By Lisa Sweeney Taylor
My husband and I have been a part of Redeemer since we first arrived in the city in 2004. In 2011, a good friend and member of our Community Group was accepted to the Gotham Fellowship. At that point, I was vaguely familiar with the Center for Faith & Work and the Gotham Fellowship, but I hadn’t considered getting involved with either. I was inspired as I observed my friend during his year as a Gotham Fellow. He was enthusiastic about all the new ideas he was exposed to and he strongly encouraged his friends to apply to the program. As a typical busy New Yorker, I scoffed at the idea of making an intensive nine month commitment, so I tried to convince my friend to give me the Gotham reading list. I figured I could get all this knowledge by reading the texts on my own. He refused. He said: “trust me - you just need to do Gotham.”
Challenge accepted! I applied and joined the Gotham Fellowship class of 2013. When the program began, I naively thought I was there just for the deeper head knowledge. I had a great New York community and I didn’t think I had room for more. I soon came to realize that community is the conduit through which all the Gotham Fellowship learning happens. Every week, my cohort of 14 Fellows would gather around a table to pray for each other and discuss our assigned readings. We wrestled together with some difficult philosophical and theological concepts and I began to realize that by listening to my classmates question and discuss these ideas, the concepts sank deeper into my heart than if I had just read the texts on my own. As we moved into the heart renewal and community portion of the year, I began to understand that this Gotham experience was re-shaping my heart.
I am the Executive Assistant to the President of a very large financial firm. My entire vocational existence is spent making sure my boss has everything he needs to succeed and flourish. My time in Gotham helped me realize that if the gospel truly does change everything, it has the power to reach into my professional life. The work I do and how I do it matters to God. Inspired by the Great Creator, I have the privilege to creatively fill the structures of my role. I have the tools to identify and repent of the sin in my heart as it manifests in the workplace. In Gotham, we read lectures by Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper and the quote that has stuck with me is: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” What a powerful promise – that God cares about and is so deeply invested in our work. No job, no task, no profession is outside his sovereignty and his plan to restore his creation. And now I understand that my work – as an act of worship and obedience – is part of his plan.
Looking back on my 11 years in New York City, I now find that I see my life as "before Gotham and after Gotham" - it was that influential in my thinking and development, and it rooted me in a rich community. If you are interested in applying to the Gotham Fellowship or getting involved in the programs and conferences offered by the Center for Faith & Work, I strongly encourage you to pray about it...and then do it.
Applications are now open for the 2015-16 Gotham Fellowship Class.