The Challenge of Community

A year of voluntary service has become a rite of passage for thousands of socially conscious young Christians. Hundreds of programs in the United States and worldwide provide opportunities for new college graduates searching for what to do next and people in mid-life career changes, on sabbatical, or newly retired who want to serve communities and challenge their faith. Since 1985, Sojourners has been the temporary home for more than 130 such people. Sojourners interns serve for a year on the magazine staff, with Call to Renewal, or at Sojourners Neighborhood Center. Most describe their intern year as an intense time of spiritual growth through learning, volunteering, living simply, living in community, and discipleship. Here is a glimpse inside the volunteer year by recent intern Susannah Hunter.

For 16 years, fresh faces-young and not so young-have traveled from all over the world to Sojourners with a desire to wrestle with questions about Christian community, social justice, and spiritual growth. Job experiences and individual struggles make this year different for each intern, but struggling with life in community was common to us all. Were we a community only when we all agreed? Were we a community if some people were closer with some than others? Were we a community even when we didn't always feel like one? Intern Brian Hill thought back on his expectations. "I initially expected the broader community to be more of a challenge and the household community to be more a place where I could feel at peace," Hill said. "As it turned out, I felt that the household community was much more challenging than my work in the community at large."

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Sojourners Magazine November-December 2001
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