Through the Waters – Workshops

1. Creating Intercultural Communities – Adele Halliday  

How do we understand difference and diversity in our churches? How might intercultural ministries, or ministries across difference, be understood in The Presbyterian Church in Canada? This workshop will offer an introduction to intercultural ministries; it will also share tips on first steps towards becoming an intercultural congregation. Topics such as culture, power, and difference will be explored.

Come to an interactive and engaging workshop with lots of discussion! You will have time to share, as well as to gather practical ideas of how to create intercultural spaces that are welcoming of diverse cultural communities.

 Adele Halliday, a lifelong Presbyterian, is a member of the session at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Humber Heights in Toronto. Over the years, she has been very active at various levels of the Presbyterian church: serving as staff in congregations, being part of the national church committees, and working globally with the Presbyterian Church of East Africa. An experienced educator, she has written curriculum and educational resources for The Presbyterian Church in Canada, the National Council of Churches of Christ USA, and Seasons of the Spirit. She has been a keynote speaker for Canada Youth, for the Presbyterian Church USA’s Multicultural Youth Conference, and for the Montreat Youth Conferences. Adele holds a Master of Education and a Master of Theological Studies. 

She currently works at the national office of The United Church of Canada as the Team Leader for Discipleship & Witness where she supervises a staff team. She has particular program responsibilities for intercultural ministries, including a focus on racial justice, ministries with people with disabilities, and broad work around equity and justice.

2. Discover God’s Beauty with Water Colour – Alexis Cooke 

Immerse yourself in the process of painting with water…watch the stress of your busy life as it is swept away with each brush stroke. 

The focus will be on the actual joy of painting—discovering how the colours flow as you spread your washes across the paper. We will play with colour and reflect on how our theme Bible passage—Through the Waters from Isaiah 43—can be revealed through the magic of water colour! 

Alexis Cooke is an artist, teacher, grandmother, and member of Knox Presbyterian Church in Oshawa, Ontario. She looks forward to sharing the experience of water colour with you! 

3. Engaging Children and Youth in Mission and Social Action – Dr. Tori Smit

When asked by a scribe to choose the “first rule of all” from among all the commandments, Jesus told his audience that they should “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Before allowing the scribe to respond, Jesus quickly added to this teaching, “the second is this, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:28-31). A ministry of faith formation with children and youth must include helping children see, do, and embrace opportunities to participate in service for others and for justice in this world. 

But how do we go about doing just that? Together we’ll look at how we might intentionally inspire and include children and youth in the many service activities of our churches and communities and how we might look afresh at these activities through the eyes of our children and young people.

Dr. Tori Smit’s bio can be found in the Leadership Preview

4. Healing through Worship – Rev. In Kee Kim

Through this workshop, we will explore the meaning of true worship by examining different scriptural passages in the Old and the New Testament. Worship is at the centre of Christian existence and yet to many people, it is only a boring ritual. We need to restore the beauty of Christian worship. 

Worship is not what we do. Worship is being connected with God. In true worship, “I” disappears and God appears. We encounter God who brings healing and transformation. 

“When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

The Rev. In Kee Kim has been the senior minister at St. Timothy Presbyterian Church since 1992. He graduated from the University of Toronto majoring in philosophy and graduated from Knox College in 1987. with an MDiv. In Kee and his wife Sarah, Executive Director of the Women’s Missionary Society, have a son and daughter, both of whom are married. They are also happy grandparents of two boys and two girls.  

5. Living our Best Life by Learning to Pray – Rev. Dr. Mona Scrivens

“I’m not sure how to pray,” or “My prayer life is weak.” If you’ve ever said those words, you’re not alone. In good situations and particularly difficult ones—a struggling marriage, poor health, broken relationships, financial struggles, unemployment, or emotional hurt—how do we pray? How can we go through it knowing, without a doubt, that our God is far greater and stronger than any adversity?

Maybe it’s time to begin practicing life-changing prayer? Let’s learn how to direct our attention—our spirit and our mind—to the One who is able to “cause everything to work together for the good of those who love God” (Romans 8:28). 

Join us as we discover how to develop a powerful, supercharged prayer life today!

The Rev. Dr. Mona Scrivens is an ordained minister in The Presbyterian Church in Canada. She has a passion for the family…of every configuration. She believes strongly that the role of the Church is to be a support and resource so that families and individual members are nurtured, strengthened, and empowered to honour God in their homes and in the whole of their lives. Mona believes passionately that it is through families that the church extends its reach in nurturing faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.  

Mona is a regular conference speaker and workshop leader. She is currently working on her second book, with a focus on pregnancy, childbirth, and spirituality.

6. Reading the Verbs – Rev. Dr. Anna Carter Florence

Looking for ways to breathe new life into your reading and interpretation of scripture? In this workshop, Anna Carter Florence offers a fresh way to read scripture in community—by entering it, encountering it, and coming back with something deep and true. What if we imagined ourselves as a repertory church, reading and rehearsing these biblical texts together, over time? What if scripture was a text that needed to be practiced as well as studied? What if we learned to rehearse it until we find the script in the scripture—our script? And what if people who fundamentally disagreed with one another could gather around scripture in this way, and enjoy doing it? Maybe we could stop fighting about what the text means, and start listening to it, and one another—with real appreciation! Maybe we could find something true before we have to decide what’s right.

Join us to discover some new strategies for reading scripture that are easy to grasp and easy to adapt to any setting. We’ll learn to “read the verbs” in a biblical text as we walk through it, together. Based on her new book, Rehearsing Scripture: Discovering God’s Word in Community, this workshop will be a lively and energizing deep-dive into scripture.

Rev. Dr. Anna Carter Florence’s bio can be found in the Leadership Preview.

7. Reflections on Mary, the Mother of a Miracle Child – Christine Way-Skinner

Using story, art, and scripture, we will look at how the life of the “first disciple” can speak to us afresh in our day. What can the life of Mary teach us about trusting in God? Can her example lead us to be more faithful followers? Can we find in her a model of strength and courage?

Christine Way Skinner is a Lay Pastoral Associate at St. John Chrysostom Parish in Newmarket, Ontario. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Francis Xavier University and a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. She would probably have finished the doctorate in theology she began years ago if she and her husband Michael had not begun raising a large family. When she is not doing laundry, driving her children to activities, or trying to find inclusive, compelling, and creative ways to pass on the church’s 2000-year-old traditions, you can find her looking at art, playing music, reading, gardening, or trying to convince her children that they really do love to play board games with her.

8. sereKNITy dot calm…Spirituality in Knitting – Lisbeth Duncan

Knitting provides an antidote to the current chaos of modern day life. Its very nature helps us slow down and pay attention: its spirit invites contemplation. God waits for us in the inner sanctuary of the soul: God waits for us there. Knitting—praying with our hands—enables us to practice the presence of God; a practical way of being in the moment, setting aside the busyness of the day. The captivating rhythm of knitting gives us a chance to step back and view our lives from a little bit of a distance.Spinning a yarn is a creative by-product!

Lisbeth Duncan is a long-time elder at Varsity Acres Presbyterian Church in Calgary and has held leadership positions within the national church. Lisbeth grew up in Scotland where knitting is a way of life, and where she trained as a registered nurse and midwife. She has been married for 52 years to George and they have three children (one set of twins) and seven grandchildren (one set of triplets) and love to holiday in Hawaii in their retirement.

9. Sharing our Stories – Lorne Brown

Why do we tell stories? Why do we listen? People love to hear and connect with a story; stories can transform us and they can build community. They can tell us where we come from and speak to who we are. They can share traditions and the reasons for traditions. Stories invite the listener to step into the experience and challenge us to make meaning that is authentic.

Our faith has a tradition of telling stories. From the Midrash of the Jewish Rabbis to the stories that Jesus told, stories have taught and challenged us to grow in our faith. Imagine what your stories could inspire in others? What stories do you tell? What stories would you like to tell? This workshop will look at the power of storytelling and help you tell your own stories and experiences of faith.

Lorne Brown can usually be found in some chimney corner, picking his 5-string banjo and singing an old ballad. When he can be pried from his corner you might find him performing or combing various art forms with storytelling. Lorne is one of the co-founders of The Storytellers School of Toronto. He has performed in every Canadian province, and in the United States and Britain. He has appeared in major storytelling and folk festivals across Canada, as well as on radio and television. 

10. Side by Side: Day Program for those with Dementia  – Rev. Ena VanZoeren

Come and spend some time with Side by Side. This program pairs participants with dementia with a volunteer who spends the day with them. The volunteers assist the participants with any activities and make sure that their needs are met. Volunteers receive training in how to interact with clients and the things to watch out for.

This workshop will take you through the program in an experiential way. It will look at what dementia is, how to start a program, what volunteers/resources are needed, the planning stages, and scheduling. 

The Rev. Ena van Zoeren graduated from The Vancouver School of Theology. She has served congregations in Central Alberta, Nova Scotia, and South Western Ontario. She spent four years coordinating the Side by Side Program at Varsity Acres, Calgary. Those were special years. Not only was the program joyful and fulfilling, but she got to live with her amazing grandsons, who provided many funny stories for filling in time at Side by Side. She currently is minister at St. Andrew’s Salmon Arm, where she is also the Volunteer Coordinator of the hospital chaplains.

11. Sing a New Song! – Rev. Hugh Donnelly

Come prepared to sing! This workshop will introduce you to hymns and songs which have been written since the publication of the Book of Praise (1997). Material will be drawn from hymnals and music resources from a variety of church traditions. A complete bibliography on the songs will be provided. 

The Rev. Hugh Donnelly taught himself to play guitar after enjoying some music one night in an Irish pub. He has a passion for congregational singing and loves to help groups discover that they can sing in harmony. He has led music at Association of Presbyterian Church Educators, Canada Youth, and many other conferences and events in Canada and the US.

Hugh serves as the Minister at Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church in Toronto. Important activities in Hugh’s life include long distance running, flying small airplanes, and playing with his band, Lost Pilgrims

12. Supporting Mental Wellness in our Communities – Mary Jacobs

Learn about the importance of support for people who have a mental illness—from a personal and professional perspective. Understand what support is needed and how you can support practically: providing congregational care, care for your community, advocacy, as well as crisis care. Bring your experiences and resources to share. We do this to show God’s love and the promise of constant presence in our lives, no matter what storm we are struggling through.

Mary Jacobs has recovered from depression and is passionate about helping others recover from mental health challenges. She works as a caseworker supporting low-income families to become more independent by connecting them to the available community resource. Mary leads a peer support group for mood disorders at her church and shares her laugh with all she meets. She also administers a Facebook page, Brampton Mood Disorders Support Group, where mental health posts are shared frequently to provide support and education.

13. The (Un)Holy Land – Rev. Dr. Dorcas Gordon

In 2009 the leaders of the Christian churches in Jerusalem wrote to Christians around the world describing what it was like for Palestinians—Christian and Muslim—to live under Israeli Occupation. Called the Kairos Document, it invited us to come and see for ourselves. In 2017 they again reached out describing Palestine, after 50 years of Israeli occupation, as a place where discrimination and inequality, military occupation, and systematic oppression are the rule. The letter states: “Today, we stand in front of an impasse and we have reached a deadlock.” 

“Despite all the promises, endless summits, UN resolutions, religious and lay leader’s callings— Palestinians are still yearning for their freedom and independence and seeking justice and equality.” The letter continues: “We are on the verge of a catastrophic collapse. This could be our last chance to achieve a just peace. As a Palestinian Christian community, this could be our last opportunity to save the Christian presence in this land.” (

This workshop will focus on presenting what we need to know in order to understand the Palestinian story. It also will suggest actions we can take to alleviate suffering, suffering that includes the daily indignity of the separation wall; their men, women, and children incarcerated in Israeli military jails; the oppression of military checkpoints, identity cards, discriminatory laws, as well as the dire situation in Gaza, the largest outdoor prison in the world.

The Rev. Dr. Dorcas Gordon’s bio can be found in the Leadership Preview.

14. Tumekutana – Members of the Tumekutana Steering Committee

Tumekutana (a Swahili word meaning “We have come together”) was born of a vision to provide a way for African Presbyterian/Reformed church women leaders to meet face-to-face for education, sharing, and fellowship. It is an organization comprised of church women in 22 African countries. With their common experiences and struggles, they come together to learn from each other and to give each other support, walking in solidarity with each other and praying for each other.

Hear about the work of Tumekutana from members of the Steering Committee. Learn about the strengths and struggles of the African women and witness the passion and faith of these amazing Christian leaders!

15. When the Water Is Up to Your Neck – Rev. Dr. Kristine O’Brien

Our busy lives can leave us exhausted, unhealthy and, sometimes feeling alone. Rushing around, we long for a life that is more faithful, meaningful, and fun. But how? For years, Kristine has been on a mission to learn how to live in a healthy rhythm of work and rest, and God’s creation has been her best teacher. Come to this workshop to explore how nature can help you live in ways that are less frantic and more peaceful, even when life feels overwhelming. Participants will have the opportunity to consider their own daily rhythms, learn practical life strategies, and be encouraged by others who know all about the stress that comes with rising waters.

The Rev. Dr. Kristine O’Brien is now the Director of Crieff Hills Retreat Centre after more than 20 years as a pastor. She recently completed a Doctor of Ministry degree with a focus on contemplative spirituality and has a well-established garden blog, Kristine shares her life with her husband, four children, and a rescue Airedale named Minnie.

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