Friday, 3 September 2021

Prayer Letter: September 2021

Wednesday, September 1 - Friday, September 3:


September marks the beginning of the 2021-22 Academic Year, and a continuation of remote learning at ICS. Once again, Senior Members have been working tirelessly over the summer adapting their seminars to create an engaging remote learning environment, and are looking forward to the new year in their online classrooms. Please pray for all our instructors and students, both new and returning, as they begin this new academic year at ICS.

We are looking forward to welcoming a number of new students this fall in our different programs. Please pray along with us that these students will have a successful start to their programs at ICS:
  • Ahmad, who teaches economics at Dawson College in Montreal, who started his MWS-ART program this summer;
  • Four new Ontario teachers are starting the MA-EL program (Kevin and Stacy in the Educational Leadership stream and David and Carla in the School Administration stream). Three took Lead From Where You Are in our summer program;
  • Three new MA students start this fall: Dave, (who is a Knox graduate and resides in Vaughan), Julia (who is a University of Toronto graduate and resides in Toronto), and Christopher (who is a part-time mature student and resides in Texas);
  • One new PhD student, Traver, who is a Calvin graduate and resides in Oregon.

Over the summer, Bob Sweetman was able to participate in a series of sessions and workshops on the metaphysics of gratitude—part of an ongoing Templeton project of ICS alum and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at The King’s University in Edmonton, Joshua Harris. There were sessions on Seneca's De Beneficiis, on the book of Philippians, on Thomas Aquinas, and on gratitude in the classroom, in the research environment, and in scholarship. Bob’s workshops were all dedicated to looking at gift and gratitude in specific ancient and medieval texts, using those texts to then speak about gratitude as a central motif in a healthy vocation as university teacher-scholars. We’re grateful for Bob’s ongoing work, for the continuation of Joshua’s timely research project, and for this collaborative occasion for scholarship with friends and colleagues at The King’s University.

Also during the summer months, we were able to complete the majority of the necessary work for our website redesign. Please join us in gratitude for reaching this milestone of refreshing and updating our online presence, and please pray as we enter the next stage of the project: that the detailed work of making incremental improvements might be similarly achieved.


Tuesday, September 7 - Friday, September 10:


Please pray for Brenna Wehrle today as she starts at ICS in her new role as Recruitment Coordinator. It is often stressful to start a new job, especially in these days of working remotely. Pray that she will feel the loving presence of our Lord as she gets to know the staff, faculty, and students at ICS. Pray too for clarity of mind as she begins to assess the recruitment needs of our different programs and begins to understand the priorities of her position.

On the evening of September 8, Jason Mills (University of St. Michael’s College) will undergo the final oral examination for his doctoral degree. His thesis is entitled In Vitro Education: Examining the Virtual Culture of Online Pastoral Education, with Doug Blomberg as his Supervisor. Jason’s work addresses significant issues for the ICS community, as we are currently delivering our courses online. We ask for your prayers for Jason’s presence of mind as he presents his research in this final examination process, for the examination committee in their engagement with Jason’s work, and for Doug as he sees Jason through to the completion of his project.

Please pray this week for the staff, Senior Members, and Junior Members as they participate in ICS’s remote Registration Week. Pray that it will be an inspiring time together to launch the new school year despite the fact that we are not meeting together in person. Please pray for our Registrar, Elizabet Aras and our Academic Dean, Gideon Strauss as they take care of the many details that are involved in making sure that each day fulfills its potential. Please also take a moment to pray for each day’s tasks and activities during Registration Week:

Tuesday, Sept 7: Orientation Week this year will begin with a two-part workshop for Junior and Senior Members and ICS staff titled “Your Next 5 Years,” led by Dr. Gideon Strauss. 
 
Wednesday, Sept 8: This is the day that our Junior Members complete their course registrations for the semester. There will also be meetings with Elizabet, our Registrar, and Harley Dekker about financial matters. The second part of the “Your Next 5 Years” workshop will be held in the evening. 
 
Thursday, Sept 9: A Research Workshop will be offered by our Librarian, Hilary Barlow, for all our Junior and Senior Members this evening in order to acclimate everyone to making the most of online resources and more during their studies together. 
 
Friday/Saturday, Sept 10/11: These are ICS’s annual Fall Retreat Days, which will once again be held virtually. The theme of our 2021 ICS Fall Retreat is Place, Presence, Solace. During the past year we have shared all of our learning in virtual settings, and we will continue to do so. So we want to celebrate the physical places in which members of our community find themselves. During these pandemic years, all of us are experiencing a sense of absence, whether that has been because of our absence from the ICS campus, because of our absence from friends, family, and faith communities, or because of other absences, from familiar places of work, play, and participation in public life. We want to remind ourselves of the call to genuine presence in the lives of others. Finally, the havoc wrought by the pandemic has intensified our awareness of the many sorrows suffered all around our world. So we want to share some of the sources of solace that we have retained or discovered even under these circumstances.


Monday, September 13 - Friday, September 17:


This is the first week of classes at ICS! Like last year, each Senior Member has had to adapt their course material and teaching to this online learning format. So please especially pray for each Senior Member as they continue to find creative ways to teach course material, dive deep into important and complex topics, and provide experiences that enhance a sense of community in their digital classrooms. Pray also for the technical staff who are assisting them that everything will go smoothly on the technology side, and for the students participating in each class that, despite the differences in time and place, it will be an inspiring and interactive learning experience for all! These are the courses to keep in your prayers this week and throughout the semester:

On Tuesday, the hybrid course, The Observant Participant: Applying Research Craft to Professional Practice led by Dr. Gideon Strauss will begin by asking: How do I give attention to what matters most? Drawing from phenomenology, this seminar will foster an attitude of contemplation in your professional life, providing tools to help center yourself in the flurry of responsibility.

On Tuesday from 6:00 to 9:00pm (EST), Biblical Foundations: Narrative, Wisdom, and the Art of Interpretation led by Dr. Nik Ansell will begin. This course will explore the Bible—from Genesis to Revelation—as the ongoing story of and for God and all God’s creatures, paying special attention to how humanity’s attempt to find its way is interwoven with the story of the Divine presence and with the wisdom and promise of creation-new creation.

On Wednesday, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm (EST), Dr. Rebekah Smick begins her course: With/Out Reason: Art and Imagination in the Western Tradition. In Western society today, thinking imaginatively is a revered part of our individualist culture. Yet until the 18th century, the products of imagination were considered unavoidably communal. Looking at theory and art, this course explores the history of imagination.

Also on Wednesday from 2:00 to 5:00pm, the course The Radical Theopoetics of John D. Caputo led by Dr. Jim Olthuis will begin. John D. Caputo is one of the most influential interpreters of deconstruction and religion, offering a postmodern "weak theology" in contrast to the strong voices of Christian tradition. This course will provide the opportunity to read some of his most recent work with his old friend, Jim Olthuis.

On Thursday, from 10:00am to 1:00pm, Dr. Ronald Kuipers will start his course: Pragmatism, Race, and Religion: Du Bois, West, and Glaude. Pragmatism is one of North America’s most unique philosophical movements. Participants in this new course will get to know the interactions and influence of three Black thinkers in the pragmatist tradition, related to race and religion.

Also on Thursday, from 2:00 to 5:00pm (EST) Dr. Nik Ansell will start his course, The Divine (at) Risk: Open Theism, Classical Theism and Beyond. Ever twist yourself into knots over questions like: Did God take a risk in creating the world? How are divine and human freedom related? Can we confess God’s sovereignty in the face of evil? Nik risks some answers by exploring the creative contributions of Open Theism.

The MA-EL hybrid course, Cultivating Learning Communities of Grace, led by Dr. Edith van der Boom, begins this week as well. Created for instructional leaders and school administrators as they consider the dynamics of both school and classroom cultures, this course pays close attention to issues of diversity, cultural complexity, racial justice, and restorative practices in the classroom.

Please continue to pray for our Junior Members during this second year of remote learning. Pray that ICS will be able to recreate the close, communal learning experience between student and professor as much as possible via Zoom and across various time zones.


Monday, September 20 - Friday, September 24:


We would appreciate prayers for the Leadership Team as they continue to work out the ICS strategic plan, formulated in the fall of 2019, which is geared to enhancing our academic programming and increasing our tuition revenue. Pray for clarity and wisdom in our thinking as we develop, and then implement, strategies that will take us to that goal.

Please pray for those involved in preparing our fall issue of Perspective, as authors, editors, organizers, 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 we aim to mail this issue to supporters in the coming months.

Over the summer, the CPRSE team has been preparing for publication the third and fourth volumes for ICS’s Currents in Reformational Thought book series. The third volume, by The King’s University Professor and ICS Cross-Appointed Faculty Jeffrey Dudiak, was submitted to Wipf and Stock Publishers in early August. The fourth volume, by Senior Member Emeritus Jim Othius, will be submitted in early September. Please pray for all those involved in the preparation and publication of these manuscripts, as well as for the authors, who continue to offer their wisdom and insight to our community through their writings.


Monday, September 27 - Thursday, September 30:


We ask for your prayers for Harley Dekker as he prepares for the auditors and the preparation of the year-end statements this month. As it is every year, this is a very detailed and lengthy process so please pray for strength and clarity for Harley as he seeks to complete this task as quickly as possible in the midst of the many other aspects of administration in which he is involved.

As you may recall, we asked for prayer for Edith van der Boom who was facing cancer surgery last July. We praise the Lord for his healing hand in her swift recovery. Here is her special thanks to you all for holding her up in prayer: Thanks for all your prayers! My surgery went really well and I continue to heal and gain energy. When I received the results of the pathology report, they were better than expected. Praise God! The invasion of the cancer cells was minimal and did not go into my muscle as my doctors had feared. I have an appointment on September 15 with a doctor from the Juravinski Cancer Centre. At that time I will receive a complete review of the pathology report and will find out if radiation is needed.

During the month of September, the CPRSE team will be planning its annual cycle of research projects, publications, and public outreach events. Issues surrounding systemic racism and race relations—with a particular focus on the Canadian context—will help to orient this planning process. Please pray that these conversations will be fruitful and responsible, and that the programming offered by CPRSE can serve as a space for transformative reflection for our community and beyond.


***

At this time, all of us at ICS would like to express our gratitude to all of you for your wonderful support throughout the summer. We continue to be inspired by the way our ICS community stands behind us, and it is because of folks like you that we ended our fiscal year in a much better place than when we started.

So, even in the midst of the disruption of the pandemic’s third wave, we were able to further develop our MA in Educational Leadership program by building partnerships with other institutions concerned about serving the professional development needs of Christian schools in Ontario and beyond. We also initiated a new online learning program last summer which continued to bear fruit this year by attracting students from around the world who normally would not have been able to take our courses. These are just a couple of the ways your generosity of spirit and financial gifts have helped us to continue to answer God’s call to develop Christian education around the globe.

Thank you – we could not have done it without you!


Thursday, 2 September 2021

The Influence of a Tender Heart

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing.

—1 Peter 3:8-9

This summer I have been watching a show called Ted Lasso, which begins with an unlikely premise in which the titular character, played by Jason Sudeikis, is an American football coach who knows next to nothing about soccer and yet is hired to coach a professional British soccer team. Not only does Ted find himself up against a steep learning curve, but he soon discovers that he has entered a completely toxic environment, a team in deep disarray that carries from the highest level of ownership down to the lowest level of equipment management. Anger, jealousy, selfishness, and fear provide the prevailing emotional tones.

Fleeing his own personal demons, coach Lasso accepts the job, putting an ocean between himself and his estranged wife and beloved son, only to enter a situation where he must endure, not just the skepticism, but the utter contempt of both the team’s fans and players. He is also faced with an owner who only hired him so that the team would fail, and she might thereby exact revenge on her cheating ex-husband, whose beloved team she acquired in the divorce settlement.

From this premise, I would be happy to simply report that ‘hilarity ensues’, but to my utter amazement the program wastes no time in mounting a profound meditation on the power of kindness to pierce social toxicity and realize the hidden possibility of blessedness in the most broken-down situations. Coach Lasso is simply incapable of repaying evil for evil or abuse for abuse, and with every barb hurled his way he responds with an attempt to bless his assailant. The ripple effect of Coach Lasso’s kindness, even as he himself is obviously enduring intense emotional pain, eventually carries its way through the team, and in this way the show manages to portray the transformative power of kindness without ever becoming cloying or maudlin.

As we look forward to starting a new school year at ICS, I have been thinking about the role kindness plays in the education we provide. We try very concertedly to create a nurturing academic community, with ample opportunity for one-to-one mentoring, and in so doing we strive to allow our students to bring their entire selves into the classroom. We seek to create a hospitable learning environment in which “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18), and where students are encouraged to discover their unique way of participating in God’s transforming work of healing the world. While we may not always meet this lofty goal, it remains the standard against which we judge our efforts. To me, teaching this way is an act of kindness.

Thank you, friends, for the role you play in our efforts to teach with tender hearts, so that we might in turn help our students to form tender hearts within themselves, hearts geared for kindness, hearts that desire to impart God’s rich blessings upon everyone they meet.

Shalom!

Ron Kuipers

Brenna Wehrle Hired as New Student Recruitment Coordinator

It is with great pleasure that we are able to announce that Brenna Wehrle (pronounced "whirly") will be joining our team as ICS's new Student Recruitment Coordinator.

Brenna comes to us from Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College (SWC) in Barry's Bay, Ontario, where she served as both Associate Dean of Students and Director of Strategic Enrollment. Brenna was instrumental in developing SWC's new student recruitment strategy, helping the college adopt best industry practices. Under her leadership, SWC was able to exceed its target for recruiting new students last year. Brenna is committed to the cause of Christian higher education, and is very excited to bring her considerable skills to the graduate educational setting at ICS.

Brenna will be joining and leading the efforts of ICS's existing Recruitment Crew, from whose excellent ground-laying work she will no doubt be able to benefit. Brenna officially begins her duties on September 7th.

Friday, 6 August 2021

Updated: ICS During COVID-19

AUGUST 6, 2021 UPDATE: COURSES REMAIN ONLINE FOR FALL 2021 & WINTER 2022 SEMESTERS

In the interest of serving the needs of our global community of students and out of concern for the health of our students, instructors, and staff, ICS will continue to offer all learning interactions remotely during the Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 academic terms. The ICS executive leadership team will assess conditions during the Winter 2022 term to determine if it would be appropriate to offer some learning interactions in person as of the Summer 2022 term. Students who started ICS programs remotely can rest assured that remote learning will remain an option with regard to all courses and mentoring, even if ICS resumes some in-person learning, also after the Winter 2022 term.

Course information can be found in our Course Catalogue throughout the year. Please reach out to Elizabet, course leaders, or our Senior Members if you have any questions or concerns.

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NOVEMBER 25, 2020 UPDATE: DELAYED START TO WINTER 2021 SEMESTER

The following is an important change in the start date for winter term classes in January. ICS will be following the lead of the University of Toronto, Knox College, and the Toronto School of Theology by delaying the start of the Winter 2021 semester by one week. 

This means that classes for the winter term will now begin on Monday, January 11, 2021. For regular 13-week synchronous courses, final assignment deadlines will also be extended by one week. The dates for Reading Week remain the same (February 15-19, 2021). The Academic Calendar has been updated to reflect these changes, and a list of Winter 2021 courses is available here.

Below is a brief note from President Ronald A. Kuipers about this schedule change:

To quote President Gertler of the University of Toronto, these decisions are “prompted by the fact that we’ve all been under an extraordinary amount of stress for months now, because of the burdens imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.... [W]e care deeply about the wellness of each and every one of you. We want to make sure that you’re able to rest and recharge, and to make the most of the upcoming holiday break.”

Let me echo President Gertler's comments, and offer my own words of encouragement to the ICS community. The global pandemic has thrown many challenges our way, and has dramatically changed our daily working and studying routines. I deeply appreciate the efforts everyone has made to maintain community in the midst of our relative isolation. Let's continue to support, pray for, and reach out to each other. If you are struggling, please let us know, so that we can find ways to care for you or address any concerns that you have. Let us continue to bless each other as we have since this all began.

I wish you all God's strength and peace as we continue on this strange journey,

Ron

Please reach out to Elizabet, course leaders, or our Senior Members if you have any questions or concerns.

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AUGUST 1, 2020 UPDATE: FALL SEMESTER SCHEDULE

After a successful summer of online learning, ICS has made the decision to continue to deliver all of our course offerings remotely for the fall semester. We believe this will best enable our Senior and Junior Members to stay safe and healthy while still allowing classes to meet at a distance. We'll miss the presence of our students on campus, but we have growing anticipation for the start of another academic year and of ICS community life (albeit a virtual one!) with new and returning students alike.

Course syllabi are being finalized over the remainder of the summer and details are being ironed out, but the Fall Course Schedule has been set and course descriptions are now available. Our roster of fall courses can be found here: www.icscanada.edu/fall-2020. And, as always, you can reach out to our Registrar Elizabet Aras with any questions you might have about what the upcoming semester will look like.
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APRIL 1, 2020 UPDATE: EVENTS AND DEADLINES

ICS Leadership, staff, and faculty have been hard at work in past weeks monitoring the daily developments to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, strategizing, and discerning immediate and long-term ways forward for our programming, courses, and events. Today, ICS had to make a number of difficult decisions regarding quickly-approaching events, deadlines, and courses.

Unfortunately, in response to current public health recommendations and the enforced limitations on travel and public gatherings, we must CANCEL Convocation 2020, the honourary doctorate celebration of Dr. Barbara Carvill, and ART in Orvieto 2020. Lord willing, we will have the opportunity to revisit these celebratory and educational opportunities again next year. Thus, our current intention is to honour our 2020 graduates together with our 2021 graduates at our Convocation next May, and to likewise gather to celebrate Dr. Carvill at that time. We also intend to offer ART in Orvieto again during summer 2021.

We've also decided to adapt the original plans and deadlines for our Undergraduate Workshop, the summer course on Hannah Arendt, and admission to our MA-EL and MWS-ART programs. For this year's Undergraduate Workshop, we have tentatively rescheduled the event for Fall 2020 and extended the submission deadline until July 31. For our MA-EL and MWS-ART programs, we've extended our standard application deadline until August 1. And for the Hannah Arendt course, we're currently considering the possibility of the course being delivered remotely.

Given the unpredictability of current circumstances, ICS will continue to offer its courses remotely until further notice in order to remain as adaptable as possible in our efforts to make an ICS education readily available. So please stay tuned for more information regarding upcoming summer course opportunities currently in development, as well as increased possibilities for online education into the next school year. And, if you have any questions about these or any other ICS courses, programs, and events, please do not hesitate to reach out to us by phone or email!

We remain cautiously hopeful in these days and, as always, invite your prayers for students, staff, and faculty alike in their various callings and day-to-day lives.
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MARCH 17, 2020 UPDATE:

Following the city of Toronto's increased social distancing recommendations, and the University of Toronto's closure of most of their library locations, ICS will close its administrative offices and library effective today until public health authorities declare it advisable to resume in-person operations. We greatly value the health and safety of our staff, faculty, and students--as well as our neighbours--and we consider this a small but important step to slowing the spread of this virus.

ICS staff and faculty will continue working regular hours remotely during this time, and may be reliably contacted by email if you wish to get in touch for any reason. We will continue to monitor the public health situation daily and will make any important updates (including the status of upcoming events and summer courses) known to you here as soon as possible. To that end, we also continue to invite applications to our Undergraduate Workshop in May, our course on Hannah Arendt in April-June, and ART in Orvieto in July-August. No fees for these courses/events will be charged until it is clear that the courses/events will in fact take place.

In the meantime, our Senior and Junior Members forge ahead with classes and projects, our staff go on planning and executing everyday operations, and we all pray for safety and swift healing for those affected by this health crisis. 
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MARCH 13, 2020: SUSPENSION OF IN-PERSON CLASSES 

In light of the ongoing development of the COVID-19 virus, and in conjunction with our colleagues at the Toronto School of Theology and the University of Toronto, ICS has determined that it is appropriate to cancel all ICS in-person seminars for the remainder of the Winter semester (March 16-April 10). Junior and Senior Members have already been notified accordingly about how to participate in their respective seminars via teleconference during this time period.

Because we share a campus with both Knox College and the University of Toronto, ICS has committed to following the lead of Knox College, the Toronto School of Theology, and the University of Toronto with respect to the implementation of any social distancing measures deemed appropriate.

For the latest on these specific measures, you can read a message from the President of UofT here. For the latest on Canada's COVID-19 monitoring, national response, and prevention and preparation advice, please visit the Government of Canada website or the Toronto Public Health page.

Following campus measures, the ICS offices and library will remain open during this period, and we will continue with daily operations. We will keep you updated as to whether any of this changes, and about the status of upcoming ICS events as we continually monitor the state of affairs on campus, locally, and globally. We also request during this time that anyone who feels ill stay home and seek appropriate healthcare if necessary.

ICS is grateful for your patience and support as we adjust and attend to the unfolding situation day to day, and as we seek to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our students, staff, and faculty.

Thursday, 17 June 2021

In Memoriam: Elizabeth "Bep" Koole

by Barbara Carvill (President of Friends of ICS)

Bep Koole (b. 1936) went to the Lord on Monday, June 14, 2021. She immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands in 1967. While working in Thunder Bay, Bep attended a lecture by the late Gerald Vandezande, who suggested that she move to Toronto and look for a job at ICS. Bep would be forever thankful to Gerald for this suggestion, because after becoming one of the earliest administrative staff members at the Institute, she met and fell in love with the widower Marinus Koole, one of ICS’s most loyal and generous supporters. 

Bep and Marinus married in 1972, and Bep then moved to the Niagara region where Marinus had a thriving greenhouse business. Bep was an affectionate mother and devoted wife, and a very much beloved member of Jubilee Fellowship CRC in St. Catharines where she and Marinus were founding members. In 2013, nine years after Marinus’ death, she moved to Grand Rapids to be near her daughter, Heather, a professor at Calvin University, and her four grandsons. In no time, Bep became an active member of the Church of the Servant, with a remarkable talent for friendship, compassion, and caring kindness. We all admired her solid faith in Christ, her good taste in clothes, and her always grateful and positive outlook, even when she already suffered from the symptoms of undiagnosed ALS. 

One of her biggest joys came half a year ago when her son Phil moved to Grand Rapids to take care of her. And now Bep has left us, a beautiful Christian who wanted so badly to be with the Lord and again with the love of her life, Marinus. Together and separately, both Bep and Marinus treasured and blessed ICS in countless, untold ways. We at ICS remain grateful for their vision, witness, and support for ICS’s mission in Christian higher education, and mourn Bep’s passing alongside her family and friends.

Bep arriving in Canada in 1967.




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: http://www.youtube.com/VUBeadlesOffice. 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 http://www.icscanada.edu/jobs/04. 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 http://www.icscanada.edu/jobs, or email Patricia Webb, Director of Advancement at pwebb@icscanada.edu.

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: http://www.ricoeursociety.org/give-to-the-society/.

Friday, 30 April 2021

King's University Public Lecture Series Featuring ICS Alumni

The King's University will be hosting an online Spring Lecture Series via Zoom on Thursday evenings (7-8:30pm MST) throughout the months of May and June.

The theme for May's lectures is Theological Thoughts: Gratitude, Wisdom, Authenticity, and Followership. The first two lectures will take place on May 6 and 13, and will feature talks by two ICS alumni and King's faculty members Dr. Joshua Harris (PhD 2019) and Dr. Jeffrey Dudiak (PhD 1998). 

On May 6th, Dr. Harris will be presenting on the topic:“In All Things Give Thanks”: Cosmic Gratitude and Natural Theology. On May 13th, Dr. Dudiak will be presenting on the topic All is Vanity: The Wisdom of Ecclesiastes for Today with students from his "Biblical Wisdom in the Age of Science" course. 

You can register for these or any of the other lectures in the series here on King's website: https://www.kingsu.ca/research/public-lectures/events.


OTHER MAY LECTURES

May 20 – Mr. Ray Klassen
Title of Lecture: Hannah Arendt, Charles Taylor, and Christ Jesus: Authenticity in Times of Uncertainty

May 27th. Dr Robert Huizinga
Title: Following in the Footsteps of Jesus


JUNE LECTURES:

June 3: Dr Joanne Moyer
Title: Working for God and Sustainability: Tales from Two Continents

June 10- Dr. Brian Martin
Title: Astronomy and the Muse

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Making the most of the time

Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise,

making the most of the time, because the days are evil.

—Ephesians 5:15-16

As I survey the 2020-21 academic year, I note how it will forever be remembered as the year that ICS—like so many other institutions of higher education—‘went online’, offering the entirety of our programs in distance mode so that we could both protect the health of our students and employees, and help curb the spread of the coronavirus in our community. Yet even as we give thanks for the twin blessings of resilience and creativity that have helped us meet the challenges of the pandemic, we enter its second year and its terrible third wave very much in agreement with Paul: “the days are evil.”

But notice that Paul does not only say that the days are evil. He says much more, even in these two short verses. He begins with the advice to live carefully and wisely, and in doing so, to “make the most of the time,” precisely because the days are evil. This juxtaposition is curious. What relationship does Paul see between our evil days and his advice to seize time through wise and careful living? If “the days” that mark our time are in fact evil, how then can we possibly make the most of them?

The answer to that last question can only be that the days are not irretrievably or irredeemably evil. On the contrary, as the gospel’s joyful message consistently promises and assures us, these evil days can be saved! They can be “made good'' precisely because God originally made them good. Indeed, the Greek word exagorazomenoi, which my NRSV translates as “making the most of,” is perhaps better translated as “redeeming” (buying back, or out of). Unlike the days, the time (kairon) is not simply or only evil, because it also harbours God’s possibility for redemption, for making all things, even evil things, good. As agents of God’s love, God empowers us to buy the time back so that evil will no longer consume our days.

This passage thus asks us to think more deeply about what it means to “make the most of the time.” More than simply asking us how much we managed to pack in or get done, it asks us to “rescue from loss” (another possible translation of exagorazomenoi) the potential for love, joy, and healing waiting to burst forth in every moment, even and especially when the days are evil. Are we shaping our lives with the care and wisdom that will orient us to seek God’s shalom? Do our lives incarnate that possibility right now? These are momentous yet also joyous questions, and we must never stop asking them.

Through your faithful and prayerful support of our work, you have willingly joined ICS students, faculty, and staff in our collective effort to answer these last questions with a resounding ‘Yes!’ Together, then, let’s continue to strive to make the most of the time!

Shalom, friends!

Ron Kuipers

Prayer Letter: May 2021

Monday, May 3 - Friday, May 7


We ask for your continued prayers for the Leadership Team as they work toward finalizing the draft 2021-22 budget for approval at the Board meeting at the end of May. Like last year, this is a complicated process as we try to assess the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on our revenue and expenses. We are grateful for God’s provision throughout last year, and we continue to pray for grace and insight as we endeavour to make the wisest possible stewardship decisions as we plan for the future.


On May 4th, ICS/CPRSE will join the Canadian Interfaith Conversation and the Manitoba Multifaith Council as they host “Free to Believe, Responsible to Act,” the 2021 online version of the biannual Our Whole Society conference. ICS President, Ron Kuipers has actively participated in the Steering Committee for this event. Please pray for the Steering Committee, as well as all those attending this conference, as they sustain and nourish this important dialogue across diverse cultural and religious groups.


Gideon Strauss will be a keynote presenter on May 5 at the Christian Labor Association of Canada (CLAC) annual Staff Council meeting alongside Anne Snyder (editor of Comment magazine) and John Van Sloten (a pastor and writer from Calgary, AB). Gideon’s topic will be The Cultivation of Character. Please pray for all those involved in this event, that their time spent together might be edifying.


On May 6th, ICS will host an Open House via Zoom for the MA-EL program from 4:00-5:00 pm EDT. Please pray for our two second-year students, Sara and Richard, who will help present the two different streams in the program, i.e. the Instructional Leadership Stream and the School Administration Stream. Paul Marcus, the Principal of Knox Christian School, will also share his experiences from the How To Finance A Vision course that was held this winter semester. Pray also for Gideon Strauss, Edith van der Boom and Elizabet Aras as they facilitate this event.


Please continue to pray for all those involved in the 2021 summer online learning program taking place May through August. Please pray for Gideon Strauss as he leads the academic program, for the staff involved in its administration and promotion, and for the faculty and students who will be teaching and taking the courses.



Monday, May 10 - Friday, May 14


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 especially for those who are graduating. May God grant them clarity of mind and inspiration as they develop their insights in their writing projects. As May 28th is the submission deadline for outstanding coursework from the Winter 2021 semester, your prayers for our Junior Members would be most appreciated.


On May 12th, the Critical Faith team will record the last installment of the podcast series “The Wake of 2020.” This will be the last of six episodes dedicated to exploring the possibility of political judgment after 2020. We pray in thanksgiving for the production team and, especially, for the openness and insight of our invited guests, Kristin Kobes Du Mez, Jonathan Hamilton-Diabo and Cheri DiNovo, who offered their time and reflections generously to our community.


We ask for prayer for our Academic Registrar, Elizabet Aras, who is currently on partial bed rest to recover from the persistent pain caused by physical fatigue that has haunted her for over a month now. She is slowly beginning to heal and hopes to be back on her feet soon but let’s pray that God, in his grace and mercy, will lay his healing hand on Elizabet, bless her with an extra measure of strength and patience and give wisdom to the doctors who are treating her. 


Monday, May 17 - Friday, May 21


On Monday, May 17th, the ICS Senate will convene for an all-day meeting via Zoom. This year’s meeting will have the special feature of a lunch segment where board members will join the senate members in a time of fellowship and getting to know one another. Please pray for wisdom and clarity of mind for the Chair and ICS Chancellor, Dr. Aron Reppmann, as he leads the sessions, and for all the external and internal senators as they consider the range of issues on the agenda concerning ICS’s academic programs. We also want to pray for both Gideon Strauss and Elizabet Aras, as there is a lot to oversee during the meeting, that all will go smoothly to ensure the meeting is as productive as possible.


From May 17 to 20, Citizens for Public Justice will host the “Seeking Justice Together” conference, an online gathering of justice-minded Canadian Christians. ICS/CPRSE is one of the event’s supporters, sponsoring a workshop on decolonization processes within faith communities, under the leadership of Decolonizing Christianity Canada and Kenosis. Please pray that this event may be an opportunity for growth and transformation of all participants. 


Please pray this week and next for all the preparations that need to be made by the staff, Leadership Team, and Board members for the upcoming Board meeting at the end of the month.


Monday, May 24 - Friday, May 28


On Wednesday, our online learning program will continue with Fashion Theology, taught by Robert Covolo. This is a two-week intensive course running every weekday, 1-3pm EDT from May 26 to June 8. This seminar is for anyone who has wondered how Christianity relates to fashion or has suspected there is more behind fashion than meets the eye. Participants will, among other things, serve as fellow pioneers in the emerging field of fashion theology—that is, the fascinating ways theology intersects with fashion’s social, aesthetic, linguistic, performative, narrative, ethical, etc., elements. Robert has just published a book and been interviewed many times on this topic, to which you can find links here: http://faculty.icscanada.edu/robert-covolo. For more information on this course, and the ones to come, go to: www.icscanadaedu/summer-courses. Please pray for wisdom and insight for the students participating in this course and for Robert as he teaches.


On Thursday evening, May 27th, and Friday, May 28th, the Board of Trustees will meet virtually with the Leadership Team. Please pray for grace and wisdom for our Chair, John Joosse, and all Board and Leadership Team members as they deliberate together on the various matters before them during these still uncertain times. We ask again for ease of use of the virtual meeting technology so that the times together go smoothly with little or no disruption.


Thursday, May 27th is the final class of the course The Soul of Soulless Conditions taught by our PhD candidate, Dean Dettlof. We give thanks for the students who participated in the course, and for Dean as he facilitated the discussions around the readings for this course. 


Monday, May 31


As we come to the last day of May, we want to express our gratitude to our supporters for all the ways you have supported us during this past year. We have been blessed by your encouraging notes and inspired by the way you have stood by us during a very difficult and unsettling year. May you experience Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians (ch. 3:16-21(NIV) in abundance: 


I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.


Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.