I have spent the past week at Stony Point Center, a Presbyterian conference center that is located in Rockland County, NY, about an hour North of New York City. Stony Point is home to a multi-faith, intentional community dedicated to the study of hospitality, non-violence, and justice. They also have a one-acre farm where all of the vegetables that we ate this week were grown!
On the first day of orientation, YAV coordinator Richard Williams told us to rip off the section of or schedule that said “orientation” because it was time to get ready for disorientation. And it has been very disorienting—in a good way!
Highlights from the week include:
Bible Study—Rick Ufford-Chase led us in five different bible studies that focused on reading the bible as Liberation Theology through the liberation theology hermeneutical circle that calls us to look at every bible story and observe, reflect, pray, act, celebrate, and emulate. This bible study opened my mind to new ideas about the gospel. Stories that were seemingly one way were suddenly revealed to be completely different and a call, from God, to act.
Cultural Competency–Jessica Vasquez Torres from CrossRoads did a workshop with all of the YAVs that taught us about Centers and Borderlands—with the center being what is normalized, or good in our society and the borders being the minoritized. Lots of times we think about the borders as where privileged, white people go to find themselves as well as save those at the border. The workshop definitely pointed out the privilege that most of the YAVs have and that with this privileged role we have a lot of responsibility to not save the people on the borders but to walk with the people on the borders and advocate for them.
Sikh Gurdwara—On Thursday we had a day away! I was apart of a group that went to visit a Sikh Gurdwara in New Jersey. It was an amazing experience! While we were there, two young, confirmed Sikhs told us all about Sikhism like how they are a monotheistic religion that believes in a genderless God that is an energy. Sikhs support all religions because they believe that we’re all worshipping the same God in our own ways. We got to participate in a short prayer service and were shown radical hospitality in the form of a meal following the service.
This week taught me that the YAV program is about doing mission through partnerships and relationships. Everything that happened this week from community building to social media and photography demonstrations, to talks about advocacy with J. Herbert Nelson had the underlying theme of partnership.
We are headed out to our sites tomorrow where I will actually begin living this journey and I can do so now with the understanding that I am not there to do anything else but walk with the people I’m serving, to walk with my housemates in intentional community, and to walk with all of you so that you can experience and be educated from this journey as well.
This week has made me feel self-conscience, insecure, happy, angry, guilty, joyful, tired, excited, homesick, and anxious—all of the feels! But I’m so ready for this to happen. (Well, as ready as I’ll ever be).