On a sunny afternoon at the end of August, the newest cohort of the Seattle Service Corps arrived on the campus of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Seattle! We are Kate, Krista, Emily, Ga’Vintay, Gabriel, Anthony, and Austin, seven young adults from around the United States and Canada. We are thrilled to be be spending the next ten months in an intentional community where we will serve, grow, pray, and explore Seattle together.
Episcopal Service Corps (ESC) is a ministry of the Episcopal Church that empowers adults aged 21-32 to transform unjust structures through community building, local collaboration, prayer, and action. There are currently fifteen ESC sites around the country, spanning as far east as Boston and as far west as Los Angeles. All Episcopal Service Corps sites are united by the shared values of transformation, empowerment, community, and faithfulness. Seattle Service Corps is motivated by a vision of “empowering servant leaders to be grounded by resilience, deepened by prayer, motivated by justice, and inspired by prophetic imagination.” Seattle Service Corps members commit to living in an intentional Christian community, serving 32 hours per week at a local non-profit or church, engaging in regular spiritual practice, formation, and discernment, and participating in the life of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral. Through Seattle Service Corps we will build strong relationships, have fun, and enjoy all Seattle has to offer.
We spent our first week together on an Orientation Retreat at St. Andrew’s House in Union, Washington. Beautiful scenery and delicious, homemade food abounded as we spent the week getting to know each other and determining a Rule of Life – a guideline for how we want to spend the year together, inspired by Benedictine monastic practices. We discussed everything from shared meals and prayer practices to chore lists and COVID-19 protocols. Leaving the retreat, we had begun to grow closer to one another and felt confident in our plan for living intentionally. Since arriving back at Leffler House, we have learned the bus and light rail system, started working at our placement sites, enjoyed cooking dinner together, and ended each night with Compline or another prayer practice.
Next, a little more about who we are, why we’re here, and our hopes and goals for the year:
Kate Strathdee [she/her] is from Kitchener, Ontario. She is serving as a Program Associate for Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power and Light. Kate describes why she joined Seattle Service Corps this way: “I was looking to discern what to do next within the context of a young adult-centered, affirming Christian community. In addition, I had hoped to travel abroad during my time in university, but due to COVID that was not possible. I had never been to Seattle before. The great diversity of museums, things to do, and the number of events offered at Saint Mark’s Cathedral led me to take part in the program.” This year, Kate is most excited to meet and form connections with new people within and beyond the Saint Mark’s Cathedral community.
Krista Osborne [she/her] is from Spokane, Washington. Krista will be working as a Food Server and Development Assistant with Edible Hope, a ministry of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. This is Krista’s second year in Episcopal Service Corps – she spent last year in St. Louis, Missouri at Deaconess Anne House. About her choice to enter Episcopal Service Corps and come to Seattle this year, Krista says, “When the end of my college experience was disrupted by COVID, I felt directionless. I joined the Episcopal Service Corps looking for stability and discernment. I really enjoyed the community I experienced in St. Louis, so I decided I wanted to do another year. I missed the Pacific Northwest while I was away in the Midwest, so I decided to come to Seattle for my second year.” Krista is excited to see old friends and make new ones during the service year, and to be supported by our cohort while she learns new skills for work and life.
Emily Dudek [she/her] joins us from her hometown of North Hampton, New Hampshire. Emily will be working as the Assistant Port Chaplain at Seattle Seafarers Center. Emily says, “I chose to participate in Seattle Service Corps because I want to meet new Christian young adults, experience a completely new place, and figure out my relationship with God! I am most looking forward to meeting seafarers from around the world, visiting a variety of churches and museums in the Seattle area this year, and going for walks through my new beautiful neighborhood.”
Ga’Vintay McGhee [he/him] is from North Carolina, and recently graduated from Medaille College in Buffalo, New York with a degree in Criminal Justice, Law, & Society. Ga’Vintay will be serving the Northwest Immigration Rights Project (NWIRP) as Legal Coordinator during his time in Seattle. For him, “Joining Seattle Service Corps is an opportunity to create a stronger connection with God and explore the practice of living in an intentional community. I enjoy living in new environments and learning about the different cultures in the area. I’m thankful to my housemates and expect a fruitful year here!” Regarding his placement at NWIRP, Ga’Vintay says, “There’s a personal connection, as my mother, sibling, friends, and other family members were or are immigrants. I want to learn more about immigration law and legal advocacy for immigration rights.”
Gabriel Arrington [he/they] comes from Richmond, Virginia and is serving the Diocese of Olympia as a Communications Intern this year. “I chose to come to Seattle for a service year because I think the Pacific Northwest is beautiful, and I’ve wanted to participate in an intentional spiritual community for several years. After I graduated with a degree in Religious Studies last year, I felt a pull towards ESC. Being on the coast opposite home seemed intimidating, but I knew I would be joining a group of other young, passionate people with shared anxieties, expectations, and joys. From my experience this year, I am hoping to gain strong relationships, to use and grow my skills at work, to deepen my spiritual practice, and to discern my next steps in life after undergrad.”
Anthony Rodriguez [he/him] is from Athens, Alabama. He is spending the year serving as Food Security Coordinator for Mercy Housing Northwest. Tony chose Seattle Service Corps for a year of growth, and to serve underserved and underrepresented communities. “Seattle was the furthest Episcopal Service Corps site from home, so I wanted to be bold and allow myself to learn, adapt, and grow in a new environment. I have hopes of new friendships, personal growth, and new opportunities.”
Arizona Hays [she/they] joins Seattle Service Corps from Irmo, South Carolina. She is serving Real Change News as a Vendor Support Specialist. This is their second year in Episcopal Service Corps. “I am an alum of the Lutheran-Episcopal Volunteer Network in Davis, California,” Arizona says, “and I reached a point in my life where I wanted to experience another year of service. I chose Seattle Service Corps because I had never been to the Pacific Northwest and felt excited by the opportunities for community and adventure there. I’m most looking forward to getting involved in the city’s queer, outdoor, and activist scenes, trying new food with my housemates, and potentially climbing Mt. Rainier.”
All seven of us would like to express our deep gratitude to the diocesan community for helping us feel welcome as we arrived, and especially for stocking our pantry, gifting us with beautiful quilts, and warmly introducing us to the vibrant community of Saint Mark’s Cathedral. We hope to become familiar faces at Saint Mark’s and around Seattle, and we will provide updates throughout the year about what we are doing at our placement sites and at Leffler House!