The School of Mercy and Justice

Over the last year, we have spent much time in conversation about our Vineyard School of Justice (VSOJ), and about what God may be inviting us into this next season. In short, we sense his pleasure over the VSOJ these past four years – that it has accomplished what it was intended to – and that God is doing something new.

Today, in partnership with Sustainable Faith (the organization that facilitates the School of Spiritual Direction), we are very excited to announce a new school: The School of Mercy and Justice (SOMJ)! Our first cohorts will be this October in Winnipeg and Montreal.

Below, you’ll find a reflection on the VSOJ, the vision of the SOMJ, an overview of the new school curriculum, and tuition and registration information.

APPLY FOR THE SCHOOL OF MERCY AND JUSTICE


Reflection: The Vineyard School of Justice

The end of March, 2017 marked the completion of our fourth school since rebooting the VSOJ in the fall of 2013. As people have set aside six months to pursue what it means to love God and their neighbour in the contexts of poverty and injustice, God has done remarkable things. Here are a few highlights over the last four years (Video Reviews of Each School):

  • 21 total students
  • 12 women & 9 men
  • 2 students from the Vineyard in Montreal
  • 11 students who were street-involved / at risk of homelessness
  • All 5 students in the 2014-2015 school year were street-involved / at risk of homelessness
  • 7 Indigenous students
  • 18 – 63 years: student age range
  • 2 trips to the Himalayan Region Vineyards in Nepal (including visits to every Vineyard church; 1 Nepali VSOJ; and several gatherings/meetings with leaders)
  • 1 intern (Natalie Hamm) who served for a year, then became a leader the next year
  • 1 practicum student last year (Tara Glowacki)
  • 569 “likes” (and counting!) on Facebook
  • We established an articulation agreement with Vineyard Institute (VI) whereby our students could receive credit towards VI programs and certificates

The SOJ’s exposure has grown over the last years. As director of the school, Suhail has been invited to speak about the program / justice / compassion at various gatherings including:

As a result of CauseCon, 7 people (5 students and 2 leaders) from the Heroic Leadership Institute in Duluth came to spend a week with us.

VSOJ class of 2015.

Vision: The School of Mercy and Justice

The SOMJ involves three main changes from the VSOJ.

  • The school will be modular (5 modules, each 2 days, with a particular theme) as opposed to the format of the VSOJ (which was 5 days a week, for 6 months). Modular learning is more in line with trends in modern education and will also allow those who are working or studying to access the program and participate more easily.
  • The school will more intentionally focus on joining the contemplative and active life. The SOMJ offers participants an immersive, integrated, and robust spiritual formation for those who desire to cultivate a deep life with God and engage in the work of mercy and justice in the world. To use Ignatian language, we envision the school as training for those who desire to live as “contemplatives in action.” We want to facilitate joy, purpose, and wholeness in people and churches as they seek to embody mercy and justice in the manner and Spirit of Jesus; that the beauty and good news of the Kingdom may increasingly come to those our world considers “poor.”
  • The school will be an official Sustainable Faith school; it will not be a WCV ministry as the VSOJ was. Sustainable Faith’s Schools of Spiritual Direction comprise the largest spiritual direction training in North America (26 locations, 23 teachers, around 250 students / year, and around 800 students in the last eight to nine years). The organization is increasingly well-known and trusted. Being connected to and overseen by Sustainable Faith will:
    • give the SOMJ greater exposure and credibility. This will likely encourage greater engagement (more students), which will likely precipitate greater breadth (more schools).
    • allow possibilities for the SOMJ to scale and expand beyond WCV, thereby contributing to the spiritual formation of a broader scope of people and churches.
    • relieve WCV of significant administrative responsibilities. Sustainable Faith will administrate all details related to web presence, student applications, and tuition payments.

Who is Involved?

The Winnipeg cohort will be led by Suhail Stephen and Natalie Hamm; the Montreal cohort will be led by Erin O’Neill and Matte Downey.

From left to right: Natalie, Erin, Suhail

Matte

Natalie grew up in Steinbach, Manitoba. She has been a part of the Vineyard since moving to Winnipeg in 2013 where she lived at Flatlanders Inn (a ministry of Winnipeg Centre Vineyard that is an intentional community and place for those at risk of homelessness to get their feet back under them) for one year while also attending the Vineyard School of Justice. Upon completing the school, she spent nine months working with the Himalayan Region Vineyard churches in Nepal and IndiaSince returning to Winnipeg she has lived and worked at House of Hesed (a transitional community for those living with HIV/AIDS), spent two years interning and leading the Vineyard School of Justice, and completed Sustainable Faith’s School of Spiritual Direction. Natalie loves to run, read, bake, and always has at least one knitting project on the go.

Erin is from Quebec and currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she is part of the Winnipeg Centre Vineyard. She graduated from the Vineyard School of Justice in 2016, and completed her first year of Sustainable Faith’s School of Spiritual Direction in 2017. She resides and has interned at Flatlanders Inn. She has a Master of Occupational Therapy from the Université de Sherbrooke, and presently works with seniors in long-term care.

Suhail is from India, grew up as a missionary kid, and has lived in a total of seven countries. He currently serves on staff at the Winnipeg Centre Vineyard (WCV) as pastor of the Drop-In (street parish ministry), directed the Vineyard School of Justice for four years, and now directs the School of Mercy and Justice. He has been part of the Vineyard since 2001 and prior to WCV, was part of and led worship at Trinity Vineyard Christian Fellowship in St. Charles, Illinois, and at Kowloon City Vineyard in Hong Kong. He has a B.A in English Literature and Philosophy from Wheaton College and an M.A in Community Leadership and Philanthropy Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He recently completed Sustainable Faith’s School of Spiritual Direction. He and his wife, Jennifer, met at WCV, have been married almost three years, and are expecting their first child this September!

Matte lives in Montreal, Quebec where being an English-speaking, Protestant, white female makes her a minority (and she is good with that). She has a B.Th. in Biblical Studies, an M.A. in Theological Studies, and a Ph.D. in Humanities (Theology/Theatre). She has taught in the Theological Studies Department at Concordia University and is currently an adjunct lecturer at Threshold School of Ministry in Saint John, New Brunswick. She co-hosts The Imaginators Podcast which features conversations on creativity and faith and has presented her work (both theological and theatrical) in conferences near and far. She and her husband, Dean, pastor the Vineyard Montreal Church, and you can find her blog at outword.blogspot.ca.


Overview: The School of Mercy and Justice

Through the combined experience of learning together through teaching and discussion, reading superb literature, film, engaging in individual and group activities and reflection, receiving spiritual direction, and practicing spiritual disciplines — all in a communal setting — students will grow in embodying the contemplative, missional life.

Module Themes and Dates

There are five modules, each two days, with a particular theme:

  • Module 1: The Story of Our Life and The Life of Christ
    • Sharing “sacred stories” of personal experiences with mercy and justice; an overview of the life of Jesus through the lens of action and contemplation.
  • Module 2: Compassion and Grief
    • Encountering the God who sees, feels, and responds to our suffering; grieving loss and the power of lament in sustaining a soul’s work in mercy and justice.
  • Module 3: Humility and Power
    • Encountering the God who “empties himself” and welcoming his upside-down Kingdom; invitations to poverty and simplicity.
  • Module 4: Mercy and Justice
    • Responding to people’s immediate needs and addressing systemic/structural issues; discerning vocation in mercy and justice.
  • Module 5: Rhythm and Rule
    • Arranging life for wholeness and spiritual transformation; crafting a rule of life that embodies the rhythms of action and contemplation.

Each module is from 9:00am – 5:00pm, Fridays and Saturdays.   

  • Winnipeg, Canada (location TBD)
    Oct. 27- 28, 2017
    Dec. 8 – 9, 2017
    Feb. 9 – 10, 2018
    Apr. 13 – 14, 2018
    June 8 – 9, 2018
  • Montreal, Canada (location TBD)
    Nov. 3 – 4, 2017
    Dec. 15 – 16, 2017
    Feb. 16 – 17, 2018
    Apr. 20 – 21, 2018
    June 15 – 16, 2018

Requirements

  • Readings (12)
    • Approximately two books per module, with a pace of about a book a month.
  • Activities (8)
    • We are not solely or even primarily thinking beings; much of what actually forms us are the activities with which we engage our bodies. As such, participants will undertake certain activities with a view to more fully encountering God and his heart of mercy and justice in and amongst those who are considered “poor.”
  • Receiving spiritual direction (minimum 6 sessions)
    • Spiritual direction encourages you to rest from doing, and be reflective; to notice, savour, and respond to the presence, voice, and activity of God. This is especially important in mercy and justice work, where needs and issues always seem urgent, ubiquitous, and inexhaustible.
    • Introducing Spiritual Direction [PDF]
  • Practicing spiritual disciplines
    • Each participant selects one to two spiritual disciplines to engage in more deeply over the course of each module.
  • General reports (4)
    • Before each module, you’ll post a one to two page report in which you:
      • share the current circumstances of your own life and spiritual journey
      • reflect on your experience of the readings and activities, receiving direction, and practicing spiritual disciplines
      • answer one or two specific questions related to the module
      • submit any question(s) you’d like to discuss in the upcoming module

Tuition

    • $900 USD (CAD ~ $1,211.40)
    • Note: The above figure does not include books or meals (lunches).
    • A $200 USD (CAD ~ $269.20) deposit secures your place.
    • You can either pay the remaining $700 USD (CAD ~$ 942.20) up front or in monthly instalments throughout the duration of the school.
    • You will be invoiced directly from Sustainable Faith.
    • There is an additional US $40 (CAD ~ $93) fee to cover debit/credit card charges incurred by the school. This charge can be avoided by using Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT); tuition invoices will provide details regarding this.
    • Note: Given that Sustainable Faith establishes tuition in US$, all above fees in CAD$ are approximate. Amounts in CAD$ may fluctuate based on currency exchange rates with the US$.

Who is the School for?

You do not have to be part of the Vineyard to be part of the school. The SOMJ is open to pastors, church leaders, and laypeople alike, and is geared to serve not just one denomination or church tradition, but the larger body of Christ. The training is Christocentric and guides people to embrace the entirety of the life of Christ in terms of his priorities of solitude and prayer, and of engagement and ministry.

    • Note: Each school will typically have no more than 12 students.

Application and Deadlines

October 1, 2017: Registration due
October 8, 2017: $200 USD (CAD ~ $269.20) deposit due to secure your place

    • We encourage you to apply as soon as you can as spaces may fill up.
    • Once we receive your application, we will get in touch with you for an interview and provide deposit/payment information.
    • The link below will take you to Sustainable Faith’s website. Please select the appropriate location (Winnipeg or Montreal), and then fill in your personal information.
    • APPLY FOR THE SCHOOL OF MERCY AND JUSTICE

Baptisms – Apostle’s Creed

We’re going to be celebrating baptisms July 3 in the Greenspace (weather permitScreen Shot 2016-06-29 at 5.49.46 PMting).  In case you want to know beforehand what we’re going to be doing, below are the call and responses of those getting baptized.  Also, together we will publicly declare our trust in Jesus by saying the Apostle’s Creed – an old statement that has been affirmed by the vast majority of the church throughout the centuries.  Let’s use this time to re-affirm our own trust in God as we witness and participate in this sacrament which speaks to the reality of dying to our sin, being raised to new life, and joining the community represented in the church.

PS. Afterwards, we’re going to have a BBQ, and set up the Bouncy Castle and have a few other fun activities as well!  If it’s nice the children may want to bring a swimming suit for the slip-n-slide.

 

Elder:        Do you reject Satan?

Person:   I do.

Elder:        And all his works?

Person:   I do.

Elder:        And all his empty promises?

Person:   I do.

Elder:        Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?

Person:   I do.

Elder:        Do you turn to Jesus as Saviour?

Person:   I turn to Jesus.

Elder:        Do you submit to Jesus as Lord?

Person:   I submit to Jesus.

Elder:        Do you come to Jesus, the way, the truth and the life?

Person:   I come to Jesus Christ.

 

 

The Apostle’s Creed

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 5.52.21 PMI believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.  He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.  He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended to the dead.  On the third day he rose again.  He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.  He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy universal Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Amen!

 

Elder: Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayer?

Person: I will, with God’s help.

Elder:      Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

Person: I will, with God’s help.

Elder: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

Person: I will, with God’s help.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 5.50.42 PM

 

 

 

Vineyard Metanoia: Dwelling in the Borderlands

June 16 – 18, we’re hosting a National Metanoia event.  Make sure you sign up soon, since space is limited.  All are welcome (including children and youth)!

Here’s an invite from Brian Doerksen, who will be joining us:

Join Michael Raburn, David & Anita Ruis and many other Vineyardites from across our family as we set our hearts to “Think Again”.

Besides prayer & worship we’ll explore together:

  • Lectio Divina – rhythm of lectio divina (Colossians 4) centering around the Eucharist
  • Academic engagement – with Michael Raburn, a theologian and Vineyard pastor from North Carolina
  • Interview sessions – fun and engaging interview sessions with our National Catalysts with Michael responding in “TED talk” style presentations we describe as “here’s what I heard you say, and here’s what I think
  • Connection – great opportunities to connect share pray/listen with one another

Schedule:

JUN 16 Thursday: 6:30 PM (doors open at 5:30)
JUN 17 Friday: 9:30 AM / 2 PM / 6:30 PM
JUN 18 Saturday: 9:30 AM

JUN 18 Saturday: 6:30 PM
Saturday nite worship (open to public – no registration required)

Register:

Make sure you register soon, because space is limited.  Children and youth are welcome!

Register here: Vineyard Metanoia.

Vineyard Metanoia

 

 

 

Nepal Sunday

April 25 marks one year since the first big earthquake rocked Nepal.  The nation was shaken – our friends and family were among the thousands displaced.  This coming Sunday, we are going to look back and see what has been accomplished in the relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts and we will look forward to what still needs to be done.  We are going to host a special screening of a documentary jointly produced by World Vision Canada and Vineyard Canada which features many of our Vineyard people in Nepal.  And, we are going to pray for them as they continue to rebuild their country, their homes and their lives.

After worship and the kids are released, the Upstairs Gathering will join the Downstairs Gathering in the Main sanctuary to watch the documentary.  Here’s a trailer:

Rebuilding Nepal // Trailer from SJ Finlay on Vimeo.

Lent – Becoming Fully Alive

Today is Ash Wednesday. It marks the beginning of the Lenten season in the Western Christian calendar. These 40 days (excluding Sundays) culminate in the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.09.16 AMLent is about preparation, self examination and meditation on Jesus’ life and suffering. It’s about journeying with him to become like him. It’s about taking up our cross prior to being raised with him.  Before being raised to life on Sunday, Jesus was lifted up on Friday.

Our culture shuns anything that remotely hints of denial. “Why should I have to give up anything?” we ask, if not with words then through how we conduct our lives.  Examining the deep inner contours of our hearts is not something we do naturally – yet it is what followers of Jesus have done for centuries during this season and have found deep life in the process. This, of course, is the point.  Lent is about finding life – finding the true source of life – the very author of life himself.  In Lent we give up other embraces to make room to be more fully be embraced by Jesus.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.23.07 AMThis season, you may want to embark on a journey asking the question, “what in my life is crowding out the very source of life?” This is the essence of fasting – another practical marker of Lent.  Jesus wants to bring us to a place of being more fully alive and yet he won’t do it without our partnership.  As we posture ourselves toward him, the Holy Spirit will transform our self-centred lives into new lives of community and justice. Lent prepares us to live worshipful lives of compassion, generosity and all embracing love.  This sounds like a good definition of being fully alive to me – how about you?

 

Here are a few resources that may help you on the journey:

Lent: the road to the Cross  – a booklet prepared by the Vineyard UK.

Pray As You Go – a daily contemplative podcast that leads the listener through a series of meditative prayers and scripture readings.  Each episode is about 10 – 13 minutes long.  You can listen right from their website or subscribe to it via iTunes podcasts.

Lent for Everyone – this is an online devotional created by N.T. Wright.  It includes daily scripture and a well crafted and thoughtful devotion by one of the foremost New Testament scholars of our time.  (You have to sign up to view it)

Living Lent Daily – features prayers, thoughts and more each day to inspire you throughout your Lenten journey. A new article will become available daily throughout Lent.  These are quite short.

Kids Helping Kids – Nepal

Hey kids and youth (and parents of them too!).  Here is a great little initiative that we are spearheading that is going to build a youth centre in the village of Gatlang in Nepal.  The whole village was destroyed in the earthquakes last Spring.  Many of the people in the Gatlang Vineyard did not own land, so the Earthquake fund has purchased new land for homes to be built on.  One of the plots of land has been set aside for a small building to be built in which children can have a safe warm place to play and for the youth to hang out.  There are a number of other Vineyard churches in Canada who are also contributing to this project.

Jodi will be letting all the children and youth know that they can contribute to this project during the next two Sundays.  Collections will be taken on Sunday, January 31 – so make sure your children and youth remember to bring some donations at that time. Every little bit helps!

nepal final2

A Good Word for a New Year

Dear WCV,

We wish you all God’s best this holiday season.  May you be filled with peace and joy as we enter 2016 and may you be rooted in his nourishing love in every circumstance.  We are so privileged to serve this amazing community.  God has done so much in and through WCV over the years and we are honoured and humbled for what has gone before us and excited for what’s in store!

Here’s a blessing we pray for us all now – you can pray it too!:

“May God make your year a happy one!  Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain, but by strengthening you to bear it, as it comes; not by making your path easy, but by making you sturdy to travel any path; not by taking hardships from you, but by taking fear from your heart; not by granting you unbroken sunshine, but by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows; not by making your life always pleasant, but by showing you when people and their causes need you most, and by making you anxious to be there to help. God’s love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead.”

With love and gratitude – the Pastoral Elders.

Pastoral Elders 2015

John, Violet, Nathan, Jodi & Andy (and Chewy – the hairy one)

 

 

 

School of Justice Info Night

We are hosting a public information night for anyone who is interested in finding out more about the Vineyard School of Justice and about our upcoming school (Oct. 2015 – Apr. 2016).

We’ll share the who, what, where, why, and how of the school, have former and current students share their experiences, and facilitate a time of questions and answers.

Vineyard School of JusticeTea, coffee, and baked goods will also be available on a payment-by-donation basis with proceeds going toward future student sponsorships.  All are invited!

Thursday, March 26, 7pm at 782 Main St.

Where’s the Fruit? – series feedback

We began our current series by referencing Isaiah 27:2-3.

“In that day,
    sing about the fruitful vineyard.
I, the Lord, will watch over it,
    watering it carefully.
Day and night I will watch so no one can harm it.”

Our intentions were to revisit who we are, explore the characteristics that mark us, and call us to embrace our identity that God has set for us.  We’ve heard from a number of people sharing personally what it was about the Vineyard which initially drew them to this worshipping community.  We’ve also explored a number of distinctive characteristics that, like a good tattoo, mark all Vineyard communities around the world.  Of course, our ultimate intention is to bear good fruit – that is, to be a people who are indelibly marked by Jesus, and a community that invites others to this same reality.

We’re wondering what you’ve taken from this series.  What has stood out to you?  What have you learned?  What has God done in your life as a result of this “A Fruitful Vineyard” series?  Please take a moment to respond via the survey below.  It’s only one page and can take as much or as little time as you want.  Alternatively, you can use the comment section below which is publicly viewable.

Thanks!

A Fruitful Vineyard – winter series

As the pastoral staff and elders have been praying and seeking direction for the coming year, we’ve been drawn to the idea of knowing who we are and who we’ve been called to be as a Vineyard family.  It’s important to tend the roots of a plant if you want to produce good fruit.  So, we’re going to be taking the beginning part of this year to explore not only our history but the soil in which we’ve been planted.  We’ll ask:

  • What is a Vineyard?
  • What are the particular distinguishing features of the Vineyard?
  • What shape of church has God called us to be?
  • What role are we to play in the body of Christ?
  • And, what is our particular calling as Winnipeg Centre Vineyard?

We’ll explore all these questions and hopefully posture us to continue to grow into the kind of people God would like to visit!  In the end, we want to be a Vineyard that is fruitful – one that both encounters God in real and tangible ways, and extends this awareness and reality to those around us.

Isaiah 27:2, 3 & 6

“In that day,
    sing about the fruitful vineyard.

I, the Lord, will watch over it,
    watering it carefully.
Day and night I will watch so no one can harm it….

The time is coming when Jacob’s descendants will take root.
    Israel will bud and blossom
    and fill the whole earth with fruit!

Let this be said of us!

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 12.03.49 PM

 

Prayer Challenge – Day 30!

The End (or is it just the beginning?)

Congratulations, you’ve made it to day 30! Take a moment and reflect on what has happened during the past month. Go over your notes. What have you learned about God and his vision for you, for the city, for WCV, for your friends and family? Where has your heart been moved? Pay attention to those times, days and situations in which you felt moved. God was probably speaking through those circumstances.

The Challenge:

The challenge for today is to share what God’s done in your life through this Prayer Challenge with someone. You can write it down and send it to the office or talk with a friend – it doesn’t matter as long as you somehow verbalize what has happened.

3 times a day 30 days

Prayer Challenge – Day 29

 Advent: the appearing

Today is the first day of the Advent season – the four weeks leading up to the celebration of Jesus’ birth. It’s an acknowledgement of Jesus’ incarnation – his coming – his appearing in human form. This is a wondrous mystery. The Advent season orients us to receive this mystery. It also beckons us to see Jesus’ appearing in the present world around us. At the same time it also points us towards his final appearing when he comes again.

The Challenge:

Where will you perceive Jesus today? Ask God to open your eyes to his presence in your life and in the lives of those around you. As you pause throughout your day, reflect, and look for his hand at work, his face reflected, his heart expressed.

3 times a day 30 days

Prayer Challenge – Day 28

 Healing

Healing does double duty. It is both a sign pointing towards the Kingdom of God, and it is also part of its in-breaking reality. When healing happens, whether physically or any other kind of healing, it points to the day when Jesus will return at which time there will be no more tears and no more pain. It’s a sign pointing us forward. At the same time it is also part of the reality to which it points. In other words, when healing happens, God’s Kingdom comes in the here and now!

If that’s not enough good news, followers of Jesus are commissioned and given authority to heal the sick.

What Jesus did, we get to do!

The Challenge:

As you go about your day, keep your eyes and ears open to those around you who are sick. They may be friends, family members, colleagues, or complete strangers. As someone tells you that they are feeling unwell or sick, take it as God’s invitation to pray for them. Be brave and ask Jesus to heal their body and bring his kingdom to them, right then and there.

Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near.  Heal the sick…” Matthew 10:7-8

3 times a day 30 days