Our seminary students are a blessing to Chaplains on the Way! Each September, we welcome a new student from one of the area seminaries to join our chaplain team, 15 hours a week, throughout the academic year. They quickly become part of our community, offering their own unique gift and benefitting from the warmth and depth of the conversations people share with them. Korte, Lisa, Bill, Deborah…the students from past years never really leave our hearts and they tell us how their time at COTW still informs the ministry they do in other places.
This year we were blessed with two, amazing students: Jill Gaulding who was with us for the entire year and Lee Minchang who joined us in January.
Jill, a second year student studying Buddhism at Harvard Divinity School, bought her loving, listening ear to every conversation she had whether it took place in the parking lot at McDonalds or around a table at the soup kitchen. Trust is a gift we must earn from the members of our community who have been rejected and disappointed so often. Jill’s gentle humor and obvious sincerity helped her earn trust almost immediately. During her stay, our compline attendance jumped way up as she introduced Buddhist concepts and liturgy to the men attending that Wednesday evening service at the Bristol Shelter.
Lee came to COTW mid -year after his first field education experience ended unexpectantly. Lucky for us! Lee graduated this Spring from BostonUniversity School of Theology with a second degree in Religious Education. He came to this country from Korea, looking for more expansive ways to teach Christian education. To that end, he led several compline services that included thoughtful Bible study. At first Lee was concerned that his competency in English might not be enough to make him a good chaplain. But that was never the case. Lee just twinkles with compassion, and people soon trusted him and looked forward to conversations with him.
The hardest part of this annual blessing is saying goodbye. We thanked Jill and Lee and sent them off into the world with a party and a cake in May. The blessings, of course, are mutual. The memories and impact lives on.