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Life Together: The Diomass Intern Program

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Sunday, July 25, 2010


An excerpt from a recent email received by LifeTogether Program Director Arrington Chambliss:

Dear Arrington,

 I write to share the news of some wonderful press received by the Diocese’s Relational Evangelism Pilot Project. Please click on the link below to be taken to the Alban Institute’s website, and an article written by The Reverend Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook, former Academic Dean of Episcopal Divinity School. This article describes the Project, as well as its attempts to stem the tide of the decline of membership in mainline Protestant churches by engaging young adults in the compelling mission of God in the church and the world.

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Hope in Action leaves campaign leader with organizing insights

This post was generously contributed by Church of the Holy Spirit Mattapan's Relational Evangelist Kendyll Hillegas. It is a reflection upon what she's learned through working as a community organizer with the Hope in Action Campaign, 2009-2010. 

Key Learnings, CHS 2009-2010

Don’t make assumptions – I guess this idea should be a no-brainer. And to be fair to myself, I did understand it to a certain degree before I went to CHS, but at that time, it meant something more like “don’t make assumptions about people before you know them” or “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

What I learned at CHS, is that “don't make assumptions” really means that if you want to understand a person or community and work with that person/community where they're at, you'd better not assume anything about even the most basic circumstances. (For example, assuming that the directory at a church will be public because every church you have been to has always had a public directory).

On a deeper level, in its relationship to organizing, the specificity this phrase makes room for has really been a key learning for me as well. In the past when in a coordinating role on events or projects, volunteer recruitment was often a task I'd undertake. However, after this year as an RE I've noticed that all those previous years wearing the hat of volunteer recruiter, I'd had a gap in a crucial moment – the ask. “Don't make assumptions” has allowed me to see what I was doing wrong in those situations - assuming that the person I was asking had understood or taken the meaning I'd wanted them to take.

I think before I worked with this program, before “don't make assumptions,” even though I was very organized, I had a sense that everyone would naturally connect in their communication. If by chance things didn’t go well (i.e. I had asked a volunteer to be somewhere at 9:30, they’d said yes, and then shown up at 10:15) I was always baffled. “Don’t make assumptions” has really become a broad principle for me, and has informed the way I interact with individuals and communities who have access to potential resources.

People are more ok with emotions that you’d think, Kendyll – As a highly emotive person, I have in the past felt like I was more emotional/looked at the world through a more emotional lens than many people around me. Consequentially, over the years (in certain circumstances) I have become reserved with emotional displays and tend to focus much of my emotive/creative energy on intuitive problem solving, and coming up with very efficient systems.

This year I was very surprised at the level of positive response from young adults upon initiating simple activities that seemed to me invitational of low-key levels of emotion, and interaction. One such exercise (something we did regularly) was the passing of a candle from one team-member to the next, along with an invitation to speak “1 word for where they found themselves that day.” Inevitably the team would respond with a Niagara Falls of heartfelt and honest reflection. There was no “1 word” about it – ever. The first time it happened, I remember thinking, “Oh, wow, they really like this.” And I just couldn’t believe it because these were not individuals known for their gushing emotional displays or protracted reflections. But that really taught me that no matter how a person's countenance appears day-to-day, everyone needs a chance to integrate their emotions into their experience of the world.

Everyone can be a leader (everyone) but not every role is suited for every person – Another phrase I would have read before this year and thought, “obviously that’s true, I don't need to learn that.” This year however, I really saw it in action and learned what it means on the ground. Seeing Irmine Mode, Joseph Jean-Charles and Janell Duberry (I could go on) rise up into leadership positions has been so profoundly encouraging to me and has really reaffirmed that idea that everyone can lead. I still get chills on my spine when I remember how leadership at CHS told me I was wasting time with one young woman - she simply wasn’t leadership material - too shy, too quiet, too afraid. Now she has now spoken publicly a half-dozen times, she’s just finished volunteering to earn her own cello, she has a good, stable job.

There was one point in the year though when I think I took that egalitarian ideal a little too far – I was convinced that everyone could do the same job (Recruiting, for example) regardless of their gifts/talents. I’ll be honest, I still have a large bent in that direction, but after this year it’s so clear to me that God created us to function as one Body with many parts. Some team-members simply do not do well in a particular role, while they may thrive in another. I think if we hold those two ideas in tension - everyone can lead, and we’re meant to lead as one body with many parts - we can do really incredible things.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

LifeTogether worksite highlighted in Boston Globe

The Dorchester Nazarene Compassionate Center (DNCC), a partner organization with a 2009-10 LifeTogether intern placement site, was featured in the Boston Globe this morning for its service to earthquake-stricken Haitians.

Intern Caroline Hunter worked as an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher at the DNCC through the Irish Immigration Center. She also worked as the IIC ESOL Program Coordinator this year.

Many reader comments on the article object to one of the Haitians profiled being given in-state tuition, arguing that illegal immigrants should not receive government benefits. What do you think? Write to

For more information on immigration, refugee and asylum statistics, see the US Department of Homeland Security website.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Show up, fall down, love: a redemption

Tis true, tis true, O Caroline,
the fault ascribed--alas!--is mine,

Though my honor may now be wholly spent,
In dust (and ashes) I repent

and do your trust again beseech,
begging forgiveness for my grievous breech.

Though now at risk of being thrice the liar,
I promise you what you require

By this night's end. 

And if not by midnight then by one,
until the blaggard blog be done.

Till then, my long-forsaken dear,
though my verse be deadly...queer (?)

I importune your patience,
as you await your recompense,

And I await the restoration
of my once great reputation.

Most penitently yours,

-Nicholas Hayes, 6:05p.m., Sunday July 18 2010 to LifeTogether blog administrator in pursuit of his six-month-overdue post

The writing of this blog entry is something of a miracle. I’ve been committed to doing
a blog entry for LifeTogether since, I believe, the second week of January, and though reminded
regularly—at monthly intervals, at least—of my failure to make good on it, still I have
managed to evade my duty. At last, however, in the concluding week of the program,
conscience—and the concerted forces of Caroline, Waetie, and public shame—has
caught up with me. It may also be that as the program ends, I feel a natural need to
record some of my reactions. So, here I am.

Closing in on the final week of the program, many things—emotions, thoughts, regrets,
reminiscences—are coming up for me. (Since I’m an Enneagram 4, they’re all of course
of the utmost intensity, and all thoroughly tinged with melancholia). At moments I feel
overwhelmed by feelings of one kind or other, at other moments, almost frighteningly
numb. Within the cacophony, however, I’m surprised at persistent leitmotif, refusing
to stop trumpeting at me. I’m starting to think it may be the most important lesson
I’ve learned this year. Simply put, it reduces to this: love means not running away.

I was reminded of that on Tuesday, at our final SLAM Tuesday prayer meeting, as all of
us-- the SLAM house, Arrington, and John deBeer—sat gathered around our improvised
table made from a neglected door, spread with a wonderful, incongruous half-consumed
banquet of quiches and fruit salads, pastries and redundant yogurt. As the inevitable
food coma set in, John DeBeer broke the complacently falling silence to ask our house
whether we’d learned anything about the relationship between falling in love and loving.
Though I didn’t express it exactly in those words, the answer which came to me, with
surprising speed and certainty, was: love means not running away.

There were so many times this year when I wanted to run away. Some of them took
place right in those Tuesday morning prayer meetings, after the nice thrill of the “honey
moon” with intentional community was over. There were the mornings when I woke
up anticipating a conflict that I didn’t want to deal with, or those when I woke up afraid
(more deeply than I would have admitted) of being called out for not doing the dishes, or
those when I was just tired of showing up to these same people, so agonizingly different
from me at times, and plumbing the dwindling reserves of sympathy and attentiveness
week after week. The urge to run was intense, and often that meant running into my
head, into the future—or my imagination of it: checking out mentally. Why should I
have to care so much? I would sometimes wonder. “We’re not even together for a year.
We’re not family. Once this program ends, I’ll have no obligations. At the end of the
day, I don’t have to deal with this—what does it really matter to me? I can just move

Yet I showed up to those meetings, and kept showing up. My housemates did too.
Showing up became our habit—our habitual choice—and we grew (mostly) to trust it,
even when we didn’t feel like it or want to, because at the end of the day there was
really no other genuine option, not if we cared for each other. And we did. So we didn’t
run away from each other: we showed up. That I wonder at, and will, I think, for a long

There was also the urge to run from work. Man was that strong at times, particularly
around April 10th. There too I think of reluctant mornings, the mornings I’d wake up to
with a desire to simply stay in bed and forget—forget all the importuning emails and
meetings and phone calls. There was too much to do and too much to get wrong and
final failure seemed to be waiting for me just around the corner, grinning expectantly,
waiting to unveil to the world the rot underneath all my masks and fine performances.
Sometimes I did stay in bed, longer than I should have. But getting out became a habit.
Caring for my work, and the people I’d drawn into it, proved stronger than fear. So I
didn’t run away: I showed up.

I keep coming back to that as we prepare to take our leave of each other this week. In
spite of all the temptations to zone out, or begin forgetting prematurely, or to try and
convince ourselves that somehow this experience wasn’t as meaningful as we once
were so sure it was—we have to resist the urge to run away. We have to show up. I
have to show up.

Somehow, in spite of all the urges to act against it, feeling that sense of obligation alive
within myself is deeply joyful.

For the witness of my work, and the witness of my fellow interns in giving it to me--
Praise God.


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St. Stephen's Serving in New Orleans

St. Stephen's in the South End, ever cultivating joy in service, recently went to New Orleans for a service trip with Church of the Redeemer Chestnut Hill. See a video of the trip from LifeTogether fellow Kathryn Kendrick below!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What is citizenship to a life of faith?

Here are two interns' reflections upon the question: How are faith and citizenship connected?

"For me, God's call and good citizenship are one and the same. Jesus was all kinds of radical, but most radical of all was the way he lived and taught us to live: with the outcast, the enemy, and the unpleasant, as equals and as friends, sharing one table. A world at one with God is a world ruled by love, in which we cherish and challenge one another to live into our fullest potential as individuals and as humanity. If I am not a good citizen - if I am not living as though I am a member of creation, no more and no less than one voice in an incredible, complex and awesome universal chorus - I am not living into my birthright or my covenanted responsibility as a child of God and a follower of the radical Christ."

- Emilia Allen

Industry and Faith

arms rotating, stop and go
this country is a workshop
each relationship a workshop
on industry
our love is free in its tinkering
stop and go, talk, rest, play
we are a machine
longing to be simple, to work
longing to find peace, to connect
we are a body
walk, breathe, leap, swallow, pace
our love is bound to a common biology of belief.
on joy
we meditate, found our lasting bonds
this country is a full dining room
elbows bump ribs as we move to rich dishes

-Caroline Hunter

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