This past Sunday, the confirmands in my home parish shared their “faith statements” to parents, mentors, and Vestry members. With twenty-three confirmands (all about to graduate from 8th grade), it was an interesting “listening session” to hear how those who have spent a year in preparing for confirmation shared what they believed – and what they did not believe. All appropriate for this developmentally “searching” phase of adolescent life. Lots of “I’m not sure of all this Bible stuff.” “I feel closest to God when …” “My favorite experience has been …” “Even though I am still questioning …”
Then this piece came across my screen this week. Tim Schenck, rector of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts and known as the creator of Lent Madness, posed a question on Twitter that one of his parish high school confirmands asked him: What difference does it all make?
As I introduced the group to the Confirmation Collaborative. Basically, anyone who is gathered to discuss best practices of confirmation as well as share stories and struggles about making this catechetical time a catalyst for ongoing faith formation in our congregations. One of our discussions centered around having mentors for confirmands. What does this entail? Who does the choosing? What do mentors actually do?
Gail Sheehy, the author who did pioneering work about the various passages of life, recommends some tasks to consider during the fifth decade of life. She said that some of the most important work is in having and being a mentor. Will Willimon writes in Making Disciples: Mentor’s Guide:
Several months ago I was asked to share some recollections of Dr. Amy Gearey Dyer for an article that was being written to be shared with the Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) community upon her retirement. (The article was published in the June Seminary Journal – when a link goes up, I’ll post it here.) What follows is what I responded with, finding it difficult to contain my thoughts in a brief paragraph.
In the summer of 1988 I was a parish educator enrolled in “Teaching in the Church,” a weeklong event at VTS led by Amy Gearey and George Kroupa at the Center for the Ministry of Teaching (CMT), housed in the Packard Laird building. It was the first event of many in which our paths would cross, each encounter further influencing my future vocation and deepening my passion for Christian formation. Continue reading Memories of a Mentor→