Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What I've Been Up to for the Last Six Months

What follows is a post I wrote for my internal Vicar's Page at Saint Peter's Church where I currently serve as Vicar, but I figured it could work as a general update on my year as well.  Please leave comments and questions!

Well, much like what often happens on these sort of things, the last six months got pretty busy, and I've thus had "Update the Vicar's Page" as an item on my to-do list for almost that long.  My hope is that over the final two months of my internship at Saint Peter's and the Lutheran Office for World Community, (my last Sunday is August 11th) I'll have the opportunity to add to this page a little more frequently.

That said, the last six months, while quite busy, have been filled with absolutely amazing experiences at both internship sites, so I figured I could go through a quick exercise of filling in folks on what I've been up to.  After a great break over Christmas and New Years, I served as chaplain at a retreat at Camp Calumet Lutheran in New Hampshire.  Working with a rowdy group of teenage campers reuniting from the previous summer, we had a bunch of great talks on faith, service and global mission - and had a bunch of fun as well. We "live-tweeted" the entire retreat on Twitter, and for more information you can check out my personal blog here.

After getting back from my time in New England, things we really started to pick up.  A major aspect of my internship at the United Nations is doing communications work for Ecumenical Women, a coalition of church denominations and ecumenical organizations working to advance the rights of girls and women, especially at the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).  As the 57th session of CSW was taking place at the beginning of March, I spent a great deal of time this winter blogging, posting videos and managing online registration for various Ecumenical Women events during CSW.  I believe our work at CSW57 turned out to be a huge success... outside of getting strong agreed conclusions we had more traffic at the EW website than ever before with over four thousand views and many great stories shared during the month of March.  In addition to working with Ecumenical Women this winter, I spent time following the Security Council and Food & Hunger issues at the UN. Perhaps most notably, I've also been working to increase faith-based participation in the World We Want 2015, a web platform where global citizens can give their input for what should follow the Millenium Development Goals in 2015.  If you have no idea what the Millenium Development Goals are, no problem!  Check out an Ecumenical Women post I wrote here giving a basic overview of the whole thing.

While it was sometimes difficult, I tried to balance my work at the UN with my responsibilities and opportunities for ministry at Saint Peter's as well.  Outside of preaching frequently at our Jazz Vespers service, I spent a great deal of time working with our immigration advocacy group this winter, primarily to organize an Immigration Advocacy Workshop, which after being snowed out in early February was held on March 16th.  Roughly twenty-five folks from Saint Peter's, Sion Iglesia Luterana and the local community worshiped together and learned about immigration advocacy on a Saturday afternoon.  For a copy of the bi-lingual liturgy we used for worship, click here.  We also attended New Sanctuary NYC's weekly Jericho Walk for immigration reform a number of times.  I also attended an amazing conference at Union Theological Seminary in February entitled Digital Church: Theology and New Media.  While there I heard a number of clergy and lay leaders discuss how they've used social media to strengthen their ministries.  A number of folks also identified a number of theological issues brought about by the new digital context we find ourselves in.  Another great success was leading an adult forum at Saint Peter's entitled "Ask the Vicar," where folks could ask me questions on my internship experience thus far, my background, etc.

After a brief trip to visit friends at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia where I'm working towards my Master's of Divinity, my focus shifted almost exclusively toward work at Saint Peter's during Holy Week.  I preached during one noontime Mass and assisted with the daily liturgies.  I was also absolutely blown away by how powerful many of the worship services were during Holy Week at Saint Peter's, especially the Easter Vigil.  After Holy Week I traveled to Washington D.C. twice in one week, first for Ecumenical Advocacy Days (a conference that this year focused on food and hunger) and then for a rally for immigration reform with two members of Saint Peter's.  Both experiences were great, especially the many opportunities I had to meet with our elected officials (or at least their staff).

Following my busy week of travel the Lutheran office at the UN hosted a number of seminarians for the Nolde Seminar on Faith and Human Rights, which provided me with a great opportunity to catch up with friends from seminary and learn a great deal as well.  Perhaps one of the most moving days of my internship took place in early May when a number of Saint Peter's members showed up to accompany another member to his hearing for refugee status.  To me, that day couldn't have been a more powerful expression of what "doing Church" is supposed to be like.

Since mid-May things have slowed down a little bit.  I've been preaching more frequently, especially at Jazz Vespers, continuing to work on communications for Ecumenical Women, working on faith-based participation with the World We Want and number of other issues at the UN.  I also attended a powerful anti-hate crime march in response to the killing of Marc Carson in the Village.  For a bit more on my experience you can check out a blog post here.  Another great success was Saint Peter's Parish Council voting in favor of a resolution official endorsing our immigration advocacy group, now called Nuestro Refugio (Our Refuge).  We've also been working on strengthening the partnership between Nuestro Refugio, Sion Iglesia Luterana and New Sanctuary NYC, as well as ensuring there will be leadership in group once my vicarage ends in August.

Well that's about it.  Check back here frequently, and please contact me if you have any questions.

God's peace,
Vicar Dustin

Dustin currently serves as Vicar at the Lutheran Office for World Community and Saint Peter's Church in Manhattan, having recently completed his second year of a Masters of Divinity program at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. While seeking ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, his focus is on the intersection between worship, service and justice in de-centralized faith communities unencumbered by a traditional church building. In his free time, Dustin likes playing frisbee, hiking and pretending to know how to sing.

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