If you have questions about CEP policy and/or are looking for educational ideas, do not hesitate to contact Deacon Gretchen Peterson, Assistant to the Bishop, Youth and Leadership.


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 - January 2021

CEP – Advanced Study Application Deadline
From the Desk of Gretchen Peterson


It’s a New Year! Could it be time for a new way of participating in continuing education opportunities?

There is no doubt that it is different to find time and space for continuing education during a pandemic. It might be hard to carve out time to participate in an online event. It may also be difficult to fully participate when you are just “attending” from your living room.

But in some ways, it has become easier. There are lots of online events, and usually they are cheaper to attend without the added costs of travel and accommodations.

I hope in 2021 you find some continuing education that renews and rejuvenates you – especially during this time.

Reminder: Advanced Study grant applications are due January 15, 2021. Application forms can be found on the GSI website, as well as the ELCIC website.

Peace be with you!
Deacon Gretchen Peterson,
Assistant to the Bishop, Youth and Leadership

CEP Article - December 2020

CEP – Advanced Study Application Deadline
From the Desk of Gretchen Peterson


The Advanced Study program provides grants to Continuing Education Plan members who are engaged in a study program that leads to an advanced degree or to a diploma.

Grants are awarded through an application process and are evaluated by the Program Committee for Leadership for Ministry (PCLM). Their evaluation is based on how the proposed program of study will promote growth for effective ministry and will support the ELCIC’s mandate to be a church In Mission for Others.

We encourage you to apply with our new and easy online form! It can be found on the GSI website, as well as the ELCIC website.

Applications must be received by January 15, 2021.

Peace be with you!
Deacon Gretchen Peterson,
Assistant to the Bishop, Youth and Leadership

CEP Article - October 2020

CEP – Creating Space

From the desk of Deacon Gretchen Peterson


If you are like me, one of the things you’ve taken advantage of during these pandemic times is signing-up for all of the conferences you couldn’t afford to go to before due to money or time constraints. Now these conferences are online and much cheaper! I’ve registered for a few online Continuing Education conferences over the past few months. But…

If you’re also like me, it’s hard to make the space and time to truly attend these learning experiences in the midst of everyday life. I am grateful that most of the conferences come with the recordings of the sessions that one can watch at one’s own pace and when one has the time. Still… The time! The space! It’s hard to make room for those things in our busy lives.

A few months ago, I looked ahead at my fall line-up. In the mist of a bit of back to normal stuff (school!!), I also noticed a conference I had signed up for – Evolving Faith. I started to think about how I was going to make myself available to truly be present for these two days of learning, praying, and listening. So, I decided to do a thing.

With the support of my family, I left our home for the weekend and created my own space at an Airbnb just outside the city limits. Space for myself. Time for myself. I knew this was what I truly needed for my mind, for my body, and for my soul.

I spent two days on a little acreage, away from the city. I didn’t speak to anyone. I watched the livestream and read. I prayed for my clergy friends. I prayed for the world during a time of so much crisis. I gave thanks for creating this time for my own learning and renewal.

There is a great benefit to all of us to take advantage of these online learning experiences. It feels like so many learning experiences are right at our fingertips. But these learning experiences shouldn’t just be one more thing that’s added to our to-do list.

I encourage you to think about how you might find the space and the time to engage in the continuing education you sign up for. What can you do to make the experience more enjoyable and life-giving?

Peace be with you!
Deacon Gretchen Peterson,
Assistant to the Bishop, Youth and Leadership

CEP Article - September 2020

New and Surprising Ways to Engage in Continuing Education

From the desk of Deacon Gretchen Peterson


Pastor Kimber McNabb from Halifax, NS engaged in a new continuing education opportunity this summer – learning a new language! In this month’s newsletter, Pastor McNabb shares her experiences and the benefits of learning American Sign Language.

Two evenings a week, 6:30-8:30 pm via Zoom a group of 5 students met to learn a new language (American Sign Language level I & ll). It was difficult and rewarding; we were not allowed to speak at all, learning only by repetition, gestures, and fingerspelling words to learn new signs.

“I chose to learn ASL for a couple of reasons. One, I do services at a manor that has a deaf community. I wanted to be able to have a basic conversation with the residents. Two, I have done a number of funerals where an interpreter has been brought in. I wanted to understand what their needs might be, and to be able to offer ‘peace’ in sign to those to whom they were interpreting. The sessions were invaluable and an important way that I can welcome others and understand better the challenges of being deaf in a hearing world. Another benefit has come about because of COVID and not being able to sing in worship; some songs we will learn and sing in Sign Language

We thank everyone for sharing their CEP experiences and look forward to hearing more!

Deacon Gretchen Peterson,
Assistant to the Bishop, Youth and Leadership

CEP Article - July 2020

CEP – Lifelong Learning

From the desk of Deacon Gretchen Peterson


In January of 2020, Pastor Mark Ehlebracht (Kitchener, ON) submitted a CEP report titled “Exploring the Impact of Social Media on the Religious and Spiritual Beliefs of Emerging Adults”. It’s a great example of how CEP is being used by people to explore different aspects of their faith and their work. Please read and feel free to share your own CEP journey and email me at

Electronic and social media is changing the way people, organizations, and communities communicate and interact with each other. The statistics are remarkable. The internet has 4.2 billion users and there are 3.03 billion active social media users. Internet users have an average of 7.6 social media accounts, social media users grew by 121 million between the second and third quarters of 2017 (that’s 1 every 15 seconds), and Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp handle sixty billion messages a day.

Statistics Canada reports that nearly all of Canadians use the Internet every single day, with the province of Alberta having the highest percentage of Internet users, and that 76% of all Canadians own a Smartphone, 71% own a laptop, and 54% own a tablet. 

“By any account, those statistics are worthy of paying attention to, especially as they relate to how we experience community and how the culture of community can be shaped. As a PhD candidate at Martin Luther University College, I am excited to formally begin my research this year alongside a superb faculty and staff. My study will explore participants’ belief systems and begin to understand how social media disrupts, promotes, or interacts with religious and spiritual beliefs. This study will explore the impact of social media on the religious and spiritual beliefs of emerging adults in Canada.”

To read Mark’s full article, including citations and sources, please click here.

Thank you,
Deacon Gretchen Peterson,
Assistant to the Bishop, Youth and Leadership

CEP Article - June 2020

CEP – Lifelong Learning

From the desk of Deacon Gretchen Peterson


New Opportunities for Continuing Education
Due to COVID-19, many events have been postponed or cancelled, and many events have shifted to being offered online, so the event, or something like it, can still take place. This is probably our reality for any type of large-scale group gathering for awhile.

Recently the Festival of Homiletics happened online and there were technology glitches, which is to be expected. There was the option to participate for free and just get access to the livestream sermons and lectures. There was also the option to purchase an on demand subscription, giving you access to all the content for up to a year after the festival took place. I opted to pay for the on-demand access as I knew I would have limited time to participate in the livestream each day, for five days in a row. Having a child at home now and trying to do some homeschooling every day meant that I would
be interrupted at some point.

I have never been to the Festival of Homiletics before and being able to attend for a small fee, which I will use my CEP funds for, felt like a great opportunity! I was able to listen to two of the sermons and they were great. That’s actually all I was able to watch during the week, but I’m excited knowing that I can catch-up over the next year and watch more when the on-demand access becomes available.

While online continuing education opportunities are great to take advantage of right now, there are some downsides. Adding more screen time to our “to do” list might not feel worth it, as many of us are heading into a time of screen fatigue. Also, attending something virtually just isn’t the same as being there in person.

Since I have never attended this festival in person, I turned to my colleagues to ask how this livestream version compared to being there in person. Their comments were not surprising.

Streaming has its advantages (it’s cost effective, the only way anything could happen this year), but it does not begin to compare to the energy of the Holy Spirit stirring hundreds of people in one place at the same time. I remember
being moved to tears multiple times live. Hard to enter that fully into the experience when at home watching on the computer.”  —Pastor Phil Penrod


Streaming is good, but the singing!! Nothing quite like it.”  —Pastor Rite Roste


It has been wonderful to be able to attend, and I have found myself re-charged and re-oriented as well, a true antidote to the past few weeks (not bad, necessarily, but a huge expenditure in energy adjusting – kind of like starting a new sport and discovering muscles one didn’t know were there by the sore ache at the end of the day).”  —Pastor Patricia Giannelia


I really liked the live event in Nashville, but I thought the online event was very good value and education/inspiration.”  —Pastor David Hunter


It’s good to take part in virtual continuing education events, as that is what is available to us at the moment. I am grateful for the learning and worship that can still happen online during this time, but it’s not the same as being there.

Peace be with you!
Deacon Gretchen Peterson,
Assistant to the Bishop, Youth and Leadership

CEP Article - April 2020

CEP – Lifelong Learning

From the desk of Deacon Gretchen Peterson


We received nine applications this year for the Advanced Study Grant, following the January 15th deadline. These applications came from Rostered members scattered across the whole Church.

The areas of study included a wide swath of topics. It is really encouraging and exciting to read through the applications and see the interesting topics people are engaged in across our church.

Some of these topics include: worship; church leadership in missional communities; art and creating in the image of a creating God; social media and faith formation; and awe and wonder in health care providers.

A total of $47,710 was awarded to these nine applicants. It is exciting to see how these deeper studies will impact the congregations and ministries the applicants are serving.

If you have interesting stories to share, or ideas on how to utilize your CEP funds, I’d love to hear from you at

Thank you,

Deacon Gretchen Peterson

CEP Article - March 2020

CEP – Lifelong Learning

From the desk of Deacon Gretchen Peterson


Hi – My name is Deacon Gretchen Peterson and I have been serving in the National Office for the past 3.5 years, mainly in the area of youth ministry. This past September, I took on responsibilities in Leadership as well. I am happy to find stories to share with leaders  in the ELCIC about ways people are engaged in further learning and continuing education.

Did you know the purpose of the Continuing Education Plan is to “encourage and support life-long learning among rostered and non-rostered employees”? Perhaps you have found an interesting and exciting way to engage in this type of learning. Let’s hear it! I am always looking to highlight what people in the ELCIC are doing through their CEP funds.

If you have interesting stories to share, or ideas on how to utilize your CEP funds, I’d love to hear from you at

Thank you,
Deacon Gretchen Peterson

CEP Article - January 2020

CEP – Lifelong Learning

From the desk of Deacon Gretchen Peterson


Pastor Steve Hoffard, from Redeemer Lutheran Church in Toronto, has this to share about his Continuing Education experience from the past 2 years.

The last 2 years I have used my continuing education plan to attend the annual Proclaim gathering. Proclaim is the professional association of out Lutheran LGBTQS rostered leaders and seminarians in the US and Canada. The group has grown to include over 350 members and this past summer in Milwaukee, I attended the largest gathering to date. The gathering consists of 4 days of fellowship, worship, training and workshops.

“The training this year dovetailed well with resolutions passed at our ELCIC national convention as we spent a full day in anti-oppression and racism training. I like to consider myself as fairly woke, but I learned so much I didn’t know, particularly in the area of systemic racism and how it manifests and perpetuates itself in our institutions including the church.”

As we all look ahead to plan our ministry and education opportunities for 2020, I hope we take the time to think about areas of interest and growth, where we might best use our CEP funds. Happy planning!

Deacon Gretchen

CEP Article - December 2019

CEP – Lifelong Learning

From the desk of Deacon Gretchen Peterson


In 2019, the ELCIC Continuing Education Plan (CEP) awarded 14 Advanced Study grants for CEP members to study a variety of topics: social innovation, family counselling, preaching, employee administration, worship, social media witness, biblical studies, leadership for mission and congregational vitality.

The Advanced Study Fund provides grants to CEP members who are engaged in advanced study that leads to an advanced degree or to a diploma. Applications are due January 15 each year and application forms may be accessed here on the GSI

Pastor Anne Anderson, community pastor at thirdspace, located at Martin Lutheran University College, shares from her own CEP experiences: “The grant has been helpful to understand the life of and need for emergent/alternative worshipping communities within our tradition. Understanding the arch of leadership within these communities and how our Lutheran tradition can uphold and encourage transformational leadership within our faith communities in our rapidly changing world has been very helpful.”

Blessings to everyone as you discern your ongoing learning needs and/or consider the possibility of advanced study.

Deacon Gretchen Peterson,
Assistant to the Bishop, Youth and Leadership
The ELCIC is interested in your ideas for continuing education. Please share your
recommendations with Deacon Gretchen Peterson, Assistant to the Bishop for Youth
and Leadership at

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  or call 204-984-9156

To download a copy of this article, click here.