Mentoring for Ministry Series Offers Conversation and Community

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Professor Jennings spoke to students on Feb. 22.“Never forget that you are a human being first. The most important work you will do in ministry is display your humanity.”

At a recent Mentoring for Ministry’s “Conversations With…” brown-bag lunch, Willie Jennings, associate professor of theology and Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School, offered these words of advice and more to students preparing for ministry.

Organized by the Office of Student Life, the “Conversations With…” series gives Divinity School students a chance to meet faculty, staff, community leaders, and pastors on an informal basis, learn how they chose their careers, and ask questions.

“The idea is for students to get to know faculty, staff, and community leaders,” said Donna Banks, director of student life. “As they build these relationships, they may find someone who would make a great mentor as they discern their own spiritual path.”

Since the Wednesday brown-bag lunch series started this semester, students have also met with Divinity School professor Ellen Davis, chaplain Sally Bates, and  McKennon Shea, director of admissions. Future events will include recent graduates who lead new faith communities, and Divinity School professors Laceye Warner, Douglas Campbell, and Mary McClintock Fulkerson.

“It’s nice to have a different forum where you can ask what you want and glean their wisdom and experience that way,” said first-year M.Div. student Michael Weiglein, adding that he appreciated  seeing a different side to his professors. “You can see who a person is behind their teaching persona.”

"Students want every opportunity to interact with faculty, and for some the more formal setting of a classroom may be a little intimidating,” said Banks. “Professors may appear to be unapproachable when that’s not the case. We’re trying to bridge that gap and create additional spaces for interaction, conversation, and community.”