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Reflection from the Borderlands

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Integrated Service and Intentionality

"Serving Christ through action for better community." This is the tagline for Urban Servant Corps, the organization that lives out faith-based service in every corner of Denver.

I had the opportunity to meet with Sarah Adam, Community Life Coordinator, at the Urban Servant Corps office this week. We talked about USC's mission in the community and how that extends to the volunteers' personal lives. What struck me is how many opportunities there are for volunteers to better their communities and simultaneously take time to better themselves. With opportunities for faith, reflection, discussion about social issues, food education, etc. at the USC houses, the volunteers are truly living comprehensively in their faith and ministries.

Volunteers come to USC at all ages. Typically, USC sees recent college graduates and others in their 20s apply. However, this last year a retired nun found USC after her convent closed. Mary Kay is a volunteer at Family Promise, an organizati…

La Paz de Cristo Rey

La Iglesia de Cristo Rey is a Spanish-speaking congregation in Denver that I went to visit on Sunday. I was a little intimidated to worship there with my barely-conversational Spanish abilities, but made the trip anyway. I wanted to experience worship in a different language primarily for the various cultural customs that inherently come with it. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.
As I walked up the steps to the sanctuary, I saw two toddlers in First Communion-style dresses. Then, I saw a teenager in a beautiful gown not unlike the one I, myself, wore to junior prom. The front of the church was filled with women in dresses and men in ties. It was a quinceaƱera, the celebration of a woman turning fifteen that marks her transition from childhood to adulthood. 
The merging of this birthday celebration and worship was truly special. She sat front and center before Father Q, who asked her to reaffirm her faith throughout the service. At times during the sermon he spoke directly to h…

Grant Avenue Street Reach

I just got done volunteering at Grant Avenue Street Reach and here are some words I would use to describe the experience: busy, fun, collaborative, rewarding.

Grant Avenue Street Reach serves people who are homeless in Denver every Monday, providing a hot meal and food to take out with them. I walked into the side of St. Paul's at 9 a.m. in front of a group of 15 high school students on a service trip this morning and was put right to work. I would say there were an average of 40 volunteers all packing sandwiches, cutting vegetables, sorting through fruit, washing dishes and cooking for hours on end. As the preparation dwindled, people shifted to cleaning the space and prepping for the meal.

It was crazy-busy in there the entire time, but each task allowed me to meet a new person, learn new things and build an even-greater appreciation for this mission. I bagged sandwiches and met an elderly group from a local Methodist church; next to me, a 16-year-old boy from Kansas City handed…

New Beginnings: Prison Ministry

Have you ever been to worship somewhere and people were actually emotionally vulnerable? Did you witness others praising God with their hands in the air, tears in their eyes, smiling uncontrollably? I recently attended the most open worship of my life, and to do that I had to go to prison.

Okay, so I did not actually go to prison, but I had the opportunity to worship at New Beginnings, a mission congregation in the Denver Women's Correctional Facility. When you walk into the building, one guard greets you to take your drivers license, hands you a badge and directs you to log into the visitor's sheet. Then you go through an airport scanner and wait for someone with a "green" clearance to escort you to the worship space. Next, a series of locked gates await and a security guard must buzz you through each one. Finally, you've made it.

Pastor Terry greeted me and told me some ground rules: only share your first name and job position. She then showed me the yard, from…

Where is God In Immigration Court?

"People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, 'Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.' And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them." (Mark 10:13-16) 

Throughout my childhood (even to this day), Mark 10 was special to me. I thought about how cool it would be to be defended by this Jesus guy after not being allowed to be anywhere near the 'grown-up table,' (I'm an only child, so the kid's table was lonely for me at Thanksgivings). Seriously, Jesus spoke to and of children often, kindly and with admiration; this is not something that can or should be overlooked.

Last week I met up with AMMPARO's (Accompanying Migrant …

A Conversation Around Gender and Justice

On Sunday, I got to talk to members of Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Denver about the Draft Social Statement on Women and Justice and my soul is on fire -- in the best way. Around 30 people sat with me to discuss the document and issues surrounding gender justice. What was the best part? They cared. They asked questions and wanted to know more.

Back at Wartburg College, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to be part of a student-led group that was reviewing the document. I went to my first meeting without prior knowledge that social statements even existed in the ELCA, and I came out changed. Our group of students consisted of men, women, people who are gender nonconforming, people who are transgender, people of various religions and folks of diverse, intersecting identities. Needless to say, we had some great conversations. My colleague, a member at Our Savior's, made the connection and invited me to host an adult forum, so that's how this opportunity came about.

I struggl…