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by Kirsten Laderach, M.Div. intern
The partnership of Kirsten Laderach and Pastor Yehiel Curry took faith and determination.
The David W. Preus Servant Leadership Award was established in 1988 to honor the contributions to civic and religious life of Dr. David W. Preus, '50. Past recipients of the award were community members recognized for their dedication to servant leadership through a nonprofit organization. In 2009, the award was granted to a Luther Seminary student to recognize and encourage outstanding leadership. The award will continue this way, granted to a student to support a structured experience intended to build understanding and encourage outstanding leadership that expresses itself in service to others. Kirsten Laderach was the first student recipient of this award.
Location: Riverdale, Illinois
Congregation: Shekinah Chapel
Mentor: Pastor Yehiel Curry
From my initial meeting of Pastor Yehiel Curry in January 2009 to the last day I spent at Shekinah Chapel, I was in the company of a true friend and mentor.
Our plan for learning was a leap of faith and determination. I was determined to spend time at Shekinah Chapel, and Yehiel was determined to share great hospitality, be a mentor and put me in positions that would allow me to experience things I would never have understood otherwise.
I am most thankful for my time spent at SIMSA/SIMBA camp. SIMBA is where Shekinah started. Shekinah is a congregation born of a camp. It was at the SIMBA camp that my summer experience began to come together.
The kids make masks in the middle of their camp experiences, so I joined in. The process spoke of the trust necessary to truly engage one another. It reminded me that surrender is part of fully accepting and embracing. I thought of the crossing of cultural realities that summer. I had seen things that I hoped couldn't possibly be. I struggled to articulate what I now knew to be true. With this I painted my mask. And with this I continue to toil.
I painted two sets of lines. One set was green, red and black to represent the African-American community that I had been a part of all summer. The other set was blue, pink and blue again to represent me. The eight-pointed star from the eye represents the vivid and enlightening experiences I had. The yellow line that connects the eye to the mouth represents what I am working on now, putting what I saw and experienced into words.
At camp, Yehiel said, "You want to know Shekinah? This is where it started; it's only fitting that you would be here last ... to come full circle."
There were many full circles of learning that came out of my summer at Shekinah Chapel. I am thankful to Pastor Yehiel Curry, Shekinah Chapel and to the David Preus Servant Leadership Award for the support of friendship, encouragement, prayer and finances. Few fruitful journeys are possible without any of these things.
The Mission Statement of SIMBA/SIMSA (Safe In My Brother's/Sister's Arms):
An Africentric community grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ that creates a space for listening, teaching and responding to the needs of young African-Americans
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