Tuesday 28 August 2018

Lock, Stock, and Barrel!

For the past 46 years, ICS has made its home at 229 College Street. On September 1, 2018, we will start the school year off in a new home, a freshly renovated office suite in the lower level of Knox College on 59 St. George Street, at the heart of the University of Toronto’s St. George campus. As we look back with fondness on our tenure at 229 College, and all the blessings we experienced while there--including many great achievements--we also look forward to the fantastic opportunity for ICS that this move makes possible.

September will be a challenging month, as we still have many hurdles to jump after we load-in the things we are taking with us from 229 College. As I write this, ICS staff are busy packing and emptying out our offices at 229 College. At the same time, the renovation of our space at Knox is very nearly complete. Our movers and some finishing trades will have to work around each other on move-in day, but everyone understands the situation and are working to help us meet our deadline to vacate 229.

Faculty, staff, and students are all bracing to meet the coming challenges facing our transition to the new space. Because we are moving into roughly 1000 less square feet of space than we used to have, we have invested in new modular office furniture, which has now been ordered and will be custom built to make the most efficient use of our reduced footprint (see diagram, right). We expect the workstations to be delivered and installed in late September/ early October. In the meantime, all ICS faculty and staff will have to make do with working from our old classroom tables and whatever chairs we can scrape together!

We are currently also still investigating the best solution for our communications needs, including telephone system and internet. We are exploring several options right now, and we want to get this decision right. This move is an opportunity for us to improve our current systems and bring them up to date, and to find the most cost effective way to do so. The top priority is to provide wifi internet throughout our space as soon as possible. Ethernet connections will likely not be ready until after our systems furniture has been installed. While we determine what our new phone system will look like, we are planning to forward calls to 416-979-2331 to a temporary cell phone, and assign staff to monitor this phone regularly for messages and relay them to the relevant parties.

We will definitely be drawing on the patience and creativity of our faculty, staff, and students in the coming days and weeks, as we work together through the hiccups we will no doubt face in the early days of operating in our new home. Even so, I am personally excited about how the new space is shaping up. In the end, it will be a wonderful base of operations for our graduate school, and a new beginning for ICS in so many different ways. Please pray that our move will go smoothly!

Monday 27 August 2018

Prayer Letter: September 2018

Monday, September 3 - Friday, September 7

Please pray this entire month for all the staff, faculty and students at ICS -- it is Move to our new home month! This month, especially in the initial weeks, will be hectic, stressful and inconvenient as we attempt to set up our new office spaces and teach classes while we wait for new equipment and modular furniture to be delivered, set up, and installed. We ask for an abundance of God’s grace and patience.

On Tuesday, we formally welcome returning and new Junior Members to ICS for the 2018-19 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.

Please pray this week for Elizabet Aras, our Registrar, as she travels to Sweden to attend her best friend’s wedding. She will be away from August 30 to September 10. She covets your prayers for a safe trip for her, a smooth move to Knox while she is away, and that her preparations this summer for the ICS retreat, student registration, and the first week of classes go well during her absence.

On Thursday, our annual start-of-year Retreat will again take place, this time at the home of Bob and Roseanne Sweetman. We give thanks for Bob and Roseanne and all the others who have contributed to the many preparations that have taken place to make this an enjoyable day of relaxed fellowship and worship for all who attend.

Monday, September 10 - Friday, September 14

Please pray for those involved in preparing our Fall issue of 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 issue to supporters in early October.

This is the first week of Fall classes, and it is fitting to begin with one of our Foundational courses: “Biblical Foundations,” led by Dr. Nik Ansell. Please pray for lively interaction and edification for participants.

On Tuesday, Dr. Rebekah Smick begins her course “Grace as an Aesthetic Concept.” Pray for Rebekah and the students as they engage the material in an effort to understand the concept of grace within its theological, philosophical, literary, and art theoretical contexts, both for its historical significance and its potential usefulness for the philosophy of art today.

On Wednesday, we see the commencement of two courses: “Nature, the Supernatural and Miracle in the Thought of Thomas Aquinas” with Dr. Bob Sweetman, and “Nothing Can Separate Us…!:The Dialectical Materialism of Slavoj Zizek” with Dr. Jim Olthuis.

Monday, September 17 - Friday, September 21

This Monday evening, the first in-class session will be held for Dr. Gideon Strauss’ distance hybrid course “The Observant Participant: Applying Research Craft to Professional Practice.” Please pray for Gideon and the students as they interact in a classroom setting for the first time in this course. Pray also for the many details that need to be settled regarding venue, equipment, etc.

Please pray for our Board of Trustees this week as it meets on Tuesday evening. For most of the board members, this will happen via conference call as they are spread across Canada and the US. Pray that all will go smoothly with the arrangements, especially on the technology side. This is the first time they will meet in our new home at Knox and it could be quite chaotic because of the renovations and moving-in that are still in process. Pray that, despite these potential inconveniences, their meeting will be productive 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

Please pray this week for ICS PhD candidate, Benjamin Groenewold, who plans to submit what he and his supervisor, Bob Sweetman, expect will be the final submission of his dissertation, in fulfilment of the requirements of his PhD program at ICS. The dissertation is titled "Beyond Contempt: Interpretive Creativity in Hugh of St. Victor and Even Less Likely Places." Pray also for Bob and all of our faculty as they strive to maintain their level of excellence in their teaching and mentoring roles in these busy weeks of transition to our new home at Knox College.

As the academic year begins, CPRSE staff and research assistants prepare to work on a number of exciting initiatives, including publications, institutional collaborations, and community outreach. We pray that CPRSE continues to be a source of life, activity, and inspiration for all members of the ICS community.

Monday, September 24 - Friday, September 28

This Monday evening, the first in-class session will be held for Dr. Gideon Strauss’ distance hybrid course “World-viewing.” Please pray for Gideon and the students as they interact in a classroom setting for the first time in this course. Pray also for the many details that need to be settled regarding venue, equipment, etc. will go smoothly.

CPRSE continues to build on the “Currents in Reformational Thought” series, featuring the contributions of our current and emeriti faculty to our scholarly tradition. Currently, the CPRSE team is working on the final editing stages of a forthcoming festschrift on the work of Emeritus Senior Member, Lambert Zuidervaart. Please pray for those involved in editing, producing, and publishing this important series.

Monday, September 31

Currently, CPRSE is exploring new partnership possibilities with community organizations that share the spirit of inquiry and openness of ICS. Please pray that CPRSE is able to continue its history of partnership through collaborations, and that these partnerships be fruitful and life-giving in the new academic year.