Tuesday 5 March 2024

Prayer Letter: March 2024

Monday, March 4 - Friday, March 8:

We continue to accept program applications through the remainder of this term and into the summer. Please keep in your prayers potential students who may be juggling much as they wrap up current studies and consider what their next steps may be, those students who are considering going back to school for the first time in a while, and those students from whom we have already received program applications. We pray that these students may find their way to ICS and that we may provide a hospitable environment for them to ask deep questions about God, the world, and their callings. 

Senior Member Rebekah Smick recently gave a paper entitled "Augustine's hermeneutic of decorum in humanist art theory" at the Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies at Victoria University in the University of Toronto as part of its Working Group 2023-24 on The Arts in the Post-Tridentine Era: Histories and Historiographies in Transition. Rebekah will also be a speaker and panelist at the concluding colloquium of the Working Group in mid-April. We pray in gratitude for this opportunity for Rebekah to be in close conversation with other colleagues in her field, and we pray that the preparation involved in the colloquium will continue apace. 

This academic year, the CPRSE has counted on the active engagement of two Research Assistants, Junior Members Julia Henderson and Todd Dias. While Julia has helped to lead our public outreach events, such as conferences and symposia, Todd has been hard at work editing a number of submissions to our Ground Motive blog. Please join us as we pray in thanksgiving for the contributions of Julia and Todd to the initiatives of the CPRSE as well as to the academic life of ICS.  

Monday, March 11 - Friday, March 15:

This week is March break for most of our MA-EL students. Please keep these students in your prayers, that these days may allow them time for rest, friendship, and family amid their busy semesters of work and study.

Rebekah Smick is also in the process of co-editing with Andrew Spicer volume five of the forthcoming eight-volume Bloomsbury T&T Clark series Sources and Documents in the History of Christian Art, edited by Diane Apostolos-Cappadona of Georgetown University. The volume is scheduled to come out by the end of 2024. Please keep Rebekah in your prayers as she collaborates to bring this project to completion.

Please keep the work of the Academic Council in your prayers this term. In addition to the regular work of considering courses and academic policies, some of our faculty will be offering Reflective Practice Reports on their research and teaching, as well as participating in status reviews. Pray with us that these meetings, which make up an integral part of our communal academic life, and all the work and conversations involved therein might prove fruitful and celebratory.

Monday, March 18 - Friday, March 22:

In one month, the CPRSE team will be travelling to Waterloo, ON for the spring conference “Beyond Culture Wars: Fostering Solidarity in an Age of Polarization.” Offered as a collaboration between ICS and Martin Luther University College, this conference will feature keynote speakers James K.A. Smith and Kristin Kobes Du Mez, as well as workshops and conversation sessions led by Shalem Mental Health Network, Citizens for Public Justice, and several of our Senior Members. Please save the date, keep an eye out for more information, and pray for all those involved in planning and execution of this event.

Our summer courses have now been publicly posted! Visit our website to find out more about how you can join an online class with Senior Members Edith van der Boom, Neal DeRoo, or Gideon Strauss; or with ICS alums Andrew Tebbutt or Dean Dettloff (course TBA). There’s also still time to join our ART in Orvieto program in Italy with Rebekah Smick this July. Please keep our Recruitment Team in your prayers as they seek to connect with potential students looking for the opportunity to pursue graduate degrees, further education, and professional development in the vocations to which God has called them.

Please keep the Academic Office and the Academic Program Review Committee in your prayers as they work on the annual academic policy compliance report and the rolling three-year academic plan for presentation to the Academic Council, and as they prepare for comprehensive program reviews that are to take place during the 2024-2025 academic year. These efforts require close attention to detail as well as big-picture collaborative thinking in line with our ongoing educational mission, so we pray for energy and inspiration for all involved.

Monday, March 25 - Friday, March 29:

The Academic Council next meets on March 25. Please pray for the work of the Academic Council as they consider together matters of academic policy, and in particular for those Senior Members who will be enjoying their annual Reflective Practice Conversations with the council over the course of this term. Please also keep its Education Policy Committee in your prayers as it considers new course proposals for the expansion of ICS's curriculum.

There’s still time to apply for ART in Orvieto 2024! The application deadline is March 31 for this three-week summer studies program in art, religion, and theology. Financial aid is available for graduate students, working artists, and K-12 teachers - and there are even a few early bird scholarships left for the next 5 applicants! To get more information or apply, visit icscanada.edu/art-in-orvieto, or email recruitment-coordinator@icscanada.edu. Please also pray that interested participants will find their way to this year’s program, and please share news of this wonderfully rich learning opportunity with everyone you know!

The application deadline for our MA-EL program is coming up on April 1. Visit icscanada.edu/academics/educational-leadership to learn more, or email recruitment-coordinator@icscanada.edu with your questions. This program is a key way in which our educational mission at ICS directly serves other Christian educators in Ontario and around the world. Please keep the program instructors, current students, and potential students in your prayers particularly as they discern whether to join the MA-EL.

The Power of "With"

And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

—Matthew 28:20

The word “with” can be used to imply many different things. It can suggest potential proximity—“Put this book with the others”—or accompaniment—“Let me go there with you.” It can connote hipness, as when Grampa Abe Simpson vociferously complains, “I used to be with it, but then they changed what ‘it’ was!” It can imply agreement and comprehension—“I’m with you so far”—or even a deep solidarity—“I will stand with you in your struggle for justice.”

With all these different uses and connotations of the word “with,” how might we understand the way that the resurrected Jesus uses the word when he says to his disciples, “I am with you always,” words he utters moments after he has charged them with the task of spreading his shalom way to the ends of the earth?

In the song “Can’t Hardly Wait” by The Replacements (one of my favourite rock bands from the 1980s) there is a cheeky line that always makes me chuckle, where singer Paul Westerberg intones: “Jesus rides beside me, but he never buys any smokes.” While I resonate with this image of Jesus as a steadfast travel companion on the road trip of life, I hope and trust that he is more than someone who is simply ‘along for the ride,’ mooching my last cigarette to boot! (In my case, as a non-smoker, the cigarette would have to be metaphorical.)

Perhaps it might help if we connect Jesus’ promise at the end of the gospel of Matthew to a claim made near the beginning of that same gospel, where the angel, echoing Isaiah 7:14, tells Joseph that the child Mary carries is the promised Messiah, the one who will be called “Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us” (Matt. 1:23)? Once we make this connection, we begin to discern the mysterious contours of this very powerful “with,” and the way Jesus’ promise includes but also moves beyond simple companionship.

The very word “with,” I think, says something about the nature of divine power itself, this messianic possibility that Jesus promises to make available to us. As ICS Emeritus Professor Jim Olthuis suggests in his book Dancing in the Wild Spaces of Love, the power of this “with” is not a dominating or oppressive power, not an “over,” but rather a power that comes alongside us and empowers us—much like Jesus did, incognito, when he joined his erstwhile unwitting disciples on the road to Emmaus. 

Jim calls this power “withing,” and describes it as the way humans are uniquely called to image a Creator who desires to be with and love creation:

As God is with-us (Emmanuel), so we are to be-with others, cum amore (with love). “Withing” (power-with rather than power-over) is our gift and calling, be(com)ing the unique selves we are through relationship with other persons (intersubjectivity), with creation and all its creatures (solidarity), and with God (spirituality). In and with the impetus of love’s promise, we live-with, work-with, wrestle-with, suffer-with, celebrate-with the whole family of earth’s creatures, all of creation, and God. (xvi-ii)

Jim later describes “withing” as “a celebrating-with and suffering-with without submission or domination, a being-with in which we are true to ourselves even as we exist in connection with each other” (87).

How wonderful is this “with,” this divine connection that empowers us to connect—with the earth and all its creatures, with each other, and with God? How different it is from the kind of power we all too often seek, the power to dominate and control others, the earth, and even God? I ponder how deeply different is the way toward which our Messiah’s promise points us.

Shalom, friends!

Ron Kuipers

Join an Upcoming ICS Open Class!

Curious about whether our online seminars might be a good fit for your learning style? Know someone who wants to learn more about ICS courses? Join us for one of our "Open Classes" on the following dates:

To RSVP to any of these sessions, please email recruitment-coordinator@icscanada.edu

Open Positions at The King's University

Our colleagues at The King’s University in Edmonton are hiring for two teaching positions: a Visiting Assistant Professor for Justice Research & Public Education and a Faculty Position in Sociology.  

Please visit their Careers page to find out more information about either of these positions. 

New Article by Edith van der Boom

Senior Member Edith van der Boom has published an article in the March 2024 issue of the International Journal of Christianity and Education (28.1) titled "Participating in God’s redemptive work: A cyclical model for learning and assessment." You can read the abstract below and access the article online via Sage Journals.


With the goal of working towards decolonizing educational practices, this article considers the Indigenous medicine wheel as inspiration for a cyclical model for learning and assessment. Many current assessment practices highlight individual achievement rather than ongoing and relational learning. This article suggests using a Learning Wheel as a tool to engage students in conversation about learning and assessment. The purpose of assessment would be to inform students’ learning. The goal of learning would in turn equip students to be mindful of learning that engages in real-world issues to partner in God’s redemptive work.

Monday 4 March 2024

Conference Registration Now Open

Registration is now open for our April 18–20 conference in collaboration with Martin Luther University College on the topic: “Beyond Culture Wars: Fostering Solidarity in an Age of Polarization.” Some of our community partners include Citizens for Public Justice, Shalem Mental Health Network, and Vision Ministries Canada.

This event will be hosted in person at the campus of Martin Luther University College (Wilfrid Laurier University), and our plenary sessions will be made available online. This event will be an education and discussion forum for faith communities, and for the larger public, to counter the ‘culture wars’ mentality and explore together more positive and mutually beneficial ways of relating religion to the broader society. 

Keynote speakers are Kristin Kobes Du Mez, (April 18 at 7:00pm) and James K.A. Smith (April 19 at 7:00pm). There will also be several workshops and conversation sessions from our community partners, as well as ICS and Luther faculty (we are in the process of scheduling these sessions now). 

Please visit https://luther.wlu.ca/events/beyond-culture-wars/index.html to register and find more information.