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Common Threads

News and Views from the Centre for Christian Studies

April 26, 2021

Hi <<First Name>> ! 
We often call April "the month of everything" at CCS. It usually holds two theme learning circles, a final integration circle, a face-to-face council meeting, a grad banquet, an annual service of celebration, plus Easter. This year things were a bit different (and a lot more online-y), but still busy. Enjoy this month's Common Threads! -- Scott

From the Principal's Desk. . .
Michelle Owens

We need to draw on our courage to engage in transformational change.

I had to draw on my courage for a morning visit to the allergist’s office, where we were progressing from skin and blood testing to actually eating peanuts – something I’ve strictly avoided since being diagnosed with anaphylactic food allergies more than 25 years ago.

After making it through the screening to enter the clinic (the now familiar questions about out-of-province travel or COVID symptoms and a quick temperature check), I went up the elevator (capacity diminished from 25 to 5 passengers) and was ushered into an exam room. While I waited for the clinic nurse, whose pink shoes matched her scrubs, I prayed, borrowing words from Julian of Norwich:

“All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well”

And then for the next 2 hours I ate increasing amounts of peanuts. I was scared. I was hopeful. And I was surprised to discover I still liked the taste of peanuts!

I kept my headphones on and my eyes glued to my book between doses. Hyper-vigilance and panic are pretty close neighbours. I was grateful for how thoroughly the doctor had explained why it was safe to try this food challenge, grateful for the nurse’s explanation of what would happen if I did have a reaction, and for the reassurance that I was safe, no matter the outcome. 

So I ate peanuts and rinsed my mouth and read my book and gave thumbs up and waited. When I needed to refresh my courage I prayed or took a deep breath or texted an update. 

And the paradox is that by having no reaction at all, my life is transformed. 

As vaccinations ramp up across the country, more and more of us are having small life-transforming moments in small exam rooms. Screwing up courage for a chance at lessened fear. Still relying on prayer and one another to carry us through. 

I hope you are finding opportunities for change, and the courage to engage in the challenges that accompany them. 

As for me, I’ll be following my doctor’s orders to eat peanuts a couple of times a week, to bolster my tolerance.  Maybe I’ll look for a good peanut butter cookie recipe….

Michelle Owens, Principal

On the Web...

(click a title to read the whole article)

Annual Service of Celebration 2021 Online

If you missed our online worship service celebrating our graduates and honouring this year's Companion of the Centre (or if you want to relive it), here it is.

Meet the 2021 Graduates

Learn a little bit about this year's graduates of the Diaconal Ministries program, and leave a message of congratulations.

Anne Manikel - Companion of the Centre

Listen to the newest Companion of the Centre's address to the Annual Service of Celebration.

Images from Living Scripture 2021

We reflected on what makes scripture alive and what it means to live in relationship with scripture.

The "Bi-vocational" Robin McGauley

An ordained minister and a gifted silversmith, Robin McGauley is more than just one thing. (Robin is donating 15% of the sales from her spiral-themed Ammonite collection of jewelry to CCS.)

Special Offer


The United Church Bookstore,, is clearing out their inventory and making room for fresh titles. Some titles are down to just $0.99, like Curating Church and Discovering the Other: Asset-Based Approaches for Building Community Together. (Use the code SALEONSALE at checkout for free shipping  - within Canada - on orders over $80.)

CCS Community

  • Prayers for friends and family of Carol Beaver who died earlier this month.

Learning Opportunities

CCS Friday - April 30:
How It Ends

Join us on Friday, April 30, from noon to 1pm CDT, for a discussion of the end of life, including a reading from “How It Ends” by playwright Debbie Patterson. “How It Ends” is an immersive, interactive dance/theatre piece, produced in Winnipeg in 2019. It explores end-of-life issues, seen through the lens of disability. Playwright Debbie Patterson uses her lived experience of a progressive, debilitating, incurable illness to provide a new understanding of what makes life worth living, the value of suffering, and the pleasure of surrendering control. Debbie will read excerpts from her play and there will be time for small group and large group discussion. This CCS Friday is included as part of the “Grief and Loss” learning circle and will be attended by students developing their skills in providing spiritual care in the context of death and grief.

Visit the CCS website to REGISTER.

Practically Prophetic

The Practically Prophetic webinar series, hosted by Prairie Skies Region in collaboration with CCS and St. Andrew's College, continues with a session on Ministry with Neurodiverse Youth, on Wednesday, May 14 at 7pm Saskatchewan time, featuring presenter Erin Scrivens. Click here for more info and to register.

DOTAC - Mondays in May

The Diakonia of the Americas and Carribbean will be hosting an international seminar series online in May.
  • May 3: Rev. Doctor Carlos Emilio Ham - “Diakonia in Times of the COVID Pandemic: Are We Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?”
  • May 10: Sister Dottie Almoney - “Reclaiming the “D” Word - Diakonia in the Church”
  • May 17: Deacon Dionata Rodrigues de Oliveira - “Brazilian Perspectives on the Diaconate: Empowerment, Diaconal Methodology and Transformation”
  • May 24: Rev. Doctor Margaret Ann Crain - “Full and Equal Order: 25 Years of the United Methodist Order of Deacon”
  • May 31: Rev. Canon Deacon Michael Jackson - “The Diaconate: Seeking an Ecumenical Consensus”
Registration is free. Send an email to Ted Dodd - - for more information. All sessions begin at 1pm Central Time and last about an hour.

Learning on Purpose 2021

This year's Learning on Purpose course will be ONLINE from August 16 to 27, 2021. If you’ve been thinking about the Centre for Christian Studies and Learning on Purpose but didn’t want to travel to Winnipeg (Wait, who doesn’t want to travel to Winnipeg??), this is the year for you!

If you know someone who has leadership skills you’d like to see them develop, or a spiritual calling they’d like to discern in a supportive and friendly community, tell them to apply for Learning on Purpose. If that someone is you, apply today.

If you have questions about Learning on Purpose, or becoming a Diaconal Ministry student or a Continuing Studies student at CCS, contact Scott at
Apply for a CCS Program Now

Upcoming Learning Circles

Check out the learning circles we are offering next year! These theme circles are available to Diaconal Ministry students as well as Certificate students and Continuing Studies participants. Contact us for more information:
  • SJ05 Right Relations - a weeklong intensive in October 2021 on the relationship of Indigenous and settler people in Canada, treaty as covenant, truth and reconciliation, indigenous spiritualities, land, and the theology of mission, in collaboration with the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre.
  • EW04 Culture and Identity - a weeklong intensive in October 2021 exploring race and culture, interfaith and ecumenical connections, and intersectionality.
  • SC05 Spiritual Practices - a six-week online course in January and February 2022 on the history and diversity of Christian spiritual practices, private devotion and communal spirituality, discipleship, companioning.
  • SC03 Relationships - a weeklong intensive in March 2022 on intimate and familial relationships, sexuality and gender, family systems, weddings, covenants, relationship break-ups, and the role of minister as support.
  • SJ02 Power and Privilege - a weeklong intensive in March 2022 on social location, individual and systemic power, social analysis, and the role of the prophet.
  • EW02 Ages and Stages - a six-week online course in April and May 2022 on ministry with various age groups, development theory, curriculum, youth ministry, children’s ministry, adult education, ministry with seniors, and intergenerational ministry.

"All About You" Donor Survey

In March we sent out surveys to 420 wonderful donors asking your thoughts.  We received back 189 responses, which is a 45% response rate—that’s amazing.  It shows how connected you generous people are.  Thank you.  

Here are a few things we found out:
What do people love about the Centre for Christian Studies? 
Wordcloud: learning, community, education, ministry, students, social justice, staff, model, etc
Of the CCS activities you support, which one is most important to you?

The top 3 responses to this question were:
  • Developing new ways to meet the evolving needs of the church and the world
  • Forming people God calls as diaconal ministers for the United Church of Canada
  • Making sure here are opportunities for people to learn to be leaders
What inspires people to give to CCS? 
Graph: grateful, impressed, need, justice, connected, etc
A big shout out to all of you who took part in the survey.  It helps us know what you value about CCS.  It demonstrates your commitment.  It helps us tell you about the things that matter to you.  It provides such important information about our relationship with you.

THANK YOU to everyone who took part.
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