6 things about Katie Thomison’s summer break

During the summer months, our students work, intern, or study in a variety of settings, often earning course credit and learning what it means to be the Church in the World. Some stay near campus, while others move away for a few months. On the blog this summer, we are featuring some of our students and the work they’re doing. This week we feature M.Div. student Katie Thomison.

By M.A.C.E. / M.Div. student Rosy Robson

Rosy Robson:  Where are you and what are you doing this summer?

Katie Thomison:  This summer I am one of three interns at The Center in Baltimore, Maryland. The center seeks partnerships with local congregations involved in their neighborhoods. Groups of all types (youth groups, women’s retreats, college groups) who stay with us are plugged into these local neighborhood ministries. The focus of the visiting groups is not to help, or do for, but to focus on creating authentic relationships across boundaries. I help facilitate the groups’ experiences in Baltimore neighborhoods. Our hope is that groups will implement the relational ministry they experienced in Baltimore to their own contexts and become engaged with and listen to their own neighborhoods.

RR:  How does this summer’s job/activity/study fit into your larger education at Union?

KT:  I came to Union to “be the church in the world” and that includes parts of the world that seem maybe uncomfortable to the privileged. I am learning how congregations can listen to their local neighborhoods and engage in sustainable ways rather than assuming what is needed and quickly “fixing” what we view as a problem.

RR:  Why is this job/activity/study important for the future of the church?

KT:  My work at The Center has brought to reality my hopes for the future of the church. In such a divisive time in our nation, creating relationships across boundaries is healing and hopeful. It’s also risky and messy and it takes a long time to build trust. I believe that persistence in listening to our neighbors no matter their race, class, and gender is how we get closer to doing God’s mission. Therefore, the church should be a transforming agent alongside God’s work already present in communities. Me and visiting groups to The Center have felt this happen through crossing boundaries to learn what is happening in our neighbors’ lives.

RR:  What exciting insights or learnings have you gained so far?

One exciting insight that has already shaped my call to ministry is my experience of the varied examples of how churches choose to be involved in both mission and policy. I have always thought I would be better suited to work in a non-parish setting in community organizing. I am slowly realizing that working in a parish setting doesn’t necessarily mean giving up my passion for social change. In fact, I’m witnessing firsthand how churches can be active agents of change by discerning how the Holy Spirit is already operating in ALL neighborhoods.

RR:  What are you reading or watching this summer?

KT:  I just finished “Not In My Neighborhood” by Antero Pietila. It’s about the history of bigotry in Baltimore city planning. I actually work/drive on my way home through many neighborhoods mentioned in the book

RR:  What is your favorite summertime treat?

KT:  Tortilla chips, dark chocolate, and iced coffee.