Through the Church Vocations Initiative, Grace will provide support, encouragement, and financial assistance to members who wish to pursue a vocational ministry, either within the church or in the secular world.
Download the 2016-17 guidelines and application. Scholarship applications are due July 15, 2016.
Reflections on my Spiritual Growth
This semester has turned out to be a very significant growth period for my spirituality. Surprisingly, my spiritual development has had less to do with my vocational aspirations than it has with interpersonal and intrapersonal communication. Academically, this semester has been the most manageable I have had while at St. Olaf. Socially, however, I’ve found myself struggling to adapt to evolving friendships and to support my closest friends as they struggle to find balance in their relationships. The emotional stress of maintaining my own healthy relationships and helping my friends do the same is leading me to lean on God more than I have in the past. The need to develop spiritual practices to meet those challenges is something I’m learning I need more than I perhaps recognized before.
Recently, as I was talking with my best friend we realized that while we’re both religious and talk freely about our differing faith traditions we don’t really make the effort to incorporate God into our relationship. Part of that lack of effort is because she struggles with her own Christian identity being underrepresented at our Lutheran school. While I feel quite at home in our chapel’s high church worship style, she doesn’t. She much prefers contemporary worship. So, it’s hard for us to attend worship regularly together. However, to keep our friendship healthy and strong we’re making more of a concerted effort to be present for each other and to connect more spiritually. We’re trying to attend Bible study together, which will be interesting since I often find it a less meaningful spiritual practice than singing and volunteering.
Along my spiritual journey I’m also feeling some of the same disconnect my best friend is feeling about her own church community and I’m working to strengthen my spiritual practices. After high school graduation, Grace became the only Chicago-area community with which I felt belonging. In many ways its people still are that safe family for me, where many know me and care about my well-being. Though, with the pastoral transition we’ve had over the last year-and-a-half, I’ve felt increasingly more disconnected with Grace. While there isn’t much I feel I can do when I’m not home, I recently joined St. Olaf’s Sunday worship volunteer team as a lector. Taking that role up again after two years since lectoring at Grace grounds me in one of my favorite spiritual practices - reading the Word aloud - and reminds me of why I love lectoring at Grace.
Looking forward, I worry about how my strong sense of belonging to Grace and St. Olaf’s religious communities will change when I study abroad next semester. I know that I will have both to return to, but worry about being able to find peers who are also religious in Konstanz, Germany. My St. Olaf peers who represent many faith traditions, especially non-Christian traditions, often speak of the struggles of studying at a school where they lack a wider community that shares their beliefs: that they must be more intentional in how they practice their faiths. I expect I will also face some of those same issues while abroad and look forward to tackling the challenge of finding a service group, choir, or friend with whom I can practice my Christianity. Much like this past semester, it will be a time of good growth in which I can continue strengthening myself spiritually and reminding myself what connects me to God and to my faith communities. By bolstering my relationship with God this semester, I am becoming more attuned to my own strengths and weaknesses and thus more effectively incorporating my spirituality with my vocational aspirations.