Get to Know the Sojourners Fellowship Program: Cycle 36 | Sojourners

Get to Know the Sojourners Fellowship Program: Cycle 36

This fall, Sojourners welcomed 10 leaders to our office in Washington, D.C. as a part of our year-long fellowship program focused on professional development, vocational discernment, and spiritual formation. The fellows are working full-time alongside our staff in different departments, contributing to the work and mission of Sojourners. Throughout the program, the fellows live in intentional community sharing a home, budget, meals, and spiritual practices.

To enable this important work and provide space for spiritual and interpersonal growth, Sojourners (with your support!) covers the cost of housing, transportation, health insurance, and food, along with monthly stipend support and transition funds at the end of the program.

This year marks the 36th Cycle of the Sojourners Fellowship Program. The Cycle 36 fellows have been gathered together from a variety of religious, professional, and cultural backgrounds. They describe themselves as “a community loved by God, called to each other in this particular time and place to follow the radical example of Jesus Christ.” In addition to exploring the intersection of faith and justice, Cycle 36 finds spiritual fulfillment in sharing laughter, making music, and sitting down for home cooked meals together.

Thank you for helping us walk alongside these leaders who are putting their faith into action and building God’s beloved community.

Continue reading to learn about the experiences and passions that led each of our fellows to Sojourners and please keep them in your prayers as they grow in their faith and vocation!

Ben Cox 

My name is Ben and I am a recent graduate from Pacific Lutheran University where I studied business, French, nonprofit leadership, and religion. I call Minnesota home and love the great outdoors, theology, and philosophy.

As I reflect on the path that led me to Sojourners I am especially grateful for Pastor Jen Rude at Pacific Lutheran University who demonstrated what it looks like to follow the Biblical call to social justice. She flawlessly worked inclusive language into all our liturgy, music, and messages, dared to preach on Jesus and God's radical love, and decorated the campus ministry office with welcoming and social-justice oriented banners. I still do not know exactly what my calling is in the world, but people such as Pastor Jen, my parents, and the Sojourners community have helped me see several ways that I can put my faith in action and I could not be more grateful.

I see this year at Sojourners as an opportunity for me discover what the best way is for me to personally answer the Biblical call to social justice, and I am so grateful to everyone who has both spiritually, prayerfully, and financially supported my being here.

Candace Sanders 

I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio and am a recent graduate of Kent State University, where I received a B.A. in Visual Communication Design with a minor in Sociology. At my core, I am someone who yearns to tell stories through different forms of media while also finding ways to share my faith.

I am grateful for the opportunity to be at Sojourners at this time and to explore the passions God has put in my heart. To be in an environment that makes me feel like I’m a part of a greater movement for change, and allows me to use my creativity while doing so, is something I don’t take for granted.

I am so thankful for how God has been leading me from season to season and to each and every person I’ve met along this life journey. So much love to my NEO Impact family, my biological family, and the friends that have become family over the years.

Chelsey Johnson 

My name is Chelsey, and I am so excited to be joining the Sojourners community here in Washington, D.C.!

I come to Cycle 36 after growing up in Minnesota, graduating from Oklahoma State University, and spending a year of volunteer service in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Since the 5th grade, I have felt a deep call to pursue justice, a calling further stoked by my Lutheran faith tradition of speaking out against unjust systems. Now as the Donor Services Assistant, I have a front row view into the ways your generosity empowers Sojourners in working towards a more just world for all.

I am continually inspired by what we, as people of faith, can accomplish together. In my short time at Sojourners, I’ve seen just how powerful our voices are in creating change when joined together from across denominations, political parties, and national borders. It is AMAZING, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to live out God’s call to justice and peace alongside the Sojourners community this year.

Christine Lee 

Born and raised in Memphis, TN, I graduated from Duke University, where I studied Public Policy, Asian Studies, and History; and was heavily involved in the formation of Duke's Asian American Studies Program. I’m particularly interested in understanding and organizing against the many barriers that inhibit folks from seeing themselves and others in the image of God. This has manifested itself in an interest in API/A (Asian Pacific Islander/ American) issues, postcolonial theology, and labor and immigration histories.

I’m also passionate about facilitating spaces for Asian American Southerners to continue to develop the growing narrative of what it means to be Asian in the South, channeling much of this energy into my position as director of outreach for the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU). I love a good cup of coffee, video chatting with my dog Leo, and tending to the plants in the fellows’ garden.

I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn from the Sojourners office, especially during the launch of SojoAction, and am excited to see where this year takes me.

Hannah Conklin

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio. Though I grew up in a Southern Baptist church community, I was significantly influenced by Anabaptist emphases on peace, justice, and nonviolence while studying convergent media and journalism at Bluffton University.

The work of truth-seeking and respectful listening is foundationally important to me, and I am continually thankful for Sojourners’ incredible work and inspired by the impact it has for faith communities across the world. I am endlessly grateful for the opportunity to learn from those who so beautifully embody and embrace the biblical call to social justice during my year as an editorial assistant at Sojourners.

Jayne Smith 

I came to the Sojourners fellowship 3 years after graduating from film school. I had worked in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Atlanta’s film scenes, but found myself asking God what my next project should be. The Lord began to reveal to me his heart for justice. The more I learned, the more I longed to work with other Believers who saw the same problems and solutions that I did. So I prayed: “ God connect me with a group of people who share your heart for justice. ” The next day, I saw a Facebook ad for Jim Wallis’ new book, Christ in Crisis. The message affirmed what had been growing inside of me for the last year. I researched Jim, found the Sojourners website, and applied for the fellowship. A few weeks later I began my journey as the advertising assistant at Sojourners.

I’m truly grateful for being able to experience a deeply loving community that has been accepting of this newcomer. To see a completely different narrative of Christians in the era of Trump, has reassured me that God still reserves people who haven’t bowed their knee as he told Elijah. I’m also grateful for those who took a chance on me and those who made it possible. It’s not easy to switch careers or move states, but Sojourners already feels like home.

Joey Chin 

My name is Joey and I am an editorial fellow with Sojourners. I grew up in Seattle, Washington and studied communication and political science at the University of Washington. During this time I engaged in many conversations surrounding social justice and many conversations surrounding faith but rarely did the two overlap.

I am grateful to be a part of Sojourners where social justice and faith are seen as integral. Being here has helped me engage in thinking about the ways in which I can live out my faith in pursuit of a more just world.

Julianna Nikodym 

My name is Julianna, and I am currently the Circulation Assistant for Cycle 36 of the Sojourners Fellowship Program. Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, I am a proud Cardinals fan and disciple of St. John’s United Church of Christ: the Beloved Community.

Before D.C., I was at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, where I recently graduated with a B.A. in American Studies and a minor in Anthropology. At Emory, I had the privilege of being involved with wonderful organizations such as the Voices of Inner Strength Gospel Choir, Pierce Service Corps, and the Inclusive Curriculum Committee. Joining the gospel choir made me fall in love with the way music and faith interact and the many ways we can express our praise and gratitude.

I am incredibly thankful my mom sent me an article about this fellowship program because it has been such a blessing. I have learned and felt so much love from everyone I have had the opportunity to work with at Sojourners. This organization’s authenticity is inspiring, and I appreciate the many ways they’re truly putting faith into action.

Lucas Keller 

I am originally from Greenville, Ohio and a recent graduate of Bluffton University. I have had a heart for social justice ever since attending the Church of the Brethren’s Christian Citizenship Seminar.

As I began learning more about justice issues, Sojourners brought me hope for a better future for the world. I am specifically passionate about creating a platform for people who have been under-heard. My dream is to see a world where every person finds their voice and decisions can be made for the common good rather than for the good of those with a platform. Until that world comes into being, I want to lend my own voice to those who can use it best.

I would like to think my parents for introducing me to Sojourners supporting me in my decision to spend a year in Washington D.C. doing this work. I am also thankful for my friends and mentors at Bluffton University who have helped prepare me for this new chapter of my life.

Miguel Petrosky 

I’m a born-and-bred Virginian who just got back from living abroad in Zambia in Sub-Saharan Africa, and I’m so thrilled to be working and living in our nation’s capital, as this year’s Communication Assistant.

I’m really thankful to be working in an organization that I’ve admired from afar for several years now. Helping our President Jim Wallis and our team stay on top of current events within and outside the United States, writing press-releases, and doing the nitty-gritty work of communicating our message of faith-in-action makes each work-day feel satisfying.

When there is a difficult day, I’m thankful that I have a warm and supporting community within the Fellows’ House that makes me laugh, challenges my own theology and worldview, and have consistently delicious meals around the table while discussing our favorite quotes from “Mean Girls.” All in all, I’m thankful for the entire community and organization that is Sojourners!

 

This program is made possible by the generous support of sojourners like you across the country. Learn more about Sojourners' fellowship program and ways you can invest in the next generation of leaders.

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