Saturday, September 15, 2018

Weaving a Life of Relationship and Experience
A review of Mentoring: Biblical, Theological, and Practical Perspectives
for the Englewood Review of Books
Edited by Dean K. Thompson and  D. Cameron Murchison
Foreward by Jill Duffield
Afterword by Martin Marty
Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2018

By Jennifer Burns Lewis
Every now and then one encounters a resource that provides a treasure trove of information and perspectives that enhances one’s ministry and life. Mentoring  is just such a resource. Educators, parents, seminary staff, field education supervisors, spiritual directors, coaches, denominational leaders and everyone called to nurture and encourage relationships with emerging Christian leaders and well as the emerging leaders themselves will find thoughtful reflections from multiple angles as they seek to mentor, understand the mentoring process, or assist those merging leaders in identifying great mentors.  
Editors Dean K. Thompson, president emeritus and professor of ministry emeritus at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and D. Cameron Murchison, dean of faculty emeritus and professor of ministry emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary, have compiled twenty-one essays from other recognized leaders in the church.  Distinguished mentors themselves, Thompson and Murchison offer a compendium of articles arranged in four parts, addressing biblical and theological perspectives on mentoring as well as a section devoted to diverse nations and international communities of mentoring, and a fourth section about mentoring to and across the generations. The diversity of perspectives and topics provides a rich anthology of information and possibility for this time.
Scholars Walter Brueggemann and David Bartlett lead with articles about mentoring in the Old  and New Testaments. Brueggemann begins with the statement that mentoring as an idea is a quite modern notion, but that “remembered experience that is mobilized as guidance for new circumstances”  is as old as social relationships that help one of the parties in the relationship to flourish. Tracing early narratives, he reviews the relationships of Jethro and Moses, Moses and Joshua and Eli and Samuel as examples of powerful mentoring. He then helps us journey through the prophetic and royal traditions to spot other instances of mentoring relationships. Bartlett’s article concentrates on Paul’s mentoring relationships and Jesus as an example of being “more than a mentor.” Both articles help provide a biblical framework for mentoring that invites the reader to consider the many examples of biblical models of mentoring as instruction, exhortation, and call to imitation.
Turning to theological perspectives on mentoring, four scholars offer some of the most practical insights on the gift and task of mentoring. Currie, Long, Miles and Rigby suggest that there are pastoral dimensions to mentoring, that the role of the preacher can be one of a mentor, that mentors have potential conflicts and ethical standards to uphold as they approach mentoring, and that feminist mentoring adds a dimension to mentoring that shifts the relationship from disseminating wisdom to evoking the skills and gifts inherent in the person being mentored. Rigby offers a perspective that bridges mentoring and coaching, so popular in recent years, and provides a foundation that points to a feminist perspective that is a rich and meaningful contribution to the work of mentoring.
Perhaps the greatest contribution this volume makes are the essays that point to unique and particular perspectives on mentoring African-American men and women, the history of mentoring in the Roman Catholic tradition, what it means to mentor and be mentored as Latin@ leaders, and as East Asians. Each essay provides insights and scholarship and experience that opens a window into diverse communities, with the reminder that “a good mentor provides guides and clues for the journey” but that each person will forge a unique path. That’s wisdom for all.
Mentoring concludes with a section on generational mentoring, including articles written by author pairs who offer a dialogical approach to mentoring youth, reflections on mentoring and being mentored in academia, and possibly the most dynamic article in the anthology, an article about cross-generational mentoring by Ted Wardlaw and Camille Cook Murray. In its authentic reflections, the final essay points out that adaptive mentoring is mutual, intentional and the living embodiment of what it means to be part of a great cloud of witnesses who mentor each other,  particularly in a world of rapid change and reforming.
This gem of a book concludes with a beautiful afterword by Martin Marty, who engages in a bit of beautiful reflection and mentoring in response to each author in the anthology. Throughout all of these essays together with Marty’s concluding remarks is an embrace of scripture as the binding thread, which is no surprise, given the Reformed background of nearly every one of the contributors. One of the contributors comments that sometimes were are mentors and we do not even know it. That’s a very good reason to have this book close at hand. Without a doubt, Mentoring is a book that provides its own sort of mentoring to those who are helping to shape the future of Christian leadership in authentic, challenging and faithful ways.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Friday, August 28, 2015

Think Organic

Here's a link to my review in The Englewood Review of Books of Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate by John J. Thompson:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hooray! It's a book launch!

It's a great day to celebrate! There's A Woman in the Pulpit: Christian Clergywomen Share Their Hard Days, Holy Moments and the Healing Power of Humor has just been released! The book is a project of RevGalBlogPals, an online community of clergywomen and others who support the ordination of women and it's edited by the incomparable Martha Spong, a United Church of Christ pastor from Pennsylvania who also serves as the Executive Director of RevGalBlog Pals. The essays are by members of the blogging community that was the genesis of the group back in 2005. The stories in the book are transparent tales of the joys and the hurdles of ministry. Some of the stories reflect upon the unique challenges clergywomen face; others are about poignant or celebrative times in the lives of individuals and their faith communities. I found my way to RevGalBlogPals in 2009, when I began blogging, and while I blog less frequently these days, I am very actively involved in the Facebook community that has grown up around RevGalBlogPals and has more than 2500 members! I serve as one of the "matriarchs" for a Thursday column on the RevGalBlogPals' website called "Ask the Matriarch", where clergy and others can pose ministry questions that a team of clergywomen who have been ordained for a decade or more will respond. It's a good fit for this old shoe... I also serve on the Admin Team for the Facebook Group, which is just a pleasure. I'm very honored to have an essay included about a very special baptism, once upon a time. What a gift the community of RevGalBlogPals is to those who participate in it. We've heard that it's been a godsend to some at challenging moments, professionally and personally. I can remember the loneliness of ministry in some isolated places... What a gift the new book is to those who will read it in any of its forms. It's available in regular and e-book form. There's something for everybody in There's a Woman in the Pulpit. The book is published by Skylight Press. You can read more about it or purchase it here. It's also available on Amazon and potentially from your local bookseller. I hope you'll order it and read it and tell me what you think!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Day 19:NaBloPoMo- Blog Fail

I tried to blog every day in November, but life happened, including a family member hospitalized, an unexpected funeral, the router at the manse is on the blink, and I am trying, trying, trying to keep my head above water. I did get to the gym a lot. There's that.
I've accomplished a lot of good stuff since last Friday. But it wasn't National Write a Sermon month, or National Bake Cookies Month or National Visit Lots of People in the Hospital Month. I serendipitously started my Christmas shopping, found amazing yarn for 75% off, and spent a whole Saturday with the good folks of the Presbytery of Chicago. I've cooked some pretty fantastic meals, too. I've thought a lot about our presbytery's desire to look ahead with hope and the resolve to do some things differently. We got very bogged down with the title of "community organizer" for a new staff position, the job description for which was overwhelmingly approved. The title bothered some and excited others. For that exact reason, I was intrigued by the title, because it engaged folks in immediate discussion. Pretty brilliant. As an assembly, we granted the search committee permission to choose the title for the position. I can't wait to see what they decide. So, I've failed at writing a bog post every day for a month, but what I've learned is that having the right tools is important. I think I could have maintained a nineteen day streak if the computer at home were behaving. I'm shaking the dust off that failure nonsense. I didn't meet the challenge, but I blogged consistently for the first half of the month, which is better than I've done in a long time. That's not failure. And I have beautiful new additions to my yarn stash. That's never a fail.

Friday, November 14, 2014

NaBloPoMo- Day 14: Blessings and Thankful Hearts

Our women's group met for lunch yesterday and the soups were phenomenal. The topic for the afternoon was gratitude and one of our parish associates gave the presentation, which was thoughtful and filled with poetry. I was asked to give the blessing. Here's what I shared: Food for Thought-- “A woman once told me that she did not feel the need to reach out to those around her because she prayed every day. Surely, this was enough. But a prayer is about our relationship to God; a blessing is about our relationship to the spark of God in one another. God may not need our attention as badly as the person next to us on the bus or behind us in line in the supermarket. Everyone in the world matters, and so do their blessings. When we bless others, we offer them refuge from an indifferent world. “ (Rachel Naomi Remen)
We Bless Each Other-- Turn to a person next to you and offer a blessing. “May God bless you today with a grateful heart” might be one. Another option: “May God, who loves you, bless you to love others this day.”
Our Table Blessing-- Gracious God, Source of all Blessings, You have been extravagant in your generosity. You have planted within us the seeds of hope. You have nurtured within us the saplings of faith. You have harvested the fruits of your creation and spread before us the feast of all possibility. Words cannot express our thanks with extravagant generosity. May we offer our lives to you in acts of compassion for one another. May we walk gently upon the earth, ever mindful of our gifts of breath, of love, of life itself. Amen. (Anne G. Cohen) Images from here and here and here.