Saturday, August 29, 2009

Holothuroidea & Diakonia

by Nina

Raise your hand if you wanted to be a marine biologist at some point in your life.

Okay, thanks for participating in that little exercise. Having spent many years working with young people and having once been a young person - I am well aware of the popularity of Marine Biologist as the answer to What do you want to be when you grow up? While that is an enticing and interesting career - I don't know anyone who is actually a marine biologist (perhaps because I live in the midwest). Do you know any? It seems that at some point people realize they live in South Dakota and are missing out on the whole marine part, or that marine biology is still biology, or that they don't really know what a marine biologist does because they've never actually met one.

It might seem like a stretch, but that is sort of how I've felt about diaconal ministry.
(For my post on what a diaconal minister is see this blog). It sounds fascinating and wonderful. It seems like who I am and how God is calling me to serve. It sounds like what I want to be when I grow up. But the problem for me has been that I never actually knew a diaconal minister...until now.

On my travels this summer I met Sandra. Sandra is a diaconal minister in Mississippi. She is officially the first diaconal minister I have ever met. Granted, many serve in service outside the church and I know many seminarians and Luther alumni who are in the candidacy process to become diaconal ministers. But this was my first encounter with a diaconal minister. I've actually had considerably more encounters with bishops than diaconal ministers in my time in church leadership.

It was encouraging, affirming, and exciting to hear about the passion Sandra unleashes on disaster relief in Mississippi, her journey through the candidacy process, and her story of leaving one seminary for another that was more open and understanding of the differences between ordained and diaconal rosters. It was great to hear about the network of diaconal ministers she is connected to and how she is involved in worship leadership and preaching in a congregation.

Suddenly, I don't feel so alone, or crazy, or misled for feeling magnetically drawn to diaconal ministry. It seems much more like answering
What do you want to be when you grow up? with Teacher than Marine Biologist.


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