A Learning Opportunity: For the Church and For the World

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Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 10.32.26 AM The Rev. Nick Pang is currently priest-in-charge at St George’s Church, Place du Canada, in Montreal. He first got to know the college when completing an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies (Asian Religions) at McGill University. Some experiences that have contributed to his leadership development over the years have included the Diocese of Montreal’s Lay Reader program, the Faiths Act Fellowship, camp work through Crosstalk Ministries and Sonshine Families, and various youth-oriented programs within the Anglican Church of Canada.  He was born and raised in Montreal and has recently returned to practicing another of his passions: Aikido.


 

When I was 19 I left home for the first time. I moved out to New Brunswick for one very full year where I completed a certificate program in Extreme Discipleship (or XD for those on the inside) at a Wesleyan Bible College. Since then, I’ve been blessed with the chance to take part in a number of programs developed specifically to build the leadership capacity of young adults.

My experience with the XD program prepared me for a model of action and reflection that would become incredibly important to my priestly formation years later in seminary. It was based on sharing the message of hope and new life offered by Christ in some of the most disadvantaged and disregarded places we knew – prisons, rehab centres, soup kitchens, special needs residences. Each time we would go out into the world we would come back to the school to reflect on our experience and to share with one another how we ourselves had been transformed in the encounter.

There was an amazing sort of synergy to the way that program worked in the lives of those it touched. I like to think it did some good for those we went out to serve, that we gave them an attentive ear and an open heart when, oftentimes, no one else would. As each week went on though, we all noticed just how much we ourselves were being impacted by the conversations we were having. On a personal level, this program was forming leaders who were trying to live out, very explicitly, Jesus’ example of service to the most marginalized communities. Many of my colleagues and classmates continued on at the college in the pastoral ministry program. Some of us went off in other directions to return to pastoral ministry later on and yet others still went off in completely different directions – but all of us were changed by the experience of meeting with strangers in very profound and meaningful moments of their lives. The third place where this program had a particular impact was in the school and the community as a whole. I honestly believe there was a really special atmosphere to that Bible College that was in part due to years of experience of some of its students being sent out into the world in love and mission.

The 2015 Montreal Mission Internship (MMI), being run by the Montreal Diocesan Theological College, strikes a similar chord. The concept of “Mission” can be overwhelming and even confusing at times. Sure, we have the Marks of Mission as a guide, but there are times when those marks can be so large and global, they don’t actually help us determine what it is we need to be doing right here in our very own city. The MMI will give six students an opportunity next summer to develop their understanding of mission with a self-developed project and a chance to come together as a cohort to reflect and to learn. They will also receive a fairly generous stipend, largely as a matter of justice. In a time when youth unemployment is at an all-time high and unpaid internships are forcing some of the most economically vulnerable among us to pay money in order to have the opportunity to work, the task that these students have before them is not simply about either themselves or the people they’re encountering. This is a learning opportunity for the whole church. The MMI is a chance for all of us to learn from the creativity and idealism of those disciples who will be experimenting with something radically new, following the Spirit out into the world, outside the borders of our churches, to learn what God is doing there and where we as the people of God are being called.


For more information on the 2015 Montreal Mission Internship, check out the dedicated page here.

 

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