Images from Ministry as Storytelling 2023

Images from Ministry as Storytelling 2023

The Ministry as Storytelling learning circle ended last week. Eight diaconal students spent a week in Winnipeg, from October 11-17, 2023, exploring the nature of story and its relationship to education and worship, but also the role that story plays in pastoral care, in social justice, in stewardship, in process facilitation, and in advertising.

Professional storyteller Jamie Oliviero joined us for an introductory session, inspiring us with his animated and fully-committed telling of a number of tales and his reflections on stories as vessels of wisdom. In a session called “Finding Your Voice” we talked about what it means to have a voice – personally, politically, spiritually – as well as noting how our voices change with different purposes, relationships, and contexts. (We played with reading Corinthians 13:11-13 – “faith, hope, and love abide, and the greatest of these is love” – as if we were speaking to a beloved 4-year old grandchild, or to a stubborn politician at a protest rally, or to someone we were trying to seduce or hypnotize!)

We talked about what it means to be “people of the book”, and our intimate dancing/wrestling relationship with biblical stories. And we asked ourselves – What stories matter? What are the stories the world and our communities need to hear? What are the stories that we need to tell?

In an afternoon of workshops on storytelling arts we had the opportunity to explore video and podcasting with Bri-anne Swan (via zoom), photography with Alan Lai, and drama with Scott Douglas. A student-led session on stories and education had us creating our own children’s books, and a student-led session on stories in preaching and evangelism showed us how personal stories can connect on a deep level when shared with honesty, courage, and integrity. (And we played with Lego!)

Toward the end of the circle, students shared stories of their own choosing with each other – some were personal stories from the teller’s own experience, some were children’s stories or fables, some incorporated song or dance or drama. All were personal, invested with meaning for the teller, and all touched the listeners’ hearts. Students inspired each other to stretch in their storytelling ministry.

Jamie Oliviero shared this from Barry Lopez’ story Crow and Weasel: “The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put these stories in each other’s memories. This is how people care for themselves.”