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Common Threads

News and Views from the Centre for Christian Studies

August 26, 2021

Hi <<First Name>> ! 
...And we're back from holidays! Boy, are we back. (See the article below about the thirty-four students in two learning circles going on simultaneously at the moment.) And big news from the Principal. I hope you've had a summer. Here comes fall! Enjoy this month's Common Threads! -- Scott

From the CCS Co-chairs. . .

We are sharing the news that Principal Michelle Owens will be leaving the Centre for Christian Studies at the end of 2021. Michelle is returning to congregational ministry in Ontario, where she will be closer to family.

Michelle joined the staff as principal in 2017. In that time she has worked tirelessly to help the Centre articulate a sustainable vision, and to secure a firm financial foundation. She is an astute, collaborative and sensible leader, who has helped us continue shaping diaconal ministers who are faithful, resilient and compassionate.

"My time at CCS has been an incredible gift" says Michelle of her four years at the Centre. "I have loved working with the staff team, being immersed in the diaconal community and accompanying students on their educational journeys. The vision and practice of transformational diaconal education changed my life when I was a student at CCS, and serving on staff has certainly been life-changing again. I know CCS has the education that leaders are going to need as the church and the world come out of the pandemic."

The Central Council of CCS will be arranging for a smooth transition and interim administrative coverage as we begin the search for a new Principal. The circumstances of the pandemic have underscored the commitment, adaptability and resilience of the CCS community. As Michelle follows the call of her journey away, we look forward to discovering who is being called toward to the Centre. The spiral is forever moving outward and inward.

CCS Central Council Co Chairs
The Rev. Sadekie Lyttle-Forbes
The Very Rev. Ansley Tucker

[This public announcement is available on the CCS website.]

From the Principal's Desk. . .
Michelle Owens

Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.
I have always been drawn to Paul’s epistles – not only for the theology he explores and articulates in them, but for their very form and existence – letters across distance, connecting people and communities. During the pandemic I took up letter writing again – writing to friends and family, especially my young niece, who is learning to read. Writing letters was a concrete and contemplative way of knitting together connection across distance. There was something very rewarding about selecting a stamp and putting the physical mail in the mailbox, knowing it would arrive and brighten the day of the receiver.

Despite the patriarchal language, I love the greeting used repeatedly in the Pauline letters. During the pandemic, many of us noticed that customary polite phrases “I hope you are well” took on more urgent meaning. So I pause to notice that what Paul offers in greeting is divine grace and peace.

One of the communities that has been full of grace and peace for me in Winnipeg is the monthly diaconal lunch hosted by Ted Dodd. Pre-pandemic, we gathered at Ted’s to share a meal together (three kinds of delicious soup!) and afterwards participate in a sharing circle. Our gatherings have moved online during the pandemic – and although the lunch at home is never as delicious, the opportunity to connect is precious. 

Each month we are invited to share a response to a question, and our August check in question (suggested by Caryn Douglas) is: 

What has changed in your life: what has been good, what has been stressful, what is going to happen as the pandemic shifts?

What has changed for me over the pandemic is the sustainability of living so far from my family.

In mid July, two weeks after our second vaccinations, my partner and I headed east to see my family for the first time since Christmas 2019. This is by far the longest stretch of time I have been away. After three days of driving, we pulled into the driveway of my childhood home and I flew up the steps to the porch and into the arms of my parents. In a few more days, I was reunited with my children.

I am so unbelievably privileged – almost all my family in Ontario is alive and well. Only my step-grandmother died during the pandemic. My kids have maintained employment. My family members who contracted COVID-19 have recovered. These are all things that are good.

The isolation, loss and uncertainty experienced during the pandemic have pulled me towards the scriptural call to “hold onto what is good” (1 Thess 5:21). For me, holding on to what is good urges me to move back closer to my loved ones. God is opening that door for me through a renewed sense of call to congregational ministry. 

I will miss being part of the daily work and community at the Centre. The work here has been challenging and rewarding. Being in team with Scott, Lori, Cheryl, Marcie, Janet, David and Kimiko over the last four years has been an absolute joy. Each of them has brought enthusiasm and excellence to their work.  The care and collegiality of the staff team has sustained me in work, through personal challenges and while weathering a pandemic together. I will deeply miss working with them.

I have been blessed to work with visionary and dedicated governors and volunteers at CCS. The Central Council has supported the vision, management and staff of the school, steering the community on the continued journey of transformative diaconal education. I’ve been inspired by the students, diaconal ministers and educators I’ve met while serving as Principal at the Centre.

The Centre has a clear vision for the future, a dedicated community of support, and is in a good financial position. Thank you for the accompaniment and support while I have served as Principal.  I am confident that in the space of my departure, God will call someone with skill and vision to accompany the CCS community in coming years.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess 5:16

Michelle Owens, Principal

On the Web...

(click a title to read the whole article)

34 Students, 2 Circles, 10 Time Zones

The Centre for Christian Studies has two learning circles going on at the same time today, with 34 students coming from 10 different time zones!

CCS Vaccination Policy

To protect members of our community, prolonged in-person events such as Learning Circles and the Face-to-Face Council meeting will be limited to people who are fully vaccinated. 

Anglicans Learning to See with the Eyes of Christ

Lori Stewart attended two online conferences with Anglican colleagues this summer.

Asking Unanswered Questions

Ray McGinnis’ new book tells the story of the 9/11 families and the questions their government has ignored.

The 2021-2022 Theme Learning Circles

Want to increase your intercultural skills? Recommitting to reconciliation? Wishing to deepen your spiritual practice? There's something for everyone in next year's learning circles.

Upcoming Learning Circles

Planning your continuing education for the fall? Our fall circles will be online.
Apply for a CCS Program Now


  • The Anglican Church of St. John the Evangelist, London, Ontario is seeking a part-time CHILDREN & YOUTH MINISTRY DEVELOPER. Application deadline is August 31st. Contact for more information.

First of All, Thank you

This month we held Learning on Purpose online for the first time. We held an orientation for United Church Admissions ministers for the first time. This fall we're offering a learning circle on culture and identity for the first time. 

Our donors help keep the Centre for Christian Studies creative, adaptive, and innovative. Thank you.
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