A Year of Service: Starting Out

So, this year I’m participating in a service program in Harrisburg, Pa. as part of the Episcopal Service Corps. Six other recent graduates and I are living together, building a community and working four days a week at a nonprofit. I hope to write a lot about this experience, since writing is how I process things, and I hope to post most of it here, since I don’t get to go home very often. Stay tuned!

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After about three hours of driving through the beautiful and varied Pennsylvania landscape last weekend, I made it to Harrisburg, and settled into my new home.

We are living in Governor Bigley’s old home on the banks of the Susquehanna in downtown Harrisburg, next to St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The house is enormous and rambly, and I’ve got a first-floor bedroom that’s just enormous—my NYC bedroom would probably fit in the closet (a walk-in closet! I’ve got a walk-in closet for the first time in my life!).

Everyone has been incredibly friendly and supportive so far: the six other girls, the various administrators we’ll be working with, parishioners, even the lady at the visitor’s center, who let us stock up on brochures.

I am in an in-between place right now, in my life and also in this journey. I’ve moved in, but I’m not fully a part of the community in any way, yet; I love what I’ve seen and learned and done in the program in the past few days, but a part of me longs for the easiness that could be life in East Aurora with Rick and a pug puppy.

Our program director talked today about being “bridge-builders” this year, in several senses, including in our role as liaisons between the parish and the community, the church and the community, Harrisburg and our homes, and our generation and others. I love that image, in part because I’ve always liked that “pontifex,” the Latin title for the pope (also his Twitter handle), means “bridge-builder.” It seems apparent that this is an ancient, significant ecclesial theme, and I want to explore it further!

As part of Sycamore House, we each serve in three ways: to the house (biweekly dinners, hosting an open community dinner each Sunday, cleaning, etc), to the church (altar guild, choir, and so on) and to the city (our 4-days-a-week internship, plus volunteering elsewhere as needed). I am one of three girls who will be spearheading community relations for the house. We have a choice of a lot of cathedral activities, and my top two right now are book club and theology on tap, so we’ll see what I end up doing.

My placement is at Feeding Pennsylvania, and I am excited for it, but also nervous because I haven’t really done this type of work before.

More to come. In the meantime, feel free to read more about the Episcopal Service Corps on their website!

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