Community Living in the Affiliate Model

When I moved to Detroit a year and a half ago I was the only Global Mission Fellow US2 serving in this area. Detroit has a long history of US2s though so I was welcomed into a great community. Last year I spent a lot of time with those serving as current and former Jesuit Volunteers and others in the volunteer community. I couldn’t help desire for others serving through Global Ministries though. All of the friends I made last year were on one year commitments and so our experiences of serving were very different. I lived in a house with other young adults who were in Detroit because of their heart for social justice, but none were on a living stipend anymore, or wanted to talk about how it was with their souls. Last year I met with my affiliate coordinator who asked questions around discernment and helped me process my first year in ministry but it was not an experience that I was going through with other young adults.

Then mid-April the confirmation came that two more young adults would be coming to Detroit to serve. As part of the NOAH staff I was on the team who interviewed Chelsea Williams (yes there would be two Chelsea’s working at NOAH) and then Kayla Flannery and I had many conversation about life in Detroit as she was applying to be a US2 and she is now with the Northwest Flood Recovery in Detroit working in partnership with UMCOR. Since Chelsea and Kayla have moved to Detroit I have been beyond blessed by this new form of community. In November I moved and now all three of us live in the same house, with them in the upstairs flat and me downstairs.

This new piece of community brings more support than I could have imagined. We are there for each other when someone has had a bad day and needs someone to vent to, or when we don’t want to watch a movie alone, or when one of us has cooked too much for dinner and it becomes a community meal. We are also there for each other to check in on matters of spirituality. To ask the question of, “How is it with you soul?” or “Where did you see God this week? And where did you struggle to see God?”

The affiliate model that Global Ministries has moved towards, allows for you to know that you are not in this crazy journey of service alone. Today we all met with our affiliate coordinator together and realized we had more themes together than we realized. Through our individual meetings our supervisor brought out three themes that we are all dealing with: discernment, boundaries, and friends. It was a joy to spend time today reflecting on these aspects as a group and individually.

The affiliate here in Detroit challenges me in ways that sometimes I wish it didn’t. But it is in these moments that I see God at work through difficult conversations and life giving affirmation. We are all called, we all love each other, and at the end of the day we are never alone. Not only has God blessed me with a great affiliate coordinator, boss, and now two GMF’s to walk this journey with me, but it is through these folks that I am reminded of God’s presence. In the midst of chaos and challenging moments I am reminded that I have a Creator who has been there all along. What a beautiful group of blessings.

Chelsea SpyresSpyres_Chelsea

NOAH Project, Detroit, MI

US-2, Class 2014



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