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Common Threads

News and Views from the Centre for Christian Studies

October 26, 2021

Hi <<First Name>> ! 
I am currently (depending on when you're reading this) sitting in a learning circle - an actual circle with actual live people! How weird is that? Our first toe-dip back into in-person gatherings is a joint circle with Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre, with some of us online but some of us actually in the room! This feels like a moment. What are the moments you're experiencing? This month's Common Threads features some other notable moments. Enjoy!-- Scott

From the Principal's Desk. . .
Michelle Owens

If you have sat in meetings or learning circles with me, you will likely have seen me knitting my way through discussions. I started knitting in university, where I discovered it helped me listen in lectures and seminars, improving my concentration, recall (and patience). I’ve knit through General Council, Region, Conference, and Presbytery meetings; through learning circles, flights, television shows, podcasts, and while waiting in hospitals.

For meetings, my preferred knitting project is socks – they aren’t too complicated (especially in a stockinette stitch) and are nicely portable. I knit my very first pair of socks while at the Leadership Development Module (now Learning on Purpose) in Winnipeg in 2002. I remember painstakingly following the directions for turning the heel, not sure at all how this was going to work out and having to trust in the process. Trusting in the process was required throughout those three weeks of learning-in-community, and throughout the following years as a diaconal student at CCS. Those first pair of socks are long gone, but I have other pieces of knitwear that I remember working on during circle.

I’m always amazed at how practice and patience and trusting the process can transform sticks and string (needles and yarn) into socks, sweaters and almost anything imaginable. Practice and patience and trusting the process is transformative in theological education and in ministry also. Diaconal folks imagine church differently, and then bring that imagination into being through commitment and courageous action. The vision and mission of CCS is to imagine differently, and equip leaders for transformation and action. Even if all they have to work with is a bit of string and some sticks.

When knitting socks, it's when I start shaping the toe I know that that sock is almost complete. As the number of stitches on the needles decrease, the end comes closer and each round goes by faster. Soon only a few stitches remain and it’s time to tie them off and weave in the end of the yarn.

My time at CCS as principal is beginning to feel like knitting the toe of the sock. Each month and week seem to be flying by a little faster than I expected. I’m trying not to drop any of the ‘stitches’ of work as I go. As I shape my last months here, I wonder what others in our community are shaping. Are you turning a corner? Starting a new project? Marvelling at how well something is going, or wondering just where things went wrong?

Wherever you are, I hope you have the tools you need and a process you can trust. (And if you need a refresher, you can always spiral back to us!)

Michelle Owens, Principal

On the Web...

(click a title to read the whole article)

A Hybrid Learning Circle

CCS students are currently in a mixed learning circle: CCS mixed with Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre students, online participants and in-person participants.

Images from Culture and Identity 2021

This month CCS students came together online for a learning circle exploring interculturalism, interfaith, ministry identity, ... and superheroes??

God Who Created the Queer

CCS student Hyerim Park recently posted a biblical reflection for Korean Rainbow United.

Engaging Anti-Racism

Some resources and reflections from the UCC and DOTAC to deepen your understanding and strengthen your commitment to racial justice. 

What the Hill?

A memoir of CCS alumna Vera Bell, who died late last year, has been recently published by her daughter.

Call for Companion of the Centre Nominations

Who are your diaconal heroes? Who embodies the spirit of CCS? Consider nominating them for the Companion of the Centre award. (Nomination deadline is end of October.)

Upcoming Events

CCS Friday - Unanswered Questions about 9/11

Join us for on Friday, November 5, for an online discussion of "Unanswered Questions", Ray McGinnis' recent book (and accompanying study guide for churches) about the families of those killed in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre on Sept. 11, 2001, and their attempts to get answers from their government. Our special guest will be author (and CCS grad) Ray McGinnis. (Click HERE to register.)

Learning Circles

Spiritual Practice

January 11 to February 17, 2022
online Tuesdays and Thursdays mid-days


March 23 to 29, 2022 (in person, hopefully)

Power and Privilege

March 31 to April 6, 2022 (in person, hopefully)

Ages and Stages

April 26 to June 2, 2022
online Tuesdays and Thursdays mid-days
Apply for a CCS Program Now
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