For close to ten years, one of our signature events was our ideaExchange series. For various reasons we’ve decided to give it a break for now, and in its place to offer something we’re calling StoryExchange. In this series we’ll be inviting people from our own community to offer a piece of their own personal story. Generally we set it up to have two stories shared each time, shaped around a common theme.

Saturday November 25, 2017 – Work as Prayer/Prayer as Work | an art talk by Carolyn Mount – The CMU/Mennonite Heritage Gallery is presenting an exhibit of Carolyn Mount’s series “Work as Prayer/Prayer as Work” from Friday, November 24, 2017 to  Saturday, January 20, 2018. This show features work that she started while artist-in-residence at st ben’s and includes rags donated from members of this community. On Saturday November 25 at 11am, she’ll be hosting a talk and tour for the saint ben’s community at the Gallery, which is located on the south campus of Canadian Mennonite University. 

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And just for the record, this is some of what we explored over the past few years in our ideaExchange series:

“What is the meaning of life?” asked the student of the rabbi.
The rabbi replied, “That’s such a wonderful question,
why would you want to exchange it for an answer?”


kate-promoWednesday July 15, 2015 – A session with  the church historian Kate Bowler, speaking on her book Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity GospelRaised in Winnipeg, Kate Bowler is assistant professor of the history of Christianity in North America at Duke Divinity School in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she teaches courses in American Christianity and world Christianity. Her research interests include contemporary evangelicalism, pentecostalism, megachurches, and religion and ethnicity.

Blessed_cover_smallHer first book, Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel (Oxford, 2013), traces the rise of Christian belief in divine promises of health, wealth, and happiness. Of this book, the noted church historian Mark Noll wrote that, “until Kate Bowler’s Blessed, no one has attempted a balanced, informative, inquisitive survey. Her book is a metaphorical godsend for those with an outsider’s curiosity about one of the fastest growing religious movements in contemporary America and a literal one for those inside.”

“This is a stunningly empathetic book. By pushing far beyond caricature, Bowler has produced a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the prosperity gospel and how it is, even now, remaking the American religious landscape.” – The Christian Century

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EC Aimee 3

Tuesday April 7, 7:30pm – a conversation with Dr. Aimee Patterson titled “For the Sake of the Kingdom: The Emergence of Celibacy in Contemporary Protestant Communities”. In the midst of the “sexual revolution” going on in the church, expressions of celibacy are emerging. Celibacy should be defined and distinguished from chastity and singleness (and prudishness!), and then affirmed in church communities as a legitimate way of expressing both sexuality and the Kingdom of God. We’re again happy to be using the very fine “One88” facility, located at 188 Princess Street.

Aimee Patterson is the Christian Ethics Consultant at The Salvation Army Ethics Centre. She earned her PhD from McGill in the area of religious ethics. Her professional interests include medical ethics, sexual ethics, social justice and theological anthropology. She teaches courses in ministry ethics (University of Winnipeg) and Christian ethics (Booth University College). Aimee worships in the United Church of Canada where her husband provides ministry. She has two young children who keep her on her toes.

vincent_solomon2Tuesday February 17, 7:30pm – A session with Vincent Solomon titled “The Indian Act and Residential Schools: Their impact on the life of Canadian First Nation Peoples”. Vincent is a priest of the Anglican Church of Canada, currently serving as the Indigenous Neighbours Coordinator for the Mennonite Central Committee Manitoba. Born and raised in Norway House, Manitoba, and nurtured in the Anglican Church, Vincent brings a unique perspective to his topic.



Tuesday December 2, 2014 – Dr. Who is my Saviour? – a session with Kyle Rudge on using the science fiction of the future as a modern day parable to help us better understand who God is in the present.

Kyle-Rudge-headshotKyle Rudge says he is on a quest to do it all. His resume is littered with jobs ranging from actor to air traffic controller and most recently the morning show host and Program Director of CHVN in Winnipeg. Kyle comes most alive when he is telling stories whether it be in print or on stage.

As a huge fan of Donald Miller, the importance of story has truly permeated everything he does. The stories found in Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and geekery are the ones he finds himself most inspired by so he is committed to delving deeper into the Winnipeg Geek scene to find more.

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Autumn 2013 — St. Mary Coswin of St. Benedict’s Monastery
Sr Mary gave us a look inside on life as a member of a Benedictine community. We held this session in the chapel at All Saints’ Church, which meant that our digital recorder picked up rather a lot of the sounds of buses, trucks and emergency vehicles as they rumbled by on the other side of the stained glass windows. And yes, Sr. Mary did say she joined the order at the age of 15…

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To listen to the audio as a stream, simply click the arrow. You can also download this session as an iTunes podcast.

May 21, 2014 — “It’s Your Funeral: a conversation on thinking about your funeral and other end-of-life matters.”

The poet and undertaker Thomas Lynch has often said that a good funeral gets the dead body where it needs to go, and the living where they need to be, adding that the funeral is important, “Not because it matters to the dead, but because the dead matter to the living.” That’s such an important way to think about our funeral practice.

In this session of ideaExchange, Jamie Howison invited us to think about how our own funerals might be made “good” in this sense. The evening began with an opening presentation on how funeral practices have changed and evolved over the past twenty-five years, and then the participants were invited into smaller conversation groups to consider some of their own ideas about funerals.

A fairly detailed “take-home” worksheet was offered as a starting point for those conversations, which can be accessed by clicking here.

To download an iTunes podcast of the opening presentation, simply click here.

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Tuesday October 2/12 – Emily Cain – “Hunger in Niger: Responding with Justice and Compassion” –  On a recent trip to Niger, Emily Cain met many people who were out of food and living in the midst of extreme suffering, and found herself asking, “How should we, as Christians, respond to such needs?”  Sometimes justice and charity have been pitted against each other in a dichotomy, yet in what ways are justice and compassion at odds and in what ways do they work together?

Emily Cain works with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and is a member of saint benedict’s table.

November 6/12 – Cathy Campbell – “Radically Hospitable: Being Church in the midst of Neighbourhood Renewal” – In this session, Cathy will outline the challenges and theology behind converting an unsustainable church building in West Central Winnipeg into a multi-purpose complex called The WestEnd Commons. As she tells this story, she will tease out the spirit choices in the tangle of social, physical, and economic factors faced by St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in its commitment to remain in the neighbourhood for another 100 years.

Cathy Campbell is a priest of the Anglican Church of Canada, and the incumbent of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church. She is also the author of Stations of the Banquet, published by Liturgical Press.

December 4/12 – Kurt Armstrong –  “Why Love Will Always Be A Poor Investment” – Genuine love is in direct competition with the ubiquitous, seductive myths of consumer culture. Consumerism tells us that life is fundamentally competitive and that love is just another commodity, where choosing a relationship is no different from choosing deodorant or blue jeans or a car. Covenantal love is a stand against capitalist-driven consumer culture, nurturing what is essential to our humanness… so lets talk about it!

Kurt Armstrong is staff member at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church in Winnipeg, an editor at Geez magazine, and the author of Why Love Will Always Be a Poor Investment.

Tuesday February 19/13 – Al McBurney – “Swimming with Yoshi’s Fish… or why not taking life’s short cuts, easy answers, and quick fixes is a good idea.” Al McBurney is a spiritual care provider at Riverview Health Centre, where his primary work is in the field of palliative care. He was mentored by Yoshi Masaki at Headingly Correctional Centre, where he was introduced to the model of self-understanding and growth known as “Yoshi’s Fish.”

Tuesday March 19/13 – Paul Doerksen – “Responding But Not Replying: David Bentley Hart and the New Atheism” – American Eastern Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart’s approach to the ‘new atheists’ in his book Atheist Delusions responds substantively to that body of work without reverting to direct refutation of some specific line of argument. In John Milbank’s assessment, these ‘new atheists’ “would never have dared put pen to paper had they known of the existence of David Bentley Hart. After this demolition job all that is left for them to do is to repent and rejoice at the discreditation of their erstwhile selves.” If theology is a blood sport, as it is sometimes described, then this book is a fine example of just that dynamic. Paul Doerkson is Assistant Professor of Theology at Canadian Mennonite University.

Tuesday April 16/13 –  Bramwell Ryan – This one is offered by one of our own saint ben’s people… Bram will offer a session stemming from his recent two month journalistic journey into Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Bangladesh, and India. The session will be framed around the telling of a series of stories, which Bram will offer as a way of helping us to get a bit of an inside view of cultural worlds very different from our own. The stories will also be accompanied by some of the photographs and video segments Bram and his son Ben took along the way.

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Here’s what we covered in our 2011-2012 season:

September 27/11 – Nicolas Greco – Lady Gaga at the Edge of Glory: why the Church might want to pay attention.A pop music icon, Lady Gaga is best known both for her song “Born this Way” and for her outrageous and sexually charged stage shows. What could she possibly have to say to the church? Join us as we explore that very question. Nicholas Greco is Assistant Professor of Communications and Media at Providence University College and a pioneering fellow of The Canadian Institute for the Study of Pop Culture and Religion. He has recently published “Only If You Are Really Interested”: Celebrity, Gender, Desire and the World of Morrissey on McFarland Press.

October 18/11 – Jane Barter-Moulaison – “Jesus is (not) my homeboy”: toward a deeper understanding of Christ. Contemporary conceptions of Christ – both within popular culture and Theology – have a tendency to trivialize and distort his significance by conforming his message too comfortably to the prevailing culture. While this is obvious in the case of the “Jesus is my Homeboy” campaign, it is perhaps less so in the ways that contemporary theology tends to treat Jesus primarily as a moral leader or teacher. This presentation will “go deeper” in understanding Christ by looking at some of the ways in which the fourth and early fifth century theologies give us clues to the radical–and precisely political–implications of the Gospel of Christ. Jane Barter Moulaison is Associate Professor of Theology and Church History at the University of Winnipeg. She is also a priest in the Diocese of Rupert’s Land.  Her forthcoming book, Thinking Christ: Christology and Critics, will be published in Spring 2012 by Fortress Press.

November 22/11 – Bill Blaikie – Is religious faith a private matter? How is religious faith carried into the public square? Many of us simply assume that faith and politics should never be mixed. In fact if you believe someone like Christopher Hitchens (God is not Good: how religion poisons everything), the further we keep religious faith from the world of politics the better for all of us. But it this really the case? Or are there other ways of thinking about this issue? Bill Blaikie is an ordained minister of the United Church of Canada, who served as a Member of Parliament from 1979 to 2008 and as Member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba from 2009 to 2011. He is currently serving with the Faculty of Theology of the University of Winnipeg. He has recently published The Blaikie Report: An Insider’s Look at Faith and Politics, profiled in the November 5 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press.

December 13/11 – Jamie Arpin-Ricci – The Cost of Community: realities, gifts and challenges. For this session we’ll be taking an inside look at what it really means to live in intentional community.  Jamie Arpin-Ricci is an urban missionary, pastor, church planter and writer living in Winnipeg’s inner city West End neighbourhood.  He is the author of The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis & Life in the Kingdom.Jamie is founding co-director of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Urban Ministries Winnipeg with his Australian wife Kim.  They recently adopted their first child from Ethiopia.

January 31/12 – Kirsten Pinto-Gfroerer – Why we should not give up on sin; or, how being a sinner isn’t an insult after all. The purpose of this talk to explore the concept of sin, its history and its function in our society and in our lives. We will consider how the concepts of ‘health’ and ‘balance’ and their application as functional therapeutic terms have come to replace the function of sin in our understanding of the self. What do we lose when we lose the concept of sin? Can we be forgiven of our unhealthiness of our lack of balance or are we now enslaved to a new form of sanctification where there is no grace only long work outs and hours of therapy? Kirsten works as one of the parish theologians for St. Margaret’s Anglican Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

February 21/12 – We’re delighted that Bishop Mark MacDonald will be joining us for this session, to engage us in a searching exploration of a cluster of issues connected to life as an Indigenous Christian. In a social context in which we are accustomed to thinking of Indigenous peoples as being the recipients of ministry, Mark will get us thinking a bit differently on that count. On the plate he’ll have questions of inculturation, missional thinking, and some insights into a very different understanding of the nature of pastoral care. Mark is the National Indigenous Bishop for the Anglican Church of Canada, prior to which he offered ministry in a variety of settings and contexts in both Canada and the United States, including ten years as the Bishop of Alaska. An insightful thinker, Mark is passionate in his conviction that we pay attention to the wisdom and experiences of Indigenous peoples. He’s also been known to pick up a guitar now and then…

March 20/12 – August Konkel – Is the God of the Old Testament good? Reflections on the person and character of God –  In Hebrew tradition the name of God became too sacred to pronounce. Various euphemisms were substituted so the holiness of the creator of the star fields would not be compromised. But holiness is not equivalent to goodness. God is often the object of angry protests; pious Job came to find God dangerous, even cruel. Is God still good?

Known more familiarly as “Gus,” Dr August Konkel is the Principal of Providence University College and a Professor of Old Testament.  His publication record includes commentaries on both the Book of Job and on 1 & 2 Kings. A biblical scholar with an international reputation, we’re delighted he’ll be with us to address what is a most challenging question.

April 17/12 – Gord Johnson – Reflections on music and inner health. For this session, our “artist-in-residence” will be offering some insights on the place of music in finding balance, peace and inner wholeness. A seasoned musician and one of the real architects of the saint ben’s approach to music, Gord currently works as in the field of Spiritual Care at the Health Sciences Centre. And yes, Gord will have his guitar in hand for this one…

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