Living into Hybridity

By the Rev. Dr. Heather McCance, Director of Pastoral Studies

The word ‘hybridity’ carries many meanings from different disciplines, but at its core it is about combining things to create new structures and practices in which the preceding elements are mixed. It’s a good word for the 2021-22 school year.

First, and as you’ll read about elsewhere, was our strategic alliance with the United Theological College. This meant that I was blessed to have UTC staff as colleagues working just down the hall, and that our student body was larger and more diverse than it might otherwise have been.

Second, the reality of theological education during a global pandemic meant that we all needed to be flexible. In teaching the In-Ministry Year courses to the final year students from Dio, UTC and Presbyterian College in Preaching and Ministry Leadership, there were only two occasions in the entire year when all the students were in the same building as me. In the Ministry Seminar we were sometimes online and sometimes in person – and sometimes, some of us were online and some in person. This brought some challenges but also some real gifts – for example we could have guest speakers come to our students from literally anywhere on the planet (although I limited myself to North America).

Worship wasn’t hybrid in the sense of some worshippers being in person and others online (as in many faith communities); rather, some of our worship services were in person and others online. This gave each worship service a distinct flavour, and yet allowed for the maximum participation of community members from far away and on campus.
Hybridity comes with challenges as we negotiate new ways of being together and doing things. Yet it has also brought to all of us great gifts that can only better equip our students for ministry in this ever-changing world.