Experiencing my Diaconal Ministry Formation Event (J-term 2012)

Joyous New Year! I am currently in Gettysburg, PA at Lutheran Theological Seminary attending the 2012 Diaconal Ministry Formation Event (or DMFE). After being here for a week I am just now beginning to be able to articulate how this experience is indeed forming me. However, I am only beginning to be able to do that so please be patient with me throughout the next several blog posts. 🙂

Our free time is limited here, so I am not sure how many more posts I will get written before returning home next week, but I will try to do at least a couple more — one general update and at least one starting my evaluation of this experience as it will be reflected in the paper I write in order to get academic credit for this event as a 3 credit course. The paper must answer several questions, and I have decided to share my initial response to those questions here on my blog (my first draft so to speak). I will label the posts accordingly in case you don’t find them of interest (or if very much do find them interesting, which I hope many of you will as it should give you perspective on our preparation for ministry).

When I saw that the last post I published was on Spiritual Practices I smiled because we are continuing to explore additional spiritual practices while here at DMFE. There is most certainly a renewal happening in our wider church regarding spiritual practices (Thanks be to God!), and I am grateful to be a part of it.

Our days here have a rhythm to them as we start and end our day with worship in the beautiful chapel here at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg (8 a.m. and 8 p.m. respectfully), and between those hours we have a morning and afternoon block of “classes” (mainly lectures this past week, but that will vary a bit going forward), small group time to explore and process, and of course lunch and dinner. Additionally we also have some free time each afternoon in order to do the things we need to do to take care of ourselves (exercise, call home, etc.), and also to have time to do things such as prepare for worship when it is our turn to plan services.

We are also encouraged to spend time simply walking around the community — part of what makes this place sacred is what happened here — Seminary Ridge is a part of where the battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War took place. I spent some time Sat. morning (or day off) to explore and take pictures. I also simply walked and prayed, prayed and walked. There is still so much more for me to read, see, and learn (in multiple ways). For those now curious, here is one of many links that explore the Gettysburg battle and Seminary Ridge: http://www.brotherswar.com/Gettysburg-1f.htm

Today, Sunday January 15, we return together as a group for more small group time, lecture on liturgical practices, pizza (including Gluten Free) and worship. But first I need to go do laundry and a few other chores. 🙂

In brief closing I am so thankful to be a part of this event. It is indeed forming me. I feel my called to serve affirmed, and I feel a much stronger sense of call specifically to the church. I am beginning to understand the importance of call in terms of ministry (verus merely “doing the work”) and I feel a sense of community with other Diaconal Ministers within the ELCA (and those of us in the candidacy process) as well as the wider community of the church as we support each other and our ministries.

Love and belief —