Catholic Vancouver January 30, 2019
Christians on campus uniting in a secular environment
Catholic and Protestant scholars at the University of British Columbia are finding ways to actually use the Reformation to bring them closer together.
The historic event that caused a huge schism between the Catholic Church and Protestant Reformers in the 16th century has prompted members of St. Mark’s College and the Vancouver School of Theology to work together in unique ways.
To mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, two professors from each of the schools co-taught a course on St. Augustine of Hippo, a major thinker for both Christian denominations.
“Augustine really did bring us together,” said Paul Burns, church history professor at St. Mark’s.
He and VST homiletics professor Jason Byassee offered the course in the 2017-2018 school year. “Augustine was used by both Catholics and Protestants during the period of the Reformation. Both communities would appeal to Augustine,” said Burns.
He and Byassee “found a lot of common ground in the pastoral applications of Augustine and his theology.” Their students, meanwhile, “enjoyed the opportunity to give both points of view a fair hearing.”
Since offering the course, the Catholic and Protestant communities have drawn even closer together. St. Mark’s principal Peter Meehan announced late last year that the schools have since joined hands in their biggest partnership yet: a joint VST and St. Mark’s undergraduate degree in theology and culture, which seamlessly transfers into VST’s graduate programs.
“We have a lot to learn from engaging on a scholarly level with people who have studied the Scriptures and understand the history of the Church,” said Meehan.
Meehan added the secular environment at the University of British Columbia helps the various Christian colleges on site – all minuscule compared to the giant university – find ways to work together.
“We’re doing something very unique,” in the context of a secular university. “We come together in a lot of ways to express a common Christian voice and perspective.”
Christians are part of the diversity of society after all, and therefore of the diversity of UBC, Meehan likes to say.
A collegial, ecumenical relationship has been growing between these two Christian schools for several years. Meehan noted that St. Mark’s College has been renting space at VST since it outgrew its small facilities.
Members of both schools also came together for an ecumenical prayer service Jan. 23, hosted at St. Mark’s and featuring a sermon by VST scholar Alecia Greenfield. That event was hosted in celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, held around the world Jan. 18-25.
St. Mark’s has been hosting joint worship services for students and community members of various faiths during this international week since at least 2011.
“Faith engagement is such a tenuous thing for many people. We have to understand to engage them in the work of the Church, and the faith of the Church means to understand their perspective, their attitudes, their experiences,” said Meehan. “This dialogue goes a long way.”
Vancouver churches fear for Hong Kong Christians
Catholics and non-Catholics from around the Lower Mainland rallied outside the Chinese consulate on Granville Street Vancouver...
Plastic out, pasta in: Straw-Ghetti, mugs part of green dividend
Owners of a start-up company in Coquitlam have discovered cutting down on plastic isn’t just good for the environment; it can...
Unplanned to get one-week run at ‘handful’ of Cineplex theatres
*At press time June 27, The B.C. Catholic confirmed with Cineplex spokesperson Sarah Van Lange that the chain will be screening...
Teen got her confidence boost at summer leadership camp
Both of Nicole McCreedy’s parents are so active in youth ministry, it’s only natural people would think they’re the reason she...
Langley MP was ‘a man of faith and courage’: Archbishop Miller
After a brief battle with cancer, Langley-Aldergrove Conservative MP Mark Warawa has died. He was 69. Warawa died in hospice...
Designer baby debate needs Catholic input: UBC Jesuit
Canadians haven’t made up their minds about designer babies, but one Catholic scientist thinks the Church should be part of the...
Love and marriage go together at singles mixer
Who better to speak to a group of young people about the importance of marriage than some experienced couples, as well as a...