Meet Natalie Klopfenstein, recent graduate from Troy University and part of the Canterbury Club, a campus ministry of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Troy, Alabama. Natalie will be embarking on a new journey as a member of the Episcopal Service Corps, a "network of young adults ages 21-32 serving through locally organized intentional communities that are dedicated to: serving others in solidarity, promoting justice in community, deepening spiritual awareness, discerning vocation, and living simply." Below, Natalie shares about her involvement so far with Episcopal Service Corps, and what she hopes to get out of the experience. In addition, Lydia Gilmer is also a new member of the Episcopal Service Corps from the Central Gulf Coast.
How did you become interested in the Episcopal Service Corps?
I first heard about the Episcopal Service Corps during my internship last summer at St. Mary’s convent in Sewanee, Tennessee. I looked into the program throughout my senior year of college and continued to feel that God was calling me to a year of service through an ESC program.
Did you take the Discernment Quiz offered by the ESC?
I took the discernment quiz offered by the ESC and found it to be very helpful. The quiz didn’t limit my options by “matching” me to a specific program; rather, it walked me through the various defining qualities of each program and encouraged me to think about the characteristics for which i was looking. It was especially helpful to be able to sort through the programs based on intentional community size, city size, and social justice focuses.
How was the application process?
The ESC uses a standardized application that is then forwarded to the applicant’s top five program choices. The interview process was truly a mutual discernment process that intentionally sought guidance from God. I rarely felt the pressure to have to “sell” myself, unlike other interviews I've had in the past for non-religious work. The interviews were filled with authentic, personal conversations with the intentions of finding the “right” match for both myself and the prospective programs.
How were you placed in a program? Did you get to be a part of that decision process?
The ESC has what it calls “First Offer Friday,” a day during which programs are first allowed to make offers to applicants with whom they’ve interviewed and think would be a good fit. I accepted an offer from Lutheran Episcopal Volunteer Network (LEVN) in Davis, CA.
Do you have to raise money or pay in order to participate in the program?
My program provides housing as well as a modest stipend for food, transportation, and other expenses. The only funds I need to raise are those to cover my move out west and any occasional costs that may exceed the stipend.
Where is your program location?
I will be working for the LEVN in Davis, California. I will be living with an intentional community of other ‘LEVNeers’ on the Lutheran/Episcopal ministry campus for UC Davis.
What do you hope to get from the experience?
I want to use this upcoming year as a time for discerning what’s next in life. I’m not yet sure where God is calling me long-term, but I know that spending a year fully immersed in service and intentional religious community will provide ample opportunities for reflection. The ESC is providing me with the opportunity to truly delve into social justice work and service, and I’m eager to be a part of an experience that is so much bigger than myself.
What excites you the most about the experience? What concerns you the most about the experience?
I think I’m most excited to live in intentional community with the others in the program. I’ll be a part of a new family that grows together in ways that far exceed a traditional roommate dynamic. This is also probably what intimidates me the most. I'll essentially be thrown into a house on the other side of the country with several strangers - but those strangers will be in the exact same position too. It will certainly be a challenge, and I’m eager to grow through the experience.
If you would like to reach out to Natalie Klopfenstein, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.