Urban Servant Corp Photo
Serving Christ Through Action for Better Community

Alumni Reflections

[During my year of service at USC] I worked in outreach for Urban Peak. During the spring, a colleague and I led field trips around Denver for our clients. One such trip took us up I-70 to go hiking. Unbeknownst to my colleague and me, one young man had collected rocks for each of us as a way to commemorate the experience. It meant a lot this young man to get out of the city, to feel free and safe in God's creation, if only for a bit. I often took for granted the chance to leave the city, but not this young man. This small hike was worthy remembering. It turns out that your work can mean much to others than you realize. I still have the rock.

I now serve as an assistant professor of Lutheran Studies at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Columbia. Recently, I completed a PhD at Princeton Theological Seminary, writing a dissertation on Martin Luther's preaching and ethics. My wife Mary and I are the proud parents of an energetic, hilarious toddler named Max.


EllieI was recently reflecting on my Urban Servant Corps experience way back in 2002-03. Our community spent a weekend at Rainbow Trail helping build a labyrinth. At the end of the weekend, I walked it slowly by myself. At one point, well into the journey, I was walking on the
outermost path. I felt really far away from the center. I started wondering when it would be over. Then, a few steps later, the path took a 90 degree turn and led me straight to the center. Just like that, it was over. I think about that moment before the path turned all the time. When I am wandering, tired, losing hope. That 90 degree turn might be right in front of me. I remember not to skip to the end. I remember to hold on loosely to my idea of a destination. I remember that even when I feel so insurmountably far away from where I'm going, the path may offer an unexpected turn toward the center of things. I remember to enjoy this step. This step. This step.

I am now the author of 12 Tiny Things, Play Like a Girl and How Coffee Saved My Life and host the Unlikely Conversations podcast. I teach writing at The Loft Literary Center, theology at Bethlehem Lutheran Church and Peace Literacy at The Global Immersion Project. Through curious inquiry, commitment to the sacred ordinary and artistic collaboration, my work accompanies people to a more centered, whole, and embodied self. Ellie holds an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in Theology from Luther Seminary. She lives in Minneapolis with her spouse and sons.


ChrisOne lesson that I learned from USC that has continued to show up in my life is the importance of discernment and how to reflect on decisions that I make. Although I didn't know it at the time, my experience at USC was the first time that I really experienced a true discernment where through community and weekly check-ins I was able to reflect on my life direction. Since my time in USC, I have faced many decisions which I required that I undergo careful discernment process and my experience in USC helped me to do that. 

I currently live in the Boston area and work as a social worker providing services to individuals with mental illness who live in the community.


DeepaI was a part of USC in the year 2013-14. I lived in the 5&9 house and my work assignment was at Women’s Bean Project (WBP). As a part of myservice there, I supported in the online shipment of products that were carefully and beautifully packaged by women participants, who came with a history of chronic unemployment, with a hope to learn some basic job readiness and life skills to be able to reintegrate in theircommunities through WBP.  

Working with women participants at Women’s Bean Project who came from different backgrounds of life from being chronically impoverished to living in a half-way house was something that had a profound impact on me about my understanding about life and vulnerability. It was encouraging for me to see the women at the Bean project coming with hope every day at work despite of all struggles, endurances and misfortunes that they had been through in their lives. Their strength reminded me of a quote which says, “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice”. Seeing those women participants graduate from the program with a job in their hand as a result of trainings and support services provided through the staff and mentors at the project was a real success story of resilience to me. The experiences that I had during my service term with USC is uniquely valuable which still echoes in my life and place where I work. 

I currently work for Mennonite Central Committee in Bangladesh providing support to my Bangladeshi colleagues with planning, monitoring and evaluation