In my growing up years, I always yearned to have that easy label; the one that answered people’s question with one or two words and allowed the conversation to move on to a different subject.
So what do you want to be when you grow up, my dear? “Well,” I would say, and then reply in my head that I wanted to be a doctor, a teacher or maybe a flight attendant. What I really wanted to say is, “I don’t know yet.” For as long as I can remember, I grew up with a vision of who I wanted to be when I grew up, but I lacked the label for it. (I knew this vision included a woman who saw the way things were and did something about the way things should be. It included a woman who believed strongly in what she was doing and received strength for her beliefs from outside herself, from a faith rooted in traditions. A woman who connected people who before were not relating. My vision was of a woman who walked alongside people, empowering others so that she could learn as they learned.)
...my label as a diaconal minister called to the work of community organizing does provide me with a deep understanding of who I am, a child of God engaged in the world.
I now introduce myself by saying, my name is Eva Creydt Schulte, and I am called to the Central States Synod as a diaconal minister to the ministry of congregational-based community organizing with CCO, Church Community Organization.
Congregation-based community organizing is diaconal in nature. It is rooted in the biblically-inspired tradition of relationship building. These relationships bridge denominational, racial, economic, geographic, political, and faith divides for the common pursuit of improving community. As a community organizer, I have the privilege of meeting with twenty different people a week to bear witness to the concerns present in their lives and the dreams they hold close to their hearts.
Through my diaconal call to congregation-based organizing, I am able to communicate the needs of the world to the church and assist in opening people’s eyes more fully to God’s in-breaking in the world. Pressing issues such as quality health care, academic achievement in public schools, and accountable housing programs emerge out of one-to-one conversations as key areas of concern that need grace-filled attention. Proactive solutions are then presented at large community gatherings where public officials are asked to make commitments. This process practices a liturgy of hope in the world. It empowers and equips laity to live within the tension of Luther’s two kingdoms calling for a world as it should be amidst a world as it is.
I now serve as a community organizer with Church Community Organization in Kansas City, Missouri, which is one of over fifty member organizations of the PICO national network representing one million families nationwide. My label of community organizer often times does not provide an easy answer to those who ask me “What is your work?” However, my label as a diaconal minister called to the work of community organizing does provide me with a deep understanding of who I am, a child of God engaged in the world.