A Woman’s Concern; A Student’s Devotion
Meg Lynch ’10
A Beverly, Massachusetts, organization is handing out baby bottles--to adults--and Gordon student Leanne Burnett ’09 is overseeing this initiative. Burnett, a youth ministry major, has chosen A Woman’s Concern (AWC), an unlikely internship within her major, and is currently heading the Baby Bottle Campaign, encouraging parishioners in area churches to fill the bottles with change.
AWC is a free pregnancy resource center offering services to women and couples struggling with life changes of unplanned pregnancies. Burnett’s internship tasks include office duties, administering tests, counseling clients, and sitting in on pregnancy tests, counseling sessions and ultrasounds.
Her devotion to the women has enabled her to garner much experience from various facets of AWC. One of her favorite aspects is empowering women with information that will encourage them to make good decisions.
Burnett’s work with AWC is also a testament to how versatile the youth ministry curriculum at Gordon College truly is. More importantly, AWC has impacted her, and through her hard work and devotion she has become a valuable asset to the center.
“My favorite memory has been watching the transformation in clients from being determined to have an abortion to choosing to be a parent--and a great parent at that,” says Burnett. “I have seen a few clients go through this transformation, and while it’s just the beginning--and I know they have many difficulties ahead--I also know they made a decision that will change their lives for good, choosing life over death.”
Burnett’s loving concern for each woman has created a mutually beneficial relationship for her and the organization. She has become an asset to those she serves and finds great reward in being a part of the ministry. “It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience,” she says. “It is my hope that other students may see what a life-giving ministry AWC has, and that it’s definitely one way to pursue nontraditional youth ministry!” (Note: As a result of her excellent work, Burnett was offered a job after graduation.)
An Ecumenical Eye Opener
Ecumenical dialogue has been a central experience for students in the Gordon in Orvieto program since its inception. In Italy the presence of Protestant Christian students is unusual, yet the program has been welcomed. Orvieto’s Catholic bishop has given his tangible support to the presence of a Protestant-Episcopal parish, and students are regularly invited to a Catholic charismatic community’s praise services.
It was the vision of professors Tal and Agnes Howard and John Skillen to build on these ecumenical encounters during the spring 2008 semester. The Howards cotaught a course called Protestantism, Catholicism and Ecumenism, and along with Skillen planned a series of trips to Rome so students could see further examples of ecumenism in action.
In Rome students attended mass with an English-speaking congregation whose goal is to foster better relations between Catholics and Protestants. The group met briefly with Keith Pecklers, professor of the history of liturgy at the Gregorian University and ABC correspondent for Vatican affairs during the pope’s visit to the U.S. last spring.
Students also visited several baroque Jesuit churches and spoke with the Vatican’s Don Bolen of the Papal Commission on Promoting Christian Unity about the ecumenical councils he coordinates to encourage greater unity with Anglicans and Methodists.
On a final trip to Rome, Gordon students were invited to a papal audience. “We were sitting next to nuns from Senegal, behind German pilgrims and in front of Italian school children,” Nicole Lucey ’10, Lauren Enright ’09, Amber Seppala ’10 and Sarah Boyle from Azusa Pacific recall. “It was truly the Body of Christ in action!”
“There remain significant differences between Protestants and Catholics,” says Tal Howard, “but without these kinds of endeavors Protestants and Catholics will remain in a haze of ignorance and suspicion about each other, unable to work toward Christ’s goal of unity among Christians.”
Reaching Out to Troubled Kids: A Youth Ministry Internship
It’s not every day a college student chooses to spend her time in a group home with 10–12 teenage boys who struggle with anger issues, abuse and crime, and often come from troubled homes. But senior Katy Keith, youth ministry major, considered this a privilege.
Last summer Keith spent 10 weeks in Memphis, Tennessee, at Youth Villages, a large organization that works with children who come from troubled homes. Her responsibilities included guiding the residents as they sifted through their dark pasts. “The most difficult thing I did was help the residents complete a required task, even if it meant upsetting them,” says Keith. “Often I had to ignore the fact that I was being yelled at. I was trained to not take anything personally because it was not me they were necessarily angry with--I just happened to be there to get the blow.”
One of her favorite memories was assisting a resident with filling out a college application. “I could see the anxious hope in his eyes and the desire to make his life better. It felt great to encourage this young man to accomplish what most of his peers believe they cannot accomplish. I know for a fact that he is going against the odds, and I couldn’t be more
proud of him.”
Recent Student Research
Brittney Howell ’09 presented her research, “Effect of Social Support, Academic Locus of Control and Distance from Home on Adjustment to College” at the New England Psychological Association. Howell focused on adjustment to college for students who attend close to home and far from home. She found that those who felt a high level of support and felt competent in their academics had a more positive adjustment. Since she had a smaller sample size of students who were further from home, descriptive statistics showed that those who felt far from home had a lower adjustment rate.