Archive - Dec 2009 - Oct 2019 http://colleagueslist.blogspot.ca/ http://colleagueslistii.blogspot.com/
GLOBAL AND ECUMENICAL IN SCOPE CANADIAN IN PERSPECTIVE
Wayne A. Holst, Editor
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A major experience for me this week was the Zoom
gathering of fellow-alumni of the Graduate School
of Ecumenical Studies, Bossey, Switzerland, near
Geneva on Tuesday. Of the original 1967/68 class
of about 50, a dozen were able to connect this time.
Please check out a little about this World Council of
Churches' school - https://institute.oikoumene.org/en
Please forgive if this issue comes off as too heavily
"me-centered." I will do better next week.
I hope the items I have accumulated for you will
be of interest, in any event.
NOTE A REMINDER - If a link, below seems to be dead,
cut and paste it into the address bar at the top of your
web page and it should work.
A LIFE REFLECTION IN THREE-QUARTER(S) TIME
It was a wonderful experience to connect and chat
(via Zoom) with about a dozen fellow graduate school
alumni, mainly from continental Europe and the UK,
this past Tuesday. We had originally planned to come
together in Bossey from May 5th-8th, but the pandemic
put a stop to that.
After an hour together, we concluded by committing
to a repeat visit this autumn, and a hoped-for, postponed
get-together in person next May.
A very simple, but basic, question was asked by our
group leader Tim Ollier from near Durham, England.
"What has happened in your life since we were all
together 52 years ago?" he asked. Everyone told
their story in 2-3 minutes and it was wonderful to
Henri Nouwen wrote something that has remained with
me for many decades. "Your ministry vocation can stay
the same, while your ministry activities change" - to
What could I say about myself and those 50-plus years?
Here is what I said about three-quarter(s) time - or
75 years - in answer to that question. I have embellished
some of what appears below, with additional thought.
Preparatory Quarter (to age 25)
I grew up in a rural, German-Canadian community of
Southern Ontario and got my formative socialization
and education during the fifties and sixties - just as
Canada was emerging as a nation in its own right.
Coming to Bossey was the first time I really lived in
both a foreign country and an ecumenical church
environment. I have to admit now that after that
experience I never returned home. Even though I
have revisited often over the years to see family and
friends, I could never fully return to the place that
shaped me as a person. I had married, and it was
before Eleanor and I had started a family together.
I assume many of you my readers could say a bit of
the same if you were to tell your own story.
By the mid-to-late 60's I had completed graduate
studies and more, for a career in ministry service.
I have worked hard to stay connected to family and
friends from the first quarter of my life, and it has
not been easy. But I treasure my continuing
connections from the first quarter of my life.
First Career (circa 25-50)
I had always wanted to be a pastor, but my formative
ministry path set me in a direction quite different from
what I had expected.
After spending several years in a rural parish in SW
Ontario, we traveled to Trinidad, West Indies where
I served as a missionary. It was actually my first
experience working in a culture different from my own.
Returning to Canada in the early 1980's, I was called
as assistant to a Lutheran synod president (bishop)
in Winnipeg, Manitoba and learned a lot about
administrative work and congregational life in very
unusual circumstances for me.
Following the death of that bishop I took up a more
extensive administrative position at our international
church offices in New York City. This work gave me
a broad awareness of the church in North America.
It also helped me to see things more clearly from a
I wanted to return to life in Canada, and to a ministry
closer to the grassroots. In 1979 we moved to Calgary,
Alberta and I have remained here for 40 years.
At the end of my second quarter (about age 50) I
had developed considerable administrative experience
and also served in new church development by building
a new congregation from the ground level. I am proud
to see that parish thriving today.
I also lost my first family (wife and two children)
through the tragedy of divorce. A key learning from
my second quarter was that I much needed to focus
on immediate relationships and not just on career.
It was a hard lesson to learn and wounds from this
will accompany me through the rest of my life.
Second Career (50-70)
Most of this period was spent in academic life -
completing a doctorate in religion and culture studies -
(St. Stephen's College, University of Alberta) and
teaching at the University of Calgary (for 20+ years.)
This experience helped me to learn how to relate to
students - most of whom were of other faiths or none.
This proved to be a most important growth step for
me and I consider this a key career development.
I came to understand ecumenism as relations beyond,
as well as within, Christianity. I also came to respect
and appreciate people called "Nones". Doubt need not
be negative or an enemy to faith. It helped me grow
as a person and hopefully to understand others better.
Third Career (70 and beyond)
After some years as a single divorcee, I found love
again with Marlene and her family. We have completed
close to a second decade together.
I could not have imagined such a scenario of new life
that has continued - and will hopefully be - the last
quarter of my life.
But my ministry has not ended. Probably, the most
rewarding of my career has been my work as the
coordinator of adult spiritual development at St. David's
United, Calgary. This has been a responsibility
since 1998 and I have worked with many capable
co-leaders and hundreds of fellow-participants in
spiritual growth through book and bible studies, retreats,
library, book sales, global travel and special seniors'
I have also tried to develop my writing skills to help
writers promote their books and to create columns
from an ecumenical perspective.
For as long as possible, may these ministries continue!
Nouwen was right. Our ministries change over a lifetime,
but our vocation (serving God as best we can) continues.
This was a bit of an elaboration to respond to the question
asked of me earlier this week by a fellow Bossey classmate.
I was amazed at the variety of marvelous ministries lived
by my fellows of 53 years ago.
Thank God for this blessed moment in time when I could
take a second look at how many beautiful lives have unfolded.
In Transit Blog
May 6th, 2020
"Telling the Story"
Personal Web Log,
May 3rd, 2020
"Living Through Liminal Times"
Sermons and Blog
May 1st, 2020
"The Rhythm of Life"
San Antonio, TX
Personal Web Site
May 4th, 2020
NET NOTES - May 10th, 2020
LORNA DUECK -
A STORYTELLER RETIRES
Face of Evangelical Christianity
Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
May, 2020 (podcast)
MAY IS ASIAN HERITAGE MONTH
Churches' Contributions from Asia
United Church of Canada,
May 6th, 2020
CONSPIRACY CULTURE AND
THE POWER OF COMPASSION
How to Restore Faith in Facts
April 27th, 2020
MY THEOLOGICAL WAKE-UP
CALL AT WALMART
We're Often Blind to What God Sees
The Christian Century,
May 1st, 2020
MADE OUR CHURCH STRONGER
We Can Still Act in Concert
New York Times,
May 2nd, 2020
WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR --
POWER OR LEADERSHIP?
Joan Chittister on America Today
National Catholic Reporter,
May 6th, 2020
PRAGUE REVEALS THAT JEWISH
GRAVESTONES USED TO PAVE STREETS
Another Communist Era Atrocity
May 5th, 2020
CROWDED INTO CAMPS, REFUGEES
ARE SITTING DUCKS FOR COVID-19
A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Religion News Service,
May 7th, 2020
SAMARITAN'S PURSE FIELD HOSPITAL
TO CLOSE IN CENTRAL PARK NYC
It Also Caused a Critical Reaction
Religion News Service,
May 4th, 2020
AFTER WEEKS ON ZOOM, AMERICAN
CHURCHES CONSIDER RE-OPENING
Many Miss the Human Interaction
New York Times,
May 7th, 2020
WISDOM OF THE WEEK - May 10th
Provided by Sojourners and the Bruderhof online:
The quality of strength lined with tenderness is
an unbeatable combination.
- Maya Angelou, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"
The present is the ever moving shadow that divides
yesterday from tomorrow. In that lies hope.
- Frank Lloyd Wright, "The Living City"
We are not people who protect our own safety:
we are people who protect our neighbors’ safety.
- Barbara Glasson
If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection,
or lest the one concerned should say, “You do not
understand,” or because I fear to lose my reputation
for kindness; if I put my own good name before the
other’s highest good, then I know nothing of
- Amy Carmichael
The chief biblical analogy for baptism is not the
water that washes but the flood that drowns.
Discipleship is more than turning over a new leaf.
It is more fitful and disorderly than gradual moral
formation. Nothing less than daily, often painful,
lifelong death will do. So Paul seems to know not
whether to call what happened to him on the
Damascus Road “birth” or “death” – it felt like
both at the same time.
- William Willimon
That a good man may have his back to the wall is
no more than we knew already; but that God could
have his back to the wall is a boast for all insurgents
forever. Christianity is the only religion on earth that
has felt that omnipotence made God incomplete.
Christianity alone has felt that God, to be wholly God,
must have been a rebel as well as a king. Alone of all
creeds, Christianity has added courage to the virtues
of the Creator. For the only courage worth calling
courage must necessarily mean that the soul passes
a breaking point – and does not break.
- G. K. Chesterton
I knew before that God gave life to humankind and
desires that they should live; now I understand more
than that. I understand that God does not wish people
to live apart, and therefore he does not reveal to them
what each one needs for himself; but he wishes them
to live united, and therefore reveals to each of them
what is necessary for all. I now understand that
though it seems to people that they live by care
for themselves, in truth it is love alone by which
they live. He who has love is in God, and God is
in him, for God is love.
- Leo Tolstoy
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything,
and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly
be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it
intact, you must give your heart to no one..Wrap
it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries;
avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket
or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe,
dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be
broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable,
irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least
to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place
outside heaven where you can be perfectly safe from
all the dangers and perturbations of love is hell.
- C. S. Lewis
CLOSING THOUGHT - Pope Francis
God's providence is always one step ahead of us.