Reflections from a Diaconal Coach

Featured Photo: JoLyn attending the Annual Coaches Gathering at the CRCNA’s Burlington office in January, 2019.

JoLyn Bolderheij worked as a Diaconal Coach in Classis Alberta South/Saskatchewan in the greater Calgary area. Last year she ‘retired’ from this position. Here is what she shared about her time as a Diaconal Coach with Diaconal Ministries Canada.

Working as a Diaconal Coach with the Calgary and High River diaconates over the past three years has been such a blessing. I came into this role with a background in cancer and palliative care nursing, as well as many years working as a deacon at River Park Church, where I was involved in refugee settlement, benevolence, visitation, as well as serving as chairperson for several terms. I learned that serving as a deacon was one of the best ways to see God at work in our churches and communities. 

During my time as a deacon, I got to know Rachel Vroege, Diaconal Ministries’ Regional Ministry Developer for Western Canada, as she provided support and training for our diaconate. As we went through the process of developing a Benevolence Policy, I became acquainted with the wealth of resources that Diaconal Ministries had available to help equip deacons to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their churches and communities. When I was approached to take on the role of a Diaconal Coach, I was excited to support and equip other deacons as they lived out their calling and led their congregations in works of service.

The best part of serving as a Coach was the opportunity to sit down with local diaconates and listen to their stories about the work they were doing – along with their ministry challenges, successes and blessings. These discussions allowed me to connect deacons to the excellent resources that are available through Diaconal Ministries, whether that be in the areas of stewardship, benevolence, justice, leadership development or community engagement. The arrival of COVID-19 made the work of deacons much more challenging, but it was inspiring to meet with the deacons of Calgary and Southern Alberta on Zoom to share stories about how they were creatively finding ways to connect with and support their church members, as well as individuals and families in their communities. 

Another wonderful aspect of serving as a Diaconal Coach was the support and training that I received from my colleagues at Diaconal Ministries. I became part of a community of caring and inspiring individuals who had a passion for following our Lord’s command “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8). 

I am regretfully leaving my role as a Diaconal Coach due to health and family concerns. I am so thankful for the many deacons and colleagues I have gotten to know during the past three years and for all we have learned together about our calling as deacons. I would encourage diaconates across Canada to access the amazing support and resources available through Diaconal Ministries as they work together doing God’s work in our churches and communities. 

JoLyn will be greatly missed as a Coach! On top of her skills as a coach and mentor, she is also a talented photographer and her work was featured on the cover of our Annual Report this year!

Below are some of the kind words shared by other Diaconal Ministries’ staff:

We will miss JoLyn as a coach because of her beautiful and kind personality. JoLyn had great empathy for others and had a heart for supporting others: refugees and those in need of benevolence. She was an exemplary leader in her church as a deacon – formulating a benevolence policy and working hard to plan meetings and guide her team. JoLyn was a valued member of our coaching network and we pray that God will bless her family with continued health, healing and joy as they anticipate the arrival of a new grandchild!

[Rachel Vroege, RMD Western Canada]

What strikes me most about JoLyn as a Coach is her dedication and her passion for the work of the diaconates both formally and informally. As long as the work was being done, she wanted to encourage it. I appreciated her willingness to do the work despite her own health issues and I loved her soft spoken nature, though it was not timid or weak. JoLyn was also easy going and enjoyable to work with and for as little as we in fact did work together, I’ll miss her.

[Lucinda, Diaconal Coach in Classis AB North]