Where Theology Meets the Soil: Experiential Learning in the Okanagan

Code: PT560

Dates: June 28, 2024 - July 7, 2024

This course offers students an immersive experience in a unique rhythm of hands-on learning: organic farming, theological reflection, prayer, and conversation all deeply rooted in a local faith community context. Students will engage with a holistic practice of discipleship cultivation, explore the importance of food security and sustainability, and grow a theological understanding of the gift economy grounded in the reality and hope of their faith.

This course offers students the ability to learn with, and from, the faith community of St. Andrew’s Anglican, Kelowna, who experienced extraordinary renewal during the pandemic, with a focus on leading through visioning, discernment, cultural and structural change and the birth of a new ministry grounded in their understanding of the Kingdom (Kin-dom) of God, the Spirit’s work of new creation. “The Gift Farm Garden” – now grown beyond the parish to the wider ecumenical community – grows organic food that is given freely to those living in food insecurity in the City of Kelowna. Neither a church plant nor a program, The Farm is a living metaphor for the necessary and life-giving co-cultivation of the people of God and the land in the midst of rapid institutional decline and the climate crisis. From seed to cupboard all is gift.

This is a Learning Hub course, developed and financially supported by the ‘Leaders for a New Day’ project that is redeveloping Theological Field Education (TFE) at VST. Using the dialogical teaching methodology of TFE, a reflective conversation will take place between the student and one or more of these:

    • people in a site location
    • student peers
    • faculty
    • other experts, practitioners, mentors

The student’s own self-reflection is a key part of the conversation. This course provides an experiential learning opportunity, with a strong expectation of Theological Reflection grounded in theological concepts and language, church tradition, sociological analysis (understanding of context) and pastoral application. Course content will be offered by local leaders, school faculty and experts in the field of food sustainability through online delivery. Students will spend most mornings in the farm-garden and the afternoon in conversation, listening and learning.

This Learning Hub course will be located in Kelowna, BC. Accommodation, and some meals, will be provided through the Lilly Endowment Pathways Project support of this course. Travel subsidies will also be available. The usual VST course registration fee will apply. Auditors are welcome but are not eligible for the travel or accommodation subsidies. In this case, please contact the Registrar (registrar@vst.edu) to register.

Last Day to Register: May 28, 2024
Please contact Rev. Mary Nichol, mnichol@vst.edu, for more information.

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