This month, Jane shared a reflection on Trinity's ministry with colleagues in the Minneapolis Area Synod of the ELCA. Read what she wrote:
Trinity has been running Safe Place: Homework Help, a drop-in tutoring program, since 2001. It began after hearing from the Middle School students at a local school what they need in order to succeed – a safe place and help with homework. Homework does get done. But much more than that happens. Conversations between K-12 Muslim students from Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea and university students from around the world who tutor them happen all the time. The program has been run by volunteers from the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. In addition to supervising the students and tutors the LVCer gets involved in a variety of things. Shortly after the 2016 election we began hearing more and more stories about racist and anti-Muslim comments and threats that our kids and their families were running into. Helen, a 7th grade Oromo girl had reported several instances at her school. Kasi, our LVCer running the program, heard them all.
The mom had called the school and talked with the principal several times, but nothing changed. Following Trinity’s practice of “accompaniment” Kasi went to the principal’s office with Helen’s mom to try and work something out. This was at the end of the last school year. Reports from Helen, so far this school year, are that the principal is a bit nicer and maybe that is all we can hope for. But what is most important is that Helen and her mom trusted Trinity and Kasi enough to tell her the stories and to invite her into the process. And Kasi has learned more than she ever imagined about the racism and anti-Muslim comments that are an everyday occurrence for the people who come through our door. All of the people have been changed whether they know it or not. The learning never ends. Things we have learned and continue to learn: in new, real ways we have learned that God is big enough for all of us; that Muslim East Africans are not all that different from us; that white privilege is more pervasive and a part of us who are white than we knew; that Christian privilege is a reality that becomes real when the majority of your community and colleagues are not Christian; that there are other ways of doing things, not only the white, middle class, Christian, European ways; that the old ways the Church has navigated in the world often no longer apply and new ways need to be explored. We want to learn more about all of these things. In terms of young adults, it is not a matter of “how to” attract them. It is more a matter of listening to them and letting them lead the way. That will be something to learn.