Saturday, March 5, 2011

Finding Your Place

(Community organizer Mary Gonzales prepares to send us out)

Yesterday afternoon closed the Congress on Urban Ministry that fellow blogger Kwame wrote about so beautifully. On a personal note, I was deeply moved and quite proud that a member of our seminary was one of two students who represented those gathered by meeting with the Lt. Governor on the issue of gun violence. Thanks, Kwame.

My own experience of the Congress began the moment I walked in the doors and recognized a former classmate of mine from the Urban CPE program; she is now serving her first call in Minnesota. It was a joy to see her again after… has it been four years already?

From there I went off to workshop with fellow seminarians. Nearly forty of us from around the country gathered to talk about the role the church might play in the urgent work of breaking the spiral of violence in our communities and beyond. One of our professors mentioned her solidarity work in Chiapas, Mexico with S¡PAZ, an organization I’d met with during my seminary semester abroad.

Then it was four days of roof-raising preaching, burrowing Bible studies, and one extraordinary moment of nonviolent direct action to urge political movement on policies that promote peace. The action was led in part by Mary Nelson, a leader at Bethel New Life. I’d met Mary’s brother, Jon, on internship, where he was recognized for his lifelong peace and justice work in Washington State.

By the end of the Congress I’d realized just how much these years in seminary have been preparing me to do this kind of work, to assume a leadership role in a Church whose faith is active in love. In part, I’ve been prepared by classes and trainings and practicums, learning the skills to preach and teach and lead a public church. And in part I’ve been prepared by being connected to others in the body of Christ, faithful leaders in the neighborhood, across the country, around the world.

As I left the Congress, I found a single phrase on my tongue, a simple prayer :

I am ready, Lord. Send me where you will.

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