My name is Rebecca Ogus and I’m a postulant for Holy Orders in the Diocese of North Carolina, seeking ordination to the priesthood, and second year seminarian at Berkeley Divinity School, the Episcopal seminary at Yale Divinity School. I participated in the Johnson Service Corps after graduating from Kenyon College in 2014 with a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies. JSC was hugely formative in my discernment process, through my work and our community.
My time in Johnson Service Corps taught me a lot of things: what effective community meetings look like, nonviolent communication techniques, what the difference was between contemplative prayer and lectio divina. It taught me about my faith, how I interacted with the faith traditions of others, and how everyone shops for groceries in their own particular way. It taught me how to celebrate everything – birthdays, holidays, mentors, friends – and celebrate as a community that was committed to inviting others to celebrate, too.
But most of all it taught me that you have to show up for dinner. In the 2014-15 JSC house, community dinner three times a week was a big deal. Everyone was expected to attend, even when we didn’t want to be there. The experience of sitting down to dinner with one another, no matter what was going on, putting our community life ahead of our individual desires, was profound. It showed our love and respect for one another and for the work we were doing as a group; it allowed our relationships to grow and helped us support one another. The idea of showing up to dinner helps has turned into a guiding principle in my life. It reminds me that when the world feels divisive and common ground appears to be rapidly shrinking, we need to commit ourselves to genuine relationships where we can learn with each other. Sharing a meal, joining together in communion at home or at church, helps make that happen. It continues to be a point of reflection for me as I join new communities, and is something that I hope to carry with me always.