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The “little church on the prairie” is not a new program on your favorite TV channel.

But St. Thomas church near downtown Chilliwack is becoming a centre of education, renewal and community resources. The Anglican parish announces it is now an Extension Site for the Vancouver School of Theology (VST) - the University of British Columbia-based interdenominational college.

“We are excited and honoured,” said St. Thomas’ Pastor John Sovereign. “This is the very first time any church in the Valley has taken on this role with VST.”
VST, a learning institution dating back to the early days of UBC fittingly teams up with a historic house of worship founded in 1873. St. Thomas dynamic leadership is looking to break new ground in ministry and service to the community in its second century of life.
“This is our 140th Anniversary,” said Rev. Sovereign adding “God has brought us great music, great worship and many new beginnings. We are far from perfect, but we are available to God and to serving people’s needs.”
VST Dean of Studies, Rev. Dr. Patricia Dutcher-Walls said the theological college eagerly anticipates the new association:
“We are really looking forward to the potential of an Extension Site at St. Thomas’ church in Chilliwack.”
The first course at VST’s Chilliwack site is “Thinking Bowen Family Systems: A Course in Leadership” to be held at St. Thomas church May 10-11 and June 1. It can be taken at the Master’s level for 1.5 credits or as a Certificate course or just audited. Click the LINK for more information and registration.
Drawing on ideas from family therapy and pastoral theology, the course is directed to the Christian leader. But its appeal is also to the broader community.
“It is a bootcamp in how family emotional systems work,” said Adjunct Prof. Alex Angioli, who is teaching the course.
“Every church and every organization needs to understand how people relate in groups,” said Prof. Angioli. “Dr Bowen’s ideas on human systems are important for health professionals, pastors, social workers, teachers and business leaders.”
“We all can benefit from clear thinking and a compassionate grasp of emotions. Church leaders especially need to be aware and smart about emotionality in their congregations,” he added.
Prof. Angioli, who is also Clinical Director at the Fraser Valley Counselling Centre, and a Registered Clinical Counsellor says that the historic role of the Church as a centre of teaching and healing is being rediscovered in the 21st century:

“We are finding that in some ways smaller is better. We can be personal, caring as well as intellectually rigorous. We may even have a global outlook, but real events in people’s lives always happen locally.”

Click to download the INFORMATION FLYER in pdf.