J-term 2016 Through the Words of the Students

Since 2006 the Deaconess Community has partnered with Luther Seminary and Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary to offer “Diaconal Ministry: History, Formation and Spirituality” tuition free to all interested in the course.  The course is not only offered to Deaconess Community candidates, but is also a place for those discerning a call to Word and Service Ministry, Word and Sacrament candidates, pastors, synod staff and all those interested in gathering together for a week immersed in community learning about diaconal ministry, dwelling in personal and communal spirituality, and discern in a safe space.

This year, during the week of January 4, 19 students, representing 6 seminaries, 2 Countries, 4 denominations, and including synod staff, candidates for both Word and Sacrament and Word and Service ministry, and those discerning a call to rostered leadership gathered together with Professors Dr. Dirk Lange (Luther Seminary) and Dr. Susan McArver (Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary), and Sr. Krista Anderson, Sr. LaDonna Olson, and Sr. Val Sander who served as the “Sisters in Residence”.

Here is what a few of the students said about the course and our week together:

“Quiet, Calm, Rest, Engagement:  that is how I would sum up our time together at J-Term.  It was a joy to share with Sisters and others; learning with and from each other.  The kind guidance and support of our Deaconesses enveloped me in a gentle space.  Dr. Lange and Dr. McArver were part of the community, offering instruction and guidance.  Quiet walks in the wood and snowball fights only added to the joy of this week.” (Julie, Discerning a Call to Diaconal Ministry)

 “The course on Diaconal Ministry: History, Formation and Spirituality was a wonderful experience of learning, community and discernment. Professors Dirk Lange and Susan McArver led us on a journey that both told the historical story of the diaconate from the time of Jesus until now, but also had us explore our own sense of spirituality, calling and leadership role within the church and world around us. I appreciated the hospitality of the ELCA/ELCIC Deaconesses who spent the week with us and offered a welcoming presence and listening ear.” (Pr. Heather, Synod Staff)  

Before I attended the Diaconal Ministry, History and Formation J-Term class, I was praying for clarity, guidance, and direction for where God was leading me after my completion of my undergraduate degree.  The combination of the academic study, chapel services, spiritual direction, fellowship, and the solitude provided me with answered prayers.  I have great peace knowing that the ELCA Deaconess Community and members of the wider church will continue my journey with me. (Dawn)

The week was a blessing in many ways for me.  From the moment I stepped into the airport shuttle to travel to the retreat center with two of my classmates and started hearing their stories, I knew that this was where I needed to be in my discernment process and that I would be in the company of some wonderful people who were also going through their discernment process. The class was interesting and informative, the people I met were wonderful, the retreat center was great and in a beautiful location, and whole experience was inspirational!  I am very grateful to the Deaconess community for making this experience possible and for their guidance and support during this week, and I am especially grateful to God for leading me to the Deaconess community! (Karen)

The 2017 Diaconal Ministry: History, Formation, and Spirituality onsite component will be held and Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center in Carefree, Arizona January 16-20, 2017 (the online component will begin one week prior). More information will be available in late summer. For questions about the course please contact Sr. Krista Anderson (krista.anderson@elca.org).