Tag Archives: Education for Ministry

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

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Jail Classes Thriving

The two classes I mentor at Elmwood Jail are thriving. The Education for Ministry (EfM) class has been going since 2015, and the Transforming Literature of the Bible (TLB) class started this year. Both will be recruiting new inmate students this month for the next sessions.

The Rev. Canon William Barnwell created TLB in the early 1980s at the University of New Orleans, and continued its development for many years at National Cathedral. Between May and August 2018, in consultation with Canon William, I revised the 36 sessions in the Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament, kept some of the original literature, and added more diverse selections appropriate to jail ministry in California. The literary selections are included to provide a diverse context in which to understand some of the major themes in the Bible passages under consideration. In May, I started the first TLB Hebrew Bible pilot class in a minimum security men’s dorm. This TLB program is in addition to the EfM program also presented weekly, in a medium security dorm at Elmwood.

We finished the first full (two term) TLB pilot class in October – graduating our first students. The overall rating for the class is 93% Excellent, with 93% of students reporting that they would Definitely recommend the class to others.  One student who just graduated turned down an early release date so that he could finish the class. Thirteen signed up for the third TLB term that started in October.

I am grateful to my Co-Mentors Diane Lovelace and Joel Martinez, and my husband, John Plocher (with the Rev. Peggy Bryan as backup). This program is supported by the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy  (CIC), St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, and the University of the South – School of Theology, EfM Program. Thanks to Collette Lynner of CIC for supporting TLB production.

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Photos Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson

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The Way of Love – in Jail

Joel Martinez and I are Education for Ministry (EfM) Co-Mentors for a weekly class at Elmwood Jail in Milpitas, California.  We were recently part of a class to renew our mentor accreditation in the University of the South – School of Theology‘s EfM program.  During the training, Joel and I discussed how we could extend the theological reflections and discussions with the jail inmates.  We decided to use the structure of “The Way of Love – Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life” – a new program of the Episcopal Church, by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Canon Stephanie Spellers.

Joel reviewed the published material and prepared a handout about The Way of Love.  I edited the handout and added more Bible quotes and passages from the Book of Common Prayer.  We distributed the handout as homework to the EfM seminar on 15 August 2018.  With permission of the inmates, Below is some of what they said in class 22 August 2018 about what they found valuable and world continue to work on in their lives. This EfM program is supported by the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.

More: Joel’s blog on 26 August 2018, discussing The Way of Love with St.Andrew’s Youth.

TURN

Meditating on issues, problems, and God – alone, without distractions when possible EfM, having a solo-cell, quiet time Pay it forward, doing nice things for others without expectation of reimbursement
Praying Spiritual discussions, joining EfM Meeting with spiritual advisor, EfM, prayers at night
Will continue to work with priest, other EfM students and mentors Pray at night and daytime – for other people and for my family .

LEARN

Compare scripture stories and verses to life experiences See an action that reflects what God wants us to do – doing the right thing for the right reason. Know that I am doing OK in this situation Reading scripture in a more modern context – seeing Jesus in the world today – “new age Jesus” – even among non-Christians
Imagining scripture scenarios inspires – look for wording to break down meaning – how it is presented Share with EfM classmates, cellie, my Mom Referring to prior Bible passages that were meaningful when I read them before

PRAY

Remember to pray at meals and certain times of the day – thank God throughout the day A single cell helps – quiet time Use the “Catholic Prayers” book – favorite prayers tied to times of day – grace at meals – say guardian angel prayer when I wake up
Grace before meals, thanks throughout the day Read “Daily Bread” every morning, pray with EfM class Devotions before dinner

WORSHIP

Saturday chapel, Sunday mass, read the Bible after church, read biographies of saints EfM weekly – being part of the class Only regular service in the jail dorm is Catholic, go to Episcopal service when available

BLESS

Talk about God a lot – show my faith through kindness and love, smiling, laughing Give people hope – spin negative to positive Opportunities to advise, counsel, bless, help feed when I can, give wisdom and encouragement – do what I can
Can try to advise but can’t always convince, bless the hungry and those truly in need, choose to help based on real need – try to be smart and not be taken advantage of Never say no – follow the example of St. Francis – learning when to set barriers .

GO

Programs  help – like RRR (Re-educate, Recovery, Re-entry), and MRT (Moral Recognition Therapy), and Enneagram, and EfM Outside programs for recovery – letters and certificates help to get in EfM, thanking God during the court process, talking with other inmates when in transit
Sometimes have good conversations in the holding tanks Coach and guide new inmates – scared people – reassure them .

REST

Meditation, working out, stretching Exercise, sleep, daydream Stopped being a dorm Trustee so could get more sleep
Rest in God’s grace – know he is sufficient – pray for help to get through this (not to get out of it) Meditation – close my eyes and breathe – meditate lying down: pull energy through body into the world Use “Be still and know that I am God” prayer for meditation, to quiet my mind – still trying

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The Way of Love image is from The Episcopal Church, 2018.

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Starting Book Two

Last month, I finished revising and printing/binding 256 pages (in 17 sessions of Book One – “The Hebrew Bible“) for the pilot version of the new “The Transforming Literature of the Bible” (TLB) course. Today, I finished revising 140 pages in the first 9 sessions (out of 19) of TLB Book Two (“The New Testament“).  Production starts tomorrow.  I am collaborating on the revision of TLB with the Rev. Canon William H. Barnwell who wrote the original course. In addition to revising Canon William’s 2008 course materials, I am running a pilot version of the class itself at Elmwood Jail (Milpitas, California). I am grateful to my Co-Mentors Diane Lovelace, and my husband, John Plocher (with the Rev. Peggy Bryan as backup). This program is supported by the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy  (CIC) and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.  Thanks to Collette Lynner of CIC for supporting TLB production.

Six students are finishing the 17 sessions in Book One this Friday.  We start studying Book Two next week.  The inmates are very enthusiastic, doing their extensive homework reading and participating energetically in in-class discussions and reflections.  There is a waiting list of inmates from two dorms to join us.

Literary selections are included in TLB to provide a diverse context in which to understand some of the major themes in the Bible passages under consideration.  In addition to readings in the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible), the students of Book One have also read:

  1. “The Welcome Table” story by Alice Walker (1973)
  2. “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1955)
  3. “My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears” poem by Mohja Kahf (2003)
  4. “The Son from America” story by Isaac Bashevis Singer (1973)
  5. “The Big Red Apples” story by Zitkála-Šá  aka Red Bird (1900)
  6. “My Last Duchess” poem by Robert Browning (1842)
  7. “I Have a Dream” speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King (1963)
  8. O Pioneers! excerpt by Willa Cather (1913)
  9. “The Family of Little Feet” story by Sandra Cisneros (1984)
  10. The Gangster We Are All Looking For excerpt by Lê Thị Diễm Thúy (2003)

The Book Two (New Testament) students will read these literary selections in Part One “A Journey With Mark“:

  1. “At the Arraignment” poem by Debra Spencer (2004)
  2. “A Private Experience” story excerpt by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2009)
  3. “Sonnet XXVII” by William Shakespeare (1609)
  4. “Under the Poplars” poem by César Vallejo (1919)

One of the TLB students wants me to start another Education for Ministry (EfM) seminar in their dorm after I finish Books One and Two of TLB. Joel Martinez and I are Co-Mentors for a weekly EfM seminar which started in 2015 in another dorm where inmates tend to stay inside longer. I designed TLB to be finished in 5 months but EfM takes four 9-month terms to complete. I told him that if he can find ten other students who will be there for long enough, I will start another EfM class.

Other than my ongoing project as the Mentor for the Shakespeare Reading Group, TLB is one of the few times since I was graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in English (with a specialty in Shakespeare) that my knowledge and passion for literature has been of such use.  I am very much enjoying reviewing potential TLB selections.  Thanks to my daughter Jessica Dickinson Goodman for her advice on some of the selections, and to John for reviewing my drafts.

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Image Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson.

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Summary: General Convention GC79

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry with Episcopal General Convention at Hutto Detention Center outside Austin TX 8 July 2018

Written after the final legislative day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church “GC79” (in Austin, Texas).  I was with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California).  In my first GC79 blog, I gave a list of the big topics for discussion at this General Convention.  Here is that same list, linked to an Episcopal News Service article about what happened:

  1. Marriage Equality: approved a historic resolution giving all Episcopalians the ability to be married by their priests in their home churches
  2. Revising the Book of Common Prayer: adopted a resolution that allows all congregations in the Episcopal Church to use optional, expansive-language versions of three Rite II Eucharistic prayers in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer
  3. The Episcopal Church and the #MeToo movement: voices and stories of women played a significant role, from a liturgy where bishops offered laments and confession for the church’s role in sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse, to passing a resolution so that deputies can to bring babies on the floor of the House of Deputies to feed them
  4. A salary for the president of the House of Deputies: agreed to a plan to pay the president of the House of Deputies for the work of the office
  5. Following up on the church’s three priorities: evangelism, racial reconciliation and justice and care of creation
  6. Formulating the 2019-2021 triennial budget: accepted $134 million three-year spending plan
  7. Middle East peace: of 15 resolutions on Israel-Palestine, only six passed both houses, on topics including Palestinian children, the status of Jerusalem, the disproportionate use of lethal force on both sides, and ways the Episcopal Church can press for peace through its investment decisions

Other GC79 big topics and actions of interest:

Part of General Convention is spending casual time with the remarkable people who attend – and visiting Exhibit Hall booths of programs and institutions and vendors. I bought so many books I had to ship them home in a separate box – which has not yet arrived. Pictures below are of some of the other giveaways and publications I collected. On my flight home from Texas to California, I spotted Dr. Catherine Meeks of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing who gave a remarkable talk at GC79. The Rev. Rob Fisher of our Deputation reported that he spent his flight home reading The Agile Church, which he bought at the GC79 Exhibit Hall.

These blog posts and other GC79 news are on the Diocese of El Camino Real website. Here is my complete set from GC79 as the official diocesan  blogger:

On 16 July 2018, Episcopal News Service published a summary of GC79.

Note that the GC79 Virtual Binder will only be available online through Labor Day (3 September 2018).

El Camino Real Deputation dinner GC79, Rob Keim picture 13 July 2018

GC79 stuff to bring home 13 July 2018

GC79 stuff to bring home 13 July 2018

Dr. Catherine Meeks flight home from GC79, 13 July 2018

The Agile Church book by Dwight Zscheile, Rob Fisher picture 14 July 2018

Episcopal General Convention 4 July 2018

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Images Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson.

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Day 7, General Convention

GC79 House of Deputies sign 10 July 2018

This was the sixth legislative session day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church “GC79” (in Austin, Texas).  I am with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California).

Today very early, I switched badges back with Celeste Ventura (so I became an Alternate again and she has her Delegate badge) and then in the afternoon switched badges with Tim Gee (so he became an Alternate and I became a Delegate).  Tim and I will switch back early tomorrow. There are only two short windows of time each day when such switches can be made.

The morning joint session between the House of Deputies and House of Bishops was a TEConversation on the care of creation, with interesting speakers and music and discussion. The El Camino Real Deputation met again on the Alternates side of the curtain so that all could participate. Particularly notable among the presenters was Bernadette Demientieff of the Gwich’in Nation, Fort Yukon, Alaska, who said: “Our children deserve to see creation as it was in the beginning, not just when we are done with it.”

After several failed attempts to make progress, a whole set of elections had to be postponed to tomorrow so that the Virtual Binder could be updated.  This was apparently not because of iPad software or hardware problems (of which there have been few) but because the candidate biographies were not submitted in time.  The Virtual Binder system has drastically reduced the amount of paper used by GC79 – a very welcome change!

While the House of Deputies was passing important resolutions on inclusive language and support for transgender/non-binary church members, the House of Bishops made history by approving reunification with the Church of Cuba and seating Bishop Griselda Delgado Del Carpio of Cuba.  She was welcomed by our Bishop Mary (and became the 8th diocesan female Bishop).

For dinner, I attended the University of the South barbecue and had a very interesting discussion with the most senior Education for Ministry online mentor.   She and I plan to keep in touch about our work with EfM!

These blog posts and other GC79 news are posted on the Diocese of El Camino Real website.

Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves GC79 on 10 July 2018

GC79 coffee line in Austin 10 July 2018

Bernadette Demientieff of Gwich’in Nation, Fort Yukon, Alaska, GC79 on 10 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese El Camino Real House of Deputies GC79 on 10 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese El Camino Real House of Deputies GC79 on 10 July 2018

Fredrica Harris Thompsett GC79 on 10 July 2018

GC79 iPad Virtual Binder with Flat Jesus 11 July 2018

Bishop Marc Andrus Evening worship service GC79, on 10 July 2018

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Day 5, General Convention

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry with Episcopal General Convention at ICE Hutto Detention Center outside Austin Texas, 8 July 2018

This was the fourth legislative session day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church “GC79” (in Austin, Texas).  I am with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California).

This morning started with witness and protest against gun violence (at Brush Square Park in downtown Austin) and for immigration reform (outside the Hutto Detention Facility in rural Texas). More than 1,000 Episcopalians were transported for 40 minutes in 19 buses to the town of Taylor outside of Austin.  We stood in the hot sun to sing to and pray for hundreds of detained women immigrants.  We sang “Here I am, Lord” and “We Shall Overcome” and “Amazing Grace” and other hymns in English and Spanish, followed by inspiring preaching and prayers.  Most of the Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation participated.

Some in the crowd could hear the women inside the detention center pounding the walls to communicate.  After we returned to Austin, a Tweet was posted by @Grassroots_News:

“A woman called from Hutto after today’s prayer and told us they were glued to the windows until the last bus left the detention center. Women inside were crying, saying they knew they weren’t alone after seeing so many people there. Thank you”

In the afternoon GC79 legislative session of the House of Deputies, we voted for candidates for a variety of GC offices, then started the discussion of B012 – Marriage Rites for the Whole Church. The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings (who was re-elected today as President of the House of Deputies for the third and final time) told the clergy and lay Deputies from 110 diocese that although there were 443 resolutions, 417 of them are incomplete. So, the work load ahead is not as dire as we feared.  A regular source of comments and entertainment has been provided by the House of Deputies pigeons who have their own Twitter site: @gc79pigeon

We ended a long day with dinner for the Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation and friends at the Moonshine Grill.  The GC79 discussion on Marriage Rites continues tomorrow morning.

These blog posts and other GC79 news are posted on the Diocese of El Camino Real website.
Episcopal General Convention at Hutto Detention Center outside Austin TX 8 July 2018

Dr. Joshua D. Booher, Katy Dickinson, Karen Meridith of Education for Ministry EfM at GC79 on 8 July 2018

Katy Dickinson GC79 badge 8 July 2018

Episcopal General Convention House of Deputies pigeon 8 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real Delegation GC79 Dinner 8 July 2018

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