Graduate Christian Fellowship (GCF) – Welcome!

Dear Friends,

Welcome.

There’s no hiding the fact that the next big transition is upon us. The calendar indicates that Labour Day has passed, the weather announces that Fall is arriving, and the buzz of activity on campus declares that a new academic year has begun. Students, supervisors, classes, theses, applications, funding arrangements, future plans and current relationships all call for our attention.

While all this is happening, we take time to grieve the hundreds of thousands of lives tragically lost a decade ago in New York and globally since then in the subsequent responses. We contemplate how to make choices in yet another election campaign of polarizing rhetoric. And we consider the implications of the apparent attempt by our city leaders to ban and criminalize homelessness.

Welcome to September. Welcome to Toronto. Welcome to our world.

But welcome also to another season of our campus ministry communities – Graduate Christian Fellowship (GCF) and Wine Before Breakfast (WBB). Here in this time, this city, and this world we long to be a small but persistent and Spirit-infused presence of shalom. A people of hope. A place of healing and wholeness.
Read more Graduate Christian Fellowship (GCF) – Welcome!

Wine Before Breakfast Returns

WBB, 9/11 … Ten Years Later

Dear friends:

Wine Before Breakfast was born while the smoke was still billowing from the ruins of the World Trade Center. Exactly one week after that fateful September 11, 2001 we gathered for the first time as a worshipping community at the University of Toronto.

No happy praise songs that morning.
No upbeat enthusiasm to gather in the crowds.

Rather, we began our life together as a community in lament.

And over these past ten years lament has never been far from our worship.
Ten years of war.
Ten years of escalating international terrorism.
Ten years of injustice.
Ten years of increased assault on this good creation and its most vulnerable inhabitants.

And the lament has got personal on all kinds of levels.
We have faced death in the community.
We waited and prayed while Jim Loney and three other Christian Peacemakers were held captive in Baghdad.

And our lament has also been deeply personal at times.
Broken relationships. Struggling faith. Deep disappointments.
But we have still been able to sing.
Read more Wine Before Breakfast Returns

Campus Ministry Newsletter – September 2011

Download it here!

Every fall the CRC campus ministries at York University (Shiao Chong, Logos Campus Ministry) and the University of Toronto produce a joint newsletter for distribution in Toronto-area CRC churches. The 2011 edition is hot off the press, and can be downloaded as a PDF document.

Special thanks to our colleague, Shiao Chong, for putting this newsletter together again this year.

A Theology of Dishwashing

[These reflections, collected and written down by Geoff Wichert over a couple of years, were first presented to the Graduate Christian Fellowship on Nov 25, 2010. They can also be downloaded as a Word document.]

Introduction

These stories and reflections are rooted in the re-creation of the Graduate Christian Fellowship 5 yrs ago (Sept 2006). At that time we wanted to reshape the community, a change that we named in several different ways: a shift from program to community, from a focus on worldview (which is often primarily intellectual) toward character formation (a more holistic approach).

We noted that the Wine Before Breakfast community was characterized by a high level of personal investment, a sense of belonging, and strong loyalty/faithfulness, often showing itself in the enthusiastic invitation of friends and newcomers. We suspected this has something to do with continuity and rhythm, the routines and habits of discipleship cultivated in the regular weekly liturgies

We also supposed it was connected to WBB’s emphasis on hospitality – the regular practice of eating together. Over the years we had tried having “soup & bread” before GCF a number of times, but it was always optional, and never particularly successful. So we decided to make it central to our gatherings, and essential to what we did. We also aimed to establish other practices that would give the community a deliberately distinctive character and “feel”, such as our own weekly worship time.

Out of all that came the model of GCF that we have today. It has certainly evolved over the years, but one feature that has remained constant (for obvious reasons) has been the practice of washing dishes. Because it happened early, and was closely tied to deliberate reflection on the shape of the ministry, I have had plenty of opportunity to reflect on it, and these are some of the thoughts that have emerged.

There are 3 stories about the practical side of washing dishes: both FYI, but also presented here under the notion of “logistics as pastoral practice.” There is a biblical analogy from Jesus’ teaching, and finally a reflection on liturgical practice. Read more A Theology of Dishwashing