Tag Archives: Education for Ministry

Jail Ministry News

Stepping Stones ministry, 27 Oct 2019
Stepping Stones ministry first anniversary, 27 Oct 2019

A national Episcopal Church news story on our jail ministry in the Diocese of El Camino Real was published yesterday, “El Camino Real Episcopalians Continue Jail and Reentry Ministries Despite Pandemic,” by Sharon Sheridan. There have been other news stories about Stepping Stones and our jail ministries, but this is the first national news. Congratulations to the Rev. Peggy Bryan and team for a remarkable contribution to a community that is too often ignored! Even my work in jail with Education for Ministry got a mention.

Update: Another news story was published yesterday by the Diocese of El Camino Real in their newsletter: “$25 UTO Grant Awarded to Stepping Stones Reentry Ministry,” RealEpiscopal – News from El Camino Real, 15 October 2020.

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right on Katysblog home). Image Copyright 2019 by Katy Dickinson.

Leave a comment

Filed under Church, News & Reviews

Help with Zoom

EfM Education for Ministry at St Andrews Episcopal Church, Sep 2020
EfM at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Saratoga, California

Education for Ministry is holding an online training this week for its mentors, trainers, and other seminar leaders, many of whom are starting their annual terms this month. We have over 165 already signed up!

Cynthia C. Hargis, Diocesan Relations and EfM Online Coordinator, University of the South – School of Theology – Education for Ministry, asked Cheri Winter (EfM Coordinator and Mentor, Diocese of Colorado), and me (EfM Coordinator and Mentor, Diocese of El Camino Real) to give this session on how to use Zoom for EfM seminars. Our training materials are linked here, both for those who will attend the session and for others who may find them helpful:

We welcome any additional suggestions you may offer. Here are questions and answers from the live chat during the event – the start to an FAQ: Questions from Zoom Practices for EfM, 18 Sep 2020

The recording of the event is on Zoom Practices for EfM 9-18-20. All of the material from the event is also linked to EfM – Resources for Mentors – Webinar: Zoom Practices for EfM Mentors.

To learn more about EfM, watch this two minute video: https://vimeo.com/450619912

We opened with this prayer, by the Rev. Aaron Klinefelter of St. Jude’s Episcopal Church (Cupertino, California):

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right on Katysblog home). Images Copyright 2019-2020 by Katy Dickinson.

Updated 24 Sep 2020

Leave a comment

Filed under Church, Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews

Process for Online Video Services

Since 2014, my husband John Plocher has been running the Video Ministry for St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Saratoga, CA. What started out needing a few hours a week using spare equipment has grown vastly since the Covid-19 pandemic took over our lives this year. John now routinely spends 12 or more hours a week creating and editing videos of music and worship services using sophisticated software and hardware. (Some of which were paid for by a 2018 St. Andrew’s Opportunity Fund grant.) John has been mentoring Youth Group members for over a year to develop their technical skills and extend the Video Ministry. In the hope that recruiting and training even more helpers will reduce his own load, John has written these process documents.

Online Worship Services and Music

John has developed a chat and video best practices exchange group – contact me if you want to join. He publishes stand-alone videos of the classical and folk service music on  Saint Andrew’s Sings. Go there to hear “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” the “Navy Hymn,” a folk Taizé “Jesus Remember Me,” “Rest in the Lord,” “Hail the Day that Sees Him Rise,” “We’ll Meet Again,” and other favorites. Or, hear the music as part of the weekly worship service videos. (More in my blog post New Music for Quarantine Times.)

I have been helping John by reviewing videos during development, finding memes for the end, and providing photos for preludes and postludes:

John Plocher, St Andrews Video Ministry January 2020

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right on Katysblog home).

Images Copyright 2020 by Katy Dickinson.

Leave a comment

Filed under Church, News & Reviews

Congratulations on EfM Graduation, Joel Martinez!

EfM Education for Ministry seminar online 30 March2020EfM Class Meeting Online, April 2020

Since we could not honor Joel Martinez in-person while under COVID-19 quarantine, we celebrated online. Congratulations to Joel Martinez for his graduation after four years of study from Education for Ministry – so proud of him! In addition to taking the regular EfM program, Joel was my Co-Mentor for three years at Elmwood Jail. To do this work, he became an accredited EfM Mentor and volunteer for the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy. Joel took Year-1 at our home church (with me and my Co-Mentor, Karen LeBlanc), Year-2 and Year-3 in jail while serving as a volunteer chaplain with me as his Mentor, and Year-4 back at our home church (with Karen and me as Mentors).

2017 Bishop Mary, Peggy Bryan, Joel Martinez, Katy Dickinson at Elmwood Jail 2017 Elmwood Jail: Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Rev. Peggy Bryan, Joel and Katy

As his EfM Administrative Mentor, I would usually make this presentation in front of the whole congregation of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church but thanks to technology and my geek husband, John Plocher, we were able to celebrate together in a video segment during the regular weekly service. John even created this stand-alone video.

Contact me if you want to learn more about the EfM class that starts in September. More about EfM in the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real. Our 2019-2020 EfM class held its closing session last night but we are taking signups for the seminar that starts in September 2020. We will meet in person or online as appropriate. More about EfM:

Education for Ministry (EfM) is a program of the University of the South – School of Theology, a unique four-year distance learning certificate program in theological education based upon small-group study and practice. Since its founding in 1975, this international program has assisted more than 100,000 participants in discovering and nurturing their call to Christian service. EfM helps the faithful encounter the breadth and depth of the Christian tradition and bring it into conversation with their experiences of the world as they study, worship, and engage in theological reflection together.

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right on Katysblog home).

Images Copyright 2017 – 2020 by Katy Dickinson.

Leave a comment

Filed under Church, Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews

Moving Online with EfM

EfM Education for Ministry seminar online 20 April 2020

The weekly Education for Ministry (EfM) seminar I mentor with Karen LeBlanc shifted last month from in-person to online because of the coronavirus pandemic quarantine here in the Silicon Valley. I have been an accredited EfM mentor since 2011 and very much look forward to our weekly discussions and theological reflections. We usually meet at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Saratoga. This year, our class has two students in Year 1 (Hebrew Bible), two in Year 2 (New Testament), and one in Year 4 (Theology and Ethics). No one signed up to study Year 3 (Church History) this term. About EfM:

Education for Ministry (EfM) is a unique four-year distance learning certificate program in theological education based upon small-group study and practice. EfM is designed to prepare lay persons to live out by word and deed the promises made at baptism: to love God, to serve Christ, and to proclaim the Gospel. It is administered by The School of Theology Programs Center of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. More about EfM

Our annual movie night was yesterday, watching the remarkable film, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” It took some preparation but here was the process we used:

  • Make sure you have both Skype and Netflix working
  • Bring your own movie snacks!
  • Join the Skype call about 6:25 pm to be sure all is well
  • Have two devices available – one for Skype and the other for Netflix – logged in and plugged in
  • At about 6:30 pm, we will talk by Skype and then go on mute
  • Once everyone but me is on mute, I will count down so we start watching the film together on our second devices
  • Stay on mute but keep your Skype chat open so we can comment about the movie
  • After about an hour, I will announce on the chat that we will have a ten minute break and brief discussion
  • After the break, we will resume watching the movie
  • Discussion again after the movie

Other than at-home technical challenges – and remembering to stay on mute when watching (and to go off mute when talking) – movie night went well. Next week, we study the material for Week 31 of the 36 week curriculum:

Year 1:

  • Proverbs – Bible
  • Job – Bible
  • Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth) – Bible
  • The Hebrew Bible – by John J. Collins, chapter 24 – Proverbs
  • Collins chapter 25 – Job and Qoheleth

Year 2:

  • James – Bible
  • The New Testament – by Mark Allan Powell, chapter 25 – James

Year 4:

  • My Neighbor’s Faith – by Peace, Rose, Mobley,  Foreword, Introduction, Chapter 1 – Encountering the Neighbor

EfM Education for Ministry seminar online 30 March2020
EfM Education for Ministry seminar online 23 March2020

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right on Katysblog home).

Images Copyright 2020 by Katy Dickinson.

Leave a comment

Filed under Church, Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews

Christmas 2019

Matthew Katy John Jessica Paul Christmas 2019

May this blessed Christmas season bring you and your family joy! It has been a busy Christmas, starting even before I turned in my last (16 and 18 page) term papers at the Graduate Theological Union. So far, our adventures have included:

Reading group for Dickens Christmas Carol Dec 2019
train, railroad ornaments Christmas 2019
Santa Clara First Baptist Church Bethlehem Christmas 2019
Santa Clara First Baptist Church Bethlehem Christmas 2019
Tenzin at Islamic Networks Group lunch Christmas 2019
Paul Katy Sally at Chinatown Christmas 2019
Katy Dickinson with TechWomen US State Department certificate Christmas 2019
Jessica Paul Katy at Dickens Fair Christmas 2019
Christmas candle 2019
Jessica Matthew Katy John Paul Star Wars movie Christmas 2019
Paul D. Goodman with reclaimed hardwood cutting board Dec 2019
John at St Andrew's Episcopal Church Christmas Eve 2019
St Andrew's Episcopal Church Christmas Eve 2019
Katy John at Elmwood jail Christmas 2019
Matthew Katy John Jessica Paul Christmas 2019

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right).
Images Copyright 2019 by Katy Dickinson.

Leave a comment

Filed under Caboose Project and Other Trains, Church, Home & Family, Mentoring & Other Business, Mentoring Standard, News & Reviews

Mentor Accreditation, EfM, GTU


My second year of classes at at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley starts early next month. Before that, I need to finish registering six students for the Education for Ministry (EfM) seminar for which I am a Mentor on Mondays, September-June annually, hosted at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. I have been an Accredited Mentor for EfM since 2011, with about fifty students having taken the course with me. Accreditation is by University of the South – School of Theology, which sponsors the EfM extension program from Sewanee, Tennessee.

Education for Ministry (EfM) is a unique four-year distance learning certificate program in theological education based upon small-group study and practice. Since its founding in 1975, this international program has assisted more than 100,000 participants in discovering and nurturing their call to Christian service. EfM helps the faithful encounter the breadth and depth of the Christian tradition and bring it into conversation with their experiences of the world as they study, worship, and engage in theological reflection together. – From Education for Ministry (EfM)

A requirement of being an EfM Mentor is re-accreditation every 12 to 18 months. As the EfM Coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real since 2015, I am responsible for arranging mentor training, including my own. This month, six of us participated in the training, with an EfM Mentor Trainer coming from Boston and mentors from churches all over Central California: Los Osos, Salinas, Saratoga, Cupertino, and Mountain View. The Diocese hosts our training weekend at Sargent House, its elegant and historic headquarters in Salinas.

In addition to the Monday night EfM classes, I am also a Mentor for faith-based classes on Wednesday and Friday nights in two men’s dorms at Elmwood Jail. I used to present the EfM program at Elmwood but EfM’s nine-month cycle did not work well for the inmates, so in 2018 we shifted to the Transforming Literature of the Bible (TLB) materials that I revised to fit the jail setting. TLB can be offered in two three-month terms. My Co-Mentors are Karen LeBlanc, Joel Martinez, and Diane Lovelace, with my husband John Plocher as our backup.

Today, I registered at GTU. I was glad to sign up for classes that do not conflict with my own teaching / mentoring schedule. I am very much looking forward to taking:

  • Christian Theology & Natural Science
  • Archaeology of the Lands of the Bible
  • Research Methods

I forgot to take group pictures at this year’s EfM Mentor training, so these are of the 2018 mentor cohort.

Diocese El Camino Real Sargent House Salinas CA August 2018

EfM Mentor Training Salinas August 2018

Pictures Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson

Leave a comment

Filed under Church, Home & Family