“I love my vocational mentor.” That sentiment expressed by one student was multiplied many times when the Calvin Theological Seminary community gathered to honor pastors and staff ministers who served as vocational mentors to seminary students for up to three years.
This spring marked the first graduates of the seminary’s three-year-old Formation for Ministry (FFM) program, which utilizes mentors to help students bridge the gap between the church and the seminary.
In a special chapel service, senior seminarian Meg Jenista led prayers of thanksgiving and intercession for the mentors and their students. Jenista’s classmate, Jay Knochenhauer, delivered a message based on Philippians 4:8-9. He expressed deep gratitude to vocational mentors by naming the “true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable things” that they shared with their mentees.
He commended them for following in the footsteps of the apostle Paul by taking the risk of asking mentees to put into practice the Christ-like behaviors their mentors were able to model by the grace of God.
Knochenhauer said he was grateful for the opportunity to speak on behalf of his peers. “I love my vocational mentor, Ed Tamminga,” he said. “We meet together every two weeks.
“We went through the official tasks we were supposed to do, but a lot of our time was spent with him asking me how things were going and what I was studying, and me asking him how he trained elders, or whatever questions I had on my mind.”
In exit interviews, several graduating seminarians said that spending time with their vocational mentors was the best part of FFM. They prized their mentors’ experiences and wisdom, as well as their ability to model effective ministry, extend encouragement, and provide pastoral care.
The Formation for Ministry program at CTS seeks to make every part of the seminary experience form students for ministry, including courses, local church involvement, internships, FFM small groups, and regular mentoring.
In the 2007-08 school year, 113 pastors and ministry staff served as mentors to 127 M.Div. students and 22 M.A. students.
About the Author
Pat Zandstra is the formation for ministry specialist at Calvin Theological Seminary.