Images from Ministry as Listening 2023
From May 7 to June 13, 2023 four diaconal ministry students and two continuing studies participants took part in the Ministry as Listening learning circle, focussing on spiritual care through compassionate listening. We explored and practiced listening skills, and discussed how to be a non-anxious presence in difficult conversations and how to sit with those in grief and pain. We unpacked (and repacked) the idea of presence, and the power of being there for people in their struggles without trying to “fix” things. A student-led session explored prayer as a form of listening, and a panel discussion with guests Susan Butler-Jones, Sadekie Lyttle-Forbes, and Kerry Howarth helped us think about the differences and similarities between pastoral care, counselling, therapy, and spiritual direction. Laura Fouhse was a special guest facilitator for a session on ethics and boundaries in ministry.
A highlight of the circle for some students was the visiting session, where they were dropped “cold” into a zoom room with someone they didn’t know – in the same way that a new minister might visit a member of their congregation they hadn’t met before – and were encouraged to make a connection and get to know their mystery “visitee”. (The visitees were known to CCS staff, and we thank them for their willingness.)
One participant described the Ministry as Listening learning circle as a wonderful experience of church. As students in the circle discerned together how their various gifts and dispositions can take shape in helpful and faithful ways, they were listening for the voice of God in community.