Welcome aboard, Agape House

From Chicago they came in mid-December, a bold crew sailing the pirate ship Revenge to adventures at Turtle Bay and nearby points of interest. They made anchor at Old Bergen Church in Jersey City and clambered aboard the local trains to make their way to their berth at Jan Hus Presbyterian Church. They spent two days engaged in variety of activities with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations.

Worship with Agape HouseTo put it another way:

On December 18 and 19, a group from the Agape House Campus Ministry at the University of Illinois Chicago drove by van to New York for a seminar at the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. The chaplain has a thing for pirates and the film The Princess Bride. Old Bergen Church allowed them to park the van there; the group stayed at Jan Hus. Friends are good to have!

The seminar looked at a number of issues around human movement and displacement. It began on December 18 with worship led by Sera Chung, Princeton Theological Seminary field education student. A tour of the UN followed.

Three speakers joined us for lunch: one works with the UN Secretariat on youth issues, one works with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and one has just left a position with UNICEF. Each speaker talked briefly about her or his work. They spent more time focusing on why they do he work they do and the path that had led them to this work.

The next speaker came from UNRWA – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. He told the group about UNRWA’s work with Palestine refugees.

Jose Gonzalez Colon with groupThe Rev. José González-Colón, pastor of First Spanish Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, shared insights about the experience of immigrants in his congregation and community. He also reflected on the immigration policy of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and his service as the vice-moderator of the committee that dealt with immigration issues at the 220th General Assembly (2012).

Grace Bickers, volunteer intern from Columbia University, reported on the day’s events on Facebook and Twitter.

Worship began the second day of the seminary. Alexander Haines, Princeton Theological Seminary field education student, provided the leadership.

Agape House Red HandsElodie de Bethmann, who had been with us over the summer, told the group about child soldiers and ways that they can become involved in efforts to end this exploitation of children.

We then walked to Grand Central Station by way of the Isaiah Wall. We took the subway to Coney Island where a number of group members helped clean out materials damaged during Superstorm Sandy  from Coney Island Cathedral of Deliverance. Other group members helped canvas in the neighborhood for needs related to Christmas. The Rev. Thia Reggio, who is coordinating the response of the Presbytery of New York City to the storm, made the connection for the group.

Agape House at Isaiah WallAfter lunch and a good conversation with two brothers who run a pizza parlor, we returned to our office. There we reflected on how movement has touched our lives. We drew maps, each in our own fashion, of our family’s journey. As each person shared that story, we noted similarities and differences and ways that the experiences of our family intersected with what had been learned during the seminar.

The group spent December 20 exploring the city. On December 21 they drove back to Chicago.

Group members have posted reflections on the experience. More will follow.

It was a blessing to host the seminar. We look forward to a return visit.

Contact us to schedule a seminar for your group.

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