Church and Society Fellows Blog Weeks 6 and 7

Hye-In Lee

All that DC has to offer

Washington, DC is the center of the United States federal goverment which has three branches that include the Congress, the President, and Supreme Court. I wanted to experience these 3 branches of the US government while here in DC.  I have visited many national monuments and museums, to get the whole Washington, DC experience.

One of the good things about having housemates while living amd working in DC is that we are able to share our work and personal experience all at once. It is helpful to understand each other by not only being co-worker but also as friends. We visited The White House this week together and it was great to have that moment with good friends.

Building trust in our common humanity 

During my time here in Washington D.C., I have had many thoughts about “community.” I like getting to know people.  I am pretty good at breaking the ice.  I also like being alone because it is sometimes convenient and is needed for meditation.

I have learned a lot about the importance of community in the past few years through my experiences. After I recognized it, I have started seeing that this is why God created all the people in the world, to live together, to help, to understand, and to love each other. I also realized engaging with the community requires a great deal of labor but it is worth it to try. I am just so grateful and hopeful about life, building trust for humanity in a fractious world.

David Joyner

Visitng the White House

The Church and Society Fellows were very fortunate to be able to tour the White House this past week. We had been trying since our arrival in DC to arrange for a visit, and with the help of the Church and Society staff, we were about to get our names on the list. When we arrived at the White House we made our way through the security checkpoints and entered the tour lobby. As we began to walk through, a staffer quietly told us that if we waited just a few moments there would be a special guest. We were directed through the garden and stood along a rope line beside the entrance from the South Lawn. Secret service agents and service men and women came outside to organize us and we saw a helicopter pad being laid out.

A few moments later three Marine Helicopters approached. Marine One touched down and opened its doors. President Obama walked out and waved to the visitors and the press pool, called “Good morning,” and strode across the lawn and onto the helicopter. His advisors, aids, and military personnel quickly followed and within seconds they lifted off and were out of sight. This was the highlight of our tour – and we had no idea that we would get to see the President! We made our way through the White House and saw several historic venues, including the East Room, Blue Room, and State Dining Room. The State Visit of Italian Prime Minister Renzi had occurred two days prior to our visit, and we saw a few of the lingering decorations. Some of the most impressive portraits included those of Presidents Washington, Polk, Lincoln, Reagan, and Clinton.

We’re grateful for the opportunity to see a part of American history up close. It was a reminder of how meaningful it is for the General Board of Church and Society to be in proximity to power in Washington, DC as a prophetic voice.

A Bible verse that motivates me 

Galatians 3:28 | There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

In my fellowship with Church & Society, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on equality as the basis for public policy. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – my main work in the fellowship – is framed around a shared commitment to building prosperity for all people while maintaining the integrity of the natural world. Components of the Goals include measures of equality such as gender and economic opportunity, and they also include a vision of providing legal protection for different classified groups.

When I reflect on this scripture, the Goals become even more important for me. In addition to recognizing the equal worth of all people, this verse reminds me that in our equality comes a shared responsibility for the care of Earth and for the wellbeing of others. Just as we have been called to love our neighbors as ourselves, we are responsible for the welfare of others and must do our part when we see an opportunity to serve humankind. The SDGs provide many different ways that we can do just this, and have allowed me to think more deeply about how my day to day habits and the way I interact with other people can have an impact on a larger scale than my own bubble.

Dennis Muzahuzi 

Together we lead worship

The joy of communal living. This week started off with the Fellows planning the Wednesday chapel service. Hye-In Lee, took the lead on music she has the gift of playing piano. David preached a message about gifts and talents reflecting on a passage about Christians being one body in Christ Jesus, with different parts. I believe his message was fitting for the week, and uplifting for the community at in the Methodist Building. It’s important because it helps us to look at each other as one big family. I made sure that those who came to the service knew the program of events. I was the liturgist for the day. It’s been a while since I participated in leading such formal chapel service. I remember doing much of this kind of ministry at Africa University, during my undergraduate degree.

This weeks' highlight 

All the Church and Society Fellows got to go to the White House for a tour. It was a great. I was not feeling my best, but I did not want to miss out on the tour. The big surprise was the opportunity to see President Barack Obama leaving the White House. We took a group picture of us as the Fellows community. 

Work and worship

I have done a lot of interacting with fellow interns, the staff at Church and Society and other people who work in this building. I really enjoyed this weeks’ staff check in meeting, it was a great time to interact and hear what people are doing in their different work areas.

The interns gather for great conversation during our weekly check in meetings.  We come together with students from Wesley Theological Seminary. 

I have been invested in my church events. This Friday we have all night prayer service at my church in Silver Spring, and I am looking forward to it. It’s been a while since I attended such a service. I believe it will be a great night of worship and prayer. It’s going to be a busy weekend because I still have to attend church on Sunday.

On a different note, I have been reviewing interview transcripts from the previous general conference about reproductive health. It’s an eye-opening piece of work for me.  By doing this I get to learn about what people from other countries and cultures think about these sensitive topics. I also spent time preparing PowerPoint slides for my supervisor’s presentation during her trainings in Texas and Nebraska.

Lastly, between church and mixing with folks in my circle, I will try to communicate with folks back home this weekend. I am looking forward to the last 3 weeks on this internship and I am hoping for a great time and more learning opportunities.