Recently I was asked to write something about the Beatitudes Society, a progressive Christian group that works in numerous ways to further help and support Christian leaders in the world. Last summer I was awarded one of their coveted fellowships. I ended up in Atlanta, GA working for the Youth Theological Initiative. It was about an 8-week stint with Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. They pay you a pretty decent stipend and it’s a great way to spend your summer. I had a blast and met some wonderful people along the way. Here’s a little bit about what I got to do.
My jobs were as follows: Worship Coordinator (which included a great deal of work), Small Group Facilitator for the Faith Ethics and the City, and assistant to the Director in putting together the Day of Interfaith Youth Service in Atlanta. The youth were only there for the last 3 weeks, which left me with 5 weeks of planning and researching. I put together an annotated bibliography for them on worship materials for youth and young adult leaders; which I actually am continuing to update on a regular basis. It’s getting pretty big. I planned worship with the youth for the three weeks they were there and talked with them about the theory of worship when I got a chance.
(Some of the amazing youth getting ready for worship!)
For the Faith, Ethics, and the City, a couple of PhD students put together a curriculum based on the history of the city of Atlanta based on different topics. There was a new one each week, one on hunger and , one on environmental racism and then one on immigration. We took the youth out into the city and talked with them about the history of these topics. They got their hands dirty with different organizations each week. Not only did they do these things, but they went to classes each day lead by PhD students on interesting classes they had developed. My friend Jessi did a class on Angels and Demons, it was pretty cool to sit in on it. Each class got to do a worship service based on the class they were taking. Those ended up being amazing!
(On a walk around the park at Emory with the Youth.)
(Working with some Youth at a local, community-owned, organic farm.)
(At the reflection pool at the MLK Center in Atlanta, GA after finishing our walk down the historic Auburn Avenue after learning about environmental racism and the racial history of Atlanta.)
With the Day of Interfaith Youth Service, I ended up e-mailing, calling and trying to get into contact with any and all youth leaders within the Metro-Atlanta area that worked with youth of any religious background. The idea behind the day was to get all these youth together for a forum to talk, do a service project together that we planned and then have a big meal together. It was amazing to say the least. The DIYS is actually one of the most successful interfaith youth projects that happens. It’s based off of the Interfaith Youth Core’s model on their website.
(Ruwa, a youth I met through the Islamic Speaker’s Bureau of Atlanta, and another youth sorting books at Books For Africa.)
(A Muslim, Roman Catholic and a Methodist… gotta love it.)
Outside of all this, each week, our group had to meet with the other fellows in our city. We gathered for a few hours once a week with our gracious and wonderful mentor, the Rev. Susannah Davis of Kirkwood United Church of Christ in Atlanta, and prayed, worshiped and were in conversation with each other all the time. It was wonderful. While the time of day was not the best for me with my schedule, I made it work.
They also sent us to a day of training with the Auburn Media Training. They are a group that trains lay people and pastors to be in the media; like how to do interviews and how to stay on topic and not get shut down. There was more to it than that, but you get the idea.
The main reason I was able to go to Atlanta for my fellowship was because I had family there I could stay with, but there are 4 cities that host fellows with different agencies and groups to work with. There’s the San Francisco bay area, Washington, DC, Atlanta, and Chicago. I highly recommend these! It’s a great way to spend your summer and such an enriching way to grow.
If you want to find out more about these fellowships, check them out here at the Beatitudes Society Fellowships.