This past Sunday my partner and I attended a service at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Boston. We decided to attend because we had just started couples spiritual direction with Rev. Pam who is the rector there. In many ways the Episcopal Church is a funny home for us as a couple. She grew up and still identifies as part of the Roman Catholic Church while I grew up in Evangelical spaces and do not claim a specific Christian denomination as home right now. After the service, my partner told me that she noticed how for all the progressive leanings of the Episcopal Church, the service felt more Catholic than her simple Catholic service back in Münster, Germany.
A few months ago I started a new part time job with Our Bible app, the first LGBTQ-affirming, progressive Bible reader app for mobile devices, as their social media manager. My day-to-day routine involves designing social media posts, and reaching out to potential devotional writers, engaging with users via Twitter. But another aspect of my position that isn’t in my job description is pastoral care. Almost every day I hear from someone on Twitter or through email how they’re so excited to be able to engage with the Bible and read devotional material written by and for LGBTQ folks. Often coupled with these wonderful testimonials from other LGBTQ folks are stories of how the Bible was weaponized against them, how alienated they feel in church, or how they’re learning to trust family members again after coming out and being ostracized. I treat these stories with care, as holy things to be held. It’s something I didn’t really expect to be doing when I took the job, but I enjoy it immensely. My experiences with Life Together, both good and bad, have really prepared me to do this work.
I planned my move without any hesitation. Now, my initial reason for moving to this location was a very superficial, of course, but thank goodness God always finds a way to work miracles out of whatever we offer her to work with. In my case, I was thrown into my first experience with an intentional community—although no one there would have used that phrasing.
My experience with Life Together is intertwined in my life daily. In my role as a case manager for Boston Healthcare for the Homeless and in my home living with my roommates. Life Together taught me the importance of community, communication, compassion, and seeing God in everyone you meet. I work with some of the most amazing and challenging people I have ever met. I try to make every client I work with feel like they are apart of my community. Life Together has given me the strength and the patience to see past people's initial hesitancy to trust someone they don't know. I currently live with two of my roommates from the Life Together house I lived in and we still use some of our old house rules. We have weekly house dinners and meetings to keep connected.
One saying I learned in the Life Together program has been echoing through my head this fall, six years after I started my year at 40 Prescott Street: "Your calling is to work where your greatest desire and the world's deepest need intersect."
Even as an employee at a 70,000-strong technology corporation, and as an MBA student a little halfway past done with my degree, this phrase speaks urgently to me. I have not figured out what I want to do with my life. Sometimes the world's tragedies still seem so many - war, racism, sexual violence, mental illness, hunger, lack of upward mobility, political gridlock - that I question what my desire and prayers for peace can ever accomplish. Yes, I want to be a person whose faith draws her to righteous, loving action. But when I'm running back and forth between a high tech office during the day and income statements at night, that kind of action admittedly feels unreachable.
Paul is currently a student minister, student, and activist at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa.
"When I left Morehouse I knew that I wanted to live out the dream of my Morehouse brother Martin Luther King, Jr., that I, too, wanted to march and fight and preach the Good News into life. Life Together helped shape me into someone who can do that in innumerable ways: in the classroom, in the streets, in the pulpit, in those awesome moments with a stranger who gets it, in the silence..."
In my 12 months of Life Together I grew from a shy California girl, who wanted nothing more than to follow the rules and blend into the walls, into a woman who stepped up to claim her voice and calling in a community of people doing the same. During my time at Life Together, I worked for the Trinity Education for Excellence program. I also worked on a community organizing team, served on the Trinity Copley Square Altar Guild, and worshipped with the Crossing Community.
I came to Life Together in 2011 with a desire to find a place where I could be accepted and made to feel strong and bold. Well, all the fear and anxiety about not being accepted flew out the window when I walked in the first day and saw Arrington standing there in a collar! I remember turning to someone and asking, “is that a woman?” I wasn’t confused about her gender; I was shocked to see my first woman priest. Growing up Southern Baptist, the closest I could ever get was being a preacher’s wife, but this opened up a new world. In that moment my world broke open. In that moment I saw possibilities that were at one point just dream.