The essayist Joseph Joubert wrote “To teach is to learn twice.” The same could be said for the role of a mentor, one who facilitates learning through accompaniment and encouragement. CCS graduate Kathy Douglas had this experience as she mentored two diaconal ministry students this past year. “It is always wonderful to find work in ministry that excited, invites and deepens the life experience,” she said. “Mentoring students at CCS has been this kind of fulfilling practice for me.”
A diaconal mentor accompanies students as they explore the role of, and their own identity as a diaconal minister. A mentor will engage the student in reflection on their own learnings from field placements, learning circles, external courses and life. They’ll dig into theological issues and encourage analysis through the lenses of justice and compassion.
Kathy used technology to connect and meet with her mentees who lived a few hours apart. Using Zoom, an on-line video communication system, she would first meet with one for 1/2 an hour when they would be joined by the second for 1 hour and then she would meet with that student for 1/2 on their own. This allowed for private on on one time as well as opportunity for rich discussion together.
One of the students that Kathy mentored was Barb McGill. “I really loved the format that we used this last year,” said Barb. “The opportunity for the three of us to listen to and talk through our lived experience, and the diaconal lens was exciting. I found this year that I started to get a sense of the breadth of diaconal identity that can be expressed through asking the same kinds of questions. Who is missing from this conversation (from the table)? What does it mean to be on the margins…what we gain or lose when we are not? What does power look like and what is its role?”
Sandra Maltby-Mills had a similar experience. “I found our discussions together brought a greater depth of understanding to being diaconal,” Sandra said. “We took turns sharing our thoughts, questions and perceptions of the readings. This gave us three different opportunities to explore from different angles or views. Our discussions drew from experiences, interests and studies that all three of us brought. We were able to discuss situations with much insight and discovery. For me, it introduced ways of seeing things that I would not have been exposed to otherwise. This was my first year of diaconal study, and already I feel well grounded in an understanding of diaconal service.”
“I highly recommend this kind of participation in the educational work for CCS,” said Kathy. “It is a great way to be a companion. In our sharing I hope to encourage the development of diaconal perspective. I am reminded of the rich learning I received at CCS every time we meet. We laugh, we ponder and we acknowledge the power of community in doing the work of the church