The End of the Beginning

May 6, 2018

It’s hard to believe, but nearly exactly one year ago, with generous encouragement, a challenge, and funding from Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church (BMPC), the (former) BSM Youth Initiative expanded into what we now refer to as the Social Engagement Initiative. We’d had the crazy and ambitious (think windmills!) idea to expand the Youth Initiative’s immersive service-learning programming and open it up to adult and intergenerational groups, and not only did BMPC say to us “Great idea – go for it!” – they said: “Great idea, go for it, and we want to be your guinea pigs!”

Thus, Devin and Michele of BSM’s Social Engagement Initiative embarked on an eight-month long journey of exploration and growth with BMPC. From September 2017 through April 2018, members of the BMPC congregation and mission committees gathered together for worship at BMPC and for a series of Day Immersions and workshops at BSM. Seeking to take a deep, critical, and faithful look at their current mission practices, ideology, and initiatives, BMPC requested that Devin and Michele guide them through conversations on the following topics: Public Advocacy and Education, Cycles of Poverty, Community Development, Food Access, and Trauma-Informed Mission. Throughout immersive days of service and conversation, we welcomed members of BMPC to have difficult dialogue, create art, serve our guests and one another, and challenge assumptions of mission and poverty.

On Saturday, April 28, we made it to the end of the beginning of a critical and beautiful examination of mindful, faithful mission with BMPC at their annual Mission Summit. We gathered together at BMPC for a morning of reflection and prayer, storytelling, and planning for the future of BMPC’s mission and relationship with BSM. Devin and Michele are so grateful to BMPC for their encouragement, grace, willingness to be challenged and to be vulnerable, and tenacious support of all of BSM’s programming. We look forward to continuing a reflective and mutually supportive relationship with BMPC, and we hope to take what we’ve learned in the realm of adult education with BMPC and use our newly discovered and finely tuned gifts and skills with a wider range of adult groups, seeking to dig deep and learn more about why radical hospitality means to much, not only to BSM but to our entire city and world.