It is my great pleasure to announce — I have a plan for next year! Not only am I relieved to have a plan, period, but I am thrilled to have a plan I am incredibly thankful and excited for. At the end of August I’ll begin a 9-month fellowship at Trinity Forum Academy (TFA), a residential leadership program for 12 young Christian scholars and professionals.
TFA is a little bit hard to explain, because it is so multi-faceted (which is why I love it) – but basically it’s a holistic program that incorporates applied theology and philosophy, cultural engagement, and hospitality-based service. In addition, each Fellow completes a graduate-level research thesis within his or her specific academic area of interest. I think of it as 1/4 seminary, 1/4 grad school, 1/4 service, and 1/4 just living life in community – a combination designed to help the 12 of us figure out exactly what it means to redeem culture and be ambassadors of Christ wherever we find ourselves (phew! that was a mouthful).
Maybe I’ll just let you read what TFA says about itself – from the Trinity Forum Academy website:
The vision of the Academy is to cultivate a generation of faithful leaders who are together able to thoughtfully engage the most critical issues faced by our culture.
Our mission is to prepare young leaders for life as a Christian calling in the world of today. To this end, we prayerfully pursue three goals: to help our Fellows know Jesus and His way more deeply, know themselves and their callings more clearly, and know the world of today, its opportunities and challenges, more discerningly.
Trinity Forum Academy envisions a future in which its alumni have faithful influence across all sectors of society. Individually their lives and careers demonstrate creativity, compassion and excellence that reflect their commitment to Christ and to community.
In many ways, I think this will be a perfect next step for me. I am extremely excited for the opportunity to further discover my calling and place in the Kingdom, to refine my ideas and passions, and study how faith can impact society, all within the rich context of community.
I have loved my time in Uganda with IJM – I love going to work and knowing that each day I contribute to the pursuit of justice, albeit in very small ways – but I have also sorely missed the academic environment of rich (and sometimes heated) discussion, stimulating lectures, classic books, etc. I am really excited to return to academic life within an Christian community that specifically looks at the most pressing issues of our times through the lens of ethics and theology (I’m already drooling over the summer reading list, which includes King’s Cross, by Tim Keller and Keep in Step with the Spirit, by J.I. Packer, among others).
In addition to all these reasons, I am also excited because in some ways, it will be a homecoming for me. Ten years after I left Maryland, I am headed back for a year of life on the Chesapeake Bay. This time around, I’ll be living on the Eastern Shore – a part of Maryland that always fascinated and intrigued me growing up. I’ll be right on the water, living in a old farmhouse with the 12 other TFA Fellows, working 8-10 hours a week at Osprey Point, a conference/retreat centre on site that hosts organizations like IJM for staff retreats and such.
It’s been a while since I’ve called that part of the world home, but I’m happy to be headed back to Maryland blue crabs (which, apparently, can be caught directly off of the Osprey Point pier), back to a land rich with colonial history, back to living within an hour of family (I’m talking about you, Grandma!), back to weekend trips to DC and picnics on the Capitol Mall.
Anyway, I’ll stop jabbering now, but I hope you can sense and share in my excitement. I’ll touch down to the States on August 12th and do a whirlwind trip of visiting family and friends before starting the program on August 27th.
Of course, there’s a downside to all of this – I only have 10 weeks left of life in Uganda. A few weeks ago I was eager to begin the next step, but now that I have less than three months in this wild messy city with these beautiful people I love, time has transformed into something incredibly precious and all too fleeting. It’s decidedly painful to think about the impending goodbyes I must say, but I’d rather have heart-wrenching goodbyes than an apathetic departure. It means my heart is at home here – it’s full here, and happy – which is a fact for which I am incredibly thankful. So although Kampala won’t be home forever, for now, this is still where I belong.