Faith Formation Leaders To Be Mentors

12/6/2016
By Karen Ziel

 "Where would any of us be were it not for the mentors who came along and, at just the right moment, blew on the embers of our being-in-that-place, bringing visions to light, thoughts into focus and frustrations into opportunities?
 
There are, of course, formal and informal mentors. Who among us has not picked up a 'tid-bit' here or there, without the giver even knowing the gratitude that we, the receiver feel? Formal mentors, though, carry us through an on going, developing, growth-focused (ours) developmental journey towards increased excellence, not only in our craft, but also in our being human.  God bless the mentors - the unsung heroes!"
 
This testimony to the power of mentors is just one of many reasons the Rev. Dr. Claire Bamberg of the Center for Progressive Renewal was chosen to lead the recent training opportunity for faith formation leaders to become mentors for leaders seeking to develop their skills and capacities.  We are pleased to announce these leaders are available to guide and accompany local church practitioners for this vital ministry.
 
Dawne Quinn at a Faith Formation event in 2014
This initiative, fostered by a team of seasoned leaders with passion for the work of shaping faith, gathered with Karen Ziel, Minister of Faith Formation and Leadership to imagine new ways to support the ministry of faith formation within local churches served by the CT Conference.  During their extended time together, the group envisioned numerous benefits of such an initiative to develop leaders.  Now, the four members of this first cohort have completed their formal training and each is eager to be useful. Every one has a demonstrated passion for the teaching ministry of the church, love for their God and a desire to serve the Body of Christ, with the depth of all they have been blessed to experience, and in gratitude for all that they have.
 
Each of the two training sessions began with a candle lighting and naming a particular response to a refection question. "As you light your candle, please offer the name of a mentor who has made a profound and positive difference in your life?" The answers, of course, set the context for the desire to learn how to offer that to others.

The 10 hours of training these mentors received over a two-day period included honing communication skills, problem solving, and conflict transformation with the Dr. Bamberg.  The goal being to equip these guides not only to share their knowledge of 21st century faith formation but to offer a manner of accompaniment not possible with one's supervisor.  Dr. Bamberg continued, "What a blessing to be able to support and empower these servants of the church towards 'coming into in to their own' as they acquired the skill sets and self-confidence to take their ministry to the next level, however they might define it. The Connecticut Conference of the UCC is both blessed and a blessing to those served by this program. Kudos to Karen Ziel, a deeply thoughtful church leader in her own right."
 
We are proud to announce the mentors in this first cohort.
 
Ms. Caroline Ainsworth, Commissioned Minister for Youth at The Congregational Church of New Canaan.  Caroline is a "big fan of the compliment sandwich-bookending constructive and clear feedback with supportive and affirming feedback."
 
Ms. Sarah LeGeyt, the former Director of Christian Education and Youth at First Congregational Church of Canton Center and trained Godly Play instructor. Sarah is comfortable in many settings of the church and "committed to helping others be strong Faith Formation leaders in the 21st century church."
 
Ms. Julia Manners, Commissioned Minister of Faith Formation for the First Congregational Church of Westbrook. Julia or Jill as she is sometimes known, was a member of the team that surfaced and supported the vision of this work. "My leadership style focuses on recognizing the gifts, talents and interests …then resourcing, empowering and walking alongside another."
 
Ms. Dawne Quinn, Commissioned Minister of Faith Formation at the First Church of Christ of West Hartford, was also a member of the visioning team and subsequently a member of the task group to guide this initiative.  Dawne would describe her leadership style as, "caring, respectful and collaborative."
 
For more information about Mentoring Leaders for Faith Formation or to determine if you would benefit from a mentor, visit our website or speak with Karen Ziel, Minister of Faith Formation and Leadership for the CT Conference UCC.