Summer Learning Event

Summer Learning Event

Online Community?  Church Hybridity?  The Digital Body of Christ?

If these are realities which continue to excite, disturb, or otherwise engage you, then mark your calendars for the first annual summer learning event co-sponsored by the three schools of the Saskatoon Theological Union in partnership with St. Thomas More College.

From June 13 – 16 we will be exploring the theme of Religious Community in a Digital World.

As a gift to the wider community, this amazing learning event is being offered by St. Thomas More College, Lutheran Theological Seminary, the College of Emmanuel St. Chad, and St. Andrew’s College without charge!  Register now:

Apropos of our topic, this conference will be held entirely online.  It will include keynote presentations, worship, workshops, social time, networking opportunities, and digital spaces for deep and rich ecumenical encounter.

Our keynote speakers this summer are Dr. Deanna Thompson (author of The Virtual Body of Christ in a Suffering World) and Dr. Jeffrey Mahan (author of Church as Network: Christian Life and Connection in Digital Culture).   Individually and in dialogue, our speakers will be looking at our new digital-ecclesial landscape through historical, theological, and pastoral lenses.  For those of us planning on engaging our plugged-in world, no matter how bewildered we may feel in it, these conversations will be missional and life-giving, practical and prophetic.

For more information, please contact Shawn Sanford Beck at or  306 441 6367.

STM/STU Learning Event Outline

(Please note that all times are in Saskatchewan time, which is Central Standard Time, and CST is always GMT-6)

Full workshop and spiritual practice session descriptions, along with biographical information, can be found below the schedule…

Monday June 13

1pm welcome and opening worship

2pm community building exercise

2:30pm first keynote address: Christian Life in Media Cultures (Dr. Mahan) followed by discussion/response

4pm worship

Tuesday June 14

9am morning prayer

9:30am second keynote address: Beyond Deep Gladness: Coming to Terms with Vocations We Don’t Choose (Dr. Thompson) followed by discussion/response

11am spiritual practice sessions

  •  “Rest and Receive”: an Experience of Contemplative Community with Janet Clarke and team
  •  Ecumenical Online Rosary with Ana Gheyssen
  •  Qigong with Jack Risk

Noon break for lunch

1pm workshops

  •  Here and There: Preparing and Enacting Polymodal Worship with Kyle Schiefelbein-Guerrero
  •  Campus Ministry Goes Virtual: The Pitfalls and the Potential with Celeste Woloschuk and Michael MacLean
  •  Why Gather? Why Bother? with Martha Tatarnic
  •  Creating Community Through Digital Ministry with Laura Fouhse, Jordan Cantwell, and Mitchell Anderson
  •  The Medium is the Messiah: Digital Media and Education as the Frontier of Post-Christendom Mission with Tay Moss

2:30pm third keynote address: Identity and Community in Digital Culture (Dr. Mahan) followed by discussion/response

4pm worship

Wednesday June 15

9am morning prayer

9:30am fourth keynote address: The Body of Christ has Always Been a Virtual Body (Dr. Thompson) followed by discussion/response

11am College “Hospitality Rooms”

Noon break for lunch

1pm workshops

  •  Faith Seeking Creating: Digital Literacy and Ministry in the Rural Context with Hoeun Lee
  •  Church Membership and the Digital Church with Janet Marshall
  •  Theology and Practice of Online Communion with Kayko Driedger Hesslein
  •  Patterns in Digital Community Building with Marty Levesque

2:30pm fifth keynote address: Leadership and Authority (Dr. Mahan) followed by discussion/response

4pm worship

5pm break for supper

7pm public event: dialogue between Dr. Mahan and Dr. Thompson, facilitated by Dr. Rompre

9pm day is done

Thursday June 16

9am morning prayer

9:30am sixth keynote address: The Virtual Body of Christ in and Beyond Pandemic (Dr. Thompson) followed by discussion/response

11am closing remarks and closing worship

Noon finish


Workshop and Spiritual Practice Sessions

(full descriptions and leaders’ biographies)

Spiritual Practice Sessions

“Rest and Receive” An Experience of Contemplative Community Participants are invited into an experience of Silence, Lectio Divina and Prayer. Contemplative Community offers the possibility of Discernment, Empowerment and Deep Rest. This session is based on a yearlong collaboration between St. Andrew’s and the United Church Living Skies Region.

Jan Clarke is completing 5 years as St. A’s Pastor in Residence, following both Rural Pastoral Ministry and Urban Community Ministry positions in Saskatchewan. Dedicated Auntie, yogi, gardener, Spiritual Director and meditator. Jan is joined by team members Dr. Bernon Lee of St. Andrew’s College and the Rev. Dr. Trish McCarthy of the College of Emmanuel and St. Chad.

Ecumenical Online Rosary Curious about the Hail Mary? Wondering how we can pray the rosary together over Zoom? In this session, we’ll hear first about its roots in Scripture, explore a bit of the history, learn how it is centered on Christ, and then pray it together using a YouTube video with music and imagery. All are welcome.

Ana Gheyssen is a spiritually-integrated psychotherapist, an end-of-life doula, and a spiritual care practitioner focused on end-of-life concerns, anticipatory grief, and bereavement. Her experience in religious communities and among spiritual seekers has given her a wide lens for appreciating the spiritual life as it manifests in all places and among all people.

Qigong Qigong is an ancient practice that consists of gentle and easy-to-learn movements. These movements have a profound capacity to bring about change and healing — physically, mentally and spiritually. They relieve stress and anxiety, calm the mind, ease pain, lessen psychological pressures, and much more. Qigong is the perfect preparation for meditation practice. Jack has over twenty years’ experience teaching qigong and meditation. He has taught Chaoyi Fanhuan Qigong and Zen meditation to hundreds of people across Canada. During the pandemic he has maintained a weekly online instruction and practice session. He has conducted ten-week meditation courses online.

The Rev Jack Risk has served parishes in various provinces and held positions in three Anglican dioceses. For the past two years he has led live online worship in the small rural parish he currently serves. He holds a second Masters degree in social welfare policy and is currently completing an album of church music.

Tuesday Workshops

Here and There: Preparing and Enacting Polymodal Worship It would certainly be an understatement to say that the past two years have greatly altered our understanding and practice of worship, and it would be equally naïve of us to assume that once the pandemic is “over,” worship would go back to “normal.” Between the ebb-and-flow of the pandemic making in-person gathering uncertain, to the increase in attendance at digital worship, to having multiple congregations worshipping together, congregational leaders have to rethink the role of technology, community, and connectivity in their contexts. This workshop introduces the idea of polymodal worship, bringing together multiple modes of connectivity into one liturgical event (sometimes described as “hybrid worship”), especially as it relates to space, participation, and action.

Dr. Kyle Schiefelbein-Guerrero is the Steck-Miller Assistant Professor of Worship and Liturgy and Co-Director of Worship Life at United Lutheran Seminary in Pennsylvania. He is editor of the book Church after the Corona Pandemic: Consequences for Worship and Theology (Springer, forthcoming) and convener of the Lutheran caucus of the North American Academy of Liturgy.

Campus Ministry Goes Virtual: the Pitfalls and the Potential Join Celeste and Michael from STM Campus Ministry as they discuss their experience bringing their ministry to the virtual world – complete with tales of amazement and adventure, of woe and wifi, of learning and levity.

Born and raised in Saskatoon, Ms.Celeste Woloschuk spent a few years in Ottawa completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Theology at St. Paul University before returning home to live and work. She has served in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon in a number of roles, including in the office of the Bishop, as Ecumenical and Interfaith coordinator, and at the parish level for the Cathedral of the Holy Family. An avid musician, she absolutely loves to sing, in consequence belongs to a few different choirs, and can often be found helping to lead music at one liturgy or another. Celeste currently serves as a member of the Campus Ministry Team at St. Thomas More College on the University of Saskatchewan campus and enjoys most the privilege of journeying with students as they discern God’s will and call in their lives.

Michael MacLean is a Campus Minister at St. Thomas More College on Treaty 6 territory in Saskatoon. Michael is an alum of the U. of S. where he received his Arts and Education degrees. He has a Diploma in Ministry from St.FX, and a Certificate in Youth Ministry Studies. His Masters of Religious Education is from Newman Theological College, and he recently finished his certification for Spiritual Direction at

Queen’s House. He loves to spend time with family, play guitar and visit his cabin at Manitou Beach. He has been serving on the STM Campus Ministry team since 1998.

Why Gather? Why Bother? In the scramble to get online and then the excitement over the possibilities that the church found there, what often got lost in the conversation is the thing that we tend to miss whenever we talk about church growth of any kind: why does any of this matter? The pandemic and online worship offer a particularly helpful lens into that fundamental question. When we could no longer be together in our normal ways, why is being together still worthwhile? More importantly, in the revelatory upheaval of a global pandemic, in all that we have learned about who we are and how we want to be different as human beings, do worshipping communities have anything meaningful to contribute? Without asking these questions, our online efforts tend to mirror the excitement with which so many programs for church growth and congregational vitality have been embraced…and ultimately forgotten without leading to consequential change for the institutional church.

Martha Tatarnic’s second book, Why Gather? The Hope and Promise of the Church will be published this June. She has also authored The Living Diet: A Christian Journey to Joyful Eating, an exploration of our relationship with food and our body through a Christian perspective. She is the lead priest of a thriving downtown Anglican church in St. Catharines Ontario, St. George’s. She writes a regular blog for the Anglican Church of Canada, which can be found at Details on writing, speaking engagements and her author’s journey can be found at

Creating Community Through Digital Ministry God has given many of our communities of faith the opportunity to reimagine our ministry through using new technologies, expanding our imaginations of what it means to be a church community. Throughout the pandemic St. Paul’s, St. Martin’s and McClure United Churches have explored new ways to connect with their communities and beyond. What began as a ministry necessity has become a ministry innovation and a blessing.

Revs. Mitchell Anderson, Jordan Cantwell and Laura Fouhse will share their experiences of how God has used this moment for digital community building and congregational renewal during the pandemic.

The Medium is the Messiah: Digital Media and Education as the Frontier of Post-Christendom Mission The COVID crises has coupled with the general decline of inherited churches to accelerate the search for alternative expressions of the Gospel. in this workshop Tay Moss, the creator of the new eLearning for Church website CHURCHx, will explore the emerging opportunities of online education to foster Christian community and spiritual growth. Participants will leave with new conceptual

frameworks for imagining the role of online Christian education as no longer an auxiliary to the church’s mission, but a primary location of it. Topics will include missiology, ecclesiology, and technology with an eye towards current developments and future trends. Issues will be identified and strategies suggested.

The Rev’d Tay Moss is a veteran of the tech-and-church wars pre-COVID. Ordained and still active as Anglican Priest, these days he pursues his vocation to plug people into God in the United Church through his work at the Toronto United Church Council. Visit to see the eLearning platform Tay and his team have created to support Christian Education. Tay earned his M.Div. from Yale Divinity School and has been involved in creative ministries at the congregation and judicatory levels for the past 17 years. Some of his projects have included developing social enterprises, video production, arts-and-spirituality, food banks, continuing education for clergy in transition, children’s ministry, creative-edge worship, running conferences, and coaching churches investing grant money to grow in mission. He has been a volunteer consultant for the Diocese of Toronto working with the Congregational Development Department for more than 12 years. Tay is an excellent sailor, an above-average cook, and a mediocre Taekwondo student. His wife and three kids keep him quite busy, but besides sailing and cooking Tay enjoys canoe camping and chilling in hammocks.

Wednesday Workshops

Faith Seeking Creating: Digital Literacy & Ministry in the Rural Context Rural communities of faith have their own unique gifts and challenges. Join Hoeun to explore the themes of “faith seeking creating and re-creating”, digital literacy, digital authorship, and digital-hybrid ministry in the rural context. Case studies and Q&A will also be presented.

Rev. Hoeun Lee is the minister of St. Paul’s United Church in Tisdale, SK. He is a Ph. D. Candidate in Systematic-Cultural Theology at Yonsei University Graduate School (Seoul, Korea). As a YouTube creator, he is enthusiastic about connecting people and building a community by digital storytelling. You can find his works in a variety of Youtube channels such as Second Wind Archive, Tisdale: St. Paul’s United Church, St. Andrew’s College, Living Skies Regional Council, and Korean Rainbow United. He is also interested in approaching theology and popular culture in the whole new digitized and globalized setting. Now he is writing a book about “Doing Theology with BTS” to explore the K-Pop phenomena through the lens of K-Theology.

Church Membership and the Digital Church The pivot to online worship and ministries has been a blessing to the church during the pandemic. Continuing as an online or hybrid church is a given for many congregations which is exciting in its potential for reaching people and also messy for our classic practices of understanding who our congregation is. This workshop will look at how digital worship is affecting church membership both pastorally and practically and share some examples of how churches are figuring it out.

Janet Marshall is the Director of Congregational Development with the Diocese of Toronto. She brings a wealth of experience in cultivating vision and plans for change that is rooted in context-based mission and ministry, and has supported hundreds of congregations and church leaders learning to work in new ways.

Theology and Practice of Online Communion This workshop will begin by exploring various theological approaches to Online Communion, where Communion is understood both as a sacramental practice and as the gathering of Christians. It will consider the divide between physical and digital, with an eye to understanding how the digital/online body can be viewed as a real, physical one. The latter part of the workshop will examine practical tips for fostering inclusion and community when presiding at hybrid or online Communion. Workshop participants are encouraged to have an empty plate, empty cup/chalice, and their local Eucharistic rite at hand.

The Rev. Dr. Kayko Driedger Hesslein is an Affiliate Professor of Theology at Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saskatoon, and an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. She has experience presiding at online and hybrid Communion, and her most recent publication is “‘In all times and places:’ Reflecting on the Transcendence and Immanence of the Holy Spirit in an Online Body of Christ,” in Church after the Corona Pandemic: Consequences for Worship and Theology (Springer, forthcoming 2022).

Patterns in Digital Community Building From broadcast to social, communication patterns impact the way we interact, connect, and relate. This workshop will explore these patterns and the tools that can drive action, reach out, or develop your community from within.

Marty Levesque is originally from Ottawa, and currently lives in Waterloo, Ontario. For 15 years he worked as an automotive mechanic while putting himself through school to earn a BA in Philosophy with a Minor in History from Carleton University. After finishing graduation, Marty left Ottawa to pursue a Masters of Divinity at Huron University College. In the spring of 2010, he graduated from Huron and was ordained to the Diaconate. Over the next four years, he pursued an MA in Theology part time from Huron University College and successfully defended his thesis in September of 2014. Marty first began ministry at Counterpoint Church, a new church plant in Brantford On in 2009. After successfully planting the congregation he moved to St. Andrew Memorial, London, where he was appointed Deacon in Charge in the fall of 2010. On the Feast of St Andrew he was ordained to the priesthood, and in February 2011 inducted as rector of St Andrew Memorial, London. Marty served that parish community for 5 1/2 years. Marty took up ministry at All Saints Waterloo on May 1st, 2016 where he is leading the community through a new building project; building a new church facility and community space. The focus of Marty’s ministry and studies has become increasingly centred on place and space: the church and its place in modern society. He is also interested in social media, marketing and church growth. Marty can be contacted at: