"When we stand by a neighborhood, welcome the persons who find no hospitality elsewhere and dare to dream great things, we as the church offer the gifts of will and of hope." Bishop John L Rabb.
The Episcopal Service Corps-Maryland was formed in part to answer Bishop Rabb’s challenge for the church to be a beacon of hope for the city. We welcomed our first interns to Baltimore in August 2011 to become the pioneering residents of Gilead House and our second class arrived in August 2012. In addition to forming an intentional community together in their new home, they work as fulltime volunteers in nonprofit agencies. Current worksite partners include community centers in underserved city neighborhoods, an agency serving ship crews in the Port of Baltimore, a farm connected with the Baltimore City School system, agencies addressing issues of housing evictions, adult literacy, and church congregations networking with city and county groups addressing needs of the more vulnerable in society . The Gileads join efforts to provide solace to those struggling in the city and the poverty ring around the city.
ESC-MD Year Two Class
ESC-MD Pioneer Class.
The ESC-MD program year begins with an orientation in mid-August and concludes with a retreat at the end of July. It’s designed on an action/reflection model so that interns regularly reflect on their work in the world, their community life in Gilead House, and what it means to them personally to live intentionally. One afternoon a week, they gather at home with mentors to process their experiences. Their reading and discussions follow a curriculum that blends social justice, urban issues, racial reconciliation, community development, servant leadership training, and theological reflection. Each intern is also matched with and meets regularly with a spiritual mentor for the year.
Gilead is the first ESC-MD house to open. We anticipate opening a second house in another part of the Diocese of Maryland within the first few years and have begun conversations to help that happen. That site will most likely be rural, helping our interns to address the many faces of poverty in a broader way.
"...the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
- Frederick Buechner
Interns receive small, individual monthly stipends along with a shared stipend for food and expenses for the Gilead House intentional community. Housing, health insurance, and public transportation are funded by ESC-MD. We offer a grant at the end of the completion of the program year to help interns move on to the next step in their lives.
in the community
Anyone of any faith may apply, but this program is shaped primarily by the Christian faith as expressed in the Episcopal Church. And because an aspect of the program is to be a means to empower young adults to discernment and independent living, we are not considering applicants over 30 at this time. In order to pull from a broader and more diverse applicant pool, we do not require a college degree for the program in general. However, many of our worksites do require one so having a degree, particular credentials, or skillsets make placement more likely.
“The experience I have had so far with ESC-MD is amazing, I'm learning more about myself and my beliefs, I'm also learning so much about the city of Baltimore and what the city has to offer and what the city will need to change in order to grow. I feel that being in ESC is slowly changing me in so many ways into the person I am meant to be.”
For many unfamiliar with the city, images from a TV series such as The Wire or Homicide: Life on the Street may come to mind when Baltimore is mentioned. And though it is true that the city has had its share of economic and sociological crises – and continues its struggles with many of them – there is more here. Baltimore has many of the usual qualities of a large city: eclectic neighborhoods, affordable restaurants, both free and fee museums, universities, and a diversity of ethnicities, social classes, and faith groups. Public transportation includes bus, Metro underground and light rail.
Historically a working class city centered on the port, Baltimore has over 300 distinct neighborhoods, many of which still retain strong cultural and ethnic identities.
Some have suffered over the past few decades with the middle class moving out to the suburbs. When the economic base shifted and manufacturing declined, many jobs were lost and those who could afford to move did so.
Those who were left struggled with the hopelessness of chronic unemployment, deteriorating schools and social services due to a dwindling tax base, and a rise in drug abuse and crime. This was beginning to turn around as Baltimore shifted to a service economy, but the city suffered again when the national economic crisis hit. Even so, there are pockets of hope and resilience throughout the city, with neighborhood groups joining with civic and business leaders and local churches and nonprofits to help their beloved city thrive once again. In the spring of 2013 we will move from our beginning home in Pikesville to the heart of the city in St. Michael’s House to live where we work.
Want to know more?
Just as the interns change the lives of those they serve, our hope and expectation is that this year will profoundly and radically shape their own lives- and even help transform the identity of the Episcopal Church to become more and more an agent of change throughout the community. If you feel a call to join us, include ESC-Maryland among your preferences when you apply.
For more information, contact the Rev Jan Hamill at email@example.com
All that is asked of us, says poet Peggy Way, is to make gentle a bruised world, to heal and tame its savageness and, in time remaining, to tell the ancient tales, and go the way of God's foolish ones.
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