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The Role of the Catechism in Spiritual Formation

So learn Christ as to be found in him

Photo: Ron Nickel /

By Sue Careless

SOME OF THE BEST opening lines in Western literature can be found not just in novels like Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities – “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times” – but in the historic catechisms of the Christian Church.  Look, for instance, at these two classics:


What is the chief end [purpose] of man?

Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

First question and answer in The Shorter Westminster Catechism


 What is your only comfort in life and death?

That I am not my own but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ….

                  First question and answer in The Heidelberg Catechism   


But just what is a catechism? Children learn language by echoing or repeating what they hear. The word Catechism comes from the Greek katecheo, which means “to resound”

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Calvin on Ephesians in an Open Classroom

Dr. Ephraim Radner (left) leads a conference on Ephesians, as seen through the lens of Calvin’s Commentary.

(Photo: Robert Mitchell

By Sharon Dewey Hetke

BIBLE STUDIES happen in homes and parish halls across the country while theological students study Bible commentaries in university seminars. But for three days in the idyllic village of Westport, Ontario, the college classroom was opened up so that anyone interested could study a Biblical text through the lens of a classic Bible commentator – in this case, John Calvin. And a noted theological professor was on hand to guide them.

Dr. Ephraim Radner, Professor of Historical Theology at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto, led the group in their study. The conference, while geared and advertised mainly to Wycliffe College alumni (both clergy and lay), was, in fact, open

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At Work and Play in a Refugee Camp

The children we met in the refugee camps were excited to have visitors, and happy to shake our hands and say hello.    Photo: Karen Stiller

ON THE DAY I visited a sprawling, crowded refugee camp in the Maban district of South Sudan in late May, a new mother lay on the concrete floor of the hospital there, two hours after surviving an emergency caesarean section. She is alive, and so is her baby. In a muddy camp hosting more than 90,000

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Kids with Voices Tackle a Dragon

By Marje Harrison

Kids with Voices taught children – many of whom had never been inside a church before – how to act, sing and construct costumes.

Photo: Marje Harrison

TRINITY CHURCH in Saint John, New Brunswick has a growing outreach programme: weekly meals for high school students, monthly breakfasts and dinners for anyone needy in the parish, and now a marvellous summer music programme for 7- to-11-year-olds.
Kids with Voices was introduced to the parish

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Rx for Deepening Debt


Pawnshops are thriving as more Canadians struggle with personal debt.
photo: Sue Careless

THE WORST THING about debt is that when you’re in it, it’s easy to get accustomed to being there. And the more accustomed you get to being there, the more your debt has a way of growing.
I know; my husband and I have been in debt. By the standards of the very comfortable-with-debt culture in which we live, our debt was modest; but it was persistent. In fact we allowed it to persist

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