for your continued prayers for the success of this and all other public outreach initiatives hosted by ICS/CPRSE.

Friday, October 13:  Pray for Bob Sweetman today as he prepares to give a paper tomorrow at the 42nd Patristic, Medieval and Renaissance Studies Conference at Villanova University, Wayne PA (see News item above for more details). We ask for energy for Bob and meaningful interaction among all who will participate.

Monday, October 16:  The ICS administrative staff is the backbone, indeed, the skeleton, that holds our organisation upright. We ask you for your prayers to strengthen them in their many tasks. Though they are often overburdened, their resilience is exemplary.

Tuesday, October 17:  Our 50th Anniversary Celebration is just over three weeks away. (Please book your place!) We ask our Lord to bless this special occasion of worship, fellowship and remembrance of our many years and the multitude of people who have enabled our vision and mission to flourish, for whom we give profound thanks.

Wednesday, October 18:  The Board of Trustees bears many responsibilities in its oversight of ICS policies and operations. They give uncounted hours and offer their gifts freely to our vision. Please remember them in your prayers.

Thursday, October 19:  On Saturday, CPRSE staff will lead a workshop at the event "For Such a Time as This: Worship Meets Justice and the Arts in a Turbulent time," hosted by First CRC, Toronto. Please give thanks for this opportunity to extend the reach of ICS's work on the topics of justice and faith within the Christian Reformed Church of Canada.

Friday, October 20:  ICS alumnus, Richard Middleton, asks for prayer for those participating in a theology conference he is organizing (see News item above for more details). The conference takes place on the Northeastern Seminary campus in Rochester, NY today and tomorrow. Pray for strength and wisdom for Richard as he takes care of the many details and concerns that arise.

Monday, October 23:  Today marks the start of Reading Week for ICS Junior and Senior Members. Please pray for our students that they might have the creative energy and space to complete their writing and study assignments. Pray too for the faculty that God would graciously encourage and refresh them in their vocation at ICS.

Tuesday, October 24:  We are so thankful to God for our supporters, many of whom have been with us since the beginning. Doug Blomberg had much joy from his meetings with our broader community in Grand Rapids, Blackfalds, Chilliwack and Surrey these past few weeks. Their support in prayer and personal encouragement, as well as financially, is of course essential to our mission. We thank them, and praise Jesus for His provision for the mission that ultimately belongs to Him.

Wednesday, October 25:  Please uphold the Board of Trustees in their oversight of the vision and mission of ICS, especially as they head towards Board meetings on November 9th and 10th, and the AGM on November 11th following the 50th Anniversary celebrations. Pray for strength and wisdom for each one as they continue to lead through the transitions and changes this year has presented.

Thursday, October 26:  Please pray for Dr. Gideon Strauss, Associate Professor of Worldview Studies as he and Pat Webb participate in the Edifide Convention today and tomorrow. Gideon will be presenting a two-part workshop titled Your Next Five Years: Mapping the Adventure. Participants will learn to use a powerful paradigm and a number of tools for life and career planning they can use in their lives and with their students. We ask for strength and energy for Gideon as he leads this workshop, and for Pat and Gideon as they make connections and represent the work of ICS.

Friday, October 27:  Please pray for Bob Sweetman as he prepares to lead a session in the Adult Education Series "The Reformation and Me" at First CRC Toronto on Sunday. We trust God to bless this session with thoughtful and edifying discussion.

Monday, October 30:  Doug Blomberg will step down as President on October 31 and commence his sabbatical, during which he plans to write a book on theories of learning within a reformational philosophical perspective, among other, smaller projects. Please give thanks to our Lord for Doug’s time of service in this role and pray he will have clarity of mind and perseverance in a complex task this coming year and subsequently.

Tuesday, October 31:  Though this day is commonly known as Halloween (or formally, All Hallows’/Saints’ Eve), this is also Reformation Day. As you well know, this is the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s protest, nailed to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg. We give thanks and praise to Jesus Christ for this momentous renewal of Christian faith, of which we and multitudes are grateful heirs. May we remain faithful to the gospel and ever open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Semper reformanda!

Thursday 21 September 2017

Material Spirituality with Neal DeRoo

How can we think of ourselves as leading “spiritual lives” in the 21st century? What do we mean when we talk about meaning? Can we separate “religion” and “spirituality”? How do liturgies shape us? Are liturgies limited to church services? Are we only able to express our spirituality in the context of religious communities?

On September 29th, the Institute for Christian Studies will host philosopher Neal DeRoo to talk about questions like these through his work on phenomenology and contemporary philosophy. Weaving together insights from Edmund Husserl, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Henry, Merleau-Ponty, and Herman Dooyeweerd, DeRoo suggests a paradigm for thinking about our embodied expressions of spirituality, expressions that DeRoo argues are not exclusively religious but part of every domain of life.

The morning will begin with a presentation by DeRoo entitled “Material Spirituality: Religion and Phenomenal Expression,” followed by an interview and a Q&A session open to those attending.

The event will be held in the ICS classroom, at 229 College Street, from 10:30-12:30 on Friday, September 29.

Wednesday 23 August 2017

ICS/CPRSE Announcement

Dear ICS community,

It is my great pleasure to announce the appointment of Hector Acero-Ferrer to the position of Associate Director of the Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics at ICS. Hector will be working for the CPRSE two days per week (.4 FTE) starting September 1, 2017, on a 10-month contract that will last until the end of the current fiscal year (June 30, 2017). This appointment, based on the recommendation of ICS' Leadership Team, has also been approved by ICS' Board of Directors.

This appointment is necessary in order to maintain ongoing CPRSE projects and also to pursue new ones, while at the same time allowing me to focus on my new duties as Provost of ICS. Among other benefits, this appointment will allow the CPRSE to revamp and resubmit an application to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for a 2-year Partnership Development Grant project that proposes to explore social justice concerns about current modes of mental healthcare delivery in Canada (in partnership with Shalem Mental Health Network and the Centre for Community Based Research, among others). Maintaining a robust track record with SSHRC is important for many reasons, not the least of which is the extra funds we receive, based on that track record, from SSHRC's Research Support Fund. (Over the last three years, ICS has received more than $140,000 from this fund, an amount over and above the grant monies received).

The Leadership Team is very excited to have Hector take on this role, as he has ably and enthusiastically served the CPRSE as a Research Assistant for the last 4 years. Hector is intimately familiar with all CPRSE research projects, and also has close professional relationships with many of the project partners. This past year, especially, Hector has gone above and beyond the call of duty in order to ensure that the CPRSE meets its partnership commitment to the Faith and Settlement Partnerships research project (a two-year SSHRC-funded partnership project led by the CCBR). Hector has also been a valuable contributor to ICS' advancement efforts, including helping with the production of Perspective. In his role as Associate Director, Hector will help ensure that the work of the CPRSE continues to contribute to ICS' advancement agenda by maintaining the momentum the CPRSE has gained over the last several years, thus helping it continue to raise ICS' profile amidst our support community and the wider public.

So please join me in welcoming Hector into this role, and in offering your prayers and support, so that the many gifts he brings to the work of the CPRSE may bless and sustain ICS as it pursues its historic mission in Christian higher education, and continues to strive toward a vibrant, thriving future.

Ron Kuipers

Monday 21 August 2017

Truth, Resistance and Societal Evil

Emeritus Professor Lambert Zuidervaart has published a piece titled “Truth, Resistance and Societal Evil” in iai News, an online forum hosted by the Institute of Art and Ideas in the United Kingdom. The article is adapted from Lambert’s recent convocation address, and it mentions the ongoing controversy about how to respond to racism in the United States.

Thursday 17 August 2017

Thomas Aquinas and the Neo-Thomist Tradition

Congratulations to Dr B van der Walt on the publication of his latest book Thomas Aquinas and the Neo-Thomist Tradition. He sent ICS a copy which is now in our library. We are one of the few libraries in North America that currently has a copy of this book.

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Prayer Letter: September 2017

Friday, September 1:  Today, Héctor Acero-Ferrer takes up the part-time position of Associate Director of the Centre for Philosophy, Religion and Social Ethics. Please give thanks to God for this important boost to the capacity of CPRSE and support Héctor in your prayers.

Tuesday, September 5:  Today we formally welcome returning and new Junior Members to ICS for the 2017-18 Academic Year. JMs will meet with faculty and staff in a series of orientation events this week. We give thanks for this re-gathering of the ICS community and pray our Lord’s blessing on the launch of another year of Christian scholarship.

Wednesday, September 6:  Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who are suffering in Texas. We do have alumni and donors there and think especially of them, but our hearts go out to all who are suffering from this cataclysmic event.

Thursday, September 7:  This morning our annual start-of-year Retreat will again take place at St. Andrew by-the-Lake on Toronto Island. This is a wonderful venue for such an event. We give thanks for the preparation by Registrar Jeff Hocking and his wife Angie. May this be an enjoyable day of relaxed fellowship and worship together.

Friday, September 8:  Please pray for those involved in preparing our 50th Anniversary Perspective, as authors, editors, organisers, designers and printers. It is always a challenge to get such a publication ready in a timely manner, and we ask our Lord to guide and uphold all contributors to the process as they aim to mail this significant issue to supporters mid-October.

Monday, September 11:  This is the first week of Fall classes, and it is fitting indeed to begin with one of our Foundational courses: “Reformational Philosophy”, with Dr. Bob Sweetman. Please pray for lively interaction and edification for participants.

Godfrey Nkongolo will be defending his MA Thesis this afternoon. Please pray for a stimulating interaction with the examination committee and a successful outcome. His thesis is titled “UJAMAA: A Gift from Tanzania to Africa” and is under the mentorship of Dr. Ron Kuipers.

Tuesday, September 12:  Today we see the commencement of two courses: “Matter, Body and Gender in the Thought of Hildegard of Bingen, Bernardus Sylvestris, Alan of Lille and Thomas Aquinas” (Dr. Bob Sweetman) and “With/Out Reason: Art and Imagination in the Western Tradition (Dr. Rebekah Smick)”.

Wednesday, September 13:  Our second Foundations course, aptly titled “Biblical Foundations”, launches today under the leadership of Dr. Nik Ansell.

Thursday, September 14:  Dr. Nik Ansell backs up again this morning as instructor for “The Divine (at) Risk: Open Theism, Classical Theism and Beyond.” This afternoon, Dr. Ron Kuipers will teach “Wittgenstein: Language & the Philosophy of Religion”.

Friday, September 15:  This week, our Distance Education courses begin: “Wisdom and Schooling” led by PhD Candidate Helena Hoogstad (Dr. Doug Blomberg serving as Professor of Record) and “Vocational Wayfinding”, taught by Dr. Gideon Strauss.

Monday, September 18:  This afternoon, Mark Novak (mentored by Dr. Kuipers) is defending his MA thesis, titled “Incarnating the God Who May Be: Christology and Incarnational Humanism in Bonhoeffer and Kearney.” Please pray he is able to present this result of much hard work in clear terms and that it will be an enriching interaction with the examiners for all involved.

Tuesday, September 19:  We invite prayers for the relatively “unsung heroes” at ICS, the administrative staff who keep the wheels turning and are vital to our scholarly mission. Please uphold Harley Dekker, Jeff Hocking, Kathy Lynch, Pat Webb and Vidya Williams in their essential and often demanding tasks.

Wednesday, September 20:  Tonight in Grand Rapids, ICS Trustee Dr. Matt Bonzo is hosting a “50th Anniversary of ICS” gathering of supporters. President Doug Blomberg will be attending, and will also participate in tomorrow afternoon’s Friends of ICS Board Meeting. Please pray that both events are a time of joy and reflection as we look forward to how the Lord will lead us.

Thursday, September 21:  Josina Zylstra (widow of Bernard) requests prayers for her husband, Herman Dooyeweerd Jr., and herself. He has been in a nursing home in Toronto for the past several years. We ask our Lord and Saviour for strength and comfort for them both, as Josina cares for him. May God continue to bless their faithfulness to each other.

Friday, September 22:  In last month’s Prayer Letter we asked you to pray for our search for an appropriate venue for our 50th Anniversary Celebration Event on November 11th. We give thanks to God for a successful conclusion to this search. We are very pleased that we can hold this special event at King’s Christian Collegiate in Oakville.

Monday, September 25:  Trustee Marg Hoogland will be hosting a gathering of supporters in Central Alberta, in the context of our 50th Anniversary celebrations. Doug Blomberg will be part of the conversation. We give thanks for their ongoing commitment to ICS, going back over very many years, and pray for an encouraging evening of fellowship.

Tuesday, September 26:  Ron Kuipers will be presenting a paper at a conference at the University of Minho, in Braga, Portugal. His paper is "Successful Prophecies, Failed Hopes? Richard Rorty and the Demise of Social Justice." We ask Jesus to bless Ron and all participants as he speaks and interacts with them.

Wednesday, September 27:  We give thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ for the wondrous blessings He has bestowed on ICS these past 50 years and for those who have gone on to serve in many vocations across the world. We pray for them as they heed His call.

Thursday, September 28:  We beseech our Lord to enable our 50th Anniversary celebrations to go smoothly, and to uphold those most closely involved in its planning. There are many details to consider, many people we hope to see in Toronto. Please pray everything will fall into place and a great number will be able to join in this landmark event.

Friday, September 29:  We praise God for the faithful band of supporters who have stood by ICS’s vision and mission all these years. Without them, there would be no ICS. We pray for their continued support as we look forward to our next 50 years, by God’s grace.

Thursday 27 July 2017

ICS Appoints a New Provost

As has been reported in an earlier prayer letter, ICS is entering into a leadership transition period. Doug Blomberg will retire from the ICS presidency on October 31. Further, ICS is venturing into merger negotiations with The King’s University (TKU). In light of this transition, the ICS Board has created a new position of Provost. A Provost is a high-ranking administrator tasked largely but not exclusively with responsibilities of internal leadership. Rather than begin a search for a new president, the Board decided that the position of Provost was best suited in light of the transition period ICS is entering.

After an internal search, the Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Ron Kuipers as the new ICS Provost. Ron will be responsible for providing internal institutional leadership, and will collaborate with the Board in developing and promoting ICS’ “Ontario presence” in ways that both increase ICS’ economic sustainability and, as part of any merger with TKU, also makes a strong contribution to the achievement of TKU’s Strategic Plan.

The Board welcomes Ron to the new Provost position and wishes him every success in his new responsibilities. It looks forward to working with him as ICS transitions in this new direction and venture.

John Valk
Chair, ICS Board of Trustees

Prayer Letter: August 2017

Tuesday, August 1:  Please pray for the family of Dan Jack as they mourn the passing of their loved one on July 17th. Dan was a Board member (Calgary) who also served on the Finance Committee. He will be greatly missed for his calm and wise counsel in meetings, and for his love and passion for the work of ICS. A memorial service was held at First Mennonite Church, Calgary, last Friday. We ask God to uphold his wife, Marguerite, and the rest of his family with his abundant love, grace and peace.

Wednesday, August 2:  We ask for your prayers for Ron Kuipers as he takes up the reins in his new role as Provost at ICS. Pray for wisdom and discernment as he leads the Leadership Team, and for strength as he balances this new role with his teaching and mentoring and as Director of the CPRSE. May God grant him great joy in service in the months ahead.

Thursday, August 3:  Pray for a way that ICS can invest the proceeds from the sale of 229 College in a way that is stewardly and meaningful going forward. Please continue to pray for Harley Dekker, Director of Finance and his team of investment advisors.

Friday, August 4:  We ask for your prayers today for Senior Member Bob Sweetman who will be presenting a paper titled “Admiratio, Imitation and the Vita Christi in the Summa Theologiae of Thomas Aquinas” at the Boston College Colloquy in Historical Theology in Boston MA.

Tuesday, August 8:  Our Registrar, Jeff Hocking is on holiday this week and next with his wife Angie and daughter Addie. Pray for safe travels and a refreshment of spirit as they enjoy one another and the people and places they visit.

Wednesday, August 9:  Please pray today for Godfrey Nkongolo, an MA student under the mentorship of Ron Kuipers, who has completed the final draft of his MA Thesis, entitled "Ujamaa--A Gift from Tanzania to Africa: A Critique of Current Social and Political Systems in Africa and a Critical Exploration of Ujamaa as an Alternative," and now prepares for his final oral defense. As well, pray for Godfrey and his family as they prepare for the next stage of his educational journey of attending Carleton University in September to begin a PhD program in the Political Science faculty.

Thursday, August 10:  Pray for our Board of Trustees as they meet this evening, and for John Valk and John Kamphof as they lead them. We ask God to grant them wisdom and clarity of thinking as they work together with the Leadership Team to manage the portfolio of opportunities and changes that ICS is faced with at this time.

Friday, August 11:  Please continue to pray for the planning and preparations that are underway for our first 50th Anniversary celebration on October 14th. We ask God for his favour in finding a suitable venue and for the many other details that need to be finalized.

Monday, August 14:  Pray for the quick settlement of amounts owning ICS from the receiver of 229 College Street. Progress has been made, and we pray for the continued work of ICS and their legal support for a settlement of amounts owed.

Tuesday, August 15:  Please pray for two of our new Master’s students who are coming to ICS this fall. Pray for peace as they work through all the details of obtaining immigration visas and finding the necessary housing for themselves and their families.

Wednesday, August 16:  Please continue to pray for our Board of Trustees and the Leadership Team as they collaborate together in the development of a future vision for ICS which would increase its economic sustainability and contribute to King’s Strategic Plan in our proposed merger.

Thursday, August 17:  We ask for your prayers for Mark Novak, an MA student under the mentorship of Ron Kuipers, who is putting the finishing touches on his MA Thesis, titled "Incarnating the God who May Be: Christology and Incarnational Humanism in Bonhoeffer and Kearney," and anticipates a September oral defense. Pray too for Mark as he gets settled in Hamilton, and as he enters the PhD program at McMaster University in September in the Religious Studies faculty.

Friday, August 18:  Today we thank God for our many friends and supporters who stand with us in our mission throughout the year. We pray for God’s richest blessings on all of you as you enjoy these summer months and we look forward to celebrating our 50th Anniversary with you in the fall and into the new year.

Monday, August 21:  Please pray for Jeff Hocking today as he prepares for registration and orientation, as well as the student retreat coming up in a few weeks. There are a myriad of details to take care of so we ask God for clarity and discernment in the planning and implementation of these important events at the start of our school year.

Tuesday, August 22:  Please pray this week for our faculty and administrative staff as they prepare for the beginning of the school year in a couple of weeks. Pray that they will be encouraged, even in the midst of a lot of changes, by the work that they do. We ask for God’s grace and wisdom as they work together, and for keen discernment in meeting the opportunities and challenges facing ICS at this time. And give thanks to God for sending them to serve the Institute’s mission with commitment and dedication.

Wednesday, August 23:  Today is our course registration deadline when students are supposed to have registered (and paid) for the courses they plan to take in the fall semester. Pray for our Registrar, Jeff Hocking, as he follows up the many loose ends that often happen so that the registration process will be a smooth one for our students.

Thursday, August 24:  Pray for the CPRSE Staff who are helping plan the two-day workshop, Engaging Communities through Research: A Capacity-Building Event, which will assist faith-based universities get into the exciting area of community-engaged research and outreach activities.

Friday, August 25:  Josina Zylstra has asked for our prayers for her and her husband, Herman Dooyeweerd Jr. who has been in a nursing home for the past number of years. We ask our God for strength and comfort as she cares for him each week.

Monday, August 28:  Next week we welcome our Junior Members, both returning and new. Please pray for all of them as they wrap up their summer projects, academic and otherwise, and settle back into the coming year’s routine. It is a joyous time, as we all start afresh as the ICS community, gathered here in Toronto.

Tuesday, August 29:  Pray for CPRSE Research Assistant Hector Acero Ferrer, as he collaborates with staff at World Renew as part of the SSHRC-funded partnered research project, "Faith and Settlement Partnerships: Setting Immigrants and Canada Up for Success," led by the Centre for Community Based Research.

Wednesday, August 30:  Talks with Knox College are going well around the possibility of ICS relocating there. Please pray for continued positive discussions with good outcomes for both Knox College and ICS.

Thursday, August 31:  Pray for the staff at the CPRSE as they participate in planning for a one-day workshop in Toronto on October 21 that is meant to help worship leaders integrate the arts and a concern for social justice into the worship experience. The event is titled "For Such a Time as this: Worship meets Justice and the Arts in Turbulent Times"

Thursday 29 June 2017

Ron Kuipers: "From the Roots"

Last January, Ron Kuipers, Director of the CPRSE gave a talk at The King’s University at their Interdisciplinary Studies Conference “Glorious and Free”?! Generous Citizenship for the Next 150. Listen to Ron’s talk titled “From the Roots: Religion and the Public Life of the Liberal Democracy”.

Cal Seerveld: "Advice to Recent Art Graduates"

Senior Member Emeritus Cal Seerveld has a short article, “Advice to recent art graduates: Helping your neighbour see surprises,” included in an IVP Academic volume, Contemporary Art and the Church (2017), edited by W. David O Taylor and Taylor Worley. This book holds the major addresses of the 2015 CIVA conference (Christians in the Visual Arts). Seerveld distinguishes “Church” and “City of God,” and calls for jesters (artists) and ventriloquists (art critics and historians) to take up their promising tasks.

Prayer Letter: July 2017

Monday, July 3 and Tuesday, July 4:  This confluence of national holidays in the two countries where most of our supporters live (and we do not forget those beyond the borders of Canada and the US!) gives occasion to thank God for the many gifts and mercies bestowed on us, over the course of our shared histories. But we do not forget the first immigrants to come to North America, so many years ago, who suffered from the depredations of immigrants more recent. We pray for ongoing reconciliation with the former, and a continuing welcome to those who continue to come to our shores, most especially those who find refuge from tyrannies and terror in lands across the seas.

Wednesday, July 5:  We achieved a budget that was close to balanced by the end of the 2016-17 Fiscal Year. The reduction of salaries across the board, and of some positions, were difficult matters to deal with, particularly for those office-bearers with primary responsibility for these decisions and the person charged with operationalising these, Doug Blomberg. We honour all who endured sacrifices, and pray for their ongoing well-being. As we begin this new year, we continue to face many challenges. At the same time, we are encouraged by the possibilities the Lord will bring our way, and seek His wisdom and guidance. People might plan the way, but the Lord will direct their paths (Proverbs 16:9)

Thursday, July 6:  Please pray for our students as they work and study (and take vacations!) during these summer months to prepare for September, and especially for those who are entering new work opportunities and other life transitions. We remember in particular PhD candidate Joshua Harris, who, with Sarah and Rowan, will be moving to Providence, RI later this month to begin a new chapter in their life together. We pray for the Lord’s richest blessings on them as they make this significant transition, and Josh takes up a teaching position at Providence College.

Friday, July 7:  Please continue to pray for our Director of Finance, Harley Dekker and two long-term friends of ICS who have volunteered to assist the Finance Committee on the prudent and strategic investment of the proceeds from the shares in 229 College.

Monday, July 10:  Today Doug Blomberg will learn the results of a biopsy for a growth removed from his scalp two weeks ago. We give thanks for the doctors consulted and the healing hands and medical knowledge Jesus has gifted them. Naturally, please pray for a positive outcome.

Tuesday, July 11:  Please pray today for our Board of Trustees as they meet tonight, and particularly for John Valk (Chair) and John Kamphof (Vice-chair) as they lead the board in its deliberations. Pray for wisdom and clarity in their discussions around the significant concerns facing ICS, such as the partnering negotiations with King’s, and the leadership transition at ICS. As well, please pray for the ongoing search for new board members and new members for the Finance Committee.

Wednesday, July 12:  July being the month that a number of our staff and faculty take holidays, we ask that you pray that their time away will be refreshing and renewing. Some are travelling long distances so we ask God to grant them safe and hassle-free travels.

Thursday, July 13:  On Saturday, the Art in Orvieto summer semester will end and the students and faculty will return home. We have heard from Rebekah Smick, who is leading the event, that the program has gone very well. She says there was a really lovely group of participants who have been great and some very gifted artists to boot. Our two students (Danielle and Julia) are impressing everyone. As everyone returns home, pray that all will have safe journeys, and give thanks for the blessing this has been for all who have been privileged to participate in this wonderful learning opportunity.

Friday, July 14:  We are gearing up for the transition to a new location, which we expect and hope to be Knox College on St. George Street. Please pray that the many details needing to be addressed will be settled expeditiously, and that we will enjoy our inclusion in the Knox community as they warmly welcome us. This then is more than a mere change of location, but the start of a new partnership. And it places us at the heart of the University of Toronto campus, which is not to be discounted.

Monday, July 17:  Scott McNaughton has been diagnosed with a tumour in his bladder. Surgery is scheduled for today. The more prayers, the better! We are hoping for a benign diagnosis when the biopsy is completed.

Tuesday, July 18:  Bob and Rosanne Sweetman’s new grandchild is due tomorrow. Please pray for a safe delivery for Adrienne and child, and give thanks that another image-bearer has been gifted to the world, to honour God in a life of service and praise.

Wednesday, July 19:  We bring before our Lord our continuing negotiations with King’s with respect to a partnering agreement. Please uphold all those involved: the Boards of both institutions and their representatives. On behalf of ICS, Vice Chair John Kamphoff, President Doug Blomberg and the Acting Provost will play a major role.

Thursday, July 20:  We are in the midst of planning our 50th Anniversary celebrations, culminating in a gala event in the Toronto region. Prior to this, Doug Blomberg will be meeting with supporters in a number of locations in western Canada and the US, to thank them for their enduring faithfulness to the vision embodied in ICS. Pray especially for Pat Webb, Vidya Williams, Doug and the larger committee, as they give much attention to the preparations for our Jubilee!

Friday, July 21:  Please pray for our Board as they are in the process of making some important decisions on a number of fronts that will give shape and direction to ICS in the coming months, and beyond. These decisions include the hiring of an Acting Provost to ensure a smooth leadership transition as Doug Blomberg approaches retirement of the ICS Presidency.

Monday, July 24:  We continue to pray for Associate Contract Librarian Hilary Barlow as she learns the ropes of our rather complex collection and suite of services. May she already feel welcome in our community, receiving all the support needed and possible. This is a relatively quiet period, with many Junior Members away from Toronto or at least from ICS, now that classes have finished.

Tuesday, July 25:  As we come to the end of this fiscal year, we offer prayers of gratitude for our donors who continue to demonstrate their steadfast commitment through prayers and financial gifts for our work here at ICS.

Wednesday, July 26:  Please uphold our Master’s and Doctoral candidates before the throne of God, as many of them hunker down to plan or write their theses, prepare for upcoming examinations, and continue reading and reflecting. Two of Ron Kuiper’s MA students are working hard to finish their theses so they can defend in the fall. Both also have been accepted into PhD programs at McMaster and Carleton Universities.

Thursday, July 27:  We continue to dialogue with Redeemer and Tyndale around ways in which we can partner together in the development of an MA in (Educational) Leadership. Pray for discernment and clarity about the many issues that need to be resolved in such an initiative.

Friday, July 28:  Our new fiscal year 2017/18 is soon underway which brings with it the need to plan the year’s advancement and communication schedule. Pray for wisdom for the Leadership Team as they determine priorities for funding, and for Pat Webb, Vidya Williams and Doug Blomberg as they put the communication plan to our constituency in place.

Monday, July 31:  Please pray for Doug Blomberg as he prepares for a significant life-transition: stepping down from the Presidency at the end of October and then beginning a twelve-month sabbatical, for which he has a major book project in view, and a number of smaller projects. There is much to work through these next few months, as he and Heather plan for their future. Pray also for the Board, the faculty and staff, as they too grow into another way of working together.

Friday 16 June 2017

Video Now Available: Philosophy, Truth, and the Wisdom of Love

2017 Convocation Address by Dr. Lambert Zuidervaart, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, ICS

• Watch the Video on Youtube

Are we now in a "post-truth" era, as the Oxford Dictionaries seemed to suggest when choosing that phrase as the International Word of the Year in 2016? Are appeals to emotion and personal opinions really replacing factual truth? Has truth become irrelevant? Tracing our Western conception of truth to its pre-Socratic origin as a godlike search for that which is uncreated and indestructible, Lambert says a philosophy in line with the Jewish and Christian wisdom traditions would see truth instead as a way of life, as something we do rather than merely assert.

The importance of this endeavour is readily apparent in these times of "alternative facts" and "fake news". A conception of truth rooted in what is good rather than mere theoretical immutability would help us work together to live in the truth, indeed in faithfulness, rather than taking uncertainty as our cue to discard the possibility of truth altogether. But what then of our longtime servant "factual truth"? In this inspiring and intriguing address, Lambert displays the biblical underpinnings for his ongoing work on a new theory of factual truth, within a broader conception of truth that we may summarise as the call to love God above all, and our neighbours as ourselves.

Truth in Husserl, Heidegger, and the Frankfurt School

ICS is happy to announce the publication of another book by Professor Emeritus Lambert Zuidervaart, titled Truth in Husserl, Heidegger, and the Frankfurt School: Critical Retrieval. Published by the MIT Press, the book is dedicated to Merold Westphal, a leading Christian scholar in continental philosophy, and to the memory of Johan van der Hoeven, Lambert’s PhD supervisor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In this new book, Dr. Zuidervaart takes up the most important writings and authors in recent German philosophy in order to propose a new and comprehensive idea of truth. The book has received strong endorsements from scholars in the field. They say it “adroitly moves beyond the sterile isolation” between continental and analytic philosophy (Daniel Dahlstrom) and “takes important steps toward … a more comprehensive conception, in which truth, intersecting with goodness, calls for societal transformation” (Maeve Cooke). They also describe the book as “meticulously researched and elegantly written” (James Gordon Finlayson) and as a “timely must-read for anyone interested in truth” (Barbara Fultner). For more details about this path-breaking book, be sure to visit the publisher’s website.

Monday 29 May 2017

Art, Education, and Cultural Renewal

Professor Emeritus Lambert Zuidervaart has published a new collection of essays titled Art, Education, and Cultural Renewal: Essays in Reformational Philosophy (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017). The book is a companion volume to Religion, Truth, and Social Transformation, published last spring and featured in a symposium on ICS’s Ground Motive blog. In the new book, which is dedicated to Calvin Seerveld, Lambert presents a socially engaged philosophy of the arts and higher education, in interaction with leading Kuyperian thinkers such as Seerveld and Nicholas Wolterstorff. Publication of the book was made possible in part by grants from the Priscilla and Stanford Reid Trust and the Andreas Center at Dordt College. For more details about this intriguing book, be sure to visit the publisher’s website.

Friday 19 May 2017

Prayer Letter: June 2017

Thursday, June 1:  Bob Sweetman is leading the Aquinas Studium this year held at Regis College 29 May to 1 June. He is also giving the Keynote Lecture entitled "Gratitude and the Movement of Being Outward" at this event. Join us in asking God for a rich and edifying experience for all who attend this week-long seminar.

Friday, June 2:  Final grades for this past semester are due before June 8th. Please pray for the faculty as they finalize their marking and assessments of the students in their class, and for Jeff Hocking as he processes the final reporting to the students.

Monday, June 5:  There will be a workshop on Bob Sweetman’s latest book, Tracing the Lines: Spiritual Exercise and the Gesture of Christian Scholarship, at the 3rd Biennial Regional Conference of the International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education held at Calvin College 4-6 June. We pray that those who attend this workshop will enjoy stimulating discussion around improving Christian higher education internationally.

Tuesday, June 6:  We give thanks that at the board meetings last month the 2017-18 budget was approved. Pray for continued discernment for all the staff as we put our plans into action within the necessary confines of the budget.

Wednesday, June 7:  As we move quickly toward the end of our fiscal year this month, we would ask that you would prayerfully consider sending in your financial support if you have not already done so. We are so grateful for the continued and generous giving of our support community and we pray God’s blessing on each one.

Thursday, June 8:  Please pray for Bob Sweetman today as he performs his duties as an examiner for the Centre for Medieval Studies of the University of Toronto of Peter O'Hagan’s PhD thesis entitled "Teaching the Tradition: Twelfth-Century Scholastic Commentaries on Paul's Letter to the Romans" (Alexander Andrée supervisor) .

Friday, June 9:  Tomorrow Doug Blomberg heads out for a much-deserved week’s holidays. Pray that he and Heather will enjoy a wonderful time of rest and relaxation and will return to us refreshed. We give thanks for Doug’s ministry these many years, and particularly at this time for his faithful service as President since 2014.

Monday, June 12:  We are pleased to report that we have a part-time librarian joining us. We welcome Hilary Barlow, Associate Contract Librarian to the ICS community and please join us in prayer for her as she begins her time with us.

Tuesday, June 13:  We still have a few vacancies on the Board of Trustees that need to be filled, in particular Central Ontario. We are grateful for the people who stepped up for this responsibility in January. The Board tends our vision and mission, as well as fiduciary responsibilities to ensure godly stewardship of our finances. We would welcome someone with business acumen to help support this important area.

Wednesday, June 14:  We continue to be grateful for the productive discussions around the prospective partnering with The King’s University. We were pleased to have President Melanie Humphreys join us at our board meetings in May so that our talks could continue in person. Pray for God’s continued grace and wisdom in future negotiations and the ensuing planning.

Thursday, June 15:  Luke Seerveld, FICS Board member and son of Cal and Ines, will be in Toronto until the 24th, videoing interviews with several people involved significantly with ICS over the past fifty years. This production will be a centrepiece of our Jubilee celebrations in the fall. We give thanks for his gifts and contribution, and pray for him in the demanding schedule he has voluntarily proposed. We ask for prayers also for all the FICS Board, and give thanks to our Lord for them and for our many faithful supporters in the US.

Friday, June 16:  This weekend “Art in Orvieto,” an ICS four-week residency seminar and workshop program for writers, artists and graduate students interested in exploring the relationship between art, religion and theology, begins in this hill-top Italian city. Twelve students, including two of our own MA students, and a number from the US, will be attending this event. Pray for safety for the participants and leaders in their travels to Italy as well as during the program, and that this unique educational opportunity will bring rich insight and creativity to their studies.

Monday, June 19:  We continue in our search for alternative accommodation for ICS should we need to move now that the sale of our share of the building has been completed. This process is quite labour intensive and brings with it a fair amount of anxiety around the complexities of moving and the need to find an acceptable new home. Pray that God will give wisdom to Harley and Doug in particular as we work toward a solution and peace to each one involved as we look to the future.

Tuesday, June 20:  Pray for the students who have been accepted into programs for this fall, as well as for those who are still undecided. We ask God to bless them with wisdom as they discern this important step in their life, and pray that God will provide the necessary funding for study and life in Toronto.

Wednesday, June 21:  The month of June is busy for faculty as they get caught up on their supervising and mentoring responsibilities and begin to prepare for the new academic year in the fall. Pray for the space and energy in their lives to work with the students in this important way.

Thursday, June 22:  A Community Based Research conference, entitled “Engaging Communities through Research” will take place in November at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo. Pray for Ron Kuipers this month as he participates in the planning for this event, and for his significant participation at the conference as a panelist and workshop leader.

Friday, June 23:  Please pray for wisdom as we seek qualified advisors and appropriate vehicles for investing the proceeds of the sale of our interest in 229 College, so that we may build a more solid financial basis for our ongoing mission.

Monday, June 26:  Dean Dettloff, a PhD student entering his third year at ICS, is also Toronto correspondent for America: The Jesuit Review magazine. His provocative articles which examine current issues in politics and society are published regularly and can be found online at Pray for Dean as he continues this important ministry to the community alongside his busy study program and contribution to ICS as a Junior Member.

Tuesday, June 27:  As the end of the fiscal year is upon us, we ask God for strength and encouragement for Harley Dekker, our Director of Finance and Administration. There is much to do at this time of year, such as preparation for the year end financial audit, getting the books in order for the new budget year, and preparing for the start of the academic year in September.

Wednesday, June 28:  Today Bob Sweetman and Rosanne Lopers-Sweetman are travelling to Tanzania to be with their daughter Adrienne and her husband Kashu Nengereki as they look forward to the birth of a baby boy, Bob and Rosanne's first grandchild. Please pray for safe travels for Bob and Rosanne and for a joyous time together as a family, celebrating this very special occasion. May Adrienne and Kashu and their new baby be surrounded by God’s love and protection at this time.

Thursday, June 29:  This month we have been trying to finalize working relationships with a number of local Christian organizations who want to use our Wayfinding program in their professional development programs. Please continue to pray for Gideon Strauss, Bob Sweetman, and Pat Webb as they work to develop customized programming and delivery methods for these groups.

Friday, June 30:  Doug Blomberg arrived two weeks early, this day in 1951. His accountant father was grateful, as there were end-of-fiscal-year tax benefits! (Both his father and mother were grateful in many other ways, too, of course.) Pray for him as he prepares for a transition to another phase of life, especially as he gives much attention to preparations for our upcoming 50th Anniversary.