Although I don’t plan on leaving the EcoFaith community anytime soon, my official internship is coming to a close. I’m sad to be finished, but I’m much more excited that I can keep growing with EcoFaith and engaging with all the work it does.
I had set several goals prior to beginning my work. These goals are probably typical and expected in an internship setting: grow as a leader, learn new skills, and figure out what to do next once the internship ends. I wanted to step into this required practicum with a hope that the months spent with EcoFaith would be a structured space for immense growth and ministerial formation.
And boy, I wasn’t wrong! So much has happened in these fast-paced months. Of course, nobody could’ve predicted that our world would change so drastically. All of this external change and call for adaptation further uplifted my internal change. My expectations, consciously kept open for whatever may arise, took on the challenge.
EcoFaith’s Practices proved their resiliency and stability throughout this transformative year, which solidified my knowledge and belief in their power. I walked into my internship planning to tweak their wording, but that took a great pause. Instead, I had to lean into the core essence of what the Practices represent: seven unique facets of what it truly means to awaken spiritual leadership. I fell into the natural rhythm of EcoFaith, and that comforted me when so much of what I knew before the pandemic was changing.
What can I say about the EcoFaith community and all the leaders who hold EcoFaith dearly? Admittedly, it tends to take me longer than others to feel fully comfortable in a new community; the same was true for EcoFaith. Those first few months in the gatherings, I felt timid and uncertain about my role and leadership among many seasoned people. As time progressed, however, I found myself feeling at home in the community, to the point now where I see EcoFaith as one of my core spiritual communities I can rely upon.
It was in this EcoFaith community that my confidence and strength as an eco-minded spiritual leader grew exponentially. I look back at everything I have done in just a few months with fondness: the National Zoom Gathering I led, the blog posts I wrote, the materials I made for the Community Carbon initiative, and the people I grew closer to through one-on-one conversations. Everything has amounted to where I am today, and to think that this work continues fills me such excitement and gratitude.
Most importantly, EcoFaith has accepted me with open arms. This was my first professional experience where I was actually treated as an equally qualified leader as everyone else rather than a diminished, unknowledgeable intern. This was also my first role that I embodied as a professionally diagnosed autistic person. When so many others have doubted my abilities, EcoFaith saw the “superpowers” and unique perspective I could offer. Being openly autistic in ministry, a place where other neurodiverse people frequently avoid, will inevitably be a challenge I must face, but EcoFaith gives me hope that this is my calling. I do belong.
My next steps will be moving to Cheshire, Oregon, where I will be a year-long intern with Camp Lutherwood! I am beyond thrilled to move to the area and find a home where my spirit is calling me. Rest assured, I will be sticking with EcoFaith for the long haul, and I’ll continue to create, write, lead, and learn. EcoFaith is helping me pave the stepping stones, and I won’t stop moving forward as long as I’m giddy with passion for this important work in climate and social justice, both of which deserve more spiritual leaders and holistic approaches.
All I can say is that if you know other young people interested in spiritual leadership and climate justice, steer them EcoFaith’s direction. I may have been an “off-cycle” intern working directly with the non-profit itself, but I see such great potential for the EcoFaith model and Practices beyond the metro Portland area. More people need to know EcoFaith! I cannot praise it enough, along with every single person who considers EcoFaith their spiritual community; I know I do.
- Graduating Communications Intern Allie Knofczynski
CONGRATULATIONS ALLIE!! We were made better by your presence, leadership, gifts, and mutual mentorship. We are excited to continue to have you a part of the community and to see you grow into your next role with Camp Lutherwood!
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