Doing More for Our Communities

Published: November 7, 2012

I came to Wake Div with the humble goal of changing the world.  However, like most young idealists, I have lots of critiques on how things are currently being done in the church and the wider world, as well as lots of grand ideas about starting a revolution that will shake things up. But, I do not have an overabundance of answers to the question of how, exactly, we can begin to change things for the better in a concrete and material way.

The nice thing about being a part of this community is that I am not alone in my search for answers to this question.   This year I’m part of a group of divinity students here at Wake Forest who are involved in a Community Engagement Fellowship program, which gives us the opportunity to get together and start coming up with ways to change our world right now, and ways to inspire our peers to get involved as instruments of social justice.  The CEF connects us to other divinity students around the country who are also grappling with these questions and who are passionate about a diversity of social issues. These issues span from ending modern-day slavery, to creating sustainable food systems, to defending the rights of our LGBT brothers and sisters.  By sharing our ideas and cooperating with each other across geographical, political, and theological divides, we hope to help each other learn more and, more importantly, do more for our communities.

This year our work will involve organizing a conference on social justice and community engagement to educate and mobilize our colleagues, as well as participating in community internships that will give us the opportunity to learn while putting our faith into practice.  This is what gets me so excited about this program, and about our school in general—we’re not just sitting in our ivory tower theorizing about how to change the world; we’re getting out and getting our hands dirty.  As a student of Women’s & Gender Studies, I learned that putting my values into action is a crucial component of education.  I’m proud to carry on this practice in a new educational environment, and to be able to expand my definition of what social justice means by learning from the passions and experiences of other Community Engagement Fellows.

As I begin to roll up my sleeves and do the work of creating change in our local community and beyond, I am not discouraged by the mammoth size of the task.  I know that there are others standing with me, and while we may not be able to discover the secret equation to ending oppression overnight, we draw strength and inspiration and ideas from each other.  A cord of three strands can’t be easily broken, and I know that with my fellow students by my side, I will be much less inclined to give up the good fight.

Jessica Place
First Year