Tag Archives: Education for Ministry

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

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Images Copyright 2020 by Katy Dickinson.

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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.

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Images Copyright 2017 – 2020 by Katy Dickinson.

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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

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Images Copyright 2020 by Katy Dickinson.

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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

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Images Copyright 2019 by Katy Dickinson.

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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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