Beginning Year Two: Faithfully Improvising

“So? Is it happening? Is Act Five on for this fall?”

In a dozen or so iterations, this question has been asked a hundred times the past months.  Whether by applicants, partners, community members or friends of the program, all have been eager to hear how – and if – Act Five was going to operate amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

Our answer (as of June)?

YES. It’s happening. Act Five is on.

With months of planning, diligence by Redeemer University in working with public health authorities, and a desire to be wise in caring for students, staff, partners, and neighbours, we are ready to launch Year Two of Act Five.

On August 24th – only 4 days from writing this – the 4 resident leaders of this year’s Act Five cohort move into 75 Blake St to begin two weeks of intensive preparations.

Two weeks later, on September 7th, 17 new students stretching from BC to Ottawa will move in, with an expected mix of excitement and anxiety.

In these final days of preparation, not only are we ready to welcome, get to know, lead and learn alongside these 17 students, but we are hopeful for what God has in store.  We do not see ourselves running a program that is in any way “second rate” in light of Covid-19 restrictions.

With a program that lives together as a single household and named “Act Five” to highlight our value of shaping young people to Faithfully Improvise the Christian life in the world, we see the restrictions that may present over the course of the year as further opportunity for formation.  With gratitude to be able to run our program  – and with some creative uses of space, travel adjustments, face masks and plenty of hand sanitizer – we head toward September both humbly and confidently.

Furthermore, after a successful Year One, these past four months have allowed us to continue to develop, grow, refine and adjust our program.  Some things to highlight for this upcoming year:

  • We continue to be grateful for our partnership with Coldwater Canada, and this year, our program with Coldwater grows as we spend 3 weeks up north in September and have developed a new trip to conclude Term One.
  • In our Six Acts courses, we are thrilled to welcome Willemina Zwart as faculty.
  • In addition to our engagement with Indigenous people in and around Hamilton, we are working with a new partner, DayStar, to spend a week on Manitoulin Island learning and serving alongside Indigenous Christians.
  • We have taken lessons from last year and developed a full program for Christian Formation through the leadership of our new Spiritual Life Facilitator, Nina Drenth.
  • 75 Blake St continues to become more of a home; we have new plans to engage in the city, to retreat and to adventure; and we have policies and good people in place to navigate all that Covid-19 might throw our way.

In all these plans and more, we recognize that our mission to prepare young adults for future pathways as engaged followers of Christ is dependent on Him and not our best plans.

If you are reading this, we invite you to pray with us:

  • That our students and staff would be granted peace these next weeks in preparing to step into something new and out of their norms.
  • That we might be protected from sickness throughout this year; that Covid-19 does not cause so many barriers that running our program becomes too challenging; that we might be good neighbours as a program in the midst of a unique time.
  • That the Blake St home would again be filled with rich communion among the students and staff moving in, with Christ in their midst – through rich times of laughter, the power of forgiveness, the refining of relationship, and the ordinary (deeply sacred) rhythms of life together.

To all following along and supporting us as we head into Year Two, Thank you.  Please stay in touch with us and continue to help us spread the word as we remain a program in its infancy.

May His Kingdom come, on earth – in Hamilton, all the places we will go, and from where you are reading this – as it is in Heaven.


Jon Berends
Director of Act Five

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