Fellows at Work

In my experience in the Fellows Program thus far, I have seen "the convergence of faith, life, work, and culture" come to a head in my work at the Center on Faith in Communities.  The Center on Faith in Communities, directed by Dr. Amy Sherman, is a branch of the Sagamore Institute, an Indianapolis-based policy research think tank.  My job at CFIC entails assisting Dr. Sherman in her work to "inspire, educate, equip, and resource the Christian community for the work of mercy and justice among the poor."  Day-to-day, this can mean many different things.  From conducting primary and secondary research to writing book reviews, I have been fortunate enough to collaborate with Dr. Sherman on many stimulating and worthwhile projects.  One of the projects that Dr. Sherman has graciously let me participate in is the process of writing her book called Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good, to be released by InterVarsity Press later this year.  I have contributed to many things in this process, large and small, from formatting footnotes to writing the first appendix.  Getting to see the book-writing process has been fascinating and informative, but I have most enjoyed learning from the actually content of the book.  Dr. Sherman’s book does for pastors what the Fellows Program does for young adults.  It challenges pastors to preach on vocational stewardship from the pulpit, encouraging their congregation to capitalize on their gifts for the sake of God’s kingdom and to integrate faith, work, and culture.  The book has bolstered what I have been learning through our seminary classes, through discussions and stimulation from our Fellows community, and through our volunteer work at Trinity Presbyterian Church. As I was working on prospects for next year, I realized how truly different this job-search has been from my experience this same time last year. I am looking at vocation and faith in a totally new light, understanding that the dualist divide between the sacred and secular is a deceptive lie from the evil one.  God has had profound amounts of grace with me and is continuing to lead me toward his heart through my faith and work.  Please be praying that all 14 of us will be led by God to understand how he wants us to be transformed and how he wants us to transform his world through our vocations.


In case you are interested, Dr. Sherman has recently written an article published in Crosswalk Magazine to whet people’s appetites on topics, issues, and stories addressed in the book.  You can access the article here.

--Sally Carlson, Chesapeake, Virginia

"Establish the Work of Our Hands"

Let yourwork be shown to your servants,and your glorious power to their children. Let thefavorof the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!”

~Psalm 90:16-17~


A few weekends ago all the Fellows packed up the infamous and unreliable Trinity bus (insert saga of the Lexington Bus Breakdown) and headed to Eagle’s Landing Retreat Center near Roanoke, Virginia for the annual Fellows Initiative Retreat on Social Justice. We found ourselves in the beautiful mountains of Virginia, unpacking our belongings in quaint, log cabin-style accommodations, and ready for a weekend of fellowship, learning, and fun. Seventy Fellows gathered in total, representing programs from Falls Church, MeClean Presbyterian, Raleigh, Charlotte, Kinston, and Knoxville.

Gideon Strauss, President of the Center for Public Justice, prepared several “conversations” on his walk as a believer in pursuit of biblical justice. As a native South African speaking both English and Afrikaans, he found himself serving as an interpreter for the Truth and Reconciliation Committee after the fall of apartheid in South Africa in the late 1990s. These experiences provided Gideon with deep insight into the brokenness of humanity and the pain, heartbreak, and rage that God’s people experience in the face of great injustices. Left to his own devices, the weight of these emotions would have crushed his soul and his marriage. Gideon found that the only adequate response to the brokenness was to pray through the Psalms, expressing these deep emotions in the safety of the hand of the Lord. He invited us to do the same and to consider what it would look like for us to act justly in our everyday lives; including the clothes we wear, the food we buy, and our politics.

As a group of seventy, we each entered the weekend with a different understanding of justice and its relevance to our lives. What does the call to do justice in Micah 6:8 really mean? Is it only for my cousin who serves as a missionary in Uganda, my friend who teaches at an inner city school, or my neighbor who runs the soup kitchen at our church? What does it look like for us as twenty-something Fellows and for the businessmen, lawyers and museum curators that we may become? Gideon avoided any speculation and provided us with a biblical framework for understanding the call to do justice. He suggested that the call to do justice is a thread in the fabric of the biblical narrative. It is not optional, but rather, essential and interwoven, it is part of what it is to be human. What a bold statement! Throughout the weekend we heard from Gideon about ways that we could begin to “do justice” and had great discussions around our tables with the other Fellows.

The weekend was filled with great food, fresh mountain air, an Ultimate Frisbee tournament victory for the Trinity Fellows, and much laughter. We returned to Charlottesville grateful for each other and aware of the friendships that the Lord has established. Conversations on the ideas Gideon presented still linger and can be traced in g-mail threads that relate articles about justice to one another and uncover areas of injustice that we participate in by nature of our consumerism. I think we will continue to see the fruit of these discussions in years to come and each in our own spheres of influence. For now, we will pray and ask God to establish the work of our hands and open our eyes to the world around us.

--Ally Jaggard, East Stroudsburg Pennsylvania

Purpose at Work

Written by: Tripp Purks Perhaps the most constant and stable thing in the life of a Fellow (other than certain exhaustion and deep conversation) is that fact that every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we will be at our jobs along with the rest of the working world. The job-experience element of the program is indeed one of the cornerstones in the Fellow's foundation. The opportunity to be immersed in and contributing to the daily movement of an organization is extremely valuable to formation, and the part-time work hours certainly are a welcome relief to juggling the other aspects of the program. Though Fellows often work at entry level positions their presence is (hopefully) associated with hard work, pleasant dispositions, and a servant's attitude, thus bringing an invaluable contribution to their respective companies.

As for me, I've found that my time at work has been quite an experience. Though it is certainly not always exciting, or incredibly inspiring, I usually am able to see the value of the work that I do. The role of an intern is a funny thing, I often feel that I am held in this tension of doing things that are seemingly imperative to the company, but but are things that no one else would ever do. So I'm necessary and invisible simultaneously? Possibly. But the beautiful thing about the humbleness of my role (and often the role of other Fellows in their job-sites) is that it pushes me to labor outside of my own gain. Thus, the job experience becomes less about the work that I must do, but rather how I complete it. The beauty of this situation is that God works amazing things with a servants heart, and his movement in my heart while at work has certainly begun to bridge the gap between the tasks that I have to complete and the ways in which I am called to exist and behave at work. The cool thing is that when God helps me understand that work is serving well where I am called to be in that moment, stuffing 85 mailboxes seems more redemptive than I once thought.

For more updates on my life as a Fellow at the Federal Executive Institute. Start here and follow along in my blog