Real Life Seminary

Those of you who know me or have read this blog before possibly remember that I spent probably one of the most exciting and challenging summers of my life working in Philadelphia at Broad Street Ministry.  And if you have had the privilege (hah!) of meeting me since then, you likely have heard that church come up at LEAST one or two times.  Because it was really extraordinary.  It was hard, of course, being in a place where you are brought face to face everyday with everything that lies in the road on the way to the Kingdom, but it was also satisfying and powerful to be tackling those stones as a church rather than tiptoeing around them and pretending they didn’t exist ( I have experienced churches that DO that…. not so faithful, in my own opinion.)

Anyways, I am writing all of this because, as I sit here in the 30th Street train station in Philadephia, after an amazing weekend in the city (yes, I commute here once a month or so now, and always go to BSM… it really IS that good…), I find myself reflecting back upon those experiences, as well as wanting to share with those who might like a listen.

More importantly, I am writing to get the word out.  Last year Broad Street began thinking and dreaming of a Seminary Immersion experience, a program in which seminary students could take a year off and live and work and learn in the melting pot that is BSM.  It was a great idea, but a long-shot, but, as improbable as much of the magic at BSM, it has happened.  Broad Street is now accepting applications for a newly minted Seminary Immersion Program, and I must say that I am jealous that I will no longer be a seminary student when it begins (if I were, I would have applied the minute the application was up).  I had the opportunity to sit in on some of the planning meetings for this program, and I can vouch for the fact that it will be real and it will be life-changing.  The folks running the program are amazing folks, the sort that every seminary student should have the opportunity to work and learn with, and they have some amazing plans in store.

Here is what BSM has to say about the program:

The formation that will occur during this experience will be unique for each participant, but will also bear the unique marks of the contexts which fuel it: an inclination toward collaboration, a taste for risk-taking, openness toward the other, and a holy impatience for the realization of the Kingdom of God. BSM House Alumni/ae will be unleashed with a sense for what is possible within local churches, and with skills and networks that will help them translate dreams into first steps once they graduate from seminary.

So if you are thinking of doing a full-time internship, or need a break from seminary for a year, or feel possibly called to check it all out, PLEASE check the program out.  Or let your friends know, or your Field Education office at your Seminary.  It is COMPLETELY worth considering taking the leap.  I did it, and I have never been quite the same since (in a good way!)

bsm

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You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here

The youth are gone for the summer…. and yet I remain.  We are done next Tuesday at noon, which feels unreal, considering that this summer has been so full of experiences and of work.  It has been frustrating, exhilarating, eye-opening, challenging, exciting, and it isn’t over yet.  Now the fun begins–cleaning up the mess we made and processing the experience ( as though all we could feel about it will be clear in the next 3 days… I will be processing this for months!)

The worst I think is realizing that I have to go back to Boston soon.  Not that I dislike Boston, but I am not really mentally prepared to go for many reasons.  For all of the frustrations of the Youth Initiative as a staffer on its inagaural summer, I have really come to love this place and its people.  I have grown accustomed to being around Alex so comfortably over the past year (almost) and I am afraid to figure out what it will be like to live far away from him for 8 months.  I am worried because I know it will be hard to leave everything, because I don’t know if I am prepared to hunker down and write vociferously for 8 months while dreaming of those far from me.

So yea, thats whats on my mind (in addition to the war in georgia and ordination exams and all the other things swirling in the air).

Experiences to remember

 Funny and sadly disjointed experiences from Broad Street so far:

1) (said by a regular attendee at Sunday dinners to two 13-year-old girls visiting with their youth group):

“So tell me, why is it that you two girls are in here eating with us instead of ‘walking the avenue’ on South Street? What I mean is, why are you in here instead of prostituting yourselves out there?”

2) the night at the dark horse, a bible study for some of the 20-30s members of BSM, an elderly couple walks up to our table and whispers “You know, we are Christians too…..” and then proceeds to congratulate us on how well-behaved we are (HA!) and tell us about how their church faithfully left the episcopal church, found a “safe haven” under the Bishop of Uganda, and has refused communion to the Bishop of PHilly not once but TWICE.

3) the night that the florida youth group sang songs about being “free to love Jesus” and “free to live” to a room full of homeless people who are, to a great extent, enslaved by the injust systems of our society that make it impossible for them to get jobs, benefits, housing, etc.

4) Getting asked if I wanted to “make puppies” with Kevin at breaking bread.

5) Bill’s victory dance when I told him Alex was my “money ticket” and the look on his face as he impersonated me saying “what are we doing today now that we have a job, honey?”

 

 

 

more to follow.

Summer in Philly

Whew!  So a week’s worth of work has been I-N-T-E-N-S-E… Just for my own sake, to document all that has happened thus far:

I unofficially started here last Saturday, when I dropped by to check out the church and ended up meeting Nick and Peter, two of the other Youth Initiative interns at BSM for the summer.  Brenna wasn’t in yet but was getting there on Sunday.  We ended up scooping ice cream at the last night of 315 Cafe, an overnight safe house that is funded by the city in BSM and was extended until that night.  The next morning we went to Bryn Mawr PC, in many ways the opposite of the 315 Cafe, a large, suburban, rich, white church that was giving BSM an urban ministry financial award for the Youth Initiative.  Lets just say the suburbs out here are WAY different from the city. (news flash: I prefer Philly.)

Work officially started at worship at BSM on Sunday, which was cool, and different.  I think I mentioned it on an earlier post.  The rest of this week has been a combination of familiarizing ourselves with many of the various ministries at the church during the week (film series run by other interns, meals for various groups in the city, from the homeless to the church community to anyone who would like to come, bible studies, etc), familiarizing ourselves with nonprofits and services offered in the area.  We visited a meal on Monday where a guy writes checks out to individuals so they can get ID cards or birth certificates, Bethesda Project, a thrift store that raises money for the Aids Fund called PAT, etc.  We have also done a lot of getting to know you stuff with the other folks on the team.  There is a lot of variety in terms of backgrounds and interests, so there is variety of things that people are inspired by.  Nick is planning a found-art sculpture for the youth to create and add to over the summer (he also currently happens to be drawing pictures on the wall of our office… specifically of Peter, who was quick to tell us he grew up on a farm in bux county, riding what nick calls a ‘cow of the apocalypse’).

 

Anyways, its going to be cool but there are defintely challenges.  I don’t have a lot of cash, period, so I have been trying to figure out that balance between going out and learning the city with these folks and not getting broke in the process.  I have met some really interesting people and more importantly gotten to know their stories, which has taught me more about their lives than I would ever dream of.  I have seen a lot of places that I know I have been blind to in the past and have been reaffirmed in my suspicion that service is more than just handing bread or money to a person in need. 

 I just need to figure out how to continually seek God in all this.  I will admit, I have trouble feeling it sometimes, and I don’t know exactly what that means or what I ought to do about it, but I feel confident that the work I could do here is important and hopefully might help with the uncertainty.

Anyways, more later but now we have to go to city hall.

 

Word.

in the city

we are in philly…. after a horrendous ride from Boston.  It took us EIGHT HOURS to drive here, two of those hours being playing “parking lot” in NY on the Cross Bronx to the George Washington Bridge.  We got in around six and dumped our stuff at A’s apartment, dropped off that mini van we drove down in (good riddance, I say), and went to the Fox and Hound to watch the Celtics-Pistons game with A’s friends at UPenn.  It was pretty fun, but lets be honest–I was exhausted.  By the end of the night, I wanted to curl up in a ball anywhere and sleep it off.  Which I did, and yes, it felt delightful.

Our itinerary for today: We planned today on exploring Philadelphia a little bit.  I want to walk by BSM if possible, and we were thinking about just walking about in general.  It’s a new city for both of us, so it should be interesting and fun to explore together. But first, pancakes.  (its a saturday tradition, yo!)

 

moving.

It’s d-day…. A and I are moving to Philadelphia.  We spent the last few days packing up his apartment (I had packed my stuff a couple weeks ago), keeping and getting rid of various things, especially recycling paper that had been in A’s possession for far too long.  The curb therefore was quite crowded this morning with old articles, receipts, etc that had finally been parted with.  We were left with, in the end, a whole lotta boxes for the movers who are coming this morning.

In the end, it feels a little weird, a little sad, a little strange to pick up everything and leave again, but I am also a little excited for the summer and for the unknown that is before us.  It is really neat to think that A and I are going to get to explore a new city together, even if I am going to be busy most of the time with Broad Street.

 

Anywho, wish us well…. the moving van is here and it is time to get going!

Thanks be to GOD!

I don’t know the details yet, but I do know this: I got offered a job on Broad Street Ministry’s Youth Initiative Staff for the summer!!!! This is gonna be awesome… I have been praying about it and hoping for it, and I am so super stoked to get the opportunity to do this.

Thanks be to God, and Philly here I come!