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Worshiping through service

Posted: May 15 2019 at 02:14 PM
Author: By Kandace Taylor*


Kandace Taylor (top row, left) and fellow Northwestern University students load a truck full of household necessities for refugee families in the community as part of the Stock the Shelves ministry.

This year, one of my goals as seminary intern at University Christian Ministry at Northwestern (UCM), a NIC campus ministry, is to learn how to worship while serving. When I think of my future serving as a religious professional (either as a pastor or as something else), I think of how easy it would be to get caught up in the tasks that are required to conduct a worship service and get taken out of a worshipful headspace.

I experienced this as a youth when I served on the junior usher board at my home church. I loved welcoming visitors, collecting offering, and directing people to their seats, but after church, I would not always feel like I had actually worshiped.

I had to be alert during the prayers, the songs, and the scripture readings so that I would not miss someone’s request for a program, an offering envelope, or something else. My service ironically disconnected me from the worship experience.

Thankfully, one of the projects at my field education site unites my desires to worship God while I serve people. This project, called Stock the Shelves, serves refugee families in Chicago. Through the support of the NIC United Methodist Foundation, UCM participates in this ministry in partnership with one of its sponsoring nearby churches, First Presbyterian Church of Wilmette.

The role the UCM students and I play is pretty simple: we help church and community members load a large truck with consumable household items that First Presbyterian Wilmette has collected in their on-site storage unit. We form an assembly line to fill the truck with hand soap, detergent, dish soap, shampoo, diapers and other necessities that are not covered by food stamps.

The next morning the truck goes to the Warren Park neighborhood, where the items are distributed to refugee families in the area. The spirit of the people at First Presbyterian Wilmette is always kind and welcoming. The gratitude they express at having extra strong bodies to help always affects me, no matter how hard my day is.

I am grateful that through Stock the Shelves I am able to leave the halls of the seminary for a while and connect with real people in the Chicago area. The relationships that the students and I are building with the people in the community are an example of worshipful service to me.

*Taylor is a seminary intern at UCM and a 2nd year MDiv student from Florida at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

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