Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Shelly Rambo: The space between death and resurrection

Posted on: September 17th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

A theologian who works in the discipline of trauma studies says that Christians need to pay more attention to Holy Saturday. Believing in the promise of resurrection doesn’t eliminate suffering — and in witnessing this suffering, we are about the work of redemption, she says.

Theologians have always wrestled with questions about suffering: Why do we suffer? Where is God in the suffering? Does God allow suffering? Does God will suffering?
But new research into trauma “pushes them to the extreme,” said theologian Shelly Rambo.
“I think what’s different is the way that trauma exposes the extreme vulnerability of human persons in relationship to larger historical forces,” Rambo said.
She became interested in the field of trauma studies while at Yale University in the 1990s, where researchers were studying the effect of the Holocaust on survivors. She has continued to explore the theological issues of suffering and witness with military chaplains and others who have experienced trauma.
An associate professor of theology at the Boston University School of Theology, Rambo is the author of “Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining,” in which she rejects a triumphalistic theology of resurrection and develops a theology of Holy Saturday.
Rambo spoke with Faith & Leadership while at Duke Divinity School for the Center for Reconciliation’s 2014 Summer Institute. The following is an edited transcript.
Q: What is trauma studies?
Trauma studies is not one field. It’s multiple fields coming together to say, “How do we understand what seems to be an extreme and overwhelming effect of violence and suffering in our day?”
The study of trauma largely emerged at the end of the 19th century — you could say it all began with Sigmund Freud. He was trying to make sense of what he was seeing in the midst of World War I, when he was seeing veterans return from war.
This phenomenon of trauma seemed to be a different form of suffering from what he had witnessed in his patients, and so some of Freud’s early theories birthed a whole study of trauma.
Certainly, the study of war continued with World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam. And a lot of what we know about trauma is from studying veterans, because they went to hospitals, and this could be documented.
Also, post-Holocaust studies were very instrumental to what we think about as the study of trauma. How do we think about an overwhelming, historical event of suffering and its effects? A lot of the study of trauma emerged about what seemed to be overwhelming suffering that can’t be explained or that can’t be narrated straightforwardly in a kind of clinical relationship.
Trauma moved off the psychoanalytic couch because suddenly the study of trauma became interesting to historians and to neurobiologists and to philosophers and to people like Toni Morrison, who I think writes the best about the trauma of slavery and how it’s experienced, and the kind of haunting of history into the present.
The study of trauma as a theologian became really important, because theologians always study suffering.
Q: The suffering component seems a natural fit with theology.
One of the perennial questions of human existence is, Why do we suffer? And for theologians, Where is God in the suffering? Does God allow suffering? Does God will suffering? Is God absent or present in suffering?
Theologians have always asked that, but I think what’s different is the way that trauma exposes the extreme vulnerability of human persons in relationship to larger historical forces.
Often, trauma was thought of as very individual, right? Often we think about trauma as a traumatic event. An event happens.
But what we’re beginning to see is that traumatic events don’t end. Traumas are moving — and we could say bleeding — into other traumas. We don’t see a clear end to a suffering event but instead a kind of overflowing of suffering.
I think that trauma takes all of our theological questions — and theological answers — and it pushes them to the extreme.
I would look at someone like Jürgen Moltmann and say he was trying to make sense of Christian theology in light of the extreme suffering of the Jews in the Holocaust, and Christian theology could no longer be read the same way. That’s the birth of trauma and theology for me.
We can’t do a light touch on suffering anymore. It really is going to challenge our fundamental assumptions about the nature of God and humanity.
Q: How did you get into this field?
Well, I first studied English literature, and I’m at heart somebody who is a great lover of story. I was raised with this great sense of the biblical imagination and these great stories of David and Goliath, and it kind of fed me and bred me to love literature, I think, at its best.
It really was when I started to read the post-Holocaust literature where I started to see this is a story that can’t be told.
Q: Because of issues of memory or just because it’s so horrific?
Issues of memory, and yes, I think questions of the impossibility of speaking — recovering a memory, speaking — and the question of whether anybody could hear it if it was spoken.
These were all questions that someone like Elie Wiesel made very clear to me: What does it mean to write the horror of the Holocaust? What does it mean to write an event that can’t be written?
The post-Holocaust literature became really interesting to me, and then when I was at Yale Divinity School, I would trudge down the hill and I would go sit in on brown-bag lunch seminars that the Yale Psychiatric Institute was doing.
At that time, the Yale Psychiatric Institute was doing some of the primary clinical work with Holocaust survivors and their children, and so I was listening to it. It was, strangely, open to the public.
I was listening to psychoanalysts discuss the cases of the intergenerational transmission of trauma and the challenges of trying to think about a suffering that transmits across generations. And I thought, wow, this is a profound level at which the human story is disrupted, and yet somehow violence continues.
So it was from literature to this phenomenon of human experience that I’d really never heard about before — the experience of suffering after catastrophe — and I just trudged back up the hill at Yale Divinity School and I said, “Theology really needs to take this seriously.”
At that time, Serene Jones was at Yale Divinity School, and I did a directed study with her because she was interested in reading some of the trauma studies that were happening at Yale at that time.
We can do better in Christian theology to think about suffering, not as something abstract, but as a phenomenon around us that needs to be addressed, and that’s what I do with returning veterans. We have an obligation to re-integrate persons into a new community, and theology matters in doing that.
Q: Do you look at the resurrection in a different way in light of trauma?
Yes. The first book that I wrote was really a refusal of a kind of triumphalistic theology of resurrection. It was because, in the case of many people who are living beyond traumas, the resurrection was often heard as a rush to get over it, to recover, or as pressure to live into resurrection when in fact the reality of their trauma was still very present.
There’s this sense that because it’s a part of the narrative of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, yes, there may be extreme suffering, but we have the good news in the end. The effect of that is that often we don’t linger very long in the suffering in Christian churches.
Walter Brueggemann says that we don’t pause on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter because we already know the end. But that moment, the moment of Holy Saturday — which I develop quite extensively — is that important moment in which you’re living beyond a death, a kind of metaphorical death, but can’t see life clearly ahead.
So what does it mean to take that theological moment — that Saturday — as really a descent into hell? People who experience trauma will narrate something like a descent into hell, which is a sense of survival but not living anew again.
So that moment became really important for me to develop theologically. So what is the call of the Christian community to live all of those moments — Friday, Saturday, Sunday? Because they come around again every year, right?
I’m working on a book now on resurrection wounds, so I’m rereading the story of Thomas’ encounter with the risen Christ, that Gospel of John story that’s so visually powerful, in which the resurrected Christ shows Thomas the wounds, and the wounds still remain there.
So often we read that story as Thomas doubts that it happened, and so Thomas becomes the believer because he comes to faith because of the wounds. I think we’re still not reading the wounds as seriously as we could in terms of the way in which life is marked by suffering.
It’s not doomed to be the only thing there, but the wounds, for many people, constitute part of how they understand their new life.
Maybe the work of the Christian community is to witness the wounds and bring them back into life again.
So there’s a different reading of the resurrection if you read a lot of trauma literature. Basically, what I do invites me into a new way of thinking about suffering, and then I’ve got to go back to my Christian texts and say, “OK, what does this biblical story mean in light of the wounds that I’m seeing all around me?”
Q: How does someone in a position of Christian leadership use what you do in working with people?
I went back to the biblical narrative with all of this reading about trauma — what happens to the brain, and some of the deeper philosophical questions about what does it mean not to know an experience that has happened to you, the cognitive inability to know.
So I took all of this back to the biblical texts, and one of the things that stood out to me was the importance of those who witness at the foot of the cross, and the importance of those moments in which the disciples don’t recognize Jesus when he appears — Is he the gardener? — those moments of not being able to discern what’s going on.
That made me think about how hard it is to witness suffering, how hard it is in the chaos in which you don’t know whether life’s going to emerge for someone. So in a sense, the preacher or the Christian leader becomes the Mary and the beloved disciple and the Thomas who don’t have a clear sign of life.
None of those witnesses really have some triumphant understanding of “Oh, it’s all going to be good in the end.” Their work of witnessing is part of the redemption story, so that it puts a kind of pressure on Christian leaders to say that in the witnessing of suffering, we are about the work of redemption.
So all of a sudden, the disciples got really exciting to me. Now I look and I say how confusing it is to be able to stare death in the face and to live beyond that, and the grief and sorrow of not being able to understand what’s going on.
Christian leaders are called into that space in a way that I hadn’t realized before. The proclamation of the good news of the resurrection has to do with participating in this process of witnessing the dying and the rising of all creatures, witnessing the new creation coming into being.
So that seemed to me like a different emphasis. Instead of proclaiming a very positive, triumphant kind of word, you had witnessing as a slow, almost unsatisfying, unrewarding process of accompaniment. The accompaniment often means not knowing, not having that certainty.
It doesn’t mean you don’t have the promise, but the certainty’s not there. You can hold on to the promises of God that life will come about, but holding on to the promise is different from a certainty that we know how this is going to end. Because often we don’t, when we’re with people and communities who are in such pain.
We don’t really know how that life is going to come about, so we cling to the promise and we do the slow work of witness.
Q: Do you work with trauma survivors?
When I was first teaching, I’d done my dissertation and I was really interested in trauma studies from a literary perspective, from a philosophical perspective, and so I was doing highly conceptual work like you do as a Ph.D. student.
I got a real education when I started to teach classes related to trauma. First of all, they would fill up and people would seek them out, because these were the questions that people wanted to ask. So I started teaching this class rather innocently, thinking people were going to be so excited about all this trauma theory and neurobiological research.
It is fascinating stuff, but what happened is I got pulled into multiple levels of engaging trauma and some very on-the-ground work.
The area that’s been probably most sustained over the last six years is issues related to military trauma.
I started to get military chaplains in the trauma and theology class. The ways in which these military chaplains embodied the intersection between trauma care and theology was just astounding. I started to say yes to any invitations that they extended to me to learn about their world, and that took me to places like the Naval War College in Rhode Island and the [Air Force Chaplain Corps College] at Fort Jackson. I was interested in how chaplains were being trained theologically to do their work.
They kept saying, “This is exactly what we need to have training in,” and so I just kept accepting invitations, which led me to develop a chaplaincy track at Boston University with members of the Religion and Conflict Transformation program.
I think Christian ministers are really struggling with the realities of violence, the pervasiveness of it, and the degree to which their own communities are being exposed to that violence and are really craving theologies of suffering.
Devastating things are happening to people in their congregations and in their communities, and how do you get up and preach? How do you teach the biblical stories? So I got an education in trauma, but I also have a passion to help religious leaders translate some of their stories into a new day.
The rituals of lament and rituals of baptism — these are very profound rituals that I think can be re-purposed. So there’s a kind of new purposefulness in my teaching, to keep addressing some of these issues. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Duke Divinity School, Faith & Leadership, July 29, 2014

Proposals: Getting Started, Getting Better

Posted on: September 15th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews



Proposals: Getting Started, Getting Better By Isabel Gibson


General Store Publishing House Renfrew, ON. 2014

302 pages. Paper. $25.00 CAD. ISBN #978-1-77123-070-4



Review By Wayne A. Holst


My Thoughts:


About a year ago, our adult ministry committee
at my church entertained a proposal from a member
of our congregation to consider a new dimension of
our spiritual development program. It had to do with
a venture into the area of congregational retreats.

We had not “done” retreats for some time in the
life of our community. The idea was a good one, but
how to get a better handle on it?

Fortunately, the member had considerable experience
in proposal writing as a result of her extensive
background in international development with a
local NGO as well as the University of Calgary.

What a joy to consider her idea, as it was presented
and developed in a formal proposal. She obviously
had to translate some of her program ideas from
her vocational world to our congregational one.
Still, we were impressed with the clarity and practical
possibilities she presented in her three-page document

It was well-written, and anticipated many of the
challenges and opportunities we would encounter
if we undertook this new venture (for us.)

She even went to the trouble of approaching three
area retreat centres to compare and contrast their
respective abilities to handle our needs.

The result was a Lenten retreat at Mt. St. Francis
Centre, west of Calgary. 25 people participated,
and evaluated the event by asking for more!

Many factors played into our ‘new’ retreat
venture, but a big contributor was the clarity of
purpose and program entailed in the original

I don’t need to be convinced by author Isabel
Gibson about the value of good, customised
proposal-writing for our life in adult ministry
in a church setting. The person that “knew
the ropes” from her field of international
development could help us make good decisions
for spiritual programing in our local congregation.

I am pleased to recommend Isabel Gibson’s
new book on proposal-writing – not only because
she is a friend, but also because of things I read
in her book that can help me in my ministry.
At the same time, I can imagine many other
organizations and persons involved, benefitting
from the author’s extensive experience.

Proposal writing has never been a great thrill
for me during my career. Still, it is so necessary,
and I am glad that Isabel Gibson has put a lot
of her experience into such readable and even
enjoyable language for many people.

Buy the book from



Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Colleagues List, August 10, 2014, Vol. X. No.3

‘In remembrance of me’

Posted on: September 10th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By Fred Hiltz


This column first appeared in the September issue of the Anglican Journal.

This summer I had some extraordinary experiences of eucharist in stately cathedral churches, in a teepee set up in a gymnasium in Kingfisher Lake, Ont., and several lovely old parish churches celebrating milestone anniversaries in the service of the gospel.

One celebration I’ll never forget was in the outdoor chapel of St. Francis at the Sorrento Centre on the shores of beautiful Lake Shuswap in the interior of British Columbia.

It was Friday of the third week of programming. Our work, our learnings and our prayers were to be offered up at this eucharist. As everyone gathered, there was an air of anticipation.

Just before the celebration began, the chair of the board of the Sorrento Centre broke the news that its much-loved executive director, Christopher Lind, had died earlier in the day. Many were moved to tears. Chris had helped the centre renew its mission as “a place of transformation—a place for learning, healing and belonging” and had launched a capital campaign with an eye to “The Next Fifty Years.” 

I was invited to lead the congregation in prayers and when I finished, the beautiful “Pie Jesu” from Fauré’s Requiem was sung. The Liturgy of the Word and a reflection concluded with everyone singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

At the offertory, a blanket was spread on the ground in front of the altar and the children were invited to come forward and sit. As they came, the priest gave them either a plate of bread or a cup of wine. Kneeling on the blanket with them, he was barely visible, but we could hear him praying the Great Thanksgiving. As he came to the words of institution, Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, we could see a host of little arms holding up the gifts. As he prayed for the Spirit’s blessing that the bread and wine become for us the body and blood of Christ, the children, with great reverence, elevated the gifts. 

When the prayer was finished they returned to their families, beaming!  After all, they had helped us recall the love of Jesus laid down for all.

Styled as a picnic eucharist, this liturgy had all the flow of good order and every space for the Spirit’s whispering and hovering over bread and wine. It had all the grace of a place for everyone at this sacred meal and all the truth about Jesus’ love for children and their delight in the wonders of God’s love.

Having received holy communion that day, I was moved to ponder afresh how great a mystery it is, and cherish anew this food so awesome and so sweet.


Anglican Journal News, September 5, 2014

Bugandan P.M. visits Canadian church

Posted on: August 31st, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews


By Leigh Anne Williams


Prime Minister Charles Peter Mayiga of the Kingdom of Buganda in Uganda with Canon Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa, Africa relations co-ordinator for the Anglican Church of Canada at the church’s national offices in Toronto. Photo: Leigh Anne Williams

The prime minister and a delegation of officials from the Kingdom of Buganda in Uganda visited the national offices of the Anglican Church of Canada in Toronto today, as a part of the Canadian leg of an international tour to the U.K., Sweden, Canada and the U.S.

Prime Minister Charles Peter Mayiga told the Anglican Journal that the tour is part of an effort by the kingdom to connect with the Bugandan diaspora and build support for various projects. He explained that the Kingdom of Buganda is a legal entity, recognized in the constitution. “Under [Ugandan] law, we can extend social services such as education and health, but we do not participate directly in politics,” he said.

Mayiga said that Bugandans are “keen believers” and the support of the churches is essential. “If in my position, I don’t get the backing of the religious groups, then I may not make a lot of progress.” The kingdom is “deeply involved” with Anglican, Catholic and Pentecostal churches and the Islamic faith, he added. “They make my work a lot easier to be honest with you.” He said churches own the largest and best schools and hospitals. “But there is still much more need,” he said.

Canon Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa, Africa relations co-ordinator for the Anglican Church of Canada, guided the prime minister and his delegation around the Toronto offices of the national church. “He’s a son of the soil as we say back home, so when we interface with him, indirectly we are reaching out to so many other people,” said Mayiga.

The Kingdom of Buganda is going through “a period of rejuvenation and reconstruction,” said Mayiga. He noted that the kingdoms were abolished in 1966 and not restored until 1993. Historical sites, such as the tombs of kings, were destroyed during wars. The kingdom is now focusing on reconstructing the site and raised about US$2 million through domestic contributions to do it and now hopes that people outside the country will contribute.

Much of the kingdom’s funding comes from the land it owns, he said. “We raise some money from the land — through rentals and premiums and ground rents and also we have started some projects that generate some income.”

Aside from the historical reconstruction, priorities for the kingdom include health services, vocational education, and promoting the production of coffee and staple foods. “Prosperity comes with productivity really, and people must have an income,” he said. Mayiga noted that 85% of the population is in rural areas and are farmers. “You’ve got to help them market the produce and get good money for what they do. You must ensure that they’ve got food. You must ensure they get some skills—vocational education— and they are in good health to do all these things,” he said.

“That’s why we visited [Toronto’s] Sick Kids Hospital, to learn from them,” he added. “Of course, they are big, but what is important for us is to start. Once you start you shall get there in good time.”


Anglican Journal News, August 29, 2014





Justice Camp 2014

Posted on: August 25th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews


By Henriette Thompson

1097231_402060129914683_474365982_oJustice Camp 2014 has ended. As I write, a few final good-byes are being said.

On Wednesday, newly returned from an immersion visit of 14 people to the oil/tar sands of northern Alberta, I was bereft of words when asked, “How did the immersion go?” Today, I have begun to find some words to reflect in a small way on a 3-day immersion in complexity.

Scriptural exegesis led by Justice Camp theologians, Stephen Martin and Sylvia Keesmaat illuminated land as a living creation with all its God-given agency. The land generates and yields its fruit, it suffers violence, and it praises God through its vast creaturely choir. Land, people, and God are constantly referenced to each other throughout the biblical narrative.

Several days ago, while peering into and across the hollowed out Earth from a platform inside the operations of Syncrude where for miles around the top soil and overburden have been removed so that the bitumen could be extracted, the Earth lay exposed. There was no sign of life 360 degrees around from where we stood. I felt a growing pit in my stomach. A visit to a reclamation area where the top soil, plants and trees had been replanted didn’t diminish my unease.

We met with staff members at the Mikisew Cree consultation office and, later, with elders and staff at Fort McKay First Nation on Treaty 8 lands. They described, with feeling, the enormous tension between the disappearance of traditional land and way of life and the opportunities for young people to get skilled jobs in the energy sector, and for communities to increase their standard of living.

Meanwhile, the Cree and Dene of these communities in northern Alberta express fear of their own extinguishment in the land, and are consigned to a postage stamp area of land surrounded by sections marked for further development. Communities living downstream from tailings ponds are recording higher rates of certain kinds of cancers and health effects of poor air quality. A sense of anomie and displacement prevails in the stories of elders and youth. “I am homesick for home,” said one young woman who lives and works in her community.

“Placelessness” is a symptom of our time, says writer and farmer, Wendell Berry. In the Athabasca region, place as a “load and go”, profit-driven enterprise has served as the pretext for industrializing top grade farmland and removing oxygen-producing boreal forests to extract bitumen. In other places such as Halton Hills (Credit River watershed) where I live, placelessness serves to encourage ongoing (sub)urban sprawl, the loss of agricultural land and local species.

To take on these issues globally is overwhelming. One growing response to these complex issues is to care for one of the “millions of small pieces and parcels of land, each one of which is in some precious way different from all the others.” Who else, but the Cree and Dene of the Athabasca River watershed will know the value and uses of varieties of medicinal rat root in the boreal forest of northern Alberta? Gaining ground since the 1980s is a tradition called “bioregionalism.” It refers to “a place defined by its life forms, its topography, and its biota, rather than by human dictates…” More recently, American theologian Ched Myers has promoted the practice of watershed discipleship which, in turn, is gaining support through KAIROS and its member churches and agencies in Canada. Myers quotes an 1860s definition of watershed by John Wesley Powell as “that area of land, bounded by a hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course, and where, as humans settled…they become part of the community.” A watershed discipleship approach to the Athabasca River watershed, a basin within which the oil/tar sands reside, is nothing new to the Cree, Dene, and indeed the Mi’kmaq, the Maliseet and other nations whose lives have always reflected the deep integration of Creator, people and land. This makes effective consultation with extraction companies and government even more critical from the outset. While early consultation with affected First Nations is improving, there is still a way to go. And overall, the call for no new approvals of mining operations goes unheeded. God meets us in the wilderness of our times, and tests and teaches us. What I have been reminded of in a deeper way with my companions in the past week is that God’s story is good and hopeful. My own consumption of the Earth’s resources needs to be re-examined in light of how it increases demand fossil fuels. Anglicans can join an active and growing movement to rein in our dependence on fossil fuels and continue to green our sacred spaces and gatherings. We need to grow our understanding of and support for treaty rights. And, as people of faith we are called to a radical new obedience to care for the Earth in the smaller precious places within the larger world.

Henriette Thompson

About Henriette Thompson

Henriette Thompson serves as Director of Public Witness for Social and Ecological Justice for the Anglican Church of Canada.

Weekly update from The Community, August 25, 2014

Feisty And Fearless: Glimpses into the Life of Lois M. Wilson

Posted on: August 25th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews


  Glimpses into the Life of Lois M. Wilson”
  by Janice L. Meighan

United Church Publishing House, Toronto ON
April, 2014. 327 pages. $26.95/$16.90 CAD
Kindle edition $9.50 CAD
ISBN #978-1-55134-214-6.



Review By Wayne A. Holst


Publisher’s Promo:

Meet the many sides of Lois M. Wilson:
Moderator, senator, minister, mother,
chancellor, activist, wife, canoeist,
feminist. Feisty and Fearless explores
the legacy of an accomplished, vibrant
public and religious leader, a woman
of firsts who shattered the stained-glass
ceiling. With access to Wilson and to her
unpublished papers, photographs, and
diaries, Janice Meighan has created an
authentic window into this remarkable
woman’s story, evolving views, and vision.
This book of stories will make you think,
laugh, and cheer. Feisty and Fearless is
a must-read for all Canadians.


My Thoughts:

I have experienced Lois Wilson on two separate
occasions and would like to share them here.

Twenty-five years ago I was interviewing for 
an ecumenical, mission-related administrative
position in Toronto and Lois was one of those
conducting the interview. I didn’t get the job
but Lois must have sensed that personal and
vocational problems were going on in my life
at the time. After the interview, she expressed
an interest in inviting me for breakfast before
I headed back on a long and lonely trip to
Calgary. I don’t remember much of what was
said but I won’t forget the pastoral support
she offered me at a time I really needed it.

Fifteen years ago, and as a representative
of the Gandhi Society of Calgary, I had the
opportunity to introduce her to our annual
dinner which usually featured a peacemaker
in the spirit of the Mahatma. In the course
of getting some current background for
the introduction, I learned she had just
returned from a trip to the DPR (North
Korea) as part of her service as chair of
the Canada-DPR Korea Association. I
reminded her of our previous encounter
(which she recalled) and of how I was glad
to be able to welcome her to Calgary under
happier circumstances for me!

A pastoral and a peace-making set of
experiences – but in both I encountered
the same kind of person in Lois Wilson
that I am now being introduced to in
Janice L. Meighan’s valuable book. 

While the circumstances and issues under
consideration were considerably different,
the person with whom I was dealing was
much the same. No nonsense but deeply
compassionate – is a way I have experienced
Lois. This is also the person portrayed in a
great variety of circumstances as described
in Feisty and Fearless.

As Meighan describes it, the chapters follow
a chronological approach as Lois’s life evolved,
but they are also thematic.  The author uses a
story-telling format that I find most engaging.

The first two chapters describe the first
forty years of her life. Married to Roy, also
a United Church minister, she grew unsatisfied
with being confined to the roles of minister’s
wife and mother and sought out broader ways 
to serve in both community and church.

Her journey to ordination as a woman pioneer -
at a time when few were brave enough to
function in a highly patriarchal era – is quite
enlightening for those of us who live at a
different though not all that removed time.

Chapter three tells of how Lois began to
to work ‘with a foot in both church and
society’ simultaneously.

Chapters four and five relay how she 
became an early woman leader in her own
denomination and in several significant
national and international ecumenical

Chapter six recounts some of her many
friends and associates from over the years;
and seven tells of how her life blended religion
and national  politics. She was proud of her
appointment to the Canadian senate and saw
it as a high point of her career.

The final chapter provides Lois with an
opportunity to reflect on her life, her vocation,
and on her beloved church. She describes her
joys as well as her regrets. She is no less
willing to whitewash parts of her own story,
even as she observed others. In this
chapter I see the no-nonsense person
of compassion I have discovered myself.

I like to collect and read biographies and
autobiographies ranging from heroic
figures like Nelson Mandela to hardly-
known figures  in remote places. I will
treasure this book  and return to it
often because I see in it glimpses of
the person I might have become if
circumstances in my own life had been

This is a book I recommend and I
thank Janice L. Meighan for writing it.

Buy the Trade Paper Edition from:
United Church Resource Distribution

Buy the book from Chapters Indigo:

Kindle Edition of the book from


Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city.


Colleagues List, Vol. X, No. 2,  July 27th, 2014




NMC Summer School 2014 – Its A Wrap!

Posted on: August 24th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews



80 students, faculty and tutors gathered for the 29th annual Native Ministries Consortium summer school July 7–18 this year. The unanimous NMC decision to hold summer school regardless of the VST temporary relocation to interim space in Epiphany Chapel and St. Andrew’s Hall proved to be a wise one. It provided a sense of continuity to have this unbroken tradition of culturally appropriate training for Indigenous lay and ordained students taking place as usual at VST. 

Classes in 21st Century Theology, Christology, Indigenous Ways of Knowing, Reconciliation Inside and Out, Christian Ethics, Cultural Interpretation of the Bible and two courses in Christian Education provided MDiv and other credits for over fifty students, fourteen of whom are in the Master of Divinity degree by extension which VST has delivered for almost thirty years. 

Public events included a concert by noted Indigenous Christian singer-songwriter Cheryl Bear Barnetson and lectures by Indigenous Governance Professor Jeff Corntassel and Lakota Studies Professor Clifford Canku. The ability to share meals together, especially the NMC salmon barbecue and the University Hill United Church dinner, was an important element of a successful summer school. Three special guests also participated: Melissa Skelton, Bishop of New Westminster, Mark Manterfield from the Fellowship of the Maple Leaf in the UK and Greg Rickel, Bishop of our neighboring Episcopal Diocese of Olympia.


Vancouver School of Theology e-newsletter, At A Glance, July 2014

Primate pays tribute to deacons

Posted on: August 24th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews


By Cydney Proctor


Deacons are “the feet, the hands, the heart, the voice of Jesus…you are that salt, that flavours for good, ” Archbishop Fred Hiltz told members of the Association of Anglican Deacons in Canada, which met recently in Halifax. Photo: Cydney Proctor


The Association of Anglican Deacons in Canada (AADC) doesn’t meet very often—not since 2011, in fact, but that changed in August. A group of about 55 deacons from a dozen dioceses from all across Canada met in Halifax August 14 to 16 to examine what their vocation means and to support each other in that ministry.

In the Anglican Church of Canada, there are about 340 ordained vocational deacons who work in the parish context and do not draw a salary. In the ordination process, the bishop sums up the role and duties of a deacon by saying, “God now calls you to a special ministry of servanthood…You are to study the Holy Scriptures, to seek nourishment from them, and to model your life upon them.”

The association was formed in 2003 after the need for a community of Canadian deacons became clear a few years prior to the 1999 meeting of the North American Association of the Diaconate (NAAD). It has since hosted five conferences across the country and its membership has grown to 77. Members of the AADC can also become members of its sister organization, the Association of Episcopal Deacons (AED), formerly part of NAAD. Five members of the EDC have joined the AADC to support their Canadian counterparts.

The 2014 conference, Servants by the Sea, opened with an address from the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, who spoke passionately about what deacons are called to do, including to struggle against poverty and inequality. “What I want to dwell on is your ministry in the name of the compassionate Christ,” said Hiltz. “In all you do, to those you tend, you are the feet, the hands, the heart, the voice of Jesus…you are that salt, that flavours for good. Thank you for all you do.”

Through a series of workshops, deacons spoke about the different facets and challenges of their vocation. In Faith and Christian Belief in a Public Forum, a workshop given by the Honourable Mayann Francis, former lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia, participants discussed the difficulties and joys of living out their diaconal ministries in their jobs and non-church lives. This includes the challenge of telling co-workers about their Christian beliefs and calling. For Francis, it all came down to saying, “I could not be a servant without God.”

The Rev. Peter Armstrong spoke about team ministry and the challenges that priests may find working with deacons, and vice versa. There was discussion on how different kinds of vocation might beautifully complement each other but also generate friction. There were also workshops about the rosary, the spirituality of art, deacons in the liturgy and missions to seafarers.

“Fellowship and connection with other deacons is so necessary, almost crucial to stay inspired and motivated to do our work in the world,” said the Rev. Kate Ann Follwell, Christ Church, Belleville, in an interview. “I was inspired by the diversity of callings, motivations and time spent in so many different and unique areas of need covered by the deacons across Canada.”

A couple of archdeacons also attended the event: the Ven. John Struthers from the diocese of New Westminster and the Ven. Christine Ross from the diocese of Kootenay, who are two of the founding members of the association and the only two deacons who are also archdeacons in the Anglican Church of Canada. Struthers has been a deacon for 18 years and an archdeacon for 13. Ross is celebrating her 30th anniversary as an ordained deacon and has been archdeacon for two months. Struthers and Ross are directors of deacons in their dioceses and are responsible for everything from discernment to the diaconate to policy and discipline. Both are retired from their full-time secular jobs and work as archdeacons alongside their regular parish ministries. Ross said that the appointment of a second diaconal archdeacon and the rise in the number of deacons in Canada show that deacons are “coming into their own.”

And coming into their own they are. As the church focuses on “mission” and becoming a “missional church,” it relies on deacons to do much of the heavy lifting. “It’s no longer oddballs on the fringes using this language of mission…Working on really getting the ministry of deacons is the single most important thing we can do for a re-formation of the church, for the sake of God’s mission, and the call to get on with God’ mission in the world,” said Eileen Scully, director of faith, worship and ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada, who spoke at the plenary.

At the plenary, Hiltz asked deacons in the room if they had been ordained for five years or less, and a majority of hands shot up. That, said Hiltz, “is a clear sign of the restoration of the diaconate.”

Meanwhile, the conference also honoured The Rev. (Deacon) Alice Beaumont, of St. Mary’s, diocese of British Columbia, with the Maylanne Maybee Award. The award, which is given to one deacon at the triennial conference of the association, recognizes deacons who “carry our Christ’s work in our midst” and how represent the  ministry of deacons “at its best.”

Cydney Proctor is a freelance journalist based in Halifax.


Anglican Journal News, August 22, 2014

Youth discover that ministry is ‘worth it’

Posted on: August 20th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews


By Andrew Stephens-Rennie


At CLAY 2014, Anglican and Lutheran youth gathered for worship, for opportunities to explore different areas of ministry and to discuss issues such as faith and social media, right to water, and being church in today’s world. Photo: CLAY2014



About 600 Anglican and Lutheran youth from across the country gathered in Kamloops, B.C. August 14 to 17 for the third bi-annual Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth Gathering (CLAY).

Designed for youth between the ages of 14 to 19, the event provided participants with an opportunity for Christian leadership development, varied worship experiences, and to connect faith to daily life.

This year’s theme, “Worth It,” was intended “to inspire a diversity of meaning rich in faith” and to apply the question of worth to participants’ relationship with God, with the church, with their friends and their interaction with the wider world, according to organizers.

These topics were explored through six large group gatherings with keynote speaker Scott Evans through worship, drama and the arts. Participants had the opportunity to put what they learned into action through a servant event, and the two-part “ministry projects” section of the program.

The Rev. Canon David Burrows, rector of the Parish of the Ascension in Mount Pearl, Nfld., created ministry projects, a new element of the gathering, to provide a forum for young people to discuss big issues such as mining and human rights, right to water, and being church in today’s world. It was also designed for participants learn something new and to have fun.

“Ministry Projects provide CLAY participants with the opportunity to explore different areas of ministry,” said Burrows. “They’ll be given the opportunity to present new knowledge at the final large group gatherings, and young people and their leaders will be empowered and encouraged to put [what they learned] into practice within their own ministry context and faith community.”

And put the lessons into practice, they did. After hearing a presentation on the global impact of mining, participants turned off their phones for an hour to symbolize their support for mining justice. “Before they did, everyone sent off a final tweet, launching #miningjustice and #clay2014 into the top ten trending topics on Twitter in Canada!,” organizers reported on Facebook.

One project, Where the Waters Meet: The National Youth Project, explored the rich biblical imagery of water and its connection to water as a basic human right, and was led by Devon Goldie (PWRDF youth council member) and the Rev. Paul Gehrs (Assistant to ELCIC Bishop Susan Johnson). It also highlighted the gathering’s four-year commitment to engage water issues through education, reflection and practical response.

“The Right to Water was an aspect at the Joint Assembly [of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada] last July,” said Gehrs. “The Joint Assembly Declaration commits Lutherans and Anglicans to working on the issues of responsible resource extraction and of homelessness and affordable housing.” Joint Assembly delegates participated in a liturgy on Parliament Hill praying for those affected by the scarcity of clean water in Canada and throughout the world.

“The Right to Water is a youth expression of these commitments, because potable water is an aspect of affordable housing, and resource extraction can affect water quality and availability,” added Gehrs.

Where the Waters Meet is about more than providing young people with information about water security. Its two 90-minute sessions also engaged participants in creative problem solving, and provided them with tools to take back to their communities.

Goldie, who studies theatre at the University of Victoria, used an approach inspired by Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed.

“I love using theatre for teaching because it provides a whole new kinetic and visual way of approaching the topic,” she said. The group created a tableau depicting a community suffering a water-related injustice. They soon had a house, community members, an outhouse and a poisoned well.

With Goldie’s guidance, the group stopped to take a look at the image they’d created in order to identify what was wrong in that situation.

“Having an image in front of them helped them to identify a whole new set of problems,” said Goldie. Those who weren’t yet a part of the tableau were asked to join the others and help fix the picture in a way that was both relational and intentional.

“Slowly, we were able to turn the picture into a just model. Afterwards we discussed how they could use those same techniques when they went back home to engage their community,” said Goldie.

Each night, participants also had opportunities to just “hang out, have fun and get to know each other” through Late Night Spots, a combination of high-energy and low-energy activities that included dance, open mic nights with the Ascension Lutheran Band, worship, games, movies and conversations about common concerns around transitioning to university or the work force and life in general.

Summing up his thoughts on the Ministry Projects, Burrows said, “It’s about integrating ideas and actions to help participants discover that ministry is worth it – in numerous ways – both at the gathering, and back at home.”

The next CLAY Gathering will take place in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island in August 2016.

Check out CLAY 2014’s Facebook page and photos on Flickr


- Andrew Stephens-Rennie is a member of the national youth initiatives team of the Anglican Church of Canada. 


Anglican Journal News, August 18, 2014