Taking the Plunge

22 Aug

by Nora Margaret Anderson

As the news of the Ice Bucket Challenge continues to spread across nearly every form of social media this week, for the last two weeks I’ve gone through an immersion of my own.

On Sunday, August 3, I moved into a small, three-bedroom house in the Columbus, Ohio neighborhood of Franklinton. Although it was a five-minute drive from my parents’ house where I had crashed since graduation, it was a giant step socioeconomically. The median income in Franklinton is about $14,000, whereas one semester at my private liberal-arts college is about $45,000—not including textbooks or lab fees. Brand-new apartments and High street suddenly became houses stuck with orange “VACANT” signs and the cracked sidewalks of Broad street.

But it wasn’t just a desire to move out of my parents’ for a year while I prepare for law school that led me to the west side. My university was constantly stressing a doctrine of “learn the theory, then put it into practice,” and I’d had enough of academia. I wanted to put everything I’d learned about social and economic inequality to use. So I made the choice to join an intentional community, Confluence Year, and dedicate my time and my knowledge to a neighborhood that had little of either.

My entire first week was a barrage of meet-and-greets, and I say that as an extrovert. Usually, I gain my energy from talking, working, and interacting with others, but at the end of the day, even I was exhausted. Not only was I (and my two new housemates) meeting residents of the neighborhood, but also learning the geography and institutions that work to improve the quality of life in Franklinton. From Gladden Community House, which has been serving for more than a century; to the Franklinton Development Association, which built the first house in the neighborhood since the 1950s, we never really stopped moving. It was, as the director said frequently, “like trying to drink from an open fire hydrant”.

The second week was slightly more spiritual in nature. Confluence Year operates under the purview of the Episcopal Service Corps and includes spiritual formation as part of its holistic approach to support its participants. My housemates, with the help of our director, took the better part of two days to develop a Rule of Life by which we will live for the coming year. It wasn’t exactly one of those retreats in which everyone bares their soul and ends up crying for one reason or another, but I came away with a much deeper understanding of the backgrounds and motivations of the people I’ll be living with for the next year. It’s amazing to think that just a few short weeks ago, I was living with complete strangers, but we’ve quickly become friends—and learned to live fairly well together despite different backgrounds and opinions.

I’m not entirely sure where the year will go—and I’m looking forward to the twists and turns—but if my first two weeks were any indication, this might be the best year of my life so far.

Confluence at Street Church

4 Jun

Every month Confluence volunteers prepare and serve the meal for St. John’s second service, Street Church. Street Church has been gathering Sundays at 1pm in an abandoned lot at the corner of West Broad St. and Central Ave for over eight years, rain, snow, sleet, or shine! The community gathers for liturgy and the Eucharist before sharing a meal together. A great community is built among neighbors who might not otherwise venture through the doors of a traditional church. If you live in Columbus, all are welcome to join us for worship.

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A Light in the WIlderness

11 Mar




Volunteer Stephen Hash had his original work, “A Light in the Wilderness,” featured at the E.A.S.E. Gallery. The gallery is hosted at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on the campus of The Ohio State University. This Praxis Communities exhibition features work from numerous artists exploring the idea of “Wilderness: Physical and Spiritual.” Check out more here. http://praxiscommunities.org/topic/experiments/ease

A Light in the Wilderness

Episcopal Service Corps Partnership

21 Jan

We are proud to announce that Confluence is now officially a program of the Episcopal Service Corps!

In 2008, the six existing Episcopal programs gathered from across the country to found a national network, and Episcopal Service Corps was born. Each program retained its unique identity and local leadership while collaborating on a common volunteer application and sharing resources and ideas. Bringing together programs with shared values and mission, Episcopal Service Corps strengthens member programs through training and support for staff and connects young adult volunteers to a national movement of faith-based service.

St. John’s Episcopal Church is excited for the connection to the broader Episcopal Church, the chance to share resources, be strengthened by the staff of long running programs, and to welcome in Episcopal young adults from across the country to the work God is doing in Franklinton.


Spruce Up Sullivant!

18 Sep

Confluence members are active in the Franklinton neighborhood! On Saturday, September 7, all five volunteers with Confluence were able to participate in Mayor Coleman and The Franklinton Board of Trade’s impact initiative alongside roughly 200 volunteers from various  Columbus organizations, hospitals, and churches. The initiative lasted all morning and included the creation of new landscaped areas, the removal of litter and debris, and giving nine storefronts a new facelift with fresh coats of paint. Here are some pictures from the day’s events, featuring your own Confluence volunteers painting and bringing new life to their valued neighborhood!


A garage on Sullivant is renewed with some help of the Confluence volunteers and fresh paint.


Confluence Volunteer Amour Inman carefully adds paint to window trim.


Confluence Volunteer Zach Leamy adds some green finishing to the window trim.


Confluence Program Director Jed Dearing poses with a paintbrush.

Meet the 2013-14 Volunteers

4 Sep
Confluence Members
Pictured clockwise from left, Kristyn Vergauwen, Zach Leamy, Gene Sludge, Amour Inman, and Stephen Hash.
Our inaugural class of Volunteers has arrived, coming to us from Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, and Ohio.
Be sure to check out the newly updated Meet the Volunteers page to learn more about this great group of young adults committing to a year of service in Franklinton.

Meet the Volunteers: Amour Inman

21 Aug

What does Amour fancy herself as? (hint: it involves travel) What makes Amour tick? Where did she come from? Find out the answer to all these questions and more when you visit the Meet the Volunteers tab!