Tuesday 30 November 2021

Prayer Letter: December 2021

Wednesday, December 1- Friday, December 3:

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. At the Annual General meeting on Saturday, November 27th, we welcomed four new board members: Sandra Tang, Kevin Huinink, Dan Beerens, and Mario Matos. Please especially pray for these new members of the Board that they will find joy and blessing as they begin their term of service. Pray also for wisdom for John Joosse as Chair, and for Diane Stronks as Vice Chair in their leadership roles. We give thanks for each trustee and their faithful service to, and support of, ICS.

On December 1st, ICS will be hosting a virtual Open House for all students interested in our MA and PhD programs. The Open House will be held from 6:00-7:30 pm EST and is designed to introduce students to these programs and to answer questions about studying at ICS. Please pray that God will establish the work of our hands as we reach out to potential students that there will be interest in joining ICS in one of these programs. If you are interested, or know someone who is, please email Brenna at recruitment-coordinator@icscanada.edu.

Jason Mills (University of St. Michael’s College) recently defended his thesis entitled In Vitro Education: Examining the Virtual Culture of Online Pastoral Education, with ICS emeritus Doug Blomberg as his supervisor. This past month, Jason’s thesis was awarded the Governor General’s Gold Medal Academic Award through USMC’s Faculty of Theology. We would like to share prayers of gratitude and celebration for Jason’s hard work and his laudable achievement.

Monday, December 6 - Friday, December 10:

We want to pray for continued stamina and enthusiasm for our Senior and Junior Members as they finish out the semester and prepare to start their new courses in January. We pray for Gideon Strauss that he might have rhythm and creative energy in his administrative role as Academic Dean, and for strength and inspiration for all our Senior Members and faculty who are teaching in the winter semester.

On December 8th from 3-5 pm EST the course, The Radical Theopoetics of John D. Caputo, with Dr. Jim Olthuis will be visited by Dr. John D. Caputo himself! His online class session will be open to those interested in joining the discussion. Please RSVP in order to attend by emailing Brenna at: recruitment-coordinator@icscanada.edu. We pray that this will be an interesting and inspiring opportunity for the students in the class and those who join them.

On December 8-11, most of our Senior Members will be participating in the annual Reformational Philosophy Conference organized by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA). The theme of this year’s conference is “Philosophy in the Reformed Tradition 2021: Celebrating the Heritage, Facing the Challenges, and Embracing the Future.” On Thursday, December 9, President Ronald A. Kuipers will be chairing a panel on the topic: “Bridging the Theology-Reformational Philosophy Gap” along with panelists: Nik Ansell (ICS), Jeremy Ive, Gayle Doornbos (Dordt), and Jamie Smith (Calvin). That same day, Bob Sweetman is also participating on a panel about teaching Reformational Philosophy to the next generation alongside Maarten Verkerk, Lisa Lansang, Guilhermo Cavalho, and Michael Wagenman. Edith van der Boom will also be co-chairing breakout interest sessions on the topic of education. The conference also features book presentations by many Reformational authors, including Jonathan Chaplin on his latest monograph. ICS is one of the conference's sponsoring institutions, and the entire conference is online and free to register. Please pray with us for the involvement of each of these Senior Members in their respective presentations, that those and the conversations that come from them may provide far-reaching blessings to all involved. You can also find out more and join the conference here: https://www.reformationalphilosophy.org/rpc2021/.

Please continue to pray this month for the Educational Policy Committee and the Academic Council as they will be reviewing course proposals and policy proposals for presentation to the Senate at their winter meeting. Please pray for each of the members of these two committees, that they will have wisdom and clarity of thinking as they review these important documents, and for our Academic Dean, Gideon Strauss, as he leads the Senior Members in their academic programming and policy deliberations.

Monday, December 13 - Friday, December 17:

Monday, December 13 marks the end of our in-house colloquium, Philosophy Otherwise: Relearning the Philosophical Craft. This space to reflect on systemic oppression in the context of our disciplines of study and institutional tradition was only possible through the leadership of the CPRSE planning committee, consisting of Héctor Acero Ferrer, Abbi Hofstede, Danielle Yett, and Andrew Tebbutt. We are thankful for the conversations we’ve been able to have together as an academic community so far. Please pray for Héctor, Abbi, Danielle, and Andrew as they lead the closing session of this capacity-building event.

During this calendar year, the CPRSE team has had the support of ICS alumnus Andrew Tebbutt as our Postdoctoral Research Associate. Andrew has contributed generously to the life of our scholarly community, providing leadership for a number of publications and public outreach initiatives. Please pray for Andrew as he continues his work with the CPRSE during this winter term.

Thursday, December 16th, is the final day of classes for the fall semester at ICS and the 2022 winter semester is scheduled to begin on January 2nd. Please pray for our students in these last days of the fall semester that they will be able to complete their study requirements in good time. Please also pray along with us that the two-week holiday break will enable all of us to rest and recharge, and bring all of us back energized for the new year and all it brings.

On Friday, December 17th, we will share in a time of fun and fellowship at our annual Christmas Party -- again this year held virtually. We ask for prayer for Elizabet Aras, our Registrar, as she makes plans for our time together. It isn’t always easy to creatively design a party such as this virtually but last year we held the party remotely and it was a great success. Pray too that it might be a wonderful evening of giving thanks for and celebrating the gifts we have in one another in this blessed community of learning at ICS.

Rebekah Smick would greatly appreciate your prayers as she carries out her work at ICS. The many months of the pandemic have inhibited her work on ICS’s Art in Orvieto summer study program in Orvieto, Italy, which is an important component of our new Master of Worldview Studies in Art, Religion, and Theology. But she has found that she has been able to focus more on some of her writing projects during the pandemic. She would be very grateful for your prayers as she brings some of these projects to completion. She would also appreciate your prayers in her ongoing work with her students who now come to us from across the globe because of our general shift to online teaching during the pandemic.

Monday, December 20 - Friday, December 24:

During the year 2021, ICS/CPRSE invited a series of scholars, practitioners, and community leaders to provide leadership to multiple events and publications aimed at better understanding our complicity in systems of oppression as an institution of higher education. We are extremely grateful to everyone who, in the midst of very busy schedules, took the time to share their expertise, experiences, and wisdom with us. Please pray in thanksgiving for the generosity of Nadine Bowers Du Toit, Kristin Kobes Du Mez, Kevin Huinink, Jonathan Hamilton-Diabo, Cheri DiNovo, Matau Setshase, María Acosta, Ntando Mlambo, Lori-Anne Dolloff, and Elisabeth Paquette; whose contributions to the life of our community have been invaluable.

As we look forward to next week when we celebrate Christmas by the giving and receiving of gifts, we thank God for our committed and faithful friends for their gifts of encouragement and faithful support in prayer and financial gifts. We pray for each one of you that you will receive the amazing gifts of love, joy, and peace this Christmas season and be filled with hope with what God will do in the new year.

Please pray for Rebekah Smick and Thomas McIntire and their greater family in various locations across Canada and in Britain. They have been thankful for God’s mercies in the birth of a new grandson during the pandemic and for the safe return of his parents from Myanmar to Britain at the beginning of the pandemic in time for his birth. They are hoping that this family might be able to visit them in Toronto at Christmas for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, but are waiting to see if the discovery of the Omicron variant will affect those plans. Please pray for wisdom as they make decisions as a family around the possibility of travelling at this time.

Please pray today for the families of the rest of our staff, Senior Members, and Junior Members as they find ways to celebrate the birth of our Saviour amidst the restraints of the pandemic. Most of our families are spread far and wide and so it won’t be possible for all to be together in person. Pray that despite the separation, families can find joy and inspiration in their virtual get-togethers. As well, we ask for special prayers for those families who may be suffering because of illness or grieving a loss in their family.

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 27 - Friday, December 31:

As 2021 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 us in this second pandemic year to steadfastly pursue our vision. 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.

We sincerely hope that you enjoyed reading our latest issue of Perspective and have been inspired by the students’ testimonies and the articles on ‘burning questions’ at ICS. If you have not yet received this issue in the mail or by email, you can follow this link: perspective.icscanada.edu/latest-issue to read the issue for yourself. If you would like to join in the spirit of giving before the year ends, you can find the letter that accompanied the issue and some additional information about ways to donate here.

The Power of Listening

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of Peace

—Luke 1:78-79

The gospel of Luke begins in a very intriguing way. The angel Gabriel appears to the priest Zechariah in the sanctuary of the temple and tells him that his elderly wife Elizabeth, thought to be barren, will conceive and bear a son whom he must name John. When Zechariah questions the possibility of such a miracle, he is struck dumb, and Gabriel tells him that his tongue will only be loosened once these things have come to pass.

At this point, two women, Elizabeth and Mary, take centre stage. (Perhaps it is no coincidence that the voices of these two women emerge only after a man’s voice has been silenced?) Both women find themselves miraculously pregnant, and we are told the children they carry, John and Jesus, bear a people’s hopes for a redeemed future. One will prepare the way and help make people’s hearts ready to receive the other’s message of salvation through forgiveness (vs. 76-77). When Mary visits Elizabeth and Zechariah, the child in Elizabeth’s womb leaps for joy, and Mary then gives her song of praise to a God of mercy who will lift up the lowly and fill the hungry with good things (vs. 52-53).

As a man reading this story, I have become very interested in the song Zechariah later gives once he is finally able to speak again. What will he say after long months of silent listening? I wonder if, during his time of silence, he heard Mary’s song and pondered her words in his heart—the same way Mary would later treasure the message that the shepherds brought to her after she had given birth to Jesus (Luke 2:19)? I like to think his song displays the wisdom that comes from such listening and shows how his heart has thereby been opened to the God of mercy that Mary first proclaimed.

I have spoken before in this space about Advent as a time of active waiting and expecting, and I think that listening, pondering, and treasuring are great words to describe such a spiritual posture. So much harm comes by way of our failure to listen, and so much healing, blessing and joy comes by way of tarrying with others long enough to truly hear what they are saying to us—sometimes without words and always long after our premature assumption to know what they must be saying. At this point, something real and important finally dawns on us, like the “dawn from on high” Zechariah proclaims—the Messiah who gives light to our darkness and guides our feet into the way of peace.

This Advent, I am challenging myself to listen, really listen. Where is the voice proclaiming the way of our Messiah’s shalom? Is it coming from a place I might not expect? Do I have the ears to hear it?

Friends, I wish you a blessed Christmas as you ponder God’s way of justice, mercy, and peace, and as you strive to listen to all the various voices that might guide us into it.


Ron Kuipers

In Memoriam: Inès Cécile Naudin ten Cate-Seerveld

by Mary Vander Vennen

Late on the night of October 28, 2021, Inès Seerveld passed away in her sleep after a long struggle with dementia. God gave her a merciful ending, but her death for me marked the end of a friendship of nearly a lifetime. I’d like to tell you a bit about her.

Inès was born in the Netherlands in 1931 to a highly educated and cultured family. She was second in a family of three children, the only daughter between two brothers. Her mother was Swiss, her father Dutch. They valued education highly, and Inès benefited from a classical education weighted toward Greek and Latin. Inès spoke Swiss German, Dutch, German, French, and English fluently and had at least a speaking acquaintance with Italian and reading acquaintance with Spanish. Her professional education was in the field of social work, where she wrote a thesis on dealing in merciful justice with delinquent children. She graduated with the equivalent of a master’s degree in social work.

Because when she married Cal they moved to the United States and started a family, she never pursued work in that field in the U.S. However the principles and practice she was taught never left her. Inès was gentle, with a generous heart for the needy and displaced. She served as a volunteer at the Toronto Lighthouse Ministry teaching English to immigrants, later serving several years on its Board. She served as a deacon at the Willowdale Christian Reformed Church. She was a faithful, loving mother to Anya, Gioia, and Luke and a supportive wife to Cal. She and Cal served as hosts to a great variety of guests over the years. Many of Cal’s students remember the homemade muffins she sometimes sent along to his classes.

Inès had a rich inner life, very interested in history, geography, the world of animals. Her favorite TV station was the Nature Channel. She loved drama and theatre. For years, the four of us had season subscriptions to the Goodman Theatre in downtown Chicago. She was well acquainted with the world of art, not only appreciating it but substantially supporting artists and art projects. Some years ago Ruth Huber, Inès' mother, donated a substantial sum to the Institute for Christian Studies to establish the Ruth Memorial Fund, the interest to be used to sponsor art events at the ICS. Now with an additional legacy from Inès, the fund will be re-named in both their honor. 

At Trinity Christian College, Cal and Inès also set up the Seerveld Arts in Society (SAIS) fund in an effort to enrich the neighborhood and students. It was designed and carried out by Trinity faculty members, has since developed into the Seerveld Gallery, and has enabled projects like John Bakker's Roseland Portrait Project, which consists of 400 portraits of ordinary people mounted on boxes. This project has been exhibited in police headquarters, malls, and churches and has led to great public relations for Trinity. It will be exhibited in Texas later next year.

Inès endured her illness patiently and uncomplainingly. Cal cared for her faithfully and heroically, determined not to subject her to a long-term care facility. God granted his desire.

I first met Inès when she and Cal accepted a position to teach philosophy at Belhaven College and moved to Jackson, Mississippi in 1958. My husband Bob was already on the faculty there and encouraged Cal to come. Cal and Bob had a beautiful collegial relationship over decades at three different institutions. Our children and theirs are approximately the same age, and they still are in touch. Together, the four of us went through the various stages of family life and the joys and crises of small, struggling institutions. Now Cal and I have each lost a spouse. But the fact of our long relationship I consider to be one of the great blessings of my life. God has been utterly faithful through all these years.

Senior Members Presenting at Annual Reformational Philosophy Conference

On December 8-11, most of our Senior Members will be participating in the annual Reformational Philosophy Conference organized by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA). The theme of this year’s conference is “Philosophy in the Reformed Tradition 2021: Celebrating the Heritage, Facing the Challenges, and Embracing the Future.” 

On Thursday, December 9, President Ronald A. Kuipers will be chairing a panel on the topic: “Bridging the Theology-Reformational Philosophy Gap” along with panelists: Nik Ansell (ICS), Jeremy Ive, Gayle Doornbos (Dordt), and Jamie Smith (Calvin). That same day, Bob Sweetman is also participating on a panel about teaching Reformational Philosophy to the next generation alongside Maarten Verkerk, Lisa Lansang, Guilhermo Cavalho, and Michael Wagenman. Edith van der Boom will also be co-chairing breakout interest sessions on the topic of education. The conference also features book presentations by many Reformational authors, including Jonathan Chaplin on his latest monograph. 

ICS is one of the conference's sponsoring institutions, and the entire conference is online and free to register. You can also find out more information (including a full conference program) and register to join the conference here: https://www.reformationalphilosophy.org/rpc2021/.

Saturday 30 October 2021

Fall 2021 Scripture, Faith & Scholarship Symposium with Jonathan Hamilton-Diabo

Fill the Earth and Subdue: 
Exploring Relationships with Land 
with Jonathan Hamilton-Diabo

Friday, November 5th at 1:30pm (Eastern)

Join the Meeting Here:

Meeting ID: 884 5521 8588

On Friday, November 5th, the Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics (CPRSE) will host symposium "Fill the Earth and Subdue: Exploring Relationships with Land," the fall instalment of our Scripture, Faith, and Scholarship series with Jonathan Hamilton-Diabo (June Callwood Professor in Social Justice and Special Advisor on Indigenous Issues at Emmanuel and Victoria Colleges).

Jonathan's work focuses on the history and impact of Residential Schools, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its Calls to Action, Indigenous interactions with Christianity and the Church, and community relationships. Jonathan is particularly interested in exploring the use of personal stories, experiences, and worldviews in the creation of human connections. In his time with us, Jonathan will speak about the role of scriptural narratives and scriptural interpretation in the Indigenous interactions with Christianity.

We are delighted to welcome Jonathan as he gives the ICS community a glimpse into the ways in which his interpretation of sacred texts has helped to shape his professional journey, and we invite you to join us virtually via the Zoom link above (phone-in options are available below).

More About Jonathan

The majority of Jonathan’s university career has been in the area of Indigenous student services through his involvement in First Nations House and as the Director of the Office of Indigenous Initiatives (Provost’s Office and Human Resources & Equity) at the University of Toronto. He was an ESL Instructor with LINC (Language Instruction to Newcomers to Canada) and coordinated a Basic Skills and Career Program for adults at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto.

Jonathan is from Kahnawake, a Mohawk community outside of Montreal. He is an unwavering Montreal Canadiens fan, loves to downhill ski, has an uncanny knowledge of superheroes and comic books, and loves to spend time with his wife and children. Oh yes, there is also a bunny and cat at home!

- - - - -

Optional Phone-In Details:

+1 647 558 0588 Canada
+1 778 907 2071 Canada
+1 204 272 7920 Canada
+1 438 809 7799 Canada
+1 587 328 1099 Canada
+1 647 374 4685 Canada
+1 646 876 9923 US (New York)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 408 638 0968 US (San Jose)
+33 1 7095 0103 France
+33 1 7095 0350 France
+33 1 8699 5831 France
+33 1 7037 2246 France
+33 1 7037 9729 France
+60 3 3099 2229 Malaysia
+60 3 7724 4079 Malaysia
+60 3 7724 4080 Malaysia
+60 3 9212 1727 Malaysia

Meeting ID: 884 5521 8588

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kdUbavqYAA

Prayer Letter: November 2021

Monday, November 1- Friday, November 5:

At ICS/CPRSE, we are excited to announce that the opening session of our 2021 Colloquium, Philosophy Otherwise: Relearning the Philosophical Craft, will take place on Monday, November 1st, at 6:00pm! This will be the first of five sessions designed to help us reflect critically on the impact of systemic racism in our scholarly community and tradition, as well as to envision ways to integrate considerations of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our learning, research, and public outreach.

We give thanks for the members of the Colloquium Planning Committee (Héctor Acero Ferrer, Abbi Hofstede, Andrew Tebbutt, and Danielle Yett) who have been working tirelessly over the past year putting together a program that responds to ICS's institutional call to acknowledge, lament, and uproot systemic racism in our institution. We also give thanks that along the way we have developed meaningful relationships with scholars, who represent radically diverse scholarly approaches and tradition, and are making significant efforts to reflect on what it means to think philosophically and theologically in a post-2020 world.

Colombian philosopher, Dr. María del Rosario Acosta, Professor & Interim Vice-Chair of the Department of Hispanic Studies at the University of California Riverside, will be providing the leadership in this first session. Dr. Acosta brings to us a wealth of experience in Continental Philosophy, as well as decades of direct work with survivors of political violence and police brutality. In her work on "Grammars of Listening," Dr. Acosta attempts to open a philosophical space to listen to the voices of individuals and communities oppressed and marginalized through systemic violence. In doing so, Dr. Acosta considers the act of listening both as a philosophical category and as a practice that can aid philosophy in reimagining itself in a post-colonial world. Please pray for Dr. Acosta as she leads this session, and all those who will be participating in the colloquium that they might have insight as they reflect on their own philosophical and scholarly practices.

Also today, November 1, is the application deadline for students wanting to enter the MA in Education Leadership program if they want to start in the 2022 winter term. Please pray for wisdom for Gideon Strauss and Edith van der Boom as they review the students’ applications this month.

During Thursday night, October 28, ICS Emeritus Calvin Seerveld's wife Ines passed away in her sleep. We are grieved to hear of her passing, but give thanks that Ines was able to live out her days in the comfort of her own home and in the tender care of her husband and those who loved her. On these days of All Saints' (November 1) and All Souls’ (November 2), we ask you to take a moment to remember Ines, Cal, and their family and friends in your prayers. We pray also that God will send comfort and resurrection hope to all those who are mourning her loss, and especially to Cal.

On Wednesday, November 3rd, there will be a MA-EL Virtual Open House for current and future educators, between 4-5pm ET. This Open House will help future students understand the program and hear how current students are benefiting from this unique learning opportunity. Please contact Elizabet Aras, academic-registrar@icscanada.edu, for further details if you are interested in attending and/or know someone who might be. And please pray that this event will prove to be instructive and welcoming to potential students.

On Friday, November 5th, the ICS/CPRSE will host the Fall 2021 Scripture, Faith, and Scholarship Symposium with Jonathan Hamilton-Diabo, June Callwood Professor in Social Justice and Special Advisor on Indigenous Issues at Emmanuel and Victoria Colleges. In his presentation, "Fill the Earth and Subdue: Exploring Relationships with Land," Jonathan will share with our community how his frontline and academic work in Indigenous issues has expressed his faith and spirituality. We pray in thanksgiving for Jonathan as he gives the ICS community a glimpse into the ways in which his interpretation of sacred texts has helped to shape his professional journey.

Monday, November 8 - Friday, November 12:

Please continue to pray for Harley Dekker this week as he works diligently with the auditors to finalize the annual audit of our financial records for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2021. We need to have the information ready in time for the AGM and the Annual Report, so we ask that God would bless these efforts with grace and speed of deliberation. Once again, we are very thankful for God’s watchful care over us, especially in the second half of this year during the pandemic.

Please pray this week and next for our Perspective production and mailing crew, especially Vidya Williams, Héctor, and Danielle as they work with Kevin, our designer, and Randy, our printer, to meet the deadline for sending out the mailing in a couple of weeks. This is always a hectic time so we ask for grace and strength for each one as they work together. May all enjoy a sense of accomplishment in the completion of this important and special project.

A number of our Junior Members are currently at various stages of thesis research and writing. Among these, we ask for prayers especially for the following of Senior Member Nik Ansell's advisees: Dong Wook, who is working on Derrida's "Religion without Religion" theme in conversation with Mark's Gospel; June, who is probing the philosophical implications of "liminality"; and Fred, who is tracing out the implications of René Girard's thinking for how we might understand the "necessity" of Jesus' death. Please pray for these Junior Members' continued inspiration, energy, and encouragement as they work on these exciting projects!

Please pray this month and next for the Educational Policy Committee and the Academic Council as they will be reviewing course proposals and policy proposals for presentation to the Senate at their winter meeting. Please pray for each of the members of these two committees, that they will have wisdom and clarity of thinking as they review these important documents, and for our Academic Dean, Gideon Strauss, as he leads the faculty in their academic programming and policy deliberations.

Monday, November 15 - Friday, November 19:

On Monday, November 15th, ICS/CPRSE will host the second session of our 2021 Colloquium, Philosophy Otherwise: Relearning the Philosophical Craft, this time under the leadership of Ntando Mlambo. Ntando is a lecturer at the University of the Free State in South Africa. In her work, Ntando explores how the emerging praxis of spatial justice can further the ecumenical church’s quest for a prophetic voice and actions in South African land reform. We pray for Ntando, for the colloquium planning committee, and for the ICS community, as we come together to reflect on the ways in which systemic racism subsists within Christian communities and to seek life-giving alternatives in our theological and philosophical praxis.

Currently, Senior Member Nik Ansell is under contract to write an essay on "Nature and Grace" for the T & T Clark "Companion to the Doctrine of Creation" volume. This is a wonderful opportunity to bring some reformational resources to the attention of scholars working in this area. But the deadline is now a pressing one, and Nik's contribution needs to be finished by the end of 2021. So we ask for prayers for Nik's concentration as he continues this work, and we pray that he may receive the blessings of time and stamina as he brings this project to completion.

We would value your prayers this week as we work with our printer on the final steps to get this latest issue of Perspective mailed out to our ICS community. We’re grateful for the expertise of our designer and printer, and pray that the many pieces of this process will come together in a smooth and timely manner.

Monday, November 22 - Friday, November 26:

During this week of the US Thanksgiving holiday, we want to share our prayers of gratitude for each and every one of our supporters in Canada, the US, and across the world. Your continued financial, prayerful, professional, and personal support of the day-to-day educational mission of ICS keeps us going. So thank you!

On Friday, November 26th, the Board of Trustees will meet virtually. Please pray for grace and wisdom for our Chair, John Joosse, and all our Board members as they deliberate together on the various matters before them during these still unpredictable times. Pray also for ease of use of the virtual meeting technology so that the deliberations go smoothly with little or no disruption.

Our Annual General Meeting will take place virtually on Saturday, November 27th. Please pray for John Joosse as he gives leadership to the meeting and for all those who will participate in the presenting of reports. We’re grateful for this yearly rhythm which affords the opportunity to attend to what we’ve accomplished, and the goals to which we aspire institutionally. We also give thanks for this chance to gather with the broader ICS community to reflect together on our educational calling and hopes.

Monday, November 29 - Tuesday, November 30:

As we quickly move into the end of the fall term, we would ask you to please pray for our Senior Members (and adjunct and sessional faculty) as they teach in the final three weeks of classes, and as they prepare for their teaching in the quickly-approaching winter term. We also want to express our deep gratitude for the new students who have come to ICS this academic year, as well as all the returning ones. Our students keep us alive in all kinds of ways. So we pray that they may stay in touch with their infectious enthusiasm amidst the demands that can be felt as we move towards the end of the semester and they work to finish up readings and other assignments and as they start to prepare their term papers and projects.

We would also ask you to pray for Brenna, our Recruitment Coordinator, and the rest of the team as they continue to promote the upcoming winter term courses. We ask for wisdom and creativity as they experiment with different ways to communicate to a wider and diverse audience about our learning opportunities, and we pray that these efforts will bring many students who would benefit from the ICS learning environment through our “doors.”

Partners in Provocation

And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,
not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,
and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

—Hebrews 10:24-25

‘Provoke’ is a strong word. Often, we use this word with a negative connotation, as when we counsel ourselves not to provoke someone to anger, or to refrain from stirring up volatile emotions in others. If we say a film or novel is ‘provocative,’ we usually mean that it is somehow dangerous or edgy, possessing the ability to arouse us in ways we might not always find helpful or welcome. Yet in the Letter to the Hebrews we are told that, when we gather together to encourage one another, we should also find ways to provoke each other.

The Greek word that the NRSV translates as ‘provoke’ in Hebrews 10:24 is paroxysmon. That is an intense word too. In fact, a variation of that word (paroxysmos) is used in Acts 15:39 to describe the “sharp disagreement” between Paul and Barnabas that caused them to break up their shared ministry and go their separate ways. What a throw down that must have been!

Of course, we still use the word ‘paroxysm’ today, which one dictionary I checked defines as “a sudden attack or violent expression of a particular emotion or activity.” Is Hebrews, then, asking us to figure out how to instill something like that in those with whom we gather? Whatever the case, I think it is safe to say that here we are counselled to do something more energetic and challenging than simply give our fellows a gentle nudge. In fact, other translations use words like ‘stimulate’ or ‘stir up’ to communicate the kind of incitement that the word paroxysmon connotes.

I like to think of ICS as a place where those who seek and desire God’s shalom, to live a life of love and good deeds, can meet to encourage—and even incite and provoke—one another. What is more, that meeting place does not only exist inside our classroom but includes all the other conversational spaces we curate both within and outside of the academy—even this very letter from me to you. I think what I like most about this passage in Hebrews, then, is that it speaks of provoking and inciting in the context of such a mutually supportive gathering of conspirators. I thus see ICS as a learning community that includes you, its community of support. Together, we are ‘partners in provocation,’ an encouraging community that does not shy away from the task of challenging each other to live lives replete with love and good deeds.

As we await “the Day that is approaching” (vs. 25), we do so together, encouraging and provoking one another. Thank you for being a partner in this joyful work. May God bless our collaboration so that it may erupt into a paroxysm of love and good deeds!

Shalom, my friends!

Ron Kuipers

Wednesday 6 October 2021

October 19: Jonathan Chaplin to Present on New Book

ICS and the CPRSE are pleased to welcome Dr. Jonathan Chaplin on October 19th at 1:30pm EDT for a presentation on and discussion of his most recent book, Faith in Democracy: Framing a Politics of Deep Diversity (available from SCM Press). This is an important work that delves into the complex relationships of faith and the public and political spheres, and we're very much looking forward to the opportunity to have Jonathan discuss these themes with us.

Here is a brief description of the book:

What is the place of faith in public life in the UK? Beyond 'secularism' that seeks to relegate faith to the margins of public life, and a 'Christian nation' position that seeks to retain, or even regain, Christian public privilege, there is a third way.
Faith in Democracy: Framing a Politics of Deep Diversity calls for an approach that maximizes public space for the expression of faith-based visions within democratic fora while repudiating all traces of religious privilege. It argues for a truly conversational space, reflecting theologically on the contested concepts at the heart of the current debate about the place of faith in British public life: democracy, secularism, pluralism and public faith. (from SCM Press)

Our virtual event on October 19 will be open to the public via Zoom, and our conversation with Jonathan will be steered by Junior Member Abbigail Hofstede and CPRSE’s Postdoctoral Research Associate Andrew Tebbutt

Below, you will find all the information needed to access the Zoom session. Simply click on the link to join on the day of the event and you will be taken directly to the meeting room. Please email cprse@icscanada.edu to let us know if you're planning to join.

* * *

Book Presentation - Jonathan Chaplin, Faith in Democracy
Time: Oct 19, 2021 @ 1:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Meeting ID: 889 8993 1652

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Friday 1 October 2021

Prayer Letter: October 2021

Friday, October 1:

During the month of October, the CPRSE team approaches the final stages of planning of the colloquium “Philosophy Otherwise: Relearning the Philosophical Craft,” which will take place during the month of November via Zoom. This event will be a space to continue ICS’s ongoing reflection on systemic racism and its bearings on the scholarly tradition on which our institution stands. Please pray for the planning committee, as well for our guest presenters, as they put the pieces together for this important discussion for our community.

Monday, October 4 - Friday, October 8:

We want to give thanks for our first Academic Council meeting on September 20th which ended with a brief start-of-the-year check-in. The Senior Members are all looking forward to the semester and are excited about the courses they are teaching this year. Returning Junior Members are happy to get back into the groove, and are enthusiastic about staying connected with the community. New Junior Members felt very welcomed by everyone during Orientation Week, and said that the events that took place felt different from other universities in a positive way. We give thanks for this inspiring start to the new school year.

Bob Sweetman is starting to work with two more new students, Chris (MA) and Traver (PhD) who will be the last new students he takes on as he moves into retirement. These students have already been working with Bob as they took classes with him last academic year trying out ICS and its offerings since they were available online. Their experience was obviously positive enough to convince them to come back for more, indeed, to commit to take on a program of study at ICS. In the meanwhile, he continues to serve others as supervisor to five students: Grace (MA) and Julia, Eric, Samir, and Meg (PhD). Bob hopes to have helped each to either finish or be at the thesis writing stage by the time he retires fully. Please pray for Bob that he will have the energy and acuity to help each achieve their goals and enter into their future calling. Pray too for Bob as he starts the learning process on what he can expect of himself in retirement.

Please pray with us over these next few weeks as we work with the contributors to our fall issue of Perspective. This issue is a very special one as it will focus on introducing our new students this year. Pray particularly for our editors, Danielle and Héctor, as they ensure that all goes smoothly and timelines are met.

Please pray for the Recruitment Committee as they meet every Wednesday under the direction of Brenna, our new Recruitment Coordinator as they plan for the strategic recruitment for our quickly-approaching winter semester. Pray too for Brenna and the team as they begin thinking long-term about promotional strategies for our courses and programs in the 2022-23 academic year.

On the afternoon of October 9th, Héctor Acero Ferrer and Andrew Tebbutt will be participating on behalf of the CPRSE in the Society for Ricoeur Studies’ virtual conference. Together with Dr. Robert Vosloo (University of Stellenbosch), they will lead a panel titled Divine Incognitos: Paul Ricoeur on Forgiveness and Religion from the Intimate to the Public Sphere. This panel will take cues especially from Ricoeur’s understanding of the religious or theological dimension of forgiveness, in order to explore the various settings in which the “small acts of consideration” of forgiveness are possible, and what the restorative potential of forgiveness entails to individuals in such settings. Please pray for Héctor, Andrew, and Dr. Vosloo as they prepare for their panel, and that it might lead to fruitful discussions among the conference participants.

Monday, October 11 (Thanksgiving) - Friday, October 15:

This being the week of Canadian Thanksgiving, we want to join together and give thanks for the many answers to prayer this year. We have been blessed by our ICS Community again and again as they faithfully supported us in our times of need; we have seen God’s hand of protection over all of us during the yet another wave of the pandemic and all its challenges; and we have been encouraged by the grace and strength that God has given us during the difficult times.

As we start our next cycle of recruitment for the winter term and next academic year, please pray for all of the faculty and staff involved in our recruitment efforts, as well as the students who are considering taking our courses or becoming a part of the ICS community. Pray especially that we will be able to reach those students who are struggling with their faith, and might particularly benefit from coming here to wrestle with those questions in a supportive community.

Monday, October 18 - Friday, October 22:

The Academic Council will receive the 2020-2021 Reflective Practice Reports of Senior Members in its meeting on October 18, and will evaluate and celebrate each individually in their meetings throughout this academic year. These conversations will constitute the annual performance review of each Senior Member. Please pray for Gideon Strauss, our Academic Dean, as he leads these important discussions, and that each faculty member will be uplifted and encouraged.

Please pray for Bob and Rosanne Sweetman as for the immediate future they have the pleasure and challenge of having their daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren ages four and two living with them. They have not seen them since the pandemic began as they live in Tanzania. Their daughter is using this opportunity to receive the Pfizer mRNA vaccine, whereas their son-in-law has already been vaccinated in Tanzania. Their grandchildren are full of beans, creative, and very active; so we ask for energy for Bob and Rosanne as they enjoy the wonder and joy of being opa and oma and all that entails to their young grandchildren.

On October 19, ICS/CPRSE will welcome Dr. Jonathan Chaplin for an afternoon presentation and discussion of his most recent book, Faith in Democracy: Framing a Politics of Deep Diversity. Junior Member Abbigail Hofstede and CPRSE’s Postdoctoral Research Associate Andrew Tebbutt will help us steer this conversation, which will be open to the public via Zoom. If you’re interested in joining us for this event, please email ics-communications@icscanada.edu so we can send you the Zoom details once they’re set up. Please also pray that this event can serve as a space for fruitful exchange around some of the political issues most pressing in our communities today.

Monday, October 25 - Friday, October 29:

Monday 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 this week that God would graciously encourage and refresh them in their educational vocations at ICS.

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, 2021. We have continued to see positive financial developments this past year and we give thanks for God’s care for us.

Please uphold the Board of Trustees in their oversight of the vision and mission of ICS, especially as they plan for the virtual Board meeting at the end of November, and the AGM, again via Zoom, around the same time. Pray for strength and wisdom for each one as they continue to provide support and leadership in the working out of God’s call to ICS now and into the future.

Education for Burning Hearts

They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking
to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”

—Luke 24:32

I have long been fascinated by the story of Jesus’s post-resurrection appearance to two of his followers on the road to Emmaus. The story is utterly mysterious. The travellers do not recognize Jesus at first, but they are rapt as he opens the scriptures to them. They recognize the power of his words, without recognizing Jesus himself. Then, after they convince their fellow traveller to break bread with them, they suddenly recognize Jesus, and in that very moment he vanishes.

After their moment of recognition and Jesus’s simultaneous disappearance, the two travellers turn to each other and immediately understand why their hearts burned within them when the would-be stranger was speaking to them. A heart on fire—what a powerful image! It evokes the deep passion, yearning, and desire they already possessed for precisely the good news that Jesus had opened to them. When the two travellers finally turn to each other after Jesus disappears, they seem to conclude that their hearts had in fact recognized Jesus, even when their eyes did not. And now they find themselves alone once more, but transformed, hearts afire.

In my seminars at ICS, I ask students to perform a presentation exercise I call ‘The Burning Question’. I came up with the idea for this exercise because I wanted to steer students away from simply summarizing the reading, and instead to focus on the intellectual, existential, and spiritual issues the reading raises for them personally. Where in this reading does a volatile combination of passion and intellect erupt for you? Focus on that part of the text and unpack it for the rest of the class and attempt to explain why it arouses your perplexity and desire to understand. In this way, I hope to create a safe space for students to bring their spiritual passion into the classroom, and maybe even give them the chance to leave a sacred discussion with their peers in possession of the same burning heart that the travellers to Emmaus once possessed.

I have entertained the idea that Jesus disappears precisely at the moment when the travellers recognize him because that is the exact moment when his gospel of healing and transformation penetrates to the very core of their being, and they no longer need him to be physically present. For when we are in the grip of this passion, are we ever truly alone? In that moment, Jesus vanishes into, and indeed becomes, the fire in our hearts, and the grace of his passion may now fuel our efforts to join with the rest of our Messiah’s disciples in seeking God’s kingdom of shalom.

In the first letter of John, we are taught a similar lesson about God’s presence in absence: “No one has ever seen God,” we are there told, yet “if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12). In love, God is with us even though we never see God—sort of like Jesus after he vanishes.

You, friends of ICS, make possible a school whose teaching is geared to fanning these same embers of divine love smoldering in all of us, to setting hearts aflame with our Messiah’s passion. It’s a risky, incendiary project—we’re not supposed to play with fire, after all—but it is an absolutely vital one.

Shalom, my friends,

Ron Kuipers

Winter 2022 Courses Announced!

With fall courses well underway, we're starting to look ahead to the Winter 2022 term at ICS. We’re very excited to announce the courses we'll be offering starting in January—all of which will remain available online.  

We’ll be running a number of courses that touch on topics ranging from Canadian colonialism, apocalypse and the book of Revelation, Deeper Learning, school governance, Franciscan thinkers, and, of course, Reformational Philosophy. Course syllabi and more information will be made available in the coming weeks, so visit our Winter 2022 landing page for the latest details on the following courses:

Birthpangs of the New Creation: Judgment unto Salvation in the Book of Revelation (Nik Ansell) 
In our culture, “apocalypse” typically refers to a cataclysmic, catastrophic ending, real or imagined. But what if the book from which we derive the term, i.e. the “Apocalypse”—or “Revelation”—of John, refers less to the end of the world than to a transition between the two Ages? With Nik Ansell, explore the topics of death, judgment, heaven, and hell as they are portrayed in the book of Revelation.


Deeper Learning: From Wonder to Inquiry to Practice (Edith van der Boom) 
In this course for instructional leaders, explore learning as a journey from wonder to inquiry to practice. Edith van der Boom helps Christian educators develop Deeper Learning within the context of a celebration of the learner, a mindfulness towards learning design, and a responsiveness to culture.


How to Govern a School: Board Governance, Decision-Making, and Community-Engagement (Gideon Strauss) 
Designed for new and aspiring principals, school leadership teams, and school boards; this new course, taught by Gideon Strauss, provides frameworks and tools for leadership in educational governance. Learn about the work of nurturing relationships among school stakeholders, with a focus on the pivotal relationship between the board and school leadership.


Individuality in the Franciscan Thought of John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham (Bob Sweetman) 
Examine the thought of John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham in relation to the doctrine of “individuality” in this seminar with Bob Sweetman. Against the backdrop of Franciscan spirituality and Aristotelianism, this course will closely consider philosophical accounts of our daily experience of both universality in the world (the fact that creatures come to us in kinds) and individuality (the fact that it is individual creatures that come to us in kinds).


Recognition or Refusal? Cultural Politics in a Colonial Canada (Andrew Tebbutt) 
Canada is often described as a democratic, “multicultural” nation; however, a growing number of Indigenous thinkers and activists are arguing that Canada’s approach to recognizing Indigenous peoples remains culturally and economically colonial. With Postdoctoral Research Associate Andrew Tebbutt, explore the idea of recognition and its application in Canadian politics through the lens of Glen Sean Coulthard’s book Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition and alongside other Indigenous authors such as Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and Taiaiake Alfred.


Religion, Life and Society: Reformational Philosophy (Bob Sweetman) 
Explore central issues in philosophy through the lens of Herman Dooyeweerd, Dirk Vollenhoven, and the “Amsterdam School” of neoCalvinian thought. In this foundational ICS course with Bob Sweetman, you'll test the relevance of the reformational philosophical tradition for recent developments in Western philosophy and attend to critiques of foundationalism, metaphysics, and modernity.


Interdisciplinary Seminar (IDS) To be announced
Every winter, ICS holds its annual Interdisciplinary Seminar, which is an opportunity for Junior and Senior Members from different academic disciplines to come together and explore an idea or question from a variety of points of view. Stay tuned for more information about this year’s topic!

If you want to help promote our courses but aren’t sure how, feel free to reach out to our Recruitment Coordinator, Brenna Wehrle, at recruitment-coordinator@icscanada.edu!

Thursday 30 September 2021

CPRSE Panel at Society for Ricoeur Studies Conference

On the afternoon of October 9th, CPRSE Associate Director Héctor Acero Ferrer and Postdoctoral Research Associate Andrew Tebbutt will be participating on behalf of the CPRSE in the Society for Ricoeur Studies’ virtual conference. Together with Dr. Robert Vosloo (University of Stellenbosch), they will lead a panel titled Divine Incognitos: Paul Ricoeur on Forgiveness and Religion from the Intimate to the Public Sphere. This panel will take cues especially from Ricoeur’s understanding of the religious or theological dimension of forgiveness, in order to explore the various settings in which the “small acts of consideration” of forgiveness are possible, and what the restorative potential of forgiveness entails to individuals in such settings. 

As part of this panel, each of the participants will contribute a presentation for discussion on the following topics:
  • Dr. Robert Vosloo: “Staging Public Forgiveness? Reading J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace in Conversation with Paul Ricoeur”
  • Dr. Andrew Tebbutt: “Guardians of the Gift: Paul Ricoeur on the Pre-Politics of Forgiveness”
  • Héctor Acero Ferrer: “A Community’s Gesture: The Intimacy of Memory and the Possibility of Forgiveness in Paul Ricoeur”

You can find out more about the Society for Ricoeur Studies and their annual conference here.

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.


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.

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!