Greensboro Urban Ministry; Reflections from Kolby Knight
My esteemed colleagues at the Divinity School often laugh when I reflect upon my transition from the dirt roads of rural Georgia to the metropolis of Winston-Salem. Some have likely recognized in the thickness of my accent as I continue my meager pursuit of urban enlightenment. Every Tuesday and Thursday my pursuit is energized and affirmed by individuals existing on the dark margins of Greensboro, North Carolina. I am lucky to often experience an illumination that has far exceeded the expectations I possessed before beginning my internship experience at Greensboro Urban Ministry.
It may come as a surprise to some that I possess such an affinity for urban ministry. As an undergraduate at Mercer University, I became aware of the hard realities with which many deal living in the urban context. It was in Macon, Georgia that my perspective began to broaden and the profundity of human relationships began a personal transformation that eventually led me here. As I began to get to know people much different from myself, I was forced to confront the assumptions that hindered me from entering into genuine relationships with those same people. Greensboro Urban Ministry continues to force me to confront the subsisting assumptions that my rural heritage has produced.
Being a minister includes becoming vulnerable to the experiences of those we serve. Ministry is a practice allowing vulnerability to transform us as we continue to become who God intends us to be. I realize that as a white male from Baxley, Georgia my ability to become vulnerable to the experiences of the people served at Greensboro Urban Ministry has considerable limitations, but I remain committed to the attempt. Something that my rural foundation did instill in me is the commitment to know others before assuming that I know others. My mother and father insisted that I treat others right no matter who they are or from where they come, and I am convinced that this lesson has propelled me into the urban ministerial context in which I now serve. As I continue to form relationships with others, I recognize many lessons that I have not yet learned.
At Greensboro Urban Ministry, I continue to experience the joys of forming relationships with individuals who have much to teach me. As we eat, talk, and worship with one another at GUM, we connect with the God who transcends all sociological and contextual realities and calls each person into relationship with God’s self and each other. In this political season as we listen to rambling politicians propagate their agendas on the back of assumptions, we must remain committed to replacing our assumptions with perspective. It is by God’s grace that perspective is broadened and that we are transformed. It is by God’s grace that a small town boy from Georgia can learn from the children of God who live on the streets of Greensboro, North Carolina.