Wednesday 25 December 2019

ICS E-Newsletter: January 2020

Prayer Letter: January 2020

As our Advent campaign draws to a close, we want to take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude to you for your faithful support in 2019. We are excited about the impact we have made -- and will continue to make with your help. Your financial gifts, together with your prayers and encouragement, sustain our best efforts to make ICS a place where students are formed to await, expect, and participate in God’s new thing.

May God’s richest blessings be yours throughout 2020!

PS: If you haven't had the opportunity to contribute, you can still do so online:
Canadian Donors: Donate online via CanadaHelps at
US Donors: Donate online at
If you plan to send your gift via mail, the envelope must be postmarked no later than December 31, 2019 to be eligible for a 2019 charitable tax receipt. Thank you!

Wednesday, January 1 - Friday, January 3:

We ask for your prayers this week for our Senior Members Bob Sweetman, Rebekah Smick, and Nik Ansell as they make final preparations for the classes they will teach this semester. Please uphold them before the Lord as they seek to work out their calling as teachers and mentors.

This week, please pray for our Junior Members returning from their homes, from far and wide, that they will have safe travels. We ask too for their encouragement in their studies as they start a new semester of academic activities.

Monday, January 6 - Friday, January 10:

Please pray this week for Rebekah Smick who will be teaching the first class of the semester (Wednesday afternoon) in her course: “Reconsidering Kant’s Aesthetics.” We ask God to bless this learning opportunity with creative and insightful interaction.

On Wednesday evening this week, will be the first day of the course: “God in Flesh and Blood: Revolutions in Christology” with Nik Ansell. Pray for Nik and the students in this course that they might enjoy robust discussion of the material with one another.

This week (Thursday morning), we ask for your prayers for Bob Sweetman who will be teaching his course, “Spiritual Exercise as Christian Philosophy from Augustine to Bonaventure”. Pray too for our students, as well as the TST students who will be joining us, as they begin this new semester of learning.

Pray also this week for the three distance education courses which start this week: “Biblical Foundations,” taught by Jeffrey Hocking, “Set the Captives Free: Chistianity and Prison Abolition” taught by ICS PhD graduate Dean Dettloff, and “Foundations and Implications of Phenomenology” taught by ICS alumnus Neal DeRoo, professor at The King’s University in Edmonton.

Monday, January 13 - Friday, January 17:

Please pray for this year’s Interdisciplinary Seminar (IDS), titled “Naming the Divine Within and Without,” which meets weekly on Tuesday afternoon. With close attention to pre-modern Christian thinkers and contemporary scholars, this course will explore some of the ways in which a traditional understanding of transcendence and immanence has been maintained, modified, challenged, and reconceived since the advent of: the “linguistic turn,” the much-heralded “end of metaphysics,” and the alleged peril (and promise!) of a “post-truth” era. Pray for Senior Members Nik Ansell and Bob Sweetman as they lead this seminar.

This month, ICS/CPRSE is joining a number of academic institutions and community partners in a SSHRC Partnership Grant application spearheaded by the Centre for Community-Based Research in Waterloo, furthering the work done in the “Faith and Settlement Partnerships” research project. Please pray for the success of this collaborative effort designed to better serve Canada’s newcomers and their host communities.

Monday, January 20 - Friday, January 24:

Please pray this week for Ron Kuipers and Gideon Strauss as they travel to Langley, BC for meetings with the Society for Christian Schools in BC at Trinity Western University. While there, the SCSBC has volunteered to host a gathering of ICS supporters in the area and this will take place at TWU on Tuesday evening, January 21st. Please join us in prayer for both the meetings of ICS and SCSBC, and the evening event, that they will be productive and inspiring for all involved.

Then on Tuesday evening, Gideon Strauss will travel to Edmonton to take part as the keynote speaker in The King’s University’s Interdisciplinary Studies conference on January 22-23 titled “For Love or Money? Vocational Wayfinding.” Following the evening lecture on Wednesday, January 22nd, Ron Kuipers will host a reception for ICS supporters. Please pray for Gideon as he prepares his addresses and as he speaks on the connection between work and identity. Pray too that the get-together on Wednesday evening will be a good time of fellowship and conversation for all who attend.

On January 23th, CPRSE will host ICS’ Winter Term “Scripture, Faith, and Scholarship Symposium,” featuring recent Emerging Public Intellectual Award-winner Rev. Dr. Matthew Kaemingk. In the symposium, titled “Hospitality, Scripture, and Inter-religious Dialogue: Our Calling in an Age of Global Migration,” Dr. Kaemingk will speak about the major challenges to inter-religious dialogue in light of the most recent refugee crisis. Please pray that this event will be a fruitful opportunity to gather as an academic community as well as to reflect about some of the most pressing issues of our times.

Monday, January 27 - Thursday, January 31:

Plans are underway to host ICS’s fourth annual Undergraduate Workshop, on the topics of evil, resistance, and judgement. Following this year’s workshop, Senior Member Ron Kuipers and The King’s University professor Jeff Dudiak will be teaching the course: “Evil, Resistance, and Judgement: Hannah Arendt and Religious Critique.” Please pray for the course instructors and workshop planning team as they continue to put together this wonderful learning opportunity.

Plans are underway for ICS to hold its fourth “ART in Orvieto”, a 3-week summer residency in Orvieto, Italy for artists, writers, graduate students, upper undergraduates, and adult learners who have an interest in the theory and practice of art and faith. Please pray for a good response by interested applicants so that we will have the numbers to make this unique learning opportunity a success. For more information, please visit our website.

Tuesday 5 November 2019

Ron Kuipers Presents at International Conference on Law and Religion

On October 6-8, 2019, President Ronald A. Kuipers attended and presented at the 26th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, graciously hosted by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. 

The focus of the symposium this year was Human Dignity and Freedom of Religion or Belief: Preventing and Addressing Persecution. President Kuipers joined dozens of presenters and hundreds of attendees from all around the world to discuss various approaches to the question of how implementing the concepts of human dignity and religious freedom can help prevent and respond to persecution worldwide. More information about the conference, photos, and videos from panels, breakout sessions, and keynote addresses can be found here on the conference website.

President Kuipers presented on a panel entitled "Human Dignity and Religious Freedom: Conceptual Frameworks" alongside Tore Lindholm (Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo) and Alberto Melloni (Professor, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and Chair holder of the UNESCO Chair on Religious Pluralism and Peace, University of Bologna, Italy). 

You can view President Kuipers' presentation and the full panel discussion here.

Monday 4 November 2019

Prayer Letter: December 2019

The Kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed;
nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!”
For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.
—Luke: 17:20-21

Monday, December 2 - Friday, December 6

On Saturday, November 30th, ICS hosted its second annual Advent Concert. The concert, titled “Creator of the Stars of Night” was held in the Knox College Chapel and featured the Incontra Vocal Ensemble with Matthew Otto, Artistic Director and Conductor. We give thanks for the beautiful evening and, in a special way, for the numerous ICS supporters and friends who visited us.

On Tuesday, December 3rd, ICS/CPRSE will host its Fall Term “Scripture, Faith and Scholarship Symposium.” This event has been organized and will be facilitated by students in the Educational Leadership stream of our MA program. We give thanks for this opportunity to come together as a community of learning under the leadership of our MA-EL students and we pray that the symposium can become a chance to reflect on the impact of our educational practices in the community we serve.

On Thursday, December 5th, Ron Kuipers and other members of our community will be representing ICS at a breakfast and panel discussion event in downtown Toronto put on by Cardus titled Capitalism, Culture and Character. We pray that this will be a good opportunity to engage in conversations around this contemporary topic and to build awareness of ICS and its programs.

Monday, December 9 - Friday, December 13

Please take the opportunity this week to give thanks for our Board of Trustees as they continue to serve in their oversight of the mission and vision of ICS. Please pray for John Joosse who takes over from John Kamphof as Chair, and for Diane Stronks as she takes on the position of Vice Chair. We give thanks for each trustee for their faithful service to ICS on the Board.

Thursday this week is the final day of classes for the fall semester at ICS. As is our custom, on Friday 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 in our new home.

We pray for continued stamina and enthusiasm for our Senior and Junior Members who are preparing to start their new courses in January. We pray especially for Gideon Strauss as he continues to seek rhythm and creative energy in his administrative role as Academic Dean.

Monday, December 16 - Friday, December 20

As we look forward to next week which celebrates Christmas by the giving and receiving of gifts, we thank God for our committed and faithful friends for their gifts to us of prayer and financial support. We pray each one of you will receive the amazing gifts of love, joy and peace this Christmas season and are filled with hope with what God will do in the future.

Please pray along with us for one of our international students who is re-applying for a Canadian student visa so he can start his program in January. We ask for your prayers that this time the process with the Immigration Office will go more smoothly so he can finally start his program at ICS.

Monday, December 23 - Friday, December 27

Please pray today for the families of our staff, faculty and students as they spend time together during the 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. Pray too for those who cannot be with their loved ones because of distance or health reasons that they will be blessed by their local community while being apart from their families.

May the blessings of love, joy and peace be yours as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour this Christmas week.

Monday, December 30 - Tuesday, December 31

As 2019 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 strength and wisdom he gave in the launch of our MA in Educational Leadership program. 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.

Thursday 31 October 2019

Prayer Letter: November 2019

Friday, November 1:

Please pray for the Academic Council of the ICS during the course of this year, as they imaginatively consider the big picture and future strategy with regard to ICS's three main streams of education: our MA-PhD program, our MA (Phil) in Leadership program, and our MWS (Masters in Worldview Studies) and continuing education efforts. Pray particularly for the continued development of the MA in Educational Leadership.

Monday, November 4 - Friday, November 8:

Please continue to pray for ICS and especially Harley Dekker this week as the auditors finalize the annual audit of our financial records for the fiscal year that ended June 30. Once again, we have had some positive financial developments in the past year for which we are very thankful.

We would value your prayers this week as the staff and faculty, and our volunteers work together to get the latest issue of Perspective out in the mail to our ICS community. It is a busy and full day to prepare this mailing and we are grateful for those who give of their time and energy to help us complete it quickly. We ask God to bless our efforts with joy and fellowship as we work together.

Please pray this week for Junior Member Samir Gassanov as he prepares for his oral exam on Friday, November 8th. You will recall from the October prayer letter that Samir has been undergoing his pre-thesis examination process, a combination of essay writing and an oral exam in which he will defend his thesis proposal. Pray for strength and clarity of thinking for Samir as he presents his work, and for wisdom and discernment for Bob Sweetman and the other examiners on Friday during the oral exam.

Monday, November 11 - Friday, November 15:

The ICS Board of Trustees will meet on Friday in Toronto, one of two times per year when the Board is, for the most part, able to gather together in person. Pray for them as they prepare for and travel to Toronto for their deliberations. We praise God for calling each one of them to serve ICS in this way and we ask that their meeting will be blessed with insight and clarity of thinking as they give oversight to the vision and mission of ICS.

Our Annual General Meeting will also take place on Friday, November 15th at 59 St George Street in Toronto at 7:00 pm. Please pray for John Kamphof as he gives leadership to the meeting and for all those who will participate in the presenting of reports.

Monday, November 18 - Friday, November 22:

Please pray for our faculty (including adjunct faculty) as they teach in the final weeks of this term and as they prepare for their teaching in the quickly approaching Winter term. Pray too for our Academic Dean, Gideon Strauss, as he leads the faculty in their academic programming deliberations.

Pray also for those of our MA and PhD students who are working diligently to complete their degrees in the course of the current academic year. We ask God for creative minds and a steadfast heart as they pursue their educational goals for this year.

Please pray this month for the team of ICS/CPRSE’s podcast “Critical Faith” as they wrap up this semester’s lineup of activities and prepares for next semester. The podcast directors have been successful in creating a more dynamic format which has generated meaningful conversation between scholars, practitioners, faith leaders and ICS Senior and Junior Members. Please pray that our podcast will continue to be a space for fruitful exchange of ideas and an opportunity to carry out ICS’s mission beyond the borders of the classroom.

Monday, November 25 - Friday, November 29:

On November 25, Danielle Yett will orally defend her master’s thesis titled “Making Sense: An Expansive Study of Imagination, Structural Metaphor and Aesthetic Normativity with Calvin Seerveld.” Please pray for Danielle’s presence of mind during her defense, that she might faithfully present the research she has done. Please also pray for her mentor Rebekah Smick and the members of her thesis committee, that they might all have a time of fruitful discussion.

Please pray this week as we make final preparations for our special Advent Concert on Saturday, November 30th. The concert, titled “Creator of the Stars of Night” will be held in the Knox College Chapel and features the Incontra Vocal Ensemble with Matthew Otto, Artistic Director and Conductor. The concert will be held in support of the Institute for Christian Studies.

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Shaping a Just Canada: CPRSE Event with Citizens for Public Justice

Shaping a Just Canada

When: Thursday, October 3, 7:00-9:30pm
Where: Christ Church Deer Park, 1570 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4T 1Z8

The Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics (CPRSE) at ICS is pleased to partner with Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) to host Shaping a Just Canadaa non-partisan forum aimed at equipping voters with the knowledge needed to fully engage in the Canadian political process. CPJ is a faithful voice for social justice in Canadian public policy focused primarily on poverty in Canada, ecological justice, and refugee rights. CPJ’s fall tour will provide a non-partisan look at major issues leading up the fall federal election.

ICS/CPRSE and CPJ invite all members of the public to participate in this event as a means of gaining a clear and practical understanding of the key issues facing Canada in the upcoming election. Such understanding and engagement is especially key for Canada’s faith communities who bring important perspectives to our public discourse. 

The event will feature remarks from CPJ’s new Executive Director, Willard Metzger, and a panel presentation on immigration, refugees, and political participation led by members of Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) and CPRSE's own Héctor Acero Ferrer.

ICS/CPRSE is grateful to Christ Church Deer Park, an Anglican parish in midtown Toronto, for lending the use of their building for this event.

The event is free, but please register to attend at

Tuesday 10 September 2019

Prayer Letter: October 2019

Tuesday, October 1 - Friday, October 4:

Please pray with us this week and next as we work to finalize the compilation of our Fall edition of Perspective. We desire to have the issue in the mail to everyone just after Thanksgiving 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 Danielle and Héctor as they oversee the receiving and editing of the articles from the seven contributors.

On October 3rd, ICS/CPRSE is partnering with Citizens for Public Justice in “Shaping a Just Canada” a gathering that promotes a better understanding of key policy issues in preparation for the upcoming federal elections. Please pray that this collaboration might serve as an opportunity for fruitful dialogue about the role of religion in the public sphere and a space for reflection on the responsibility of faith groups in Canadian political life.

Please pray for Gideon Strauss this week as on October 4th he will be delivering a paper titled, "Beautiful Work: Experimental and Collaborative Design in the Launch of the Institute for Christian Studies’ MA (Phil) in Educational Leadership" at a conference hosted by the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning and INCHE (the International Network for Christian Higher Education) at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

On October 6-8, by special invitation, ICS President and Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religion Ron Kuipers is participating in Brigham Young University's Twenty-Sixth Annual International Law and Religion Symposium on “Human Dignity and Religious Freedom: Preventing and Responding to Persecution." Ron will speak in a breakout session on "Human Dignity and Religious Freedom: Conceptual Frameworks" with Tore Lindholm (Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo), Alberto Melloni (University of Modena), and Reggio Emilia (UNESCO Chair on Religious Pluralism and Peace, University of Bologna). Please pray for all the participants at this important international conference, that their efforts might enhance our understanding of religious diversity and promote the cause of international peace.

Monday, October 7 - Friday, October 11:

This month, ICS/CPRSE welcomes Junior Members Mark Standish and Theoren Tolsma as Research Assistants. Mark and Theoren will support the production team of Critical Faith, our institutional podcast. Please pray for Mark and Theoren as they begin to take on their additional responsibilities as CPRSE Research Assistants, interviewing guests, editing recordings and helping plan upcoming episodes.

Please pray for the students in the Principal Stream of ICS's Masters in Educational Leadership (MA-EL) this fall as they visit Halton Hills Christian School (Georgetown, Ontario), King's Christian Collegiate (Oakville, Ontario), and Providence Christian School (Dundas, Ontario), to study best practices in hiring, professional development and crucial conversations.

Pray for ICS, and especially Harley Dekker, this week and next as he works with the auditors to finalize the annual audit of our financial records for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2019. We continue to see some positive financial developments this past year and we give thanks to God for his watchcare over us.

Monday, October 14 - Friday, October 18:

This being the week of Canadian Thanksgiving, we want to join together and give thanks for a number of answers to prayer last month:

On September 9, our Registrar, Elizabet Aras, was finally granted permanent residency in Canada. She is very grateful that this process at long last is complete and gives thanks for all the prayers and support from the ICS community throughout the process.

On September 10, Danielle Yett submitted a complete draft of her MA thesis and now awaits notification of acceptance and a date for the defense.

On September 11, Helena Hoogstad successfully completed her pre-thesis examinations for the PhD program.

On September 16, Joshua Harris successfully completed his PhD defense at the VU in Amsterdam.

The ICS Library welcomes Junior Members Jueun Moon and Abbigail Hofstede as Research Assistants. Jueun will be expanding the ICS Repository to reflect a wider array of published work by Junior Members and Senior Members, diversifying the library's digital resources. Abbi will be making an inventory of potential archival acquisitions and assisting in preservation, laying the groundwork for ICS to grow its archives. Please pray for Jueun and Abbi as they begin their projects to improve the digital and paper archival holdings at ICS.

Monday, October 21 - Friday, October 25:

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.

Please pray with us this week as we, along with our volunteers, work hard to prepare the latest Perspective issue for mailing. We are thankful for the joyful atmosphere as we work together. We are also thankful for those volunteers who take the time to help and we trust that God will bless all of us in this important task.

Gideon Strauss, and the students in the Instructional Leadership Stream of ICS's Masters in Educational Leadership (MA-EL) will host a roundtable conversation about Deeper Learning practices at the Edvance Christian Educators Annual Gathering on October 24th, and facilitate the Fall 2019 ICS Scripture, Faith, and Scholarship Symposium at ICS later this month. Please pray for both these events that they might be edifying and encouraging to all the participants.

On October 25, Bob Sweetman will give a paper at the conference "Omnia disce: A Celebration of Father Leonard E. Boyle OP on the Twentieth Anniversary of His Death." The paper is titled "Boyle's Nod to Bodily Piety as Echo of Aquinas's Nod to Bodily Understanding." This is a conference put on by the Boyle Chair in Manuscript Studies, the University of St. Michael's College, the Dominican Institute of Toronto and our own Institute for Christian Studies.

Monday, October 28 - Thursday, October 31:

Junior Member Samir Gassanov undergoes ICS's pre-thesis examination process: a combination of essay writing and oral exam in which he will defend the thesis proposal he has formulated during his program of PhD study at ICS. Samir will be defending his proposal to examine the debate between Nicholas Wolterstorff and Oliver O'Donovan about human rights from the point of view of property and property rights—rights which seem to be missing from the debate despite their importance for the historical materials both Wolterstorff and O'Donovan draw on. The thesis he proposes to write is titled: “Doing Justice to Property: What Augustinian Theorists can Learn from Medieval Mendicants and Modern Jurists." He will write between 25 October and 1 November. The oral exam will take place on Friday, November 8th.

Please include in your prayers Academic Dean, Gideon Strauss, as he focuses on three institutional priorities during the 2019-2020 academic year: the future of the ICS MA-EL program; a review of ICS's MA and PhD curricula by the Education Policy Committee, Academic Council, and Senate; and, a review of ICS's academic policies by the Education Policy Committee, Academic Council and Senate.

Please uphold the Board of Trustees in their oversight of the vision and mission of ICS, especially as they head towards the Board meeting during the day on November 15th, and the AGM in the evening. Pray for strength and wisdom for each one as they continue to provide support and leadership in the working out of the vision and mission of ICS into the future.

Thursday 29 August 2019

Adorno’s Critique of Capitalism

The Times Literary Supplement has published a new essay by Lambert Zuidervaart, ICS Senior Member, on the life and work of Adorno, a prominent philosopher and social critic in the Frankfurt School. Titled “Theodor W. Adorno: Exposing Capitalism’s Blind Domination,” the essay is online in the Footnotes to Plato series, at

Prayer Letter: September 2019

Monday, September 2 - Friday, September 6:

Please pray this week for the staff, faculty and students as they participate in Registration Week, that it will be an inspiring time together to launch the new school year. Please especially pray for our Registrar Elizabet as she takes care of the many details that are involved in making sure each day fulfills its potential.

Tuesday, Sept 3: This is Orientation Day for all of our new students which will consist of faculty presentations in the morning, followed by lunch. In the afternoon there will be a presentation about the Christian Campus Ministries and a Library Tour of Caven Library, ICS Library, and Robarts Library with our Librarian Hilary Barlow.

Wednesday, Sept 4: This is the day that our Junior Members in Year 1 & 2 finalize their registration for the semester. There will also be meetings with their Senior Member mentors, with Elizabet our Registrar, and Harley Dekker about financial matters.

Thursday, Sept 5: This is Retreat Day which this year will be held at Evergreen Brickworks located in the Don River Valley for the first time. The morning will consist of reflection and chapel and community meeting, followed by lunch. In the afternoon, there will be breakout sessions with the Junior and Senior Members, followed by silent meditation and free time to explore the hiking trails in the area.

We have new students moving from France, Indonesia and Alberta to study at ICS this month. At least two have been offered residency at Knox College. Please pray this week for safe and speedy journeys, that our two international students will find their immigration process smooth, and that all of them will get settled in quickly and happily.

Monday, September 9 - Friday, September 13:

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 all the participants as they explore the Bible as the ongoing story of and for God and creation, paying special attention to the way in which God's story is intertwined with that of humanity and the world.

On Tuesday, Dr. Jim Olthuis begins his course “Twentieth-Century Postmodern Theories of (Inter)Subjectivity”. Pray for Jim and the students as they engage the material in an effort to understand the philosophical anthropologies of four 20th Century post-modern Continental philosophers, and how each thinker develops a view of the human self.

On Wednesday, we see the commencement of two courses: “Religion, Life, and Society: Reformational Philosophy”, an exploration of central issues in philosophy, as addressed by Herman Dooyeweerd, Dirk Vollenhoven, and the “Amsterdam School” of neoCalvinian thought, with Dr. Bob Sweetman, and “The Divine (at) Risk: Open Theism, Classical Theism and Beyond” which will explore the different ways in which the God of history is viewed by advocates and critics of “Open Theism” with Dr. Nik Ansel.

Once again on Thursday, two courses will begin: “Aristotle, Aquinas and the Scholastic Approach to the History of Philosophy” with Dr. Bob Sweetman. Pray for Bob and the students as together they examine the role that philosophy or theology's history plays in the conceptual constructions of scholastic thinkers, and what they think is truly first and deepest in the history they study. “Beauty: Theology, Ethics, or Aesthetics?” with Dr. Rebekah Smick also starts today so we ask for your prayers for Rebekah and the students as together they examine a variety of subjective and objective views of beauty in the history of Western philosophy and theology from antiquity to the present, and then consider the implications of these views of beauty for the production of the visual arts, music, and literary culture in Western religion and society.

Monday, September 16 - Friday, September 20:

We would appreciate prayers for the Leadership Team as they finalize the draft of a strategic plan for ICS, geared to enhance our academic programming and increase our institutional revenue. Pray for clarity and wisdom for all those who will be involved in the refining discussions in preparation for the final plan to be presented to our Board of Trustees in mid-November.

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.

We ask for your prayers for the three distance learning courses that start up this month: “The Soul of Soulless Conditions” with Dean Dettloff, “Wisdom and Schooling” with Joonyong Um, and “How to Coach a Strong Team” with Gideon Strauss.

Monday, September 23 - Friday, September 27:

We ask for your prayers for Harley Dekker as he prepares for the auditors this and the preparation of the year-end statements this month. Pray for strength and clarity for Harley as he does this in the midst of the many other aspects of administration in which he is involved.

ICS/CPRSE’s regular podcast Critical Faith is starting up again for the school year. Our Communications Coordinator, Danielle Yett, will continue hosting. This academic year she will be joined by two Research Assistants who will be brought on board the podcasting team. We ask for prayer as the team organizes and plans new content for this year’s episodes. The podcast is a great way for us to showcase the kinds of conversations that happen at ICS, so we also pray that those conversations might prove both enjoyable and edifying.

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 30:

On October 3rd, ICS/CPRSE is partnering with Citizens for Public Justice in “Shaping a Just Canada” a gathering promoting a better understanding of key policy issues in preparation for the upcoming federal elections. Please pray that this collaboration might serve as an opportunity for fruitful dialogue about the role of religion in the public sphere, as well as reflection on the responsibility of faith groups in Canadian political life.

Wednesday 3 July 2019

JM Dean Dettloff Article Publication

Junior Member and PhD candidate Dean Dettloff recently published an article entitled "Žižek’s Ruptured Monism: A Comparative Typological Reading of Less Than Nothing." The article considers whether D.H.Th. Vollenhoven's problem-historical "types" might illuminate the thought of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižekparticularly by enabling the recognition of what Dean calls a "ruptured monism" at play in his work. 

This article stems from Dean's participation in ICS's Winter 2016 Interdisciplinary Seminar, "IDS: Problem-Historical Approaches to Philosophy, Theology, and Art History," which considered the continuing relevance of Vollenhoven's methods for contemporary thought. The article appears in a 2018 issue of the journal Philosophia Reformata (vol. 83, issue 2).

Tuesday 2 July 2019

Prayer Letter: August 2019

Thursday, August 1 - Friday, August 2:

Please pray for Bob Sweetman as he goes to Boston in order to participate in the Boston College Colloquy in Historical Theology taking place on August 1 through 3. Bob has attended this colloquy twice before and the quality of the papers has been consistently very high. (He is smiling when he says this as he gave a paper at this event in its 2017 iteration.)

Monday, August 5 - Friday, August 9:

Please pray for Gideon this month as he will be contributing to a gathering of the current cohort of fellows of Triga Ventures, a cross-sector training program in South Africa which gives emerging entrepreneurs access to inspiring peers, generous mentors, a global network and value-aligned investors and donors.

Please pray for our president, Ron Kuipers, and the leadership team as they develop a strategic plan for ICS, geared to enhance our academic programming and increase our institutional revenue. Pray for wisdom for all those involved in this process as they lead visioning meetings with faculty, staff and members of the Board and Senate.

Monday, August 12 - Friday, August 16:

Please pray along with us for one of our international students who has been facing difficulties receiving a Canadian study permit. We ask that God would smooth the process with the Immigration Office so that he might be able to start school on time in September.

We also want to pray for the various projects on which our Junior Members are working: theses, proposals, reading lists, dissertations, independent research, presentations and coursework. We pray that the summer season has been an opportunity for them to follow through on these projects and that it brings renewed inspiration and vigour for the upcoming school year.

Currently, ICS/CPRSE is exploring new partnership possibilities with other academic institutions and community organizations that share in our spirit of inquiry and engagement. Please pray that CPRSE continues its history of collaboration through innovative research, effective outreach and rigorous scholarship.

Monday, August 19 - Friday, August 23:

In two weeks time we will welcome our Junior Members, both returning and new. Please pray for all of them as they wrap up their summer projects, academic and otherwise. Please pray especially for our new students as they make their travel plans and all the other personal decisions that are needed to successfully settle into their new home in Toronto. It is always a joyous time as we all start afresh as the ICS community, and we pray that God will once again be present with us

Please pray this week for our Registrar, Elizabet Aras, as she prepares for registration and orientation, as well as the student retreat coming up on September 5th. There are myriad 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.

Please pray this week for Gideon as he travels back to Canada, and quickly takes up once again his teaching and facilitating responsibilities in an intensive course in ICS's MA in Educational Leadership during the Christian Teachers Academy at Hamilton District Christian High.

Monday, August 26 - Friday, August 30:
Please pray this week for two new students from abroad who are flying into Toronto at the end of the month. We ask for safe travels and pray that all goes well with the customs and immigration officials at the border.

We ask for your prayers this week for our faculty and administrative staff as they ensure that all the preparations are in place for the beginning of the school year next week. Pray that they will be encouraged by the largest incoming class in some years and 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. We give thanks to God for sending them to serve the Institute’s mission with commitment and dedication.

As the summer season ends, the ICS/CPRSE team finishes the planning of a number of exciting initiatives that will take place in the new academic year, 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 and beyond.

Saturday 29 June 2019

Prayer Letter: July 2019

Monday, July 1 - Friday, July 5:

On July 4, ICS Junior Member, Ted Avram S.J. returns to his home within the Society of Jesus. He will have managed to defend his MA thesis "The Nature of Belief in the Philosophy of Alvin Plantinga and Bernard Lonergan: A Propaedeutic for an Extended Synthesis" on June 28. He still has two papers to finish before completing the requirements for his MA from ICS. Pray for him as he heads back to Ireland for the next stages of his formation to Jesuit life and finishes off the last requirements of his MA degree.

As we begin this new fiscal year, we give thanks for the forward movement of last year. We are encouraged by the possibilities the Lord will bring our way in the coming months, and seek His wisdom and guidance. We are very grateful for our new home at Knox -- for the comfortable environment it provides to work and study and for the new opportunities this new location presents.

Monday, July 8 - Friday, July 12:

Please pray this month for our Registrar, Elizabet, as she looks after the academic details in preparation for the beginning of the school year in September, such as new courses being approved, registration of students, course schedules, and working with the faculty to get all the course syllabi up on the website. Pray too as she works with the fifteen new students in their application process and decisions around course selection.

The Leadership Team would appreciate prayers this month as they work on formulating a strategic plan that focuses on new program development with an accompanying funding plan. We are encouraged by the opportunities that have presented themselves, particularly the Master of Education Leadership program. Pray that they have wisdom in the development of focused strategies to enhance this opportunity.

Monday, July 15 - Friday, July 19:

Please continue to pray for Gideon Strauss in Stellenbosch, South Africa, where he is concluding a research project on "Inequality, forgiveness, and political agency: lived theologies among young adults in post-apartheid South African churches" in partnership with Nadine Bowers Du Toit at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Stellenbosch. (This project has been supported by the Nagel Institute for World Christianity at Calvin College with funding from the Templeton Religion Trust.)

July being a month in which some 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.

Monday, July 22 - Friday, July 26:

Just because Gideon is in South Africa doesn’t mean that his work as ICS’s Academic Dean stops. Pray for him as he will be participating via Zoom video meetings and email in the work of ICS's Educational Policy Committee, Academic Council and Senate.

Pray also for Gideon as he once again facilitates a multi-session workshop on vocational wayfinding/life design in partnership with a local Christian community of faith, Stellenbosch Gemeente (SG). This year Gideon will also partner with SG to offer a multi-session workshop on Jamie Smith's book You Are What You Love. SG is also organizing two "long table conversations" facilitated by Gideon, on the relationship between discipleship, citizenship, and ownership in the South African context.

Monday, July 29 - Wednesday, July 31:

Pray for Bob Sweetman and Meg Giordano (VU/ICS PhD candidate) this week as they will be in Wayne, Pennsylvania on the campus of Villanova University for the Annual Aquinas Studium (this year's topic: Friendship). May this event be helpful for their research and writing on Aquinas. Meg is writing a dissertation on the nature of violence and the resistance to violence in the thought of Thomas Aquinas, while Bob is working on finishing a book on the virtues of religion and science in the shape of human flourishing according to Thomas Aquinas.

Tuesday 25 June 2019

Glory to God in the Kitchen: an Art Exhibition by ICS Graduate Ann Post

Still Life with Copper Pot (2018) by Ann Post 

"Sharing the beauty and mystery of art with others has always brought me tremendous pleasure and satisfaction. During the course of my life, I have loved looking at art, making art, displaying art, teaching art; as well as writing about it. In my experience, art connects with every aspect of life: spirituality, nature, people, places, and objects. There is virtually no end to what art can do to enrich and to enhance life. Art has felt like a religious calling or 'vocation' for me. And I believe that art is not meant to be greedily hoarded only for one’s own personal pleasure or monetary gain as a commodity. Rather, it is to be shared with others in this world which God has made and has so freely and graciously given to us. We have been made in the Divine Creator’s image. There is a natural rhythm built into our nature; to give and to take; to make and to share."  

- excerpt from Ann Post's project reflection

In the fall of 2018, recent ICS graduate Ann Post (MWS, 2019) put on her first solo exhibition of still life, landscape, and floral paintings in Mount Vernon, New York. This exhibition was hosted in the gallery of the Mount Vernon Library and was a great success. The exhibition was the culmination of work that Ann began earlier in 2018, and continued to work on during the summer while attending ICS's ART in Orvieto program with Rebekah Smick in Orvieto, Italy. 

Her time spent in the Artists' Workshop in Orvieto gave her the time and space to focus her artistic efforts on creating a series of still life paintings inspired by the aesthetics writings of Calvin Seerveld—specifically, a chapter in his Rainbows for the Fallen World (1980) with which her exhibition shares its title: "Glory to God in the Kitchen."

As part of her final project for her MWS degree, Ann described the intersection of reflection and practice made apparent to her through the process of creating her exhibition. She highlighted these influences and put careful consideration into the craft of developing this particular art exhibition with special attention to the audience, the space and logistics, the various interactions of the individual pieces, and the overall desired outcome of displaying her work for others. All these various aspects of her project came together to solidify her desire to make her own experiences of the "gift" of art available to others in her community—to bring it into contact with people in the midst of living their everyday lives. 

ICS is grateful for the time Ann has spent studying and exploring her artistic vocation with us, and we eagerly look forward to keeping an eye out for her future work!

Monday 24 June 2019

Richard Middleton Elected President of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies

ICS Alumnus Richard Middleton, Professor of Biblical Worldview and Exegesis at Northeastern Seminary, has been elected President of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies (CSBS), the oldest academic humanities society in Canada, founded in 1933. Middleton was elected Vice President/President Elect at the 2018 CSBS annual meeting at the University of Regina; he became President on June 1, 2019, during the annual meeting at the University of British Columbia.

Originally from Jamaica, Middleton immigrated first to Canada (where he studied at the ICS and received his PhD from the joint ICS/VU program), then moved to the United States to take up a faculty position. He became a member of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies in 1992 and has presented seventeen academic papers at CSBS over those years (as well as twenty-three papers at other academic societies that meet as part of the Congress).

Richard has also published a blog post on being both a Kuyperian and a Wesleyan (originally written as the Foreword to a book on Christian Worldview for Brazilian Christians).

Wednesday 5 June 2019

Graduates and Undergraduates Talk God and Politics in 2019 Workshop and Joint Course

On May 23-25, 2019 ICS hosted its third annual Undergraduate Workshop that invited undergraduate students from all over to join us in Toronto and to get a taste of graduate education. This year, we were joined by ten undergraduate presenters from the following institutions in Canada, the U.S., and Qatar: Greenville University, Canadian Mennonite University, Cornerstone University, The King's University, Memorial University Newfoundland, and Georgetown University in Qatar. 

Undergraduate participants presented their own research
to the group and fielded questions
These students presented their own academic research as it related to the theme of this year's workshop: God & Politics: Religion and Public Life in the 21st Century. Paper topics ranged from a deep engagement with Indigenous writers thinking about the practice and possibility of "nation-to-nation" sovereignty in Canada today to a historical narrative study of the work and life of Saint Oscar Romero from El Salvador; from a critical study of the Minjung liberation theology movement in Korea to a thorough exploration of Immanuel Kant's reading of the ethical and moral implications of the story of Abraham and Isaac. 

Dr. Ronald A. Kuipers welcoming everyone
to the workshop
The undergraduates' papers received formal responses from ICS Senior Members, Junior Members, and alumni, with each response being followed by extensive group discussion. Each of the undergraduates displayed a remarkable depth of research ability and an admirable aptitude to respond to hard-hitting questions. ICS was proud to host these talented students and wishes each of them well in their ongoing academic work.

Dr. Jeffrey Dudiak introducing prevalent themes
for the workshop and course
The Workshop occurred in conjunction with another undergraduate-graduate joint event: a summer intensive course titled “To the Unknown God”: Paul and Some Philosophers. ICS and The King's University joined together to offer this course, which included a preparatory reading portion, participation in the Workshop, and an intensive one-week in-class portion following the Workshop. During the course, students read a number of philosophers who consider the writings of the Apostle Paul and their relevance to contemporary political questions. The course was led by ICS President and Senior Member in Philosophy of Religion Dr. Ronald A. Kuipers and King's Professor of Philosophy Dr. Jeffrey Dudiak.

Outside of class time, students explored the new ICS location, the University of Toronto campus, and the city of Toronto. King’s alum and ICS Board Member Lynnette Postuma also hosted a dinner with students and professors to celebrate the joint efforts of the two universities to offer this engaging course in Toronto. We at ICS are thankful for the chance to work alongside The King's University, and for the participation of the students who took up the challenge with aplomb, and we look forward to future shared learning opportunities like this one.

Visiting course participants enjoying a dinner hosted by
King's alum and ICS Board member Lynnette Postuma

Course participants taking a tour of campus

Participants in the ICS-King's joint course
"To the Unknown God": Paul and Some Philosophers

Both the Workshop and the course were graciously hosted at Regis College by the Msgr. John Mary Fraser Centre for Practical Theology. ICS would like to extend its thanks to both Regis and the Centre for their hospitality during these events.

Tuesday 28 May 2019

ICS Celebrates Doug Blomberg's Retirement and 2019 Convocation of Junior Members

May 16-17, 2019 were days to celebrate both Junior Member achievements and the pedagogical contributions of ICS Emeritus Dr. Doug Blomberg. Over the course of these two days, ICS Senior and Junior Members, Senators, Board Members, and administration gathered here in Toronto for ICS's annual Board and Senate meetings to discuss the activities of the past year and to envision together the future for ICS. This time of year is an integral part of ICS's institutional rhythm, and we are grateful for the opportunity to come together in celebration and in hope. 

Members of the ICS community (like Dr. Lambert
Zuidervaart, pictured above with Dr. Blomberg)
celebrated Dr. Blomberg's work
These meetings were punctuated by an evening of celebration with the broader community for Dr. Blomberg's tenure as both Senior Member and President at ICS. Throughout the evening, friends and colleagues of Dr. Blomberg shared stories and memories of their time working with him, and reflected on his contributions to Reformational philosophy and the discipline of education. These reflections were marked by gratitude to both Doug and his wife Heather for their service to these communities and the institution of ICS. 

2019 ICS Graduates: Benjamin Groenewold (PhD), Kiegan
Irish (MA) & Ann Post (MWS)
The following evening, the ICS community gathered from far and wide for the Convocation of Junior Members Benjamin Groenewold, Kiegan Irish, and Ann Post. The work done by each of these graduates covers topics like the history and philosophy of our relationship to technology, political philosophy, and artistic practice. Those who attended Convocation celebrated along with the graduates their commitment to their studies and their years spent at ICS sharing both their insights and their desire to learn and grow. In their unique ways, each graduate has made their mark on the shared life of the ICS community. The event was a joyful opportunity to express gratitude for their presence, commend them for their achievements, and pray for blessings as they pursue their future paths.  

John Kamphof (Board Chair), Dr. Ronald A. Kuipers
(President), and Dr. John Kok (Senate Chair)
This year's Convocation also included the exaugural address of Dr. Blomberg entitled, "I believe in the resurrection of the body." In his address, Dr. Blomberg shared some of the influences on the course of his academic career and explored his fascination with distinctly Reformational pedagogy. He reflected on the role of the body in an approach to education, and put forward a biblical understanding of the human person that is inextricably and integrally developed “from the ground up.”

The transcript of Dr. Blomberg's address may be found here in the ICS Institutional Repository, and video of the full address may be watched below and on ICS's YouTube channel.

You can also find more photos from the Convocation ceremony below. 
(Click on the square at the bottom of the slideshow to make full screen)

Wednesday 22 May 2019

Prayer Letter: June 2019

Monday June 3 - Friday June 7:

ICS’s Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics (CPRSE) hosted ten outstanding undergraduate students in the context of this year’s ICS Undergraduate Workshop, “God & Politics: Religion and Public Life in the 21st Century.” This year, we had participants from Georgetown University in Qatar, The King’s University, Cornerstone University, Greenville University, Memorial University Newfoundland, and the Canadian Mennonite University. The event provided these undergraduate students with a space to share their original research with ICS Senior and Junior Members, as well as to reflect and dialogue in a collaborative environment. We pray in thanksgiving for this opportunity to engage in conversation with youth from across the globe.

We give thanks for the productive Senate and Board meetings that took place on May 16th and 17th respectively. Please continue to pray for the Leadership Team, Board of Trustees, and Senate as they work together to fulfill the mission and vision of ICS in its key role in Christian higher education.

We give thanks to our Lord that Jon Andreas, Joonyong Um (ICS) and Jason Mills (University of St. Michael's College) successfully and meritoriously completed their written and oral exams last month. ICS Junior Member Helena Hoogstad's exams are also on the horizon. Doug Blomberg mentors each of these students, and we thank God for his ongoing involvement in their research. May God bless and guide these candidates as they embark on their dissertations. Please continue to pray for them as they engage in what will no doubt be creative, diligent research, to the glory of God and for the people they will serve. We thank God also for the examiners who serve on the Pre-Thesis Examination Committees, as internal and external members.

Final grades for this past semester are due before June 14th. Please pray for the faculty as they finalize their marking and assessments of the students in their classes, and for Elizabet Aras, our Registrar, as she processes the final reporting to the students.

Monday June 10 - Friday June 14:

Please pray for Gideon Strauss this month as he is once again in South Africa during the summer months. During June and July, Gideon will be in Stellenbosch, where he will be concluding his current research project, "Inequality, forgiveness, and political agency: lived theologies among young adults in post-apartheid South African churches," a study of young adults in that town in partnership with Nadine Bowers Du Toit at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Stellenbosch. (This project has been supported by the Nagel Institute for World Christianity at Calvin College with funding from the Templeton Religion Trust.) Gideon will once again facilitate a multi-session workshop on vocational wayfinding/life design in partnership with a local Christian community of faith, Stellenbosch Gemeente (SG).

This year Gideon will also partner with SG to offer a multi-session workshop on Jamie Smith's book You Are What You Love. SG is also organizing two "long table conversations," facilitated by Gideon, on the relationship between discipleship, citizenship, and ownership in the South African context.

Junior Member Meg Giordano begins the PhD pre-thesis exam process with the written portion of the exam on June 13-20 and ends with an oral exam on June 27. Please pray for her as she undergoes this final exercise before writing her PhD thesis. Please also pray for Bob Sweetman, her mentor, as he guides her into and through these examinations.

Monday June 17 - Friday June 21:

As the end of the fiscal year is upon us, we ask God for strength, clarity of mind, 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. We give thanks for Harley’s unflagging dedication to this work.

As we quickly move 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 of you.

Please pray this week and next for all those involved in our annual Phone-a-thon that will be taking place. It is a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with our supporters across the country. We ask for inspiring conversations with our community that both the caller and the donor would be encouraged by what God has done this past year and gain hope for the future.

Monday June 24 - Friday June 28:

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.
Please remember to pray for Meg Giordano as she does the oral exam, the final part of the pre-thesis exam, this week on June 27. Pray for clarity of thinking and articulation for Meg and for wisdom and discernment for Bob Sweetman and the other examiners.

The month of June has been 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.

Wednesday 24 April 2019

ICS Convocation, May 2019

Don't forget to RSVP to this year's Annual Convocation and the Exaugural Address of Dr. Doug Blomberg. The event will take place at Regis College on May 17, 2019.

Please contact Elizabet Aras for more information.

Thursday 18 April 2019

New Essays on Knowledge

Senior Member Emeritus Lambert Zuidervaart has published two new essays on a Reformational approach to knowledge. “Distantial Ways of Knowing: Doug Blomberg’s Proposal for a Reformational Epistemology” explores the conception of knowledge proposed by Senior Member and former ICS President Doug Blomberg in his 1978 doctoral dissertation on reformational philosophy and school curriculum. The second essay, titled “Social Domains of Knowledge: Technology, Art, and Religion,” discusses the work of ICS Senior Member Emeritus Hendrik Hart, and it argues that knowledge takes on distinct contours in different social domains. Both essays appear in the most recent issue of the journal Philosophia Reformata (vol. 84, issue 1).

Wednesday 17 April 2019

Prayer Letter: May 2019

Wednesday, May 1 - Friday May 3:

Helena Hoogstad, PhD candidate, commences her written exam on May 2, in the expectation and prayerful hope she will proceed to her oral exam on May 16. Do uphold her in prayer, and please also remember the examiners: Lambert Zuidervaart, Mary Kooy, Janet Wesselius and Doug Blomberg (mentor).

Please pray this week and next for all the preparations that need to be made by faculty, staff, Senators, and Board members alike for the upcoming ICS Senate and Board meetings. As well, please pray especially for Elizabet Aras, our Registrar, as she makes all the arrangements for the Convocation event on May 17th. Pray for calmness and clarity of mind as she works through the many details.

Please pray this week for Ron Kuipers as he travels to Edmonton on Thursday May 2nd to meet with students and colleagues at The King’s University and attends their Convocation ceremonies on Saturday. Then on Sunday Ron continues his western tour as he flies to Vancouver for an event with our supporters on Monday evening. Pray also for Gideon Strauss as he flies from Toronto to Vancouver to join Ron for the event.

Monday, May 6 - Friday, May 10:

On Monday evening, May 6th, Ron Kuipers and Gideon Strauss will be meeting with our support community at Fleetwood CRC in Surrey. Please pray that there will be engaging group interaction as Gideon presents a Wayfinding workshop, and Ron brings the latest updates on what is happening at ICS.

Then again on Tuesday, May 7th, please pray for strength and safe travels for Gideon as he flies back to Toronto, and for Ron as he travels to Calgary for the last stop in the tour. On Tuesday evening, we pray that as Ron meets with the supporting community at River Park Church that it will be a wonderful time of fellowship and blessing.

Jason Mills’ (USMC) oral exam is scheduled for May 9 in the morning, and Joonyong Um’s that evening. Joonyong’s examiners are Nik Ansell, Carla Nelson, Jung-Mi (Joy) Lee and Doug Blomberg (mentor). Please pray for all those involved in these exams, most especially these doctoral candidates.
Please pray this month for our Junior Members as they wrap up their course papers, with some also working on their theses. It is an intensive period, with diligence and focus required. May God grant them clarity of mind and inspiration as they develop their insights.

Monday, May 13 - Friday, May 17:

On Thursday, May 16th, the ICS Senate convenes at 9:00 am under the leadership of Chair and ICS Chancellor Dr. John Kok. Please pray for John and the external and internal senators as they consider the range of issues on the agenda concerning ICS’s academic programs.

As we look forward to Doug Blomberg’s retirement celebration on May 16 and Convocation the following night, please pray both these occasions will be a blessing to all involved, with a wonderful opportunity for members of the community to mingle with each other. Please pray especially for Doug as he finalises and presents his valedictory address.

On Friday, May 17th, the Board of Trustees meet throughout the day starting at 9:00 am. Please pray for grace and wisdom for all our Board members and our Chair, John Kamphof, as they deliberate together on the various matters before them in the care and furtherance of the mission and vision of ICS.

On Friday evening, the ICS community gathers for our annual Convocation. We give thanks to God for sustaining and guiding us in our mission, and for the achievements of our graduating Junior Members. We celebrate with gratitude the diligence and insights each of these graduands have demonstrated these past years, and pray for them in the vocations to which they are called. We pray also for Dr. Doug Blomberg as he presents his exaugural address, “The Resurrection of the Body.” We pray for God’s grace for all who will be participating in this special event and express thanks for this opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our community.

Monday, May 20 - Friday, May 24:

Doug and Heather Blomberg depart Toronto on May 22, on their way home to Australia, with a couple of recreational stopovers. May our Lord be the wind beneath their wings.

Please pray this week and next for the ICS annual phone-a-thon that is taking place. Pray for the Board members and Junior Members who have volunteered to make these important calls to our donors. May God bless each call with happy engagement and the encouragement of one another.

ICS/CPRSE’s third annual Undergraduate Workshop “God and Politics: Religion and Public Life in the 21st Century” happens this week from the 23rd to the 25th. Please pray for the safe travels of all the undergraduates who will be attending this workshop. Please pray also for all the Junior Members and Senior Members planning and responding to papers in the workshop alongside these undergraduates that everyone’s participation and interactions will be a benefit to their continuing scholarship.

Monday, May 27 - Friday, May 31:

Dr. Ron Kuipers’ and The King’s University’s Dr. Jeffrey Dudiak’s conjoint intensive summer course, “To the Unknown God”: Paul and Some Philosophers will be in full swing this week. This is an exciting moment in ICS and King’s continuing efforts to work together institutionally. Please pray for wisdom for Ron and Jeff as they lead the course, and for both undergraduate and graduate student participants alike that they may benefit greatly from the opportunity to reflect deeply on the relevance of Paul’s thought to today’s world.

The last day of May means we have one month left to meet our donations target for this fiscal year. It is vitally important we achieve this goal as it directly impacts our ability to balance our budget. Please pray that God will continue to provide for this real need through the help of our friends and supporters.

Monday 15 April 2019

April Mid-Month News Update

Heather and Doug Blomberg begin a busy month of travel from Australia to the U.S. and Canada on April 24th. Please pray for a safe and enjoyable journey for them both as they first travel to Los Angeles for the pre-thesis oral exam of Junior Member Jon Andreas on the 27th. This is a deeply significant milestone for Jon, so we ask also for prayers of clarity of understanding and articulation on his behalf. Please pray also for the Examination Committee—Doug (Jon’s mentor), Ron Kuipers, Brian Walsh (internal examiners), and Roy Clouser (external examiner)—as they prepare the exam and as they guide Jon through this process.

We also ask for prayer for two other of Doug’s students as they sit their doctoral examinations this month. Jason Mills, a St. Michael’s College PhD candidate, will take the written portion of his exams, and Joonyong Um, an ICS Junior Member, will begin his PhD examination process. Please pray for insight and focus on these students’ behalf as they prepare for and take these exams. Please pray also for Doug and the other examiners in their various preparations to preside over these exams, and that they might have clarity and wisdom in their evaluations of these students when the time comes.

Monday 8 April 2019

In Memoriam: Chris Gort

By Bob Sweetman

Chris Gort was born in Driebergen in The Netherlands in 1941. He was born into an educator’s family that followed its calling to Jakarta in Indonesia and on to Dokkum in the northeast corner of Friesland in The Netherlands. In 1960 he immigrated to Canada under the sponsorship of a great-uncle in Edmonton. Upon arrival he soon met John Olthuis, scored an invitation to John’s wedding in 1961, where he met John’s sister, Elaine, who would become the love of his life. They married in 1966 while he was studying for his MSc in Engineering which he would receive in 1968. In 1968 he and Elaine would also move to Toronto where Chris took a position with IBM. Adventures in Germany followed and then a return to Toronto in the late 1970s for good. In Toronto, Elaine could develop her own gifts in medical care and Chris left IBM to become a successful project manager overseeing his share, we might say, of the remarkable growth of Toronto throughout the late twentieth and early twenty-first century.

Chris’ relationship with the Olthuis family ensured a relationship to the Reformational stream within the community of Dutch immigrants in Canada. John Olthuis tells the story of an early meeting involving himself, Chris, and Jim Visser in Edmonton that makes up a crucial episode in the earliest prehistory of the present-day Citizens for Public Justice. With John and Jim Olthuis for brothers-in-law, and Jean Olthuis as sister-in-law, there was no escaping the swelling energy of the Association for the Advancement of Christian Scholarship and its fledgling educational initiatives, above all, the Institute for Christian Studies and, for a number of years, the Curriculum Development Centre. Nor were Chris and Elaine immune to the excitement around the Christian Reformed Church Chaplaincy at the University of Toronto and its Hart House Fellowship which evolved into a worship community calling itself St. Matthew’s-in-the-Basement.

For the Institute for Christian Studies, the story of Chris reached a new level when he agreed to serve on the ICS Board of Trustees in the early 2000s. The beginning of his first term was shrouded by financial crisis that led to a painful lay-off of staff. When in his second term he agreed to serve as Board Chair, ICS found itself facing new challenges that caused Chris to dive into the inner life of the ICS in a big way. In 2008 ICS President John Suk resigned. Chris approached then ICS Academic Dean Bob Sweetman and convinced him to serve as Acting President within a heightened team concept of leadership. Chris himself would chair a Leadership Team made up of himself, Bob Sweetman, and Claire Veenstra (then, Director of Finance and Administration). Together they faced down the ravages of the financial crisis of 2008-2009 and began to seriously try and rethink everything about ICS. Chris took an even greater role when Bob Sweetman stepped down as Dean and Acting President in November 2010 to fight a second round of cancer. Chris became President and served ICS in that role for the next 2½ years. Much good that has slowly come to pass in the intervening years had its beginnings in those 4-plus bracing years.

Chris encouraged academic and administrative staff to come up with good ideas, but emphasized that good ideas were only a very small part of the process by which good new things come to fruition. He also modeled how effective team-building happens. He empowered academics at ICS to develop new programs of study and research. ICS’s Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics is a good case in point. The basic idea was a part of a White Paper on ICS’s future written by Bob Sweetman. The CPRSE was given its name and first concrete form by Lambert Zuidervaart, and then given its present orientation and team-building ethos by Ron Kuipers. All of these initiatives emerged out of an effective communal leadership context. Throughout his presidency Chris encouraged ideas around partnerships, preaching the need over and over again. Again, the several collaborative projects that are currently in development—with The King’s University in Edmonton, with The Teacher’s Academy/Edvance in Ontario, with Knox College in Toronto—can be seen as connected to his warm advocacy of partnering and of an openness to the changes real partnering demands. Above all, Chris’ team-building talents modeled a style of leadership—a mesh of empowerment and responsibility—that has become something of a mantra within the ICS today. Through it all, ICS has found a way to be resilient and focused on present and future service in the face of challenges that could easily have undone it. Chris Gort’s leadership has been a great blessing.

So it was that we at ICS were taken aback when Chris was diagnosed with ALS just short of 2 years ago. We have watched with wonder as he faced his disease with dignity and thoughtfulness, and were saddened by his death on April 2, 2019. We offer this memorial tribute as a token of our gratitude to Chris for his gift of self to ICS, to Elaine for lending us her retired husband when we had such need, and to our God whose loving hand was surely at work in the happy conjunctions that led Chris to ICS and ICS to him. 

Requiescat in pace, Chris.