Saturday 6 April 2024

Prayer Letter: April 2024

Monday, April 1 - Friday, April 5:

April 1 was the application deadline for our MA-EL program and MWS-ART program. Please pray now for the students who applied to these programs as they patiently await word on their admission, and pray too for the admissions committee as they consider the applicants and whether ICS might offer them what they need in an academic home. 

Please join us in prayers of thanksgiving after a successful search as we welcome Anthony Holl to the ICS community as our new Project Manager helping develop our upcoming Capital Campaign. Anthony is a passionate Christian leader with over 20 years of experience in the fundraising sector. We are already encouraged and excited by Anthony’s ideas and energy, and we pray he may settle into his new role quickly and easily as he becomes familiar with our unique support community.

Senior Member Edith van der Boom is travelling to Malawi for 10 days with a colleague from EduDeo Ministries to mentor Christian educators there. Please pray for Edith as she travels and pray that the Lord may work through these conversations with fellow educators about their hopes, their challenges, and their vocations.

Monday, April 8 - Friday, April 12:

Please pray for our Perspective production team and the Advancement office as they work hard to finish compiling the content for the upcoming spring issue and organize the Spring Appeal.  In this issue, you’ll be able to read some reflections on collaboration, and its importance to ICS as a Christian educational institution. We give thanks for the issue’s contributors, and we give thanks for the generosity of our supporters so far this year. We rely on your gifts and we’re grateful for your continued support of the vital work of Christian education! 

April 11, the Academic Office will host its winter Writing Workshop. This is a time for Junior Members to come together to ask questions about their current writing projects, to work through any writing challenges they may be facing, and to improve their writing craft. Please pray that all the participants may have a productive time together and feel supported in their academic work.

As Thursday, April 13th is the last day of classes, we ask for your prayers this week for the Senior Members and Junior Members as they finish up their class time and move onto finishing their course assignments. We offer thanks for another academic year successfully completed and for the rich discussions that took place in all our classes this year. We ask for prayers particularly for those Junior Members who wish to convocate on May 24th,  that they would have clarity and inspiration for finishing their assignments before the end of this month. We also ask for prayers for our Registrar, Parker, as he coordinates all the academic administrative details that are necessary at this time of year.

Monday, April 15 - Friday, April 19:

On April 18-20, the CPRSE team will be hosting the spring conference “Beyond Culture Wars: Fostering Solidarity in an Age of Polarization” in Waterloo, ON. 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 our Senior Members. More information (including a workshop schedule) will be shared via the event site in the coming days. We pray for all those travelling to, planning, contributing to, and attending this event, that these days may be filled with fruitful conversations with one another.

Please pray for the ICS administrative staff who are hard at work preparing for our various end-of-term events, including a Senate meeting, a Board meeting, and Convocation ceremony. We are excited to have these celebrations and events to look forward to, Lord willing, and pray for clarity of mind as we navigate the many details involved in planning. 

Monday, April 22 - Friday, April 26:

The last Academic Council meeting of the year is happening on April 22. Council members will be hearing staff reports and reviewing the rolling 3-year academic plan. We are thankful for the work that Academic Council members have done together over the course of this year in their careful consideration of academic programming at ICS. 

Please pray this week that students will find their way to our upcoming courses being offered over the spring and summer. In particular, keep in prayer the following courses that will begin the week of April 25: Lead From Where You Are, Finding Joy in Learning, and What’s Christian About Christian Education? Please also pray for Gideon Strauss, Edith van der Boom, and Neal DeRoo as they prepare for their courses, and for inspiration and creativity in their leadership of the sessions.

There’s still time to apply for our spring and summer courses. In addition to those listed above, the following courses are also on offer later in the summer: God of Solidarity: Liberation Theology as Social Movement (with Dean Dettloff) and State, Society, and Religion in Hegel’s Philosophy (with Andrew Tebbutt). You can email with any questions. Please also pray that interested participants will find their way to this summer’s courses, and please share news of these rich learning opportunities!

Monday, April 29 - Tuesday, April 30:

During the Board’s March meeting, Marci Frederick stepped down as Board Chair and Dan Beerens became the new Board Chair. Marci has stepped back from her role as Chair in order to focus on her ongoing cancer treatments and recovery. We are grateful for the years of time and energy Marci has devoted to the work of being ICS Board Chair, and for Dan’s willingness to take on these responsibilities as the new Chair. Please join us in praying for strength and healing for Marci, and for wisdom and insight for Dan and the rest of the Board, especially as they prepare for their end-of-year meeting in May.

On May 20-23, Senior Member Neal DeRoo, PhD candidate Mark Standish, and alumnus Theoren Tolsma will all be presenting at the joint Annual Conference of The Society of Phenomenology and the Human Sciences (SPHS) and The Interdisciplinary Coalition of North American Phenomenologists (ICNAP) at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. The theme of the conference is “Phenomenology at the Borders.” Please pray for their safe travels and that they may receive encouraging feedback on their research. 

Recognizing the Appearance

They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”  Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

—John 20:13-14

Things are not as they appear. Or so we are told. Appearances can be deceiving. Appearances are fleeting and transitory, while reality is permanent and unchanging. Ask Plato.

I can only imagine what it was like when our risen Messiah, after his crucifixion and burial, appeared to disciples like Mary Magdalene. As John tells the story, Mary sees Jesus standing before her, but she does not recognize him. Why not, I wonder? Is it because she cannot credit precisely this possibility: that the beloved teacher she saw crucified and entombed could be standing before her, very much alive?

Even when Jesus asks Mary why she is weeping, she still fails to recognize him, mistaking him for the gardener. It is not until Jesus utters her name, “Mary,” that she recognizes the cherished pathbreaker whose untimely death she had been mourning. I wonder what it was like for Mary in that moment. Was it like viewing those ambiguous drawings that can be seen now one way, then another, but never both simultaneously? Did her moment of recognition snap into place immediately, suddenly, dramatically, like when one finally sees the duck instead of the rabbit?

“Rabbouni!” she exclaims. Teacher. The moment she recognizes Jesus, that is the appellation she uses. How fascinating, as though Jesus had chosen to make his first resurrected appearance to his favourite student, Mary called Magdalene, the one he then trusts with the task of sharing this good news with the rest of his followers.

This pattern of appearance without immediate recognition will repeat itself many times as the resurrected Jesus approaches his other followers. In John 21, the disciples do not recognize Jesus until, after the miraculous haul of fish that follows his instruction to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, the “disciple whom Jesus loved” exclaims to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Indeed, the disciples on the road to Emmaus recognize Jesus only after he is gone.

Is there a common denominator to these instances of sudden recognition? Mary hears Jesus say her name, the disciples catch a miraculous haul of fish, the travellers to Emmaus have burning hearts as Jesus opens the scriptures to them. Perhaps these very different moments of recognition occur because these disparate followers suddenly recognize and understand the possibility the resurrected Jesus reveals and had been teaching them to recognize all along: the transformative possibility of redemption, where nothing is fatalistically condemned to be what it merely is, but can become more than that: restored, bounteous, glorious, and full.

Things are not as they appear. They are more than they appear. Thank God for that.

May we all come to recognize and embody the possibility our living Messiah reveals. Shalom!

Ron Kuipers

ICS Presence at Phenomenology Conference

On May 20-23, Senior Member Neal DeRoo, PhD candidate Mark Standish, and alumnus Theoren Tolsma will all be presenting at the joint Annual Conference of The Society of Phenomenology and the Human Sciences (SPHS) and The Interdisciplinary Coalition of North American Phenomenologists (ICNAP) at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. 

The theme of the conference is “Phenomenology at the Borders,” and the title of Neal's paper is: Stiftungen and the Border Between Phenomenology and Politics. The title of Mark's presentation is: A Hollow Definition?: Investigating the Borders of Definition with Lugones, Merleau-Ponty, and Balibar. Theoren's paper is titled: ‘Natural’ Generativity in Merleau-Ponty’s Conception of Radical Reflection

Save the Date: ICS Convocation 2024

The Institute for Christian Studies' 2024 Convocation ceremony will be taking place on Friday, May 24th around 6:30pm ET. This year, we will be celebrating our Junior Member graduands with an in person and livestreamed event at Christ Church Deer Park in Toronto. 

More details will be made available in the coming weeks. You can email if you have any questions. 

New Hire at ICS

At the end of March, Anthony Holl (MSc Leadership, CFRE) joined the ICS Staff in the position of Project Manager, Capital Campaign.

Anthony is a passionate Christian leader with over 20 years of experience in the philanthropy/fundraising sector, working as both a consultant and a practitioner in leading major capital campaigns for such organizations as the Salvation Army and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Anthony also has extensive experience fundraising for smaller organizations like ICS, and loves working in that context. Anthony is excited about ICS's unique mission in Christian higher education, and is strongly motivated to help ICS fundraise for our upcoming capital campaign, intended to help ICS expand its program offerings in the lifelong learning space, helping seeking Christians grapple with key issues affecting our turbulent times.

We are so excited to be able to welcome Anthony to ICS and look forward to the contributions he will make to the community in this vital role!