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Looking Back and Looking Forward

January is always an interesting time with the Kansas City Fellows. The holidays have come and gone and we hit the half way point of our 9 months with them. It’s a great time to look back and see the ground we’ve covered and celebrate the many good things that we see happening.

The Fellows have just finished reading Dallas Willard’s “Spirit of the Disciplines” and practicing a spiritual discipline of their choice for six weeks. The disciplines that were practiced were as diverse as the Fellows: frugality, celebration/thanksgiving and study were chosen as well as some of the more traditional ones like solitude, silence and prayer. Comments like, “I had no idea these things were even spiritual disciplines” were voiced. But as the Fellows shared with each other their struggles and victories, their frustration with the word “discipline” and their commitment to continue to try and practice a variety of disciplines the rest of the year and beyond, community in Christ was forged more deeply.

With Fellows from North Carolina, California, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri, when the holidays come our community disperses all over the country. Some are glad for a break from the Kansas City winter given it’s their first taste of it. All are glad for a chance to spend some time with family, return home and to rest and relax. But as with us all, the chance to do these things also serves to remind us of the goodness of our work and our community here in KC. That was evident in the Fellows as they returned after the holidays. When they all they came to KC in September to start the Fellows program they only knew each other through email. Now four months later, their commitment to each other, the local community at Armour and Troost and to Christ Community is evident.

We kicked off January with a professional development day. Teresa Carey of Performance Pointe spent 8 hours with the Fellows in a group setting and one-on-one coaching them on interviewing, negotiating salary and their individual strengths. With a combination of resume advice (with help from Karen Mandrela), professional coaching, feedback and affirmation the goal was the help the Fellows prepare for next steps. Some have already received full time job offers from their employers once the Fellows is finished, but for some their year with the Fellows serves a year of exploration of their calling. Five months into this year’s Fellows program we are seeing callings being clearly solidified by the will of God, keeping some Fellows here in KC, others thinking about returning home, or to Washington DC or to work in an orphanage in Haiti.

While January is a time where we celebrate and enjoy the community and growth we’re seeing in this year’s class of Fellows, as a staff we are also beginning to get excited about the next class of Fellows we are recruiting. Like the years before we are excited about the prospective Fellows God is bringing to us. With applicants from U of Tulsa, Clemson, Dordt Colle

ge, Hillsdale College and Kansas State we’re seeing applicants from schools where we have a strong and growing relationship and from brand new schools.

We also strive for a diverse set of majors and industries. We do this because as Dallas Willard writes in “Spirit of the Disciplines” the “gospel of the Kingdom will never make sense except as it is incarnated – we say “fleshed out” – in ordinary human beings in all ordinary conditions of life. But it will make sense when janitors and storekeepers, carpenters and secretaries, businessmen and university professors, bankers and government officials [Kansas City Fellows] brim with…holiness and power.” Withdegrees in Industrial Engineering, Psychology, Business, Bioengineering, Social Work, Criminology and Economics applying we are excited about the gospel being incarnated through the Fellows in a wide variety of Kansas City contexts.

So for now in 2018 we are simultaneously looking back at where we’ve come from with this year’s Fellows and looking forward to the next class that God is bringing to Kansas City. We thank each of you that have helped make this year’s Fellows so successful, whether through being an employer, mentor, or roundtable dinner host and we look forward to partnering with you on next year’s class.

Happy 2018.

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