Friday 28 May 2021

Prayer Letter: June 2021

Tuesday, June 1 - Friday, June 4 

On Tuesday, June 1, Dean Dettloff, a PhD candidate in the conjoint doctoral program of ICS and the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, will defend his PhD dissertation entitled Christwreck: An Accidentology of Christianity. Under the mentorship of Ron Kuipers and the VU's Willie van der Merwe, Dean has worked very hard over several years to compose a fascinating and original study of the shadow side of Christian culture—colonialism, racism, and white supremacy—and asks how these bad fruits could have developed out of a civilization that calls itself Christian. Refusing to deflect postcolonial criticisms of Christian culture, Dean instead explores the possibility that dominant historical strains within Christian culture might carry a deep logic that, when followed through, leads to such devastating consequences. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the defense will take place virtually, instead of at the VU campus in Amsterdam. The event is open to the public, and begins at 9:45 AM EDT. If you are interested in witnessing a conjoint ICS/VU PhD defense live, this is your chance! Just follow this link at the appropriate time: And please join us in giving prayers of thanksgiving for Dean and this wonderful accomplishment!

Please pray for Ron Kuipers today, June 1, as he delivers the Jay Newman Lecture entitled: Kind of Blue: Lamenting the Failures of Settler Christianity in a Twilight Civilization at the Canadian Theological Society, Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities. For more information on the lecture, including a link to the full list of presentations and abstracts, please read more here.

We are grateful for a wonderfully successful May 2021 ICS Senate meeting and for the hard work of all involved. The work of the Senate is vital to the health of ICS: the Senate determines the academic policies of ICS and supervises their implementation, and reviews the performance and status of ICS Senior Members. Among other work, this May the Senate appointed a new ICS Research Ethics Board, approved four new courses, and approved the 2021-2022 Senior Member Handbook (the collection of academic policies that guide the work of our full-time faculty). Some of this work was the result of several years of hard work on the part of both the Senate and ICS’s Academic Council. 

ICS is blessed by the insightful and diligent work of our Senators, and by their commitment to our educational mission. We are grateful for this year’s Junior Member representatives (Margaret Giordano and Elya Wibowo) and Senior Member representatives (Nik Ansell and Bob Sweetman), for the ex officio members (Ron Kuipers and Gideon Strauss), and for the external Senators (Janel Kragt Bakker, Pamela Beattie, John Caruana, Kristin Kobes Du Mez, Beth Green, Henry Luttikhuizen, and Margie Patrick). We are particularly thankful for our Chair of Senate and Chancellor, Aron Reppmann, who leads the work of the Senate with peculiar grace and generous competence. Please keep Aron and the rest of the ICS Senate in your prayers.

Monday, June 7 - Friday, June 11

We want to bring to your attention that ICS currently has a job opening. We are looking for an Advancement Assistant who will provide support in all aspects of fund development, with an emphasis on coordinating new and existing events, supporting the development of print and online fundraising materials, maintaining the donor management database, and recruitment and stewardship of new and current donors and students. For a full position description and other details, please visit We would appreciate your passing on this information to anyone you think might be interested, and also your prayers that God will lead the right candidate to us.

Please take the opportunity this week to give thanks for our Board of Trustees for their careful oversight of the mission and vision of ICS. The Board met at the tail end of May, and we are grateful for John Joosse as Chair, for Diane Stronks as Vice Chair, and for all the trustees for their productive deliberations around the matters facing the governance of ICS. We give thanks for each trustee for their continued faithful service to and support of ICS.

Please pray for Danielle Yett, our Communications Coordinator, over the next three months as she works to complete our website transformation project. This includes ensuring that our website is in compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), and a website redesign. Pray for space and stamina for Danielle as she works through the myriad details involved in being AODA compliant, and for creative insight and energy in the website redesign.

As we quickly move toward the end of our fiscal year this month, we would ask that you prayerfully consider sending in your financial support if you have not already done so (you can find the Canadian support page here and the US support page here). 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.

Monday, June 14 - Friday, June 18

Our online summer learning program continues this week with Faith in Art: Spirituality and Lived Experience with Dr. Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin. This all-online course will explore the various ways in which art can act as a bridge to transcendence and/or a deep articulation of embodied human experience. Please pray for wisdom for Adrienne as she leads this course, and for all the participants that they might benefit greatly from the opportunity to reflect deeply on the intersection of faith and artistic practice and the ongoing contemporary relevance of these themes.

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 specifically for those instructors who taught in the winter semester as course grades are due on June 18th. Pray for the space and energy in their lives as they work with the students in this important way. And pray also for their various projects and holidays over the course of the summer—that both work and rest may refresh them.

Next week, the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) conference will take place virtually June 20-23 & 27 on the theme: “When All This Is Over, How Do We Want The World To Be Different?” The conference features multiple webinars and workshops, and on June 21st, CPRSE Associate Director Héctor Acero Ferrer will lead a workshop alongside Rivka Campbell titled: ‘Till Race Do Us Part’? Uprooting Systemic Racism in Faith Communities through Inter-religious Dialogue. Please pray for a well-attended conference, and that Héctor and Rivka’s workshop will result in fruitful discussions.

Monday, June 21 - Friday, June 25

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 their studies.

Research ethics at the ICS is governed by the Tri-Council Policy Statement Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS2 2018). The ICS Research Ethics Board (REB) has the authority to approve, reject, and propose modifications to the proposed or ongoing research of ICS Senior and Junior Members. The ICS REB is directly accountable to the Senate, and is appointed by the Senate. This week, we are grateful for and to the May 2021 ICS REB appointees: Junior Member representatives Sara Flokstra and Margaret Giordano, Senior Member representatives Nik Ansell, Bob Sweetman, and Edith van der Boom, and external members Lisa Devall-Martin and Natalie Wigg-Stevenson. Please keep the ICS REB (and the research of ICS’s Senior and Junior Members) in your prayers.

This week, ICS/CPRSE will submit for publication the third volume of its Currents in Reformational Thought series, Dr. Jeffrey Dudiak’s book Post Truth? Facts and Faithfulness. Over the past few months, the CPRSE team has been working hard on getting this manuscript ready for publication. We are looking forward to seeing the impact and reach of this timely piece of Reformational scholarship. Please pray in thanksgiving for Dr. Dudiak’s dedicated scholarly work.

Monday, June 28 - Wednesday, June 30

We are grateful for all of the students enrolled in our Summer 2021 courses, and delighted that we, as “an interdisciplinary graduate school where the gospel's message of renewal shapes our pursuit of wisdom,” can provide ICS students access to instructors who are working at the leading edge of the engagement between contemporary Christian scholarship and our cultural contexts. Please pray for our instructors Dean Dettloff (The Soul of Soulless Conditions: Marxists on Christianity, Christians on Marxism), Robert Covolo (Fashion Theology), and Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin (Faith in Art: Spirituality and Lived Experience)—as well as Edith van der Boom, Gideon Strauss, and Bob Sweetman later this summer—and for the students enrolled in their courses.

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 Wednesday marks the end of our fiscal year, we want to say a huge thank you to all who have given of their time and financial resources! We are so grateful for the way God blesses us through you with your gifts and encouragement.

July & August

We will be pausing the Prayer Letter for the months of July and August to give our staff an opportunity to find the time for a much needed vacation. It has been another busy and challenging year and we would ask for prayer that each one in our community will find the space to rest, rejuvenate, and have some fun during this summer break.

However, the work of ICS continues through the summer so here are some things you can pray for during these next two months:

  • During the month of August, three MA-EL courses will be taking place. We would ask for prayer for all who participate in these courses and in the making of a great online learning experience at ICS:

  • Finding Joy in Learning with Edith van der Boom: This is a course that will inspire and support K-12 educators in their own personal journeys of learning. The course will provide educators with a vocational vision of Christian educational innovation and leadership. It is intended to “guide students [and instructors] on an inner journey toward more truthful ways of seeing and being in the world” (Parker Palmer, 2017). The course will consist of prior reading and online discussions throughout August, three 3-hour Zoom sessions, mentoring meetings, and a project to demonstrate learning...

  • Lead From Where You Are: Making a Difference in the Face of Tough Problems, Big Questions, and Organizational Politics with Gideon Strauss: This CSTC-eligible course invites participants to reflect on diverse approaches to leadership. The kind of leadership that will be learned and practiced in this course has to do with diagnosing and addressing the toughest problems experienced by organizations, communities, institutions, and societies. Participants will learn a leadership language, try out a set of tools and frameworks, and workshop fresh insights and skills in their own areas of practice....

  • Leadership in Context (Reformational Philosophy Applied) with Bob Sweetman: This course will present an understanding of schooling in the modern world in terms of the Reformational tradition in philosophy. In the process, we will examine schooling and leadership in classrooms and schools within the context of today’s complex social and cultural environment and, in turn, within a cosmos-wide perspective. From this perspective, the cosmos itself is part of the covenant by which creatures partner in love with the God who creates, upholds, and redeems the creation in the intricate dance of meaningful existence...


We wish all of you a safe and joy-filled summermay you know God’s richest blessings as you spend time with family and friends!

The God Who Sees

O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek;
you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear
to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed,
so that those from earth may strike terror no more.

—Psalm 10:17-18

With spring shading into summer, and signs of new beginnings all around, it seems odd to think that this is the final message I will be writing to you this academic year, before we take a much-needed break in July and August.

It has been a year of soul-searching for us at ICS, as we have asked ourselves some hard questions about the educational role we play in a society that continues to entrench systemic injustices of various kinds. I myself have embarked on a listening journey, apprenticing myself to the work of racialized and Indigenous philosophers and theologians, as I prepare to give the Jay Newman lecture to the Canadian Theological Society and also teach a new course on Black thinkers in the tradition of American Pragmatism.

Dean Dettloff, a PhD student I supervise at ICS, will be defending his joint ICS/VU dissertation on the same day, which explores many of the same issues, and asks very hard questions about historical Christian complicity in the West’s global colonization project. Dean has chosen the above passage from Psalm 10 to be read aloud before he offers his defense on June 1, and I could not think of a more apt passage to help us reflect upon the difficult times in which we live.

When Psalm 10 begins, God is far away, and the psalmist is not happy about it. But slowly, surely, the Psalm advances through all the suffering and evil it recounts to rediscover a God who remains with those who suffer and who helps them. “But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands” (vs. 14).

We profess faith in a God who not only notices trouble and grief, but does so in order to take it into God’s hands. We pause to ponder the mystery of a God who hears the cry of the oppressed and takes their suffering upon himself. We pause to ponder a messiah who feels every act of oppression and liberation, however large or small, as something that is done to himself (Matthew 25). We pause to ponder how we might best respond to the solidarity God shows with those who hurt.

Thank you, friends, for accompanying us on our journey this year. Thank you for sharing in our ongoing pursuit of wisdom and discernment as we ask difficult questions of ourselves and others. I pray that you will all have a restful, regenerative summer, and that we will meet again in this space next fall, energized by a God who is able to accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

Shalom, my friends!

Ron Kuipers

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Employment Opportunity at ICS: Advancement Assistant

ICS is hiring! We are looking to add an Advancement Assistant to our staff in the coming months. Reporting to the Director of Advancement, the Advancement Assistant will provide support in all aspects of fund development, with an emphasis on coordinating new and existing events, supporting the development of print and online fundraising materials, maintaining the donor management database, and recruitment and stewardship of new and current donors and students.

This is a part-time position with a start date of the beginning of July. For a full position description, please go to, or email Patricia Webb, Director of Advancement at

Ron Kuipers to Deliver Jay Newman Lecture at Canadian Theological Society

On June 1, Dr. Ronald A. Kuipers will be delivering the Jay Newman Lecture at this year's Canadian Theological Society virtual Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities. Ron's lecture is entitled "Kind of Blue: Lamenting the Failures of Settler Christianity in a Twilight Civilization." 

The abstract reads as follows:

Amid the Black Lives Matter Movement and the ongoing struggle for the recognition of Indigenous rights, and in the wake of police murders of racialized minorities and state-sponsored cultural genocide, oppressed and marginalized groups are calling white Christians to reckon with the legacy of settler colonialism that continues to haunt their cherished religious traditions. As a settler Christian, I here share my first halting steps to undertake such a reckoning. It is a story about finally starting to listen, getting unsettled, and staying there. I have also found it to be a lament of sorts— a journey plunging me into a kind of blue that is perhaps different than the blues sung by those who have directly felt the immiseration and violence of colonialism’s oppressive legacy. It is, finally, a lament over the destructive “twilight civilization” (to use Cornel West’s phrase) this legacy has wrought—an unsustainable civilization which in a variety of ways dehumanizes everyone, whether we share the identity of the oppressor, the victim, or a mixture of both. Perhaps lament, then, is the spiritual practice settler Christians must first take up as we strive to work through and work free from our damaged past. That is, perhaps this reckoning calls settler Christians to perform a certain leave-taking before we may truly join our hearts and voices with those who seek to keep faith with all their fellow humans as well as the rest of God’s good Creation.

A full program for the Congress, including other presenters and presentation abstracts, can be found here on the CTS website.

Wednesday 19 May 2021

ICS to Host 15th Annual Society for Ricoeur Studies Conference

We are pleased to announce that ICS will be hosting the 15th Annual Society for Ricoeur Studies Conference taking place October 7-9, 2021 on location at ICS in Toronto. If conditions related to the Covid-19 pandemic demand, the conference will take place online instead (an update with regard to the format of the conference will be posted sometime in June).

The conference will feature a keynote presentation by George H. Taylor (School of Law, University of Pittsburgh). It will also consist of presentations and panel discussions on topics related to the thought and influence (both inside and outside the discipline of philosophy) of Paul Ricoeur, potentially including reflections on themes of justice, responsibility, politics, religion, imagination, metaphor and aesthetics, and current events. 

Participation in the conference requires membership in the Society for Ricoeur Studies and payment of the conference fee. For non-presenters who would like to attend the conference but elect not to join the Society, a $10-$25 dollar donation to the Society's ongoing work is requested. Donations can be made online at: