50 Stories: Being brave
"Sometimes we end up in places that are a surprise to us, places we’d never imagine ourselves, places that are mysterious and not on our radar, until they are, somehow. Walsall, England, and the Glebe Centre, were such places for me. In fact, since it was pre-internet, I had to go to the library to find a map listing the town of Walsall in the first place, and all I could find out about the town was that it was known for making the Queen’s saddles.
I’d signed up with the Presbyterian Church in the US to be a volunteer and said I’d go anywhere in the world. The church had narrowed it down to Cairo or Chang Mai, but then called to say they were trying a new program in the UK, if I would like to go. I said yes and ended up less than 10 miles from where my ancestors came from.
My TfG year was one of the most profound of my life. I worked in a neighbourhood called Caldmore, which is pronounced “Karma.”
It was a culturally diverse neighbourhood, and I worked during the week at the Glebe community centre and for the church on the weekends. I was very impressed with the interreligious understanding in that place at that time. I had to listen hard to understand some of the Black Country accent.
I fell in love with the family I lived with, the Wards, and with the people in the church where I worked, inspired by their faithfulness and sense of social service to the poor. Many times I have looked back at my time working at the Glebe Centre as a model of how I want to do ministry: being alert to the needs of those on the margins, being brave, being willing to step out in faith, embracing change.
Time For God created further links in my spiritual journey that faith has to be linked with social action. Time For God also prompted me to continue the interreligious understanding, which started for me in the streets of “Karma.” Upon returning to the US, I went on to seminary and graduate school, earning degrees in both Divinity and Social Work largely due to my work in England.
Co-founding the Spiritual Book Club and its international following online also has roots in my TfG time. I write for religion sections of international publications now, to work to promote religious understanding, and I teach Major World Religions at Heartland Community College.
I have many thanks to say to TfG. I am grateful to have been a part of the program, grateful for the trajectory it helped set me on in my life, and grateful for all the friends I made in the UK. Godspeed TfG."
This post is part of '50 Stories,' a year-long series of personal accounts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Time For God.