This post is by guest-blogger, Kasey Kelly, who is the 2018-2019 Young Adult Volunteer at NYAPC.
I am so thankful for the YAV program and my work placement, New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, for being part of my journey. In the beginning of the YAV program, I had to build new relationships from scratch. I formed not only connections in my YAV house with my roommates, but also in the church. I quickly familiarized myself with the new music and the Lord’s prayer, since I never stepped in a Presbyterian Church before the program.
My favorite task at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church is storytelling. Storytelling is the memorization of the scripture with an animated narration. At first, I was nervous because it has been so long since I memorized a monologue. I had to learn the meaning of scripture in a month and then memorize it in two weeks. I memorized John 20:19-31 on April 28 and then Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 on July 7. I learned to read these biblical stories deeply and find patterns in the wordings under the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), which is different from my usual New International Version (NIV). Pastor Alice Tewell suggested that I practice memorizing these verses while walking and running on the treadmill. It brought a whole new meaning to my workout. Then, I discovered my gift of biblical storytelling. I am thankful for the experience of working at NYAPC because otherwise, I would not have known about the art of storytelling.
I learned where to see Jesus in a ministry. When I encountered challenges at the women’s closet in the Radcliffe Room, a ministry for guests who experience poverty, I found myself acknowledging how I can attribute Jesus’ characteristics such as patience, kindness, and compassion. At the beginning of the month or end of the month, the environment of the Radcliffe Room was chaotic. I changed my perspective by understanding that these women are not feeling their best. I talked to women and worked with them as much as I can. Then, the women’s closet ran smoothly.
Every Thursday, I was blessed to witness the close-knit community and wonderful friendships in the Community Club. I worked in the substitute zone, where I took students with absent tutors and paired them with tutors who have absent students. I will never forget the time when I took nine students and tutors at the National Portrait Gallery. I thoroughly enjoyed their curiosity and wonder about the exhibits. In the spring, I took one student, one former student, and five tutors to the U.S. National Arboretum. The tutors and students were able to share their love and joy for plants, trees, and birds as I led them through azaleas trail, columns, and bonsai.
New York Avenue Church’s community has excellent hospitality to the marchers, such as Poor People’s Campaign, and work together to care for one another. The staff cares about each other, and I enjoy working with them. They bring joy into my life as we both have inside jokes and funny stories.
During the last few weeks, many church members approached me to ask me about when my time at the church will come to an end. I am going to miss working at the church, but I am ready for my next chapter, which is attending Boston University School of Theology and School of Social Work. Goodbyes are the hardest. It is the only way to have beginnings and growth with changes. We are changing together.
Kasey Kelly, YAV 2018-2019