This week marks my seventh full week of my Washington DC semester, and I find myself already having to think about scheduling my flight back home to Minnesota. To say my DC experience so far has been great would be an understatement. Seven weeks ago I had no idea that I would have the chance to meet so many kind people, navigate my way around DC and feel a part of the team at LSA.
Not only was moving to a new city an exciting, yet an anxious milestone in my life, beginning a new journey with a faith-based organization was as well. Having recently worked on policy at the state and federal level at the Annie E. Casey Foundation as a National Urban Fellow, I quite frankly did not know what to expect when it came to working for a national, faith-based organization. Over the past 60 days, I have had the opportunity to learn about what grounds each of the social ministry organizations in the LSA network. I believe myself to be a man of faith, and like many, strive to develop a closer relationship with God and understand my purpose in life. In these first 60 days, the values, vision and mission of LSA have come to light for me. The values of LSA have resonated not only in the development of my own faith but I see and feel them in the work each of our members do across the country.
"If you’re not around the table, you’re on the table." These were words of wisdom imparted by Diakon’s President and CEO Mark Pile at the recent LSA 2016 CEO Academy, which was held in Carefree, Arizona, Jan. 31-Feb. 3. 55 leaders from within our national Lutheran social ministry network gathered for three days of networking, fellowship and learning around the issue of "Leading Through Innovation."
For the last three summers, I worked as a camp counselor at Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center in Oregon, IL. I loved the work I did – I loved running around the hundreds of acres of land with the campers, seeing their smiling faces, and knowing that I was making a difference in each and every one of their lives. That’s the kind of service people easily understand – hands on work. However, this summer I decided that I needed to get a more well-rounded view of service, which is why I applied for the Calling and Purpose in Society (CAPS) Fellows Program which is offered through Valparaiso University. This program was developed by the Institute for Leadership and Service, and it is designed to help students learn more about service in society as well as have the opportunity to begin to understand their own calling and purpose in society. This is accomplished by the fellows serving in a variety of organizations.