On Service

“you shall be called the repairer of the breach,  the restorer of streets to dwell in” (Isaiah 58:12)

Written by Alex Swain, Beloved in the Desert

This post will be the last of a series of reflections that have been focused on the topics of call, prayer, and community. They are an attempt to articulate, broadly, the main ways that I have come to draw closer to God through this year as a member of the Episcopal Service Corps (ESC). These posts also come as an apt opportunity for reflection on my time at Beloved in the Desert, as the first year of the program is in its final weeks.

Of all the multifaceted ways of living throughout this year, by discerning the call of God and developing a discipline of prayer, while living in community, I have experienced that service is a natural outpouring of these ways of living.

Service is a pillar of ESC. All of the ESC programs scattered around the nation are deeply engaged in service (it is in the name!). At Beloved in the Desert, we seek to “serve others in solidarity, promoting justice throughout community.” It is our impassioned desire to give of our

What values are driving your work?

Written by Caitlin Parsley, Corps member serving through Circle of the Beloved

“I humbly partner with organizations that disrupt cycles of racism, poverty, and violence to bring healing empowerment to the Northside community. My mission for not just this season, but many to come, is to be a contemplative activist for the Gospel.”

Me with Sister Karen, Visitation Monestary

I shared these words during my commitment service just three short months ago on February 2nd. As an intern with the Visitation monastery, I have the incredible opportunity to schedule my time around three guiding values: community, spirituality, and service.

Circle of the Beloved welcomed me warmly and wrapped me up in their community from day one. If it wasn’t for Circle, I would have been floundering about to find community as the only Visitation intern this year. Whether it is sharing meals or participating in Sunday compline, we are working together to foster authentic community at Liberty House.

In addition to community, spiritual rhythms and growth have taken a front seat in my weekly schedule. I attend mass and mid-day prayer with the Sisters, read and discuss books to better understand Salesian spirituality, and simply listen to the wisdom

On Community

Written by Alex Swain, Beloved in the Desert

“…grant that we may never forget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 134)

“O God, your unfailing providence sustains the world we live in and the life we live: Watch over those, both night and day, who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never forget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 134)

Prayed during compline, this last sentence describes, I think, a major hope and ideal of the Christian life. That through Jesus Christ we may always recall that our common life together depends upon one another’s work, and that this is sustained by God’s grace. The Christian then is an individual who must live in community and continually recollect that one’s life is not in a selfish and individualistic microcosm, but rather is deeply connected to God and to fellow humanity.

Community was a key component of my return to the Christian faith. The recognition of need for a nourishing, rooted faith community led to my eventual stumbling into an

Joining The Viewpoints


To you who are reading this interview, I hope you’re feeling okay during this COVID quarantine and if not, maybe you’ll feel differently after reading this panel interview. My name is Ian Tan and I serve in the 2019-2020 Episcopal Service Corps at Sycamore House in Harrisburg, Central PA. I work as a grant writer for Habitat for Humanity and as an after-school staff member for St Stephen’s Episcopal School. I decided to cobble this interview together from different service corps members in the spirit of joining our different yet similar experiences during the quarantine. Hence the title of this interview series “Joining The Viewpoints”. Thanks for joining us!!

To you, my fellow service corps members, thank you for agreeing to share a little about yourself in this time. You are heard, you are appreciated, you are a heap of awesome!

A bit about me: In my free time, I love hunkering down in my room with ramen or Chinese food and working on a novel. But enough ‘bout just me, let’s hear something ‘bout you too! I’ll also answer my own questions.


1.What’s your name, which Episcopal Service Corps are

On Prayer

Written by Alex Swain, Beloved in the Desert

“Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.” (Isaiah 55:6, RSV)

I am still, in all honesty, quite new to the discipline of regular prayer and I feel a bit out of my element writing this post. For much of my life my presence in prayer was tightly tied to feeling. When I felt spiritually close to God, when I felt the electrifying presence of the Holy Spirit, I possessed a zealous desire to worship and draw near. That is when I prayed.

Eventually, as I’m sure many of us have experienced, the feeling faded. This then crumbled my sense of proximity to God and my prayer life would wither and dry up. I think this pattern of prayer life is specifically what Father Martin Thornton describes as the “tyranny of feeling” and notes that “emotion and feeling must be disciplined and understood” in relation to direction in prayer (Christian Proficiency, pg.28).

This year, as a member of the Episcopal Service Corps through Beloved in the Desert, I truly began to learn to pray.

Prayer is the heartbeat of our communal life in Beloved

Video greeting from Bishop Curry

The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church, sends his greetings and gratitude for Corps members serving during the current outbreak of COVID-19.

On the Call of God

Written by Alex Swain, Beloved in the Desert

“I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).

First and foremost: A blessed Eastertide to all! Alleluia! The Lord is risen!

In contemplating the call of God, I see two aspects. First, that a call must have voice, therefore God speaks. Second, that creation must respond.

 This pattern plays out throughout Holy Scripture. The act of God speaking and creation responding is elemental, even fundamental, to the weaving of the universe. In the beginning God spoke, and creation blossomed forth. God said, “Let there be light” and there was light. The very creation of the world is a response to God’s voice. Father Rowan Williams, the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, notes that indeed “calling and creating are closely associated.” Isaiah 55:10-11 declares of the Lord, “so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

We see, too, that God calls individuals to Him. “Moses, Moses!” God cries out. Moses responds, and a great prophet is raised. We see Ezekiel prophesy in the