By: Lori McNally
Relief! Relief—the first wave of emotion I felt upon hearing the announcement of The Gotham Fellowship at one of the west side evening services. Like many young, career-minded adults in the city I initially came to New York to pursue my dreams and aspirations. My occupational goals happened to be within the theatre. But as my time spent in this city barreled along, I experienced one of those “aha!” moments where you realize the world isn’t all about you anymore.
I struggled with what to do with my new found self-awareness and how and where I could get involved. Why not volunteer or join some sort of charity? That certainly is one way to give back to the community. But my desire to serve went further than volunteering once a month or once a week. I was craving a deeper knowledge of the Bible as well as sound Christian doctrine. I found myself investigating classics by G.K. Chesterton, Augustine and C.S. Lewis. And I also craved accountability and support from like-minded people who also wanted the answers to the hard questions.
How does Gotham equip its Fellows? First, the fellowship provides a firm foundation in a gospel worldview—a means of looking at the world and culture through a Christ-centered lens. Gotham shows me how I can better engage culture and be a steward of the gospel in a way that is both sensitive and challenging to the world in which I am a part (i.e. career, neighborhood, peer group, family).
Secondly, Gotham has been a great source of discipline for my spiritual and personal development. There are of course the weekly reading assignments with selections from St. Augustine, N.T. Wright, Martin Luther and Athanasius. Since I find myself attempting to complete the majority of my reading on the subway, the array of strange stares and puzzled looks are a continual source of amusement for me as fellow passengers catch a glimpse of the cover of whichever book I am reading for the week. Last week was John Owen’s Mortification of Sin.
In addition to the weekly readings, daily devotional work provides me with the discipline I know I need. And weekly meetings allow for scholarly debate and discussion of the ideas we have encountered in our readings. Further, the staff of Gotham meticulously select Mentors from the church to act as personal advisors and counselors. Each Mentor is paired with a Fellow according to gender and profession, and it is the responsibility of each Fellow to cultivate this relationship in the direction in which he or she wishes it to go.
Thirdly, Gotham develops community within the group through monthly workshop meetings and three quarterly retreats. These have been the highlight of my Gotham experience thus far as a means to really rejuvenate me spiritually and intellectually. The retreats and workshops help to flesh out prominent themes and topics, enabling fellows to act as leaders both within their chosen profession and the church.
Relief! Yes, I felt relief to learn I was not the only young New Yorker hankering to read over 600 pages ofchurch history. We’ve got work to do! I can’t think of anything more invigorating.