Archive - Dec 2009 - Oct 2016

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Colleagues List, June 25th, 2017

Vol. XII No. 38


Wayne A. Holst, Editor

My E-Mail Address:
Colleagues List Web Site


Dear Colleagues

My Special Item this week is a personal reflection
on the teaching of Progressive Christianity at
St. David's United Church, Calgary, my home church.

It comes at a time when our Adult Spiritual Development
Ministry (ACTS) has decided to focus on Marcus Borg's
book "Convictions - How I Learned What Matters Most"
- a summary of Borg's theology which I introduced here
on Colleagues List, Feb. 8th, 2017 about two years ago

I hope you find my assessment of adult learning in a
mainline Canadian church helpful.

My other selections for the week follow the pattern
of Net Notes, Wisdom of the Week and other items
as usual.

Thanks for joining me once more.



Reflections on Our Past Twenty Years,
Anticipating the Next Twenty at
St. David's United Church Calgary

I have been involved in teaching adult education and spiritual development at St. David's United Church, Calgary for more than two decades. For most of that time, I have teamed with colleague Jock McTavish, working with good committees and many adult learners who have stimulated, encouraged and prodded us to ever-more extensive efforts.

While we continue to invest heavily in this ministry I think we have arrived at a time of assessment. From where have we come? What are we currently attempting to do? Where do we go from here?

Core Studies

Two important adult learning activities each fall and winter are our Monday Night Studies and Thursday Morning Bible Studies. Since the year 2000 we have created course designs for both book and bible studies and filled them with considerable content. Please check the following web page for one result, featuring a total of 49 books 

Our bible studies reflect in-depth engagement with many of the 66 books in the canon. At no time since my seminary studies in theology have I invested so much in serious biblical investigation. I find it stimulating at this stage I can now bring much life experience to these efforts. It would seem that for a solid core of students, my enthusiasm is shared.

We thank hundreds of St. David's members, friends and others for accompanying us - over the years - on this journey of biblical, theological and spiritual questing together.

Early Recognition

Thirteen years ago, when our program was still young in its development but increasingly clear about its focus, the United Church Observer, our denominational magazine, referred to our efforts in an article describing the attempts of various congregations across the country to find ways to support adult learners in progressive theology -

Old and New Challenges

Back in 2004 when this Observer article appeared, we were still dealing with a major challenge - how to work with intelligent lay people who were nevertheless confined by a theology fed - as St. Paul would say - "by the milk, rather than the meat, of the Word." (I Cor. 3:2) I would suggest that for many in our classes today, that challenge has changed. Many who study with us have moved from what might have been called "Sunday School faith" and as people who "parked their brains at the church door" - to become authentic faith questers in a secular age. They do not hesitate to question the Bible or long-standing church teaching, and yet they are intent to grow in faith and their desire to live a "contemporary Christian way". They struggle to build a faith that cohabits with their formal education and life experience.

Dedicated Christian Faith
These Christian learners belie the criticism - too-often levelled at members of mainstream churches by more conservative believers - that their theology is thin and their spirituality trendy. I have often reminded our classes the material we are studying and their engagement with it could match much of what happens in a modern graduate seminary classroom (minus research papers, exams, etc.) Our students work on reflection papers shared publicly with their peers and these are often extra-ordinary in their depth and quality.
We continue to welcome newcomers to our group so that they too might benefit from a quality relational learning experience. We welcome persons of all ages and stages of faith development but realize that some may be able to join us only after the challenges of raising a family and maintaining a full-time job are no longer pressuring them.
Those who cannot commit to a ten session/twenty hour series with reading assignments once or twice a year, are still welcome to purchase our books for personal enrichment, or to follow our study progress online. We enjoy the participation and contribution of some who live in other parts of Canada.
St. David's United Calgary is only one of many congregations trying to nurture contemporary Christians across our land. At the same time, we treasure the mature faith found in many of our church members

Our Future
What of the future? Our program is not set in stone. It has always been open to change and evolutionary development. We inherited good educational pastoral leadership from the past, and we hope to share equivalent quality with many in the future.
We are devoted to "spin off" ministries, with emerging leaders and their unique contributions. We have strengthened our congregation's social justice efforts (like work with refugees, and other organizations in the city both religion and non-religion-based). We have developed a retreat, library and special book sale ministry as new people have emerged to provide leadership. Our spiritual travelers ministry heads off to South Africa this October after previous visits to the Celtic Lands, Turkey, the Holy Land and Jordan.
We are committed to planting seeds, and have been doing this for long enough to know that the formulae we use can bring forth much fruit, and that that fruit will last (John 15:16).

My Stance Toward the Future
I am not worried, in fact I  remain hopeful, about the mainline church. and how it will evolve into the future. I anticipate that even better forms of adult ministry will emerge from our denominations.
We may be in structural decline at this point in time, but we continue to contribute much to the people of Canada, within and beyond our congregations.

What I seek to do now is to perform at the peak of my passion and to give my very best. I know these values are shared by other members of our adult ministry team.



Elfrieda Schroeder,
Winnipeg, MB.

In Transit - Personal Blog
June 19th, 2017

"A Stitch in Time"


Jim Taylor,
Okanagan, BC

Personal Web Log
June 19th, 2017

"Vandalism - the Most Meaningless of Crimes"


Martin Marty,
Chicago, IL

June 19th, 2017

"For Southern Baptists - A Sudden Awakening..."


Ron Rolheiser,
San Antonio, TX

Personal Web Site
June 19th, 2017

"Being Good-Hearted is Not Enough"



Teaching Traditional Inuit Culture

New York Times Short Video
June 21st, 2017

"Indigenous Communities in Canada
   Finally on Google Maps" News
June 21st, 2017


Historic Iraqi Centre of Worship
Hit by Retreating Terrorists

New York Times,
June 21st, 2017

"Anger in Mosul as Site Destroyed"

Globe and Mail,
June 22nd, 2017


The Basilica de la Sagrada Familia
in Barcelona, Spain
David Wilson, editor,
United Church Observer,
June 2017

Sees the Pope as a Prophetic Voice
for a Secular Quebec

America Magazine,
June 21st, 2017


Radically Inclusive Worship Place

ABC News
June 16th, 2017


Perhaps a Model for Other Nations

UCA News
June 21st, 2017

"Controversy Over New Presidential Nominee"

UCA News.
June 23rd, 2017


Expanding One's Vision

Christian Week Online
June 20th, 2017


Seeking to Recover Its Founding Roots

Faith and Leadership/Alban Weekly
May 30th, 2017


"The Canada-U.S. bond is too tight for Trump to break"
Globe and Mail,
June 21st, 2017
“With Donald Trump’s storm clouds all over the place, a show of harmony can’t hurt. So in this landmark season of our 150th anniversary, former U.S. presidents and Canadian prime ministers are getting together in forums to reminisce and sing the praises of the bilateral concord... Hopefully, word from the past leaders will get back to Mr. Trump, whose proclivities threaten economic as well as other ties. His nativist passions, his actions on trade, on global warming and on immigration all clash with Canadian interests.”
– Lawrence Martin


"Renaming Langevin Block isn’t rewriting history – it’s unearthing it"

Globe and Mail,
June 23rd, 2017

“This week, it was announced that Langevin Block, the building that houses the Prime Minister’s Office, will no longer be Langevin Block     but will instead be called the Office of the Prime Minister and the Privy Council … History is not erased by the renaming of things.

It is often through renaming that the story of our past is articulated, later to be traced, told and learned. Nor is renaming a peculiar, modern phenomenon that must be resisted lest we all end up in self-driving cars eating avocado toast, delivered by drones, which people keep telling me would be a bad thing.”
– Tabatha Southey



From Sojourners and the Bruderhof Online:

We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give.
- Winston Churchill


Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.

- Mahatma Gandhi

Above all, try always to be able to feel deeply any injustice committed against any person in any part of the world. It is the most beautiful quality of a revolutionary.
- Che Guevara


My soul has grown over the years, and some of my views have changed. As long as I am alive, I will continue to try to understand more, because  the work of the heart is never done.

- Muhammad Ali


I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me ... When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me.

- Ralph Ellison


The importance of detachment from things, the importance of poverty, is that we are supposed to be free from things that we might prefer to   people. Wherever things have become more important than people, we are in trouble. That is the crux of the whole matter.

- Thomas Merton


It is better to be silent and be, than to talk and not be.… Those who possess the word of Jesus are truly able to hear even his very silence,  that they may be perfect and may both act as they speak, and be recognized by their silence. There is nothing which is hid from God, but our very secrets are near to him. Let us therefore do all things as those who have him dwelling in us, that we may be his temples, and he may be in us as our God.

- St. Ignatius


Most people are worth knowing, if you will take time to understand them. Unfamiliarity with other people, ignorance of other people, is what makes war possible and violence possible, and it drives all the social divisions in a school or in a town, nation, or world. When you understand people well enough, you can’t help but love them, even if you hate them too. If you think those are incompatible emotions, I remind you to think about your relationship with almost any close family member. Understanding people is indeed loving them…. Hatred is what we feel when we do not understand. Are there some people so over the top with their evil deeds that they do not qualify for this sweeping statement? Some people may take more understanding than we are capable of possessing.

- Doris “Granny D” Haddock



Globe and Mail,
June 22nd, 2017

Galileo convicted of heresy June 22 1633: Rumour has it that Galileo Galilei muttered the rebellious phrase, “and yet it moves,” on this day as the 69-year-old was sentenced to indefinite detention by the Catholic Church.

The punishment came after Galileo was convicted of heresy for his subversive publications arguing the earth revolved around the sun.

A genius with a flair for self-promotion, he began publishing his solutions to complex mathematical problems after dropping out of university. Through his self-built telescope, Galileo was the first to observe the lunar mountains, the phases of Venus, the moons of Jupiter, as well as sunspots. Despite his trouble with the church, Galileo remained an avid Christian believing observation of nature leads to an understanding about God. Galileo lived his last years under comfortable house arrest continuing his scientific work even when he eventually became blind.

– Miriam Katawazi


CLOSING THOUGHT -Julian of Norwich

"We are all one in God's seeing. "


For Those Interested -


A Ten Week Series September 18th -November 27th, 2017
Monday Evenings, TM Room 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

"CONVICTIONS - How I Learned What Matters Most"

Author: Marcus Borg
Registration/Hospitality and Book: $60.00.
Book only: $20.00

35 copies of the book have been secured for sale.
Registration and Book Sale Begins - August 27th

Read my background information on the study book:


Here is some course content from our
completed Monday Night Winter 2017 Study:

"How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a                                             J
ewish Preacher from Galilee" by Bart D. Ehrman
Check our entire archives for all 49 books
studied since 2000: 

During the 2016-2017 two session-term -

Total class registrations: 70
Total books sold: 75

Our best year ever, since 1998!



Ten Sessions September 21st- November 30th, 2017

Biblical Book(s) topic to be determined by the class

at the first session of the term, Thursday, Sept. 21st.

Ten sessions 10-11 AM
Gathering at 9:30 AM
In the St. David's TM Room.

No charge

Study resource -

"The DK Complete Bible Handbook"
  Edited by John Bowker



South Africa has been chosen as our destination!
We plan a nineteen-day tour that combines a focus
on spirituality, social justice, culture, and nature,
and it will run October 21st thru November 8th.

A beautiful brochure with trip cost, itinerary, and
many helpful travel hints has been published.

Our optimal group size for maximum trip meaning
and value is 28-29 persons.

To date, twenty-five persons have put down deposits
to claim a special saving.


YOU CAN STILL REGISTER. After we have 29 deposits
you will be added to a waiting list and still join us 
in the event someone has to drop out.

We have installed a South Africa Spiritual Travelers
discussion list group to begin building community
amongst the participants, and to share news and

We hope to name a tour reporter who will report
back home each day's activities so everyone can
enjoy the experience, if not directly, then indirectly.

Six months from now we leave for South Africa!

Contact Rostad Tours:

Follow these notices for weekly updates.


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