To be honest, when I applied to LTSP, I had no idea what Field Experience meant. When I arrived on campus for my visit, my conversation with the admissions director, brought up the concept of “site”, “field education”, and other such terms. I had the vague understanding that it meant that I would work at a church at some point. I heard phrases such as “first year rotation”, “second year site”, “first year site”, and all that, and I really did not know what that meant. It wasn’t until I arrived on campus, two weeks before the semester officially started, that I figured out what Field Education meant. It meant what I thought it did – working at a church a few hours a week, including Sunday. For the typical first year student, instead of working at a church, they instead go on “rotation”, traveling to a set church for 3 Sundays in a row and talking about what they see. As a non-typical first year student (i.e. I did not grow up Lutheran and I would be in NYC on the weekend), that would not fit me. Rather, I needed to jump with two feet into what is called “first year site field experience”. I would do my first year what is typically done by second year students. The only problem, however, is that when I arrived on campus, I didn’t have a church lined up to work at yet.
Luckily, my home pastor knows people and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I started my field experience last Sunday. I arrived at the church in Manhattan early to help blow up helium balloons to tie to the pews as it was Rally Day in the congregation. They did not teach me how to blow up helium balloons in my first two weeks at LTSP but I have discovered that there are many things that Seminary does not teach you – I just now need to add blowing up balloons to that list. I helped out in my first service there, being an usher, and filling in any roles that needed to be filled. After the first service, I jumped in and helped teach a group of Sunday school students the parable of the lost sheep and lost coin and had to explain to 7 year olds what repent means. At the second service, I stood in the back and passed out programs. After each service, I was introduced as Vicar Marc (which is just so weird to hear and say), and after the second service, I went with the youth group to play some baseball.
When I first heard about Field Experience, no one told me about baseball. I wish they had – I might have been more excited about it.
My Sundays and Fridays (and some Saturday mornings) are going to be quite busy now that I’m back in New York. I like the opportunity to apply what I’m learning in the classroom to an actual parish (though I’m not sure how much Hebrew a 7 year old would need to know) and I’m really enjoying how the parish has no problem letting me jump into things. In fact, I’ve realized that most of all my positive church experiences start that way. When I first started attending Trinity LIC, K had no problem volunteering me for anything and everything. And Trinity had no problem bringing me into the fold and letting me make a small difference in some ways. This method isn’t the best way to reach all people but it seems to be the best way to reach to me. I think I’m going to enjoy my first year field experience.