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Faith Identity

ANCHORED WITH WINGS:
THE IDENTITY AND VALUES OF ST. STEPHEN'S UNIVERSITY

Image by Ophélie Authier

ST STEPHEN'S UNIVERSITY IS A GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY, PEACE AND RECONCILIATION. We are chartered by the Province of New Brunswick as a private Christian university, which we have interpreted through our shared vision:

“Engaging and reconciling communities through a relational, contemplative, and transformative university education.”

We aspire to practice our faith identity in alignment with our Mission's values of justice, beauty, and compassion, rather than denominational categories or doctrinal conformity. Our faculty, staff and students express these values with conviction and freedom, inclusion and generosity. We aspire to challenge colonizing and exclusionary bounds of Christendom and set an open table where all are welcome.

 

  • SSU School of Theology & Culture is faith-based in the historic ‘Jesus Way’ gospel tradition of God’s self-giving love.

 

  • Jim Forest Institute for Religion, Peace & Justice is faith-engaged in our theological exploration of peace and justice, the inner transformation of a peacemaker, and multi-faith conversations and interreligious peacebuilding.

 

  • SSU Centre for Reconciliation Studies is faith-affirming of First Nations spiritual values and traditions, gifts of the Creator, and all our relations. 

 

WITH CONVICTION AND FREEDOM refers to the academic freedom of our faculty to teach from their own diverse faith perspectives. Our practice features (1) faculty and student freedom from signing or holding to any dogmatic prescriptions and (2) faculty and student freedom to bring their own faith practices into the classroom. We also welcome affiliate faculty and guest lecturers who hold other faith perspectives where they align with our values (justice, beauty, and compassion).

 

AND INCLUSION AND GENEROSITY refers to our commitment to honour the dignity of each student’s spiritual journey as sacred to their personhood. While instructors present their own heartfelt convictions, we are non-coercive, non-indoctrinating, welcoming, and inclusive. In our cohorts, we model how to transcend spectrum ideologies and hold difference with respect. Thus, we tend to attract students and lecturers from a great range of faith perspectives. 

Each of our three schools is unique in the way that they integrate our faith identity into our programs:

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SSU SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY & CULTURE

Our Theology & Culture programs have an 'ancient-future' focus that is deeply rooted in historic Christian theology as well as creative and contemporary voices that help us navigate a life-giving engagement with today's diverse cultures.

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JIM FOREST INSTITUTE FOR RELIGION, PEACE AND JUSTICE

Our Peace & Justice programs are based on our inner transformation and prophetic imagination that arise from theological study while exploring and developing grassroots and community-based peacebuilding skills and interreligious hospitality.

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CENTRE FOR RECONCILIATION STUDIES

Our Reconciliation Studies program recognizes the harm done by colonizing religion and seeks instead to welcome and affirm the varying faith and spiritual traditions that give life to our Indigenous speakers and guests, students, and faculty.

Our Values – "Anchored with Wings"

Some years ago, we stumbled on the phrase "anchored with wings," and we’ve found it consistently apt to articulate our longing to see students anchored in the best and deepest parts of their own spiritual traditions, while blessing their freedom to take flight and explore fresh ideas. “Anchored with Wings” also relates to the Christlike values of justice, beauty and compassion.

JUSTICE
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Our hunger and thirst to seek, to see, and to be agents and equippers for equity in our world. Justice terms such as inclusion, restoration, and reconciliation have become precious to us, especially where the means are in alignment with the ends. We can imagine a better world, and in small and large steps we are walking toward that goal in fellowship with all people of good will.

BEAUTY
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Our recognition, gratitude, and wonder for the beauty we see in this world, in each other, and the expressions of beauty we see through the creativity at work among us. We see a unique beauty in the revelation in Jesus that God comes in weakness, in consent rather than control, breathing healing and grace into our world through acts of creativity, honesty, and kindness. We see beauty as a sacred reminder that we are called, alongside all of creation, toward unity with the God who has made us and connects us all.

COMPASSION
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Our embrace of empathy for the other, expressed in selfless and self-giving service to those who have experienced injustice, trauma, and alienation — to see the Presence of Christ “in the least of these,” including the broken parts of ourselves. Whether through ancient teachings of Jesus or the work of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day and Desmond Tutu, we see examples of how humility fused with courage and kindness lead to compassionate change. We seek to follow this way.

We believe these values anchor our identity and calling as SSU continues to develop. As values, they guide our decisions about what we do and how we do it at every step. This is our hope.

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