Tuesday 6 June 2023

Prayer Letter: Summer 2023

Monday, June 5 - Friday, June 9:

Please join us in prayers of gratitude for a series of well-attended events on May 26th. Convocation and our public celebration of Bob Sweetman’s retirement went off without a hitch and were truly times of celebration and connection. We would like to thank each of the panelists and speakers at these events, our Board and Senate members for travelling into town and spending time deliberating the stewardship of ICS at their respective meetings, all of the attendees both online and in person for showing up for Bob and our graduates, and Bob and his family for allowing him to be celebrated by our community! 

We lift up each of our 2023 graduates in prayer as they close this chapter of their respective journeys and look to the next. This year we celebrated the hard work and successful project completion of Ahamd Banki (MWS-ART), Nancy Schwarz (MWS), Justin Cook (MA), Sara Flokstra (MA-EL), and Colin Hoving (MA-EL). We give thanks for the time each of these Junior Members spent in study with us and we wish them well in the next stage of their professional and personal lives. Congratulations!

On May 25th, Senior Member Emeritus Jim Olthuis fell and broke his hip. Jim has already had successful surgery to fix the break and is currently on an extended stay in Bridgepoint Hospital (1 Bridgepoint Dr., Toronto) for steady rehabilitation. Please join us in prayers of gratitude for Jim’s medical care and for his wife Arvilla’s sustained support, and join us in prayer for a full and speedy recovery of Jim’s mobility. Jim remains in good spirits and is eager for visitors. If you’d like to arrange a visit, you can message Jim or Arvilla on Facebook, email Jim directly at jimo@icscanada.edu, or let Danielle know if you’d like to reach out via phone or text and need his number. 

Monday, June 12 - Friday, June 16:

On June 12th, Dean Dettloff’s online Spring-Summer 2023 course starts: The Soul of Soulless Conditions: Marxists on Christianity, Christians on Marxism. Please pray that Dean and the course participants will have enriching discussions on this timely topic during the weeks they spend together. Registration for this course remains open until June 9th, so email Academic Registrar Elizabet Aras if you’d like to join!

During our May festivities, the Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics announced the next forthcoming volume in our Currents in Reformational Thought book series! The next title in the series is a festschrift in honour of Bob Sweetman’s retirement called Gestures of Grace: Essays in Honour of Bob Sweetman, edited by Joshua Lee Harris and Héctor A. Acero Ferrer. The book is currently in the final stages of publication and is not quite available for purchase, but will be very soon, so keep an eye out! And join us in giving thanks for the gift of Bob’s scholarship, the hard work of Joshua and Héctor in compiling the volume, and for each of the contributors for their thoughtful reflections.

We are delighted to announce that, after our recent search, we’ve found ourselves a new librarian! Ilana Hernandez officially joined the ICS community on June 1st. Ilana completed both her Bachelor of Arts and her Master of Information degrees at the University of Toronto. Her experience includes work as a reference librarian at York University and as a research assistant for the Princeton Geniza Project. Her most recent publication is “Research Guides Beyond Canadian Law: A Question of Justice,” in the Canadian Law Library Review. We give thanks that Ilana has stepped into this position and we pray that she might feel welcomed into the ICS community as she gets her bearings in this new role.

Monday, June 19 - Friday, June 23:

June 20-23, the 6th meeting of the global Fonds Ricoeur summer workshop will take place in Paris, France. ICS PhD candidate and CPRSE Associate Director Héctor Acero Ferrer will be presenting a paper at this conference on Thursday, June 22nd titled: “Our-self as Another?” Understanding the Development of Narrative Identity in Ecclesial Base Communities through the Lens of Paul Ricoeur. We are delighted that Héctor has this chance to present and discuss his ongoing research with such a widespread and active academic community, and we ask you to pray with us that this might be an inspiring networking and research opportunity for him.

Earlier this year, the Critical Faith team had a chance to interview the Executive Director of Shalem Mental Health Network, Jennifer Bowen. Our episode with Jennifer is now available for your listening pleasure on your podcast app of choice. We’re grateful for the time Héctor and Jennifer spent in conversation about the shared history and institutional connections between ICS and Shalem, as well as on the topic of how to navigate difficult conversations. And as Shalem celebrates their 60th anniversary as an organization this month, we congratulate them on this milestone and pray for many more years of service in the community!

Monday, June 26 - Friday, June 30:

June 30 is the deadline for late applications to start an ICS program of study in the fall. We pray for those applicants whose materials we’ve already received, that they might be granted wisdom and clarity as they arrange any other necessary details to start their studies in the fall. And we pray for any would-be applicants still in the process of deciding or finding their way to ICS, that they might be able to see what ICS has to offer them in their studies and their journeys.

June 30 also marks the end of our fiscal year. We’ve been so grateful for the financial support we’ve received from each of our donors over this past year. Your giving is absolutely vital to the work that we do and the blessings that we have to offer the students that walk through our doors. Thank you for your generosity! We also thank God for the dedicated work of our Advancement and Finance departments in seeking out and stewarding these gifts and keeping ICS running day to day.

Another of our online Spring-Summer 2023 courses starts on July 4: State, Society, and Religion in Hegel’s Philosophy with Andrew Tebbutt. The last day to register for this course is June 30, so email Academic Registrar Elizabet Aras if you’d like to learn how to join! As the time approaches, please also pray with us that the course will go well for all involved and that participants will have inspiring conversations together.


New Senior Member Neal DeRoo starts July 1st! Neal has been a longstanding member of the ICS community and we look forward to welcoming him into this new role over the coming months. Neal will be teaching online ICS classes starting this September, the first being: Religion, Life, and Society: Reformational Philosophy. If you’d like to join this course for audit or credit and hear more about Neal’s take on Reformational philosophy, or if you’d like to find out what else Neal will be teaching this year, you can email our Registrar at academic-registrar@icscanada.edu.

Please pray for all the participants in this year’s ART in Orvieto program from July 9th-29th. Many of these artists, writers, teachers, and students are feeling the need for time spent in intentional creative community, and we pray that these three weeks might give them the inspiration and support that they need. Please also pray for Rebekah Smick, David Holt, and John Terpstra as they lead seminars and workshops and foster community among these students. We also ask that you keep ICS staff in your prayers as we start to prepare for ART in Orvieto 2024! If you or someone you know spent this year wishing you could participate in this program, it’s not too early to start thinking about applying to next year’s program!


As the summer continues, we ask for prayers for all the ICS staff, Senior Members, and Junior Members—that everyone might find chances to relax and enjoy God’s creation during these weeks, catch up on planning and other projects, and really dig into reading, writing, and other research projects. We are grateful for the gifts and insights that each member of our community brings, and we pray that this seasonal change of pace may be a blessing to everyone.

Fall 2023 courses are now listed on the ICS website. We have an exciting array of topics being covered by all of our Senior Members this semester, and all of these courses are available for online participation. More details will be made available over the summer, but you can check the full course list out now to see if anything catches your eye at www.icscanada.edu/fall-courses