Questions?

If you have questions about CEP policy and/or are looking for educational ideas, do not hesitate to contact Rev. Paul Gehrs, Assistant to the Bishop, Justice and Leadership.

email: pgerhs@elcic.ca Winnipeg: 204-984-9156

Toll free: 1-888-786-6707 ext. 156.

CEP Newsletter Articles

An article highlighting the Continuing Education Plan is included in each Benefits newsletter and is archived here on our website.

CEP Article - October 2019

CEP – Lifelong Learning

From the desk of Deacon Gretchen Peterson

Learning Opportunities Right in Front of You
CEP funds might take a while to accumulate, especially if you work less than full time, like myself. After my son turned one and I wanted to return to work, I accepted a quarter-time call. It gave me flexibility in life and it was a good fit. But working quartertime meant my CEP funds took time to accumulate to an amount where I finally realised “Oh, I better use some of that and look for further educational opportunities!”

In 2018, I heard of a conference happening right here in Saskatoon that was of interest to me. The idea of dropping my son off at school and then continuing my commute downtown to join in further learning was very appealing to me because it meant I didn’t need to travel. The topic was of interest to me and relevant to the work I was engaged in. The conference fee wasn’t very much and I could definitely use my CEP funds to pay for it, so I registered for the event.

The Wîcihitowin Indigenous Engagement Conference “invites community organizations, governments and businesses to learn about inclusive representation of Indigenous people as employees, volunteers and decision-makers.” The Conference was organised through the lens of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. I learned from passionate Indigenous youth, as well as local Indigenous elders. It was amazing – and it happened right here in my city!

So, what is happening in your neck of the woods? In your backyard? In your downtown? What are the learning opportunities that are easy to access in your city that would help you in engaging further with the people in your ministry setting or your community? I encourage you to investigate what is happening near you.

As for me, I’m about to head into this year’s Wîcihitowin Conference to see what it is that I can learn this year to instill in the ministry I am engaged in.

Peace be with you!

CEP Article - September 2019

CEP – Lifelong Learning

From the desk of Rev. Paul Gehrs

And now for something completely different
In June, I attended TEDxWinnipeg 2019. The event is self-described as “Local People; Global Impact; a local, self-organized event sharing a TED-like experience where live speakers and the audience combine to spark a connection and deep discussion.”

Each TEDx speaker is given a maximum of 18 minutes to share an innovative idea. I first decided to attend TEDxWinnipeg because a colleague pointed out that several of the 16 speakers were presenting on reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Other topics related to my work included the environment, gender-identity and effective communication.

Having previously been nurtured by leaders from across Canada to ‘practice discerning how God is active in the neighbourhood and join-in’, it was interesting to be in a non-church context listening to people who cared deeply about their neighbourhood. It was also encouraging to hear people’s dreams for a better world given the ELCIC invitation to practice ‘Courageous Innovation’.

I have also attended a local ecumenical event where ted-style talks have been used to stimulate conversation on theology and mission. I believe it would generate ideas and build community for the leadership team from a faith community to spend a day together at TEDx, using the generous time for breaks and lunch to ponder ‘what does this mean for us?’.

As we discern how to participate in God’s mission, the opportunities for continuing education are all around us.

CEP Article - July 2019

CEP – Lifelong Learning

From the desk of Rev. Paul Gehrs

What qualifies for CEP?
Some members have the impression that the ELCIC reviews every CEP expense reimbursement request looking for an excuse not to pay out. The truth is that the ELCIC wants more members to use funds to engage in more educational experiences. CEP funds are to be used for education experiences that enhance a person’s capacity to do their job. Study could be on subjects that maintain, or upgrade skills directly related to specific employment responsibilities; or general matters relating to employment, such as “time management” or “how to supervise volunteers.” As well, a wide variety of
formats are eligible: classes, seminars, conferences, and lessons/coaching for an individual or small group.

Spiritual direction, for example, would qualify for CEP as one type of coaching for an individual, as long as an employer agrees it relates to job responsibilities. From the perspective of the ELCIC, we are in favour of members enhancing skills as facilitators of prayer.

While CEP will cover tuition/registration costs, it is easy to forget that travel, accommodation and meals cost are legitimate education costs. This means that travel costs to attend a school, seminary or conference centre for an appropriate learning experience may be submitted.

With regard to travel tours and independent learning, it is possible to use CEP funds when some additional documentation is provided to demonstrate that the learning experience relates to employment responsibilities.

The requested documentation is:
• Employer provides a 1 to 2 sentence written summary of what the employee is
expected to learn.
• Member/employee identifies daily learning goals and keeps a journal of how each
day’s experience is relevant in their ministry context.

Using this format, members have visited the Holy Land, toured Reformation sites in Germany, traveled with CLWR and walked the Camino trail. All of the above must qualify as eligible education expenses within the interpretation of
the Income Tax Act (Canada). CRA does not allow expenses to be paid from this fund that it considers to be for personal interest or wellness.

What does qualify is a wide range of education experiences that enhance your capacity to do your job. GSI is available to support you in using CEP funds to meet your learning goals.

CEP Article - June 2019

CEP – Lifelong Learning

From the desk of Rev. Paul Gehrs

 

So, they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to tell his disciples.
Matthew 28:8

What is an important learning experience you had in the last few years? Something that keeps coming back to you. Something that continues to shape how you offer your service to the church and to the world.

Matthew points to a mixture of fear and great joy that marks the life of disciples who have encountered the good news. When I think of some of my more enriching and lasting learning experiences, I am aware of this mixture. There was some fear of delving into what was unfamiliar to me or highlighting what was missing in my practice of discipleship. But there was joy in learning and being transformed. And there was excitement to share my insights with other disciples in my faith community.

As we ponder the implications of the resurrection for faithful witness and life in community, here are four questions we might ask about our plans for life-long learning:
1. What do I want to learn?
2. What do I need to learn in order to enhance my service to my community/context?
3. What are the mission goals of my faith community?
4. How might I celebrate the learning experiences of those around me?

Continuing education can be done through workshops, classes, retreats, guided groups, individual coaching and spiritual direction. Expenses may include registration fees, travel, meals, accommodation or education course materials. Please see our website for more details.

To download a copy of this article, click here.

CEP Article - April 2019

CEP – Lifelong Learning

From the desk of Rev. Paul Gehrs

When you celebrate the value of continuing education, others in your context will be energized for curiosity, reflection and learning.Twice per year, employees and employers receive a summary statement for each member account. This statement is an opportunity to sit down together to review the mission goals of your congregation or organization and to mutually agree on learning goals.

In April, the ELCIC posted a new Mutual Ministry Guide in order to:

  1. Help nurture good and healthy mutual relationships between the ministries of the rostered minister and the church leadership.
  2. Encourage intentional and regular evaluations of congregational ministries, the staff and rostered minister based on their church mission goals within the context of your particular settings.
  3. Seek together opportunities for growth and renewal.

If you are wondering how to start a conversation about mission goals, this may be a place to begin.

We all have much to learn as we seek to faithfully live and act as Christ’s disciples. In recent months, in various circles, I have been hearing the observation that “We live in a time when the answers on how to proceed are not obvious.” This makes life-long learning all the more vital.

CEP offers the opportunity to pause and reflect, to develop knowledge and skills, to encounter new perspectives and resources, to deepen the spiritual practices of prayer/Scripture/worship and to experience growth for more effective ministry.

To download a copy of this article, click here.

CEP Article - March 2019

CEP – Lifelong Learning

From the desk of Rev. Paul Gehrs

As I write this, it is Ash Wednesday. In worship, I was invited to a life of self-examination, marked with ashes on my forehead and sent on my way [summarized] to:
Go into the world to serve God with gladness and;
…be of good courage;
…render to no one evil for evil;
…help the afflicted; honour all people;
…love and serve God, rejoicing in the Holy Spirit.

Lifelong learning is one expression of a life of self-examination. As God presents us with new opportunities, perplexing challenges and emerging contexts, we are called to discern how we need to grow, what we need to learn and who might help us get there. Honestly admitting I have something to learn may be the first step.

A conversation with your employer may be the second step. Serving God with gladness may lead to me to improve skills that are already part of my passion. Not being of good courage or feeling tempted to render evil may lead me to work on my spirituality through direction, coaching or a retreat experience. Trying to help the afflicted may call me to seek new skills in order to help in a good way. Honouring all people may drive me toward a deeper understanding of racism, systemic injustice and deeper truth about how I am called to be transformed.

What if it’s the Holy Spirit that calls us to learning for the good of our neighbour, just as the Holy Spirit calls us to lifelong loving and serving in God’s name?

To download a copy of this article, click here.

CEP Article - January 2019

CEP – Lifelong Learning

From the desk of Rev. Paul Gehrs

Happy New Year lifelong learners! New year – new beginnings – new opportunities – new goals.

As a way to remain diligent to learning goals, Members are expected to engage in at least 90 hours of continuing education over each three-year period.

Sometimes, good learning experiences come along that cost no money. For example, in 2018 some of the things I was able to attend in Winnipeg were:

  • An update on the TRC “Call to Action on #62”; teaching Indigenous history and reconciliation in grades K to 12.
  • A university lecture sharing research on creating sustainable communities.
  • A lecture by a Mennonite member of the World Council of Churches on the Spirituality of Peace-Building.
  • A forum on addressing poverty, sponsored by a community foundation.

Have you reported all your 2018 continuing education hours to ELCIC Group Services Inc.? Members are encouraged to submit continuing education hours, even when no funds were used.

Reviewing your CEP statement with your employer is part of the discernment process as you identify new learning goals and opportunities. Reporting all your hours helps round out the picture of your learning experiences over the last year.

You can report your continuing education hours to GSI, using the CEP Expense Reimbursement Form.

If you would like additional Information about CEP, feel free to get in touch with me at pgehrs@elcic.ca  or call 204-984-9156

To download a copy of this article, click here.