Nashville Epiphany Project (NEP) Website
Since its beginning on the feast day of Epiphany in 2001, the Nashville Epiphany Project has endeavored to embody Christ’s radical justice, hospitality, and love. We do this by devoting our YAVs to agencies that attend to the major systemic injustices in our city while also committing to the transformation of local communities and local conversations. We emphasize the reciprocal nature of Christian mission by focusing on the mutuality of relationship.
Our YAVs dedicate 32 hours a week to providing essential staff support at one of our partner agencies, Mondays through Thursdays. Fridays are committed to the work of community, beginning with weekly morning meetings with the site coordinator and continuing with activities determined by the current YAVs to cultivate and strengthen relationships with each other and with Nashville. Each of our YAVs also serves in a partner church from the Presbytery of Middle Tennessee, exploring how faith and justice interact and inform one another. Our YAVs attend Sunday worship in these churches and commit to participate in congregational life and ministry as their interests and spiritual gifts determine.
The Nashville Epiphany Project also benefits from its partnership with our local counselor and spiritual director, Rev. Janet Salyer of Callings Nashville. A specialist in vocational discernment, Rev. Salyer’s own vocation has been to help others discern their vocation. Utilizing tools from psychology, Christian spirituality, and career resources, Rev. Salyer works with our YAVs throughout their year, both individually and together, helping them to discern particular vocational paths and specific next steps.
Our Partner Agencies
Room in the Inn—Seeks “to provide programs that emphasize human development and recovery through education, self-help, and work, centered in community and long-term support for those who call the streets of Nashville home.” YAVs assist with a ride range of programming, from leading classes to helping coordinate the winter shelter services to managing the daily tasks in the primary hospitality lounge. YAVs form relationships with people experiencing homelessness and learn their unique stories.
The Martha O’Bryan Center—“On a foundation of Christian faith, Martha O’Bryan Center empowers children, youth, and adults in poverty to transform their lives through work, education, employment, and fellowship.” With its primary facility located in Nashville’s oldest, largest, and poorest government housing project, the Martha O’Bryan Center serves over 6,000 people each year at every stage of life, from cradle to college to career. YAVs have assisted with an array of programming, from adult education to child and youth development. YAVs have also served at satellite campuses of the Center, including Stratford and Maplewood High Schools and the Family Resource Center in the adjacent CWA Apartment Complex.
Conexión Américas—Seeks “to assist Latino families realize their aspirations for social and economic advancement by promoting their integration into all aspects of life in Middle Tennessee.” The agency provides comprehensive services for Latino families, especially those aimed at social, economic, and civic integration. Conexión Américas understands true integration as a “two-way learning experience” for both the immigrant and the host community, and therefore also actively educates and advocates within the broader context of Middle Tennessee. In 2012, Conexión Américas opened Casa Asafrán, a non-profit collaborative along Nashville’s main international corridor. YAVs have taught English classes, provided childcare support, learned the skills of non-profit collaboration, and more.
Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty—Seeks “to honor life by abolishing Tennessee’s death penalty as we urge the state not to take a human life in our name. We work toward fulfilling our mission through education, grassroots organizing, and advocating a change in public policy.” YAVs assist with all of these strategies, as they learn how to effect change on a statewide political issue.
Preston Taylor Ministries—Empowers the children and youth of the Preston Taylor public housing area to “discover and live their God-inspired dreams, develop a love for learning, and build joy-filled friendships that glorify Christ Jesus.” Through before-and-after-school programming, mentoring, and enrichment, children and youth form relationships with peers and adults who love and support them throughout their primary and secondary education. YAVs serve as mentors, bible study leaders, tutors, and coaches, providing essential staff support in an atmosphere of work and play.
Nations Ministry Center—“[A]s an instrument of God’s grace in welcoming refugees and immigrants to Middle Tennessee, [Nations Ministry Center] promotes genuine self-sufficiency by serving the needs of the whole person. By engaging churches, other organizations, and individuals, Nations Ministry Center seeks to support awareness of cultural diversity for the mutual benefit of clients and the entire community.” With Middle Tennessee responsible for resettling one out of every eight refugees that lands on American soil, Nations Ministry Center serves Nashville’s large and diverse refugee population with programs like English language mentoring, job coaching and placement, and citizenship and immigration support. YAVs assist with after-school tutoring programs, social services, and English classes, while learning the backbones of non-profit management.
UKirk Nashville—On the campuses of Vanderbilt and Belmont Universities, UKirk Nashville “is a Christian community dedicated to experiencing Christ on campus through worship, mission, and fellowship.” This community gathers weekly for worship, study, prayer, and meals. A great placement for YAVs considering vocational ministry, YAVs help plan and lead worship, learn about the relational and administrative sides of ministry, and engage young people at a very formative time in their lives.
Nashville CARES (new in 2015-2016)—Healthcare has long been Big Business in Nashville, but the needs of those living with HIV and AIDS requires a special community of support and services. Nashville CARES (Community AIDS Resources, Education, and Services) seeks “to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Middle Tennessee…through education, advocacy, and support for those at risk for or living with HIV.” YAVs have the opportunity to assist with a wide range of support services, from helping to lead health education classes among the HIV+ community to helping coordinate transportation and food programs.
Harpeth River Watershed Association (new in 2015-2016)—The Harpeth River Watershed Association in Middle Tennessee is dedicated to preserving and restoring the ecological health of the Harpeth River and its Watershed. Because the health of the watershed is essential to providing clean drinking water to surrounding communities, the HRWA raises awareness of the linkage between ecological conservation and basic human rights. YAVs have the opportunity to assist with grassroots education and advocacy, as well as organizing and contributing to restoration activities like tree planting, bank stabilization, and stream clean-ups.
Our Partner Churches
First Presbyterian Church—With a beautiful, spacious campus in the community of Oak Hill, First Pres is the largest church in our Presbytery, with four Sunday worship services, Sunday school classes for all ages and interests, and seven members of the pastoral staff. First Pres’ facilities include an excellent private school, soccer fields, a swimming pool, a bookstore, historical buildings, and more. Members of the First Pres community connect through a wide variety of fellowship and small group events and classes throughout the church year. YAVs have found great connectivity within the young adult and music ministries, among others.
Second Presbyterian Church—As the founding congregation of the Nashville Epiphany Project, Second Pres is a community dedicated to public witness through outreach and advocacy. With two worship services, a variety of age-specific Sunday school classes, and daily activities and fellowship groups, Second Pres strives to think creatively and critically about full inclusion and hospitality in the church. YAVs have volunteered in the dynamic children’s ministry, taught Sunday school classes, and assisted in worship leadership.
Westminster Presbyterian Church—Westminster’s purpose statement identifies the congregation as “ordinary people testifying to the extraordinary light found in our Lord Jesus Christ.” With two worship services, a wide range of Sunday school offerings, and a calendar packed full of events and fellowship opportunities, Westminster is a community where people plug in and delve deep. YAVs have participated in Westminster’s flourishing music ministries, as well as serving as liturgists, assisting in youth programming, and attending various fellowship events and trips.
Downtown Presbyterian Church—This historical gem in the heart of downtown Nashville is famous among tourists for the Egyptian Revivalist architecture and design of its sanctuary and its 100-year-old pipe organ. But insiders know that the real excitement of the church is not the building but the dynamic urban ministries that take place inside its walls. Every week the congregation supports a Sunday breakfast and a Wednesday lunch for anyone who is in need of a meal, from families experiencing poverty to men and women who have spent the night on the streets of downtown. In addition, the church reaches out to Nashville’s burgeoning artist population, providing cost-effective studio and gallery space. YAVs have been involved in these and other ministries at Downtown Pres and have found deep connection with this dedicated and fun-loving congregation.
Trinity Presbyterian Church—“A joyful and open Christian community that strives to worship and serve the living God in thoughtful, creative, and relevant ways,” Trinity Pres sits on small hillside overlooking the gateway to the Green Hills community. In this context of relative wealth and comfort, Trinity is committed to being a voice for social and economic justice in its neighborhood. As the worshipping home of many of Nashville’s YAVA, Trinity is a congregation dedicated to the care and development of its YAVs and has provided them opportunities to do just about anything that takes place at the church, from preaching to singing to teaching and more.
Hillsboro Presbyterian Church—Hillsboro Pres believes that “God is on a mission…to create, redeem, sustain, govern, and transform all people and all things and because that’s God’s mission, that’s what we are about, too.” With two Sunday worship services and ministries designed for people at all stages of life, Hillsboro Pres strives to welcome everyone as God welcomes them. YAVs have been involved in classes, youth and children’s programs, and fellowship events throughout the year.
Harpeth Presbyterian Church—The May Floods of 2010 hit Harpeth Pres, just steps from the Harpeth River, with an unpredictable strength, damaging the floors, walls, and memories of many congregants. Fortunately, the congregation had its own strength, based in its trust in God, and the church has been restored to its full repair and vibrant ministry. Through worship and relationship, Harpeth Pres is committed to its ongoing transformation “from fear to faith, from isolation to community, and from reaction to action so that we might fully participate in God’s mission in the world.” YAVs have enjoyed an array of activities and events at Harpeth, particularly within its youth programming.
Our YAVs live in one of two houses in the Nashville community, as assigned by the site coordinator. The cost of rent, utilities, and Internet are calculated as part of the NEP program budget and are not the responsibility of the YAVs, except in instances of tenant negligence.
One house, affectionately dubbed “the Toolshed,” is located on the property of Second Presbyterian Church in the Green Hills neighborhood. With a nearby public library, a local YMCA, and a plethora of restaurants, coffee shops, and specialty stores, Green Hills is a neighborhood steeped in privilege. Meanwhile, our YAVs must remain committed to the principles of simple living and solidarity with those they serve. Toward this end, YAVs live in this two-bedroom, two-bathroom house with simple furnishings and small real estate, especially relative to its surrounding community. Hence, “the Toolshed.”
The other house has yet to garner a nickname other than “The North House,” based upon its location in the North Nashville community. Only a ten-minute drive from the Toolshed, the North House is a world apart. Historically the epicenter of the city’s black community, North Nashville was once a neighborhood of thriving black businesses, schools, churches and art. But the prevailing systemic and institutional racism of the 20th century resulted in the socioeconomic decline of the neighborhood. With many analysts believing that North Nashville is now in the midst of revival, our YAVs live among a community in transition. One of four apartments in a quad-plex adjacent to Tennessee State University, our YAVs live in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom unit with furnishings and square footage comparable to the Toolshed.
Living in two separate houses demands that our YAVs work hard to cultivate community with one another. This is accomplished (at a minimum) by committing each Friday to being together, first with the morning meeting and then engaging in activities and conversations organized by a rotation of the YAVs themselves. This dedicated Community Day allows YAVs to share life together in prayer, study, reflection, food, and fun. It also provides the opportunity for YAVs to sort through conflicts and hold one another accountable to their shared Community Covenant, a kind of Rule of Life that the community creates together and revisits throughout the year. Our YAVs also participate in two annual retreats (fall and spring) and an end-of-year special event that are designed to provide YAVs the margin to process their experiences together while helping to shape their future patterns of communication, relationship, and discernment.
The NEP believes that our YAVs are called not only to cultivate community with one another, but just as vitally, are called to engage with the larger Nashville community. From the moment YAVs arrive for local orientation, they are introduced to a diverse spectrum of people and places throughout the city, in the hopes of fostering a rich appreciation and commitment to Nashville. During a full year of service with the NEP, YAVs will form community with one another, with their neighbors, within their congregations, within their agencies, with other volunteers in Nashville, with our local YAVA, and with members of the NEP Committee.
- Ages: 20-29
- Education: College Degree or Equivalent Experience Desirable
- Transportation: Own vehicle preferred. Public transportation is limited but possible.
Hello Joanna, This is Essie in the YAV office. You can begin the process of becoming a YAV by submitting an application (which can be downloaded by clicking on 'how do I apply?') The deadline for the application is January 20, 2011. After you submit your application, you will have interviews both with someone in the YAV office (most likely me), and also with site coordinators of the YAV sites you are interested in. In the meantime, it's a good idea to read the newsletters and blogs of YAVs who have recently served, or who are currently serving. Feel free to contact me at Essie.Buxton@pcusa.org with any further questions!
I am very interested in working with the Nashville Epiphany Project (NEP). I am currently a Senior at St. Andrews Presbyterian College majoring in Religious Studies with a double-minor in English and Women's Studies. Before attending seminary, I would like to dedicate at least one year with YAV. I am currently interested in this location the most. If you could help me in any way, I would be greatly appreciative. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Joanna Hipp